I have offered many focused criticisms of American Airlines over the past several years. I’ve long been of the belief that there is no U.S. airline with more potential to be better than it is today. But in the interest of fairness and balance I wanted to offer 5 reasons to be genuinely excited about American Airlines. They are the airline I fly most, and I’ve been at least an Executive Platinum member of their AAdvantage program for more than a decade.
- New business class seats coming – with doors – to the Boeing 787-9 new delivery aircraft, with more premium seats than before and both premium economy and full flat direct aisle access business class coming to Airbus A321XLR narrowbodies.
The Adient Ascent Seat Is Rumored For American’s New Boeing 787-9 Business Class
- The major airline that still has award charts for its frequent flyer program. As I’ve written there’s no need to eliminate award charts to offer extra award space at variable pricing, and American has done just that – web saver dynamic pricing alongside a traditional published commitment to value awards. That gives them a huge advantage over United and Delta in terms of trust.
British Airways Airbus A350 Business Class
- Easier elite status that respects customers while United went for a straight-up money grab, awarding status based almost exclusively on how much you spend on tickets, American recognizes the whole customer – who spends on airfare, uses their credit card, shops through their online portal, and uses their partners. These are higher margin activities for the airline, so the truly most profitable customers, and those who care about status can make it happen by engaging with American across numerous activities. Loyalty Points make elite status fun again.
American Airlines Domestic First Class
- Partnerships give them the best domestic network American has been a more domestic-focused airline than Delta and United, and their hubs at Dallas and Charlotte has huge connectors. But they had gaps on the West Coast and in the Northeast. They’ve solved the gaps, with their Alaska Airlines partnership (including reciprocal upgrades!) shoring up the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest, and their JetBlue partnership giving them a new relevance in the New York market. Unfortunately the government – which approved the JetBlue partnership only a year and a half ago – is suing the break it up at the behest of competitors like Delta (who wants New York all to themselves) and low cost carriers (who want the government to redistribute their New York slots).
Here oneworld members – and even American Airlines now-CEO Robert Isom – make appearances in Alaska’s ‘Safety Dance’ video:
- The best lounge experiences in the U.S. United and American both have dedicated business class lounges, and Delta is building up theirs in response. And Delta Sky Clubs have the best food among basic lounges, though frequently long lines to get in. But there’s nothing that competes with American Airlines Flagship Dining, currently available at New York JFK, Dallas – Fort Worth, and Miami. For cross country and long haul international first class passengers (as well as ConciergeKey members when given invitations, premium Five Star customers, and those offered a buy-in).
Flagship First Dining New York JFK
Flagship First Dining offers a private room within the business class lounges featuring true peace, quiet, and exclusivity – a dedicate bar with premium drinks, sit down dining with actual restaurant-quality food, and good service. On my most recent visit Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle had replaced Krug, I’ve enjoyed most of the dishes that I’ve tried. Soon we’ll see their reimagined first class experience shared with British Airways at JFK.
And need I mention that early in the pandemic, when airlines like United and Air Canada were stealing customers’ money by refusing refunds even when cancelling flights, American honored its refund obligations? They’ll always have a strong reservoir of good will with me for that.
There are things American Airlines can do to improve and I will keep urging them on. But sometimes it’s worth taking stock of some of the great things they’re doing today.