American Airlines Unveils New Business Class Experience With Upgraded Meals, Bedding, and Amenities

A year and a half ago I revealed that new amenity kits, bedding, and meals would be introduced when American Airlines rolls out business class suites that will be arrive with new delivery Boeing 787-9 aircraft, and eventually be added to Boeing 777-300ERs.

The idea is that an elevated business class seat would be accompanied by new investments in other elements of the product.

American has announced that their new Dallas – Brisbane flight launching October 27 will offer the new seats. So we’ve had some rough sense of when we’d see this in action.

It turns out that the business class soft product update is coming even sooner. We’re now getting details on updates to meals, bedding and amenity kits – that will launch Memorial Day weekend.

New Rotating Amenity Kits In Premium Economy, Business And First Class

American Airlines will actually have more than one new amenity kit. There will be a ‘primary kit’ with standard goods “such as a toothbrush, dental kit, eye mask and earplugs, in addition to new and evolving skincare products and offerings.”

The contents of these kits will be cycled, so that they aren’t always the same “creating a unique customer experience several times over, based directly on customer feedback.”

Skincare offerings will come through retailer Thirteen Lune, which carries a range of products, including “representation of diverse founders and voices such as Joanna Vargas and Relevant.”

There will also be limited edition kits to “recognize specific milestones” as well as “initiatives that reflect the values and backgrounds of the airline’s customers and team members.”

The first one at launch will be a limited-edition Thirteen Lune kit available for “the first few weeks of the kickoff to the new program” and it will be replaced by the primary kit through end of summer.

American Airlines Limited Edition Thirteen Luna Amenity Kits, Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines Limited Edition Thirteen Luna Business Class Amenities, Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines Limited Edition Thirteen Luna First Class Amenity Kits, Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines Limited Edition Thirteen Luna Premium Economy Amenity Kit, Credit: American Airlines

I view this as an improvement over cardboard amenity kits which just don’t have a premium feel.

However I’m looking forward to comparing them to the really nice 2019-era kits and the 2015 Heritage amenity kits.

2019 First Class Amenity Kit

2019 Business Class Amenity Kit

Why Amenity Kits Matter

This may seem like a small matter, but an amenity kit is both about delivering useful items to the passenger for use inflight, and also a nice branded takeaway. Key elements of an amenity kit are:

  • Useful inflight items. A good kit ought to include toothpaste and toothbrush; comb; tissues; hand sanitizer; perhaps cologne; a pen (for those countries that still require paper forms); mouth wash; moisturizer; chap stick; body lotion.

  • Premium brand partnership. Singapore Airlines always stood out to me for large-sized amenities, not just small sample sizes. For years they offered Ferragamo, hard to pick a more premium name. I really liked Ferragamo Tuscan Soul. Full-sized premium items are great for my home guestroom bath. Air Canada business class has an Acqua di Parma partnership. It introduces the premium passenger to the premium brand, and associates the premium airline product with high quality.

  • A useful premium bag as a takeaway. Not only is it a reminder of the flight, but it’s a cool giveaway that leads to telling stories about the flight and airline to loved ones at all, both spreading the word about the product and reinforcing positive emotions about the airline. For many years I used an ANA first class amenity kit as my shaving bag. For the past three years I’ve used an old Cathay Pacific one.

Failing to pay attention to the details here is a wasted opportunity, and I look forward to seeing how American has done.

New Bedding

American Airlines is replacing its Casper bedding which was introduced in 2017 in response to United’s Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, arguably the best business class bedding in the world at the time. I’ve been happy with the Casper product.

Casper bedding in Flagship First Class

According to the airline, 75% of travelers “prefer dual-sided pillows, with different materials on each
side of the pillow.” They’re putting that into first and business class with standard fabric on one side, and cool touch fabric on the other. (United offers a cooling gel pillow as an option in its business cabin.)

First class will offer pajamas. It appears that business class will not, regardless of distance. Traditionally American offered them on ultra-long haul routes like Sydney and Auckland.

However business class to Europe, Asia Pacific and deep South America will offer slippers on all flights, not just ultra long-haul flights.

Flagship first class bedding, credit: American Airlines

Business class bedding, credit: American Airlines

There’s also new bedding in premium economy and coach as well.

Economy bedding, credit: American Airlines

Premium economy bedding, credit: American Airlines

It’s great to see the investment especially in economy. Anything passengers get here is great to see. I do feel like premium transcon business class, especially for overnight flights, could use more though:

Transcon business class bedding, credit: American Airlines

The new bedding in first class is branded. Bedding in other cabins is not, except for the first row of business class suites on the new 787-9s and retrofitted 777-300ERs. Instead, “American collaborated with the inflight textile company John Horsfall to develop bedding made with recycled materials from their Re-Thread® collection*.”

Bedding in first, business and premium economy will come in a reusable zipper, which will be laundered and sanitized between flights.

Full details of bedding by cabin:

Credit: American Airlines

New Menus

American is introducing new premium cabin menus. They are giving example dishes, but we won’t know how they taste until we taste them. They aren’t promoting celebrity chefs here – not example items. Moving away from branded bedding and branded meals is an interesting strategy. Airlines usually enter these partnerships to ‘rent the brand’ and signal quality, but it often doesn’t mean quality – Charlie Trotter meals on United were awful years ago, and I always recommend avoiding anything Ellie Krieger from American.

Business Class To Europe:

Travelers jet-setting to one of American’s new summer destinations like Nice, Naples or Copenhagen will be able to relish delicious offerings like macadamia crusted sea bass with citrus cream sauce, quinoa, toasted orzo, and haricots verts. In addition to these offerings, pan roasted chicken, tortelloni pasta and other offerings, including new pre-order options, will continue to roll out this spring for business class on flights from the U.S. to international destinations.

Credit: American Airlines

Business Class From Europe:

Customers traveling from Europe in business class can choose to indulge in menu items like chili marinated chicken with mojo verde sauce, sweet potato mash, roasted corn and mini chili or gnocchi duet with plain and beetroot gnocchi, lentil ragout, apple chutney, brown butter, roasted spring onion sliced green onion.

Domestic Premium Cabin: (and odd they refer to it here as business class)

Customers traveling on domestic business class can also discover new offerings on their journey. Travelers can enjoy cuisine such as shawarma seasoned grilled chicken, three cheese sacchetti pasta, chicken enchiladas or a plant based stuffed red pepper. Customers can also choose from new pre-order options, including short rib mac and cheese.

Credit: American Airlines

Credit: American Airlines

Elevated Amenities For The First Row Of Business Class Suites

While international and premium transcon first class is being phased out, new widebody business class suites will offer a larger seat in row one and American is confirming for the first time that this will be a differentiated product for amenities.

It will be called the Flagship Suite® Preferred seat and “offer customers expansive space, several storage areas and exclusive amenities like a Nest Bedding® mattress pad, a throw blanket, a memory foam lumbar pillow, Nest Bedding® pajamas and an exclusive amenity kit featuring additional skincare products from Thirteen Lune by Joanna Vargas and Relevant.”

For row one of widebody business class suites there will be branded bedding items, implicitly recognizing a connection between brand and quality that feels like it may be missing elsewhere in the refresh – however as I note one doesn’t necessarily follow the other, and it will be about six weeks before we’re able to see the new product in action to know just how much of an improvement this is.

And I do trust that it’s intended to be better, or else there would be little reason to invest in the changes. They could just roll out the new hard product.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is it confirmed that they’re getting rid of pajamas for business class on the ultra long-haul flights?

  2. I appreciate attempts to improve the catering, but how is short rib mac and cheese new as a preorder? Thats the most consistent item on the menu!

  3. This isn’t premium because Delta is going to offer branded partnerships and lets be honest behind the A350 the 767 is the second most premium plane ever built! We here at the best revenue per seat club think this is a terrible idea. If Delta doesn’t do it it must be a terrible decision because only Delta knows how to make a good decision every time. Four thumbs down! That is for me and my best friend Ed, he said he would call for lunch this week and I am waiting by my premium phone.

  4. I think the meal piece has been out for a few months already? I have had a couple of them.

  5. Agree the new meals have been out and very tasty. Had the chicken enchiladas coming back from Detriot to PHX and they were very good. The lady next to me had the stuffed peppers and said they were excellent. Excited to see the elevation of FC and Flagship at AA, they already have the best and getting better hard product, nice to see an improved soft product.

    NOTE: I think the Flagship Business – Widebody kit description is missing tube socks as I know they are included.

  6. If only AA’s FA’s contracts and wages can be satisfied so that their attitudes and on board service can match the new amenities.

  7. Why are first class passengers getting all the good stuff?
    They can afford to buy their toiletries/bedding.
    It’s the economy passengers who are flying like sardines who can’t afford it.
    Lets switch it around.
    Economy gets jammies. First can bring their own.

  8. 1: Moe, you want more “stuff”: then spend $7,000+ on a round-trip. You bring your own “jammies” and face spritz.

    2: This is great news from AA. I was literally up in arms over the stupid “test” they did with the Panera lunch box BS. Totally ridiculous AA and you know it. You want to give the option of getting nothing or a cheap box: cool. But don’t raise prices to insane heights, talk up all this “Flagship experience” and then take away something that’s EXPECTED on an flight: PREMIUM Amenity Kits.

  9. Oh boy, another PREMIUM Amenity Kit to place in my Goodwill donation box. I’m sitting in hotel and looking at my Premium Flagship Shinola Detroit amenity kit right now. Disappointing. I’m unsure of why I even hauled it off the airplane. When it comes to premium, Shinola Detroit evidently doesn’t know shinola from . . . However the AA Flagship Lounge in ORD, concourse K connection, was very nice, very calm and very QUIET just as a Business Class Lounge should be.

  10. The word “premium” showed up so much in Gary’s post that I had to go back and count the number of times it appeared (16).

  11. Now seriously, I can’t help but be concerned that this will be used to downgrade business class.

    It’s possible they see the increase in paid business class and feel that a subset would be willing to pay more for what should just be called First Class (in theory). On the other hand, they may look at the same data and think they can nudge those people into paying more for a “super double premium” experience by downgrading the experience they have if they stay in business.

    Unfortunately, my money is on the latter.

  12. Many years ago when I was young and naïve, I flew trans-Pacific First Class on Cathay Pacific outbound, First Class on American Airlines return. You can’t imagine how disappointed I was on the return flight.

    Well, yeah, maybe you can….

  13. DEI Sourcing. Shame on you American Airlines. Picking companies by race / skin color to make your products is Racist. Stop with this DEI BS. I want the best product, and you may possibly skip over that to take one sourced from a racist pick. Black and Hispanic and other minority-owned companies are awesome and can make just as good or potentially better products but please don’t pick one just because of the color of the companies skin. Racist. Racist. Racist.

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