American Airlines Will Introduce New Bedding, Amenity Kits, And Meals With New Business Class

In September American Airlines unveiled their new business class suites that would go into Boeing 787-9, Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A321XLR aircraft. These won’t be flying until 2024. But at the same time they bring an elevated business class seat into the market, the airline also plans to introduce new inflight meal service, amenity kits, and bedding as well.

I had heard this project was underway, but a little more detail was shared in an internal employee question and answer session earlier this month, a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing.

Brady Byrnes, the American Airlines Vice President of Inflight who was also given oversight of Premium Services, noted two of the changes they’re looking at.

  • How flight attendant service flow works consider “zonal” service versus forward/aft service, similar how to British Airways with its large premium cabins deploys its crew.

  • Changing meal service where they expect to “lean more into the club space [in the airport], going club to cabin.” He didn’t expand on what he meant here, though there’s a few possibilities.

    United Airlines, with its Polaris lounges, ‘leaned into their club space’ by cutting back on inflight dining. With better food on the ground they seem to think customers don’t need to eat much in the air (“they’ll have already eaten” though of course United destination cities don’t have Polaris lounges). Indeed, United ran out of food on my flight this summer from Sydney to San Francisco – not a single bag of chips even with five hours left in the trp.

    In the ideal it would mean ‘dine anytime,’ recognizing that passengers may have eaten on the ground. On Air Canada this summer I ate in the Signature Suite before my flight. Why eat dinner on a delayed 11 p.m. departure? Nonetheless a flight over 15 hours needs more than a meal upon departure and a pre-arrival meal, so I asked the crew to hold dinner until mid-flight.

In addition to changing meal service and service flow, American is planning new soft goods, specifically amenity kits and bedding. They’re also introducing better inflight wifi. Currently American’s domestic fleet offers excellent connectivity, but widebodies feature Panasonic connections that work poorly.

Vice President of Customer Experience Kimberly Cisek offered that for amenity kits,

[W]e’re really thinking about our amenity kits differently and trying to reimagine this with a few things in mind: one, sustainability. two, diversity, how can we bring in more diverse suppliers for the amenity kits, and three what can we do from a local aspect and bring that into the amenity kit as well.

Diversity of suppliers and a “local aspect” seem like the least important things they could emphasize as they consider new amenity kits. 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 (too many countries 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.

  • 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.

American’s This Is Ground international bags introduced nearly four years ago were quite good.

2019 American Airlines International First Class Amenity Kit

2019 American Airlines International Business Class Amenity Kit

At the end of 2017 American Airlines rolled out new Casper bedding which I think were fine. United’s Saks bedding is outstanding, highly competitive with the best of the world. American is rethinking their bedding, not just their amenity kits, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they settle on.

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. I’d gladly do without the wast of amenity kits in favor of proper multicourse meal options available for preorder, along with upgraded quality wines

    Lots of pax don’t have time to eat in the lounge

  2. I’m All in favor of better soft product. I still use two AA amenity kits a soft sided zippered brick shape size that holds my Bose NC earbuds, and my power plugs/cords, pen, wipes, etc that fits at the top of my backpack. Second is my iPad holder from several years back. I’m on my 3rd one with one more saved when this one gets too dirty.

    In July I made it to Sydney in Polaris without hunger. Hope to In Qantas next month. Although on the DreamLiner, I’ll get access to Qantas First lounge for food. 😉

  3. I find it so hard to believe that you were on a 15 hour international Polaris flight and the FA’s ran out of food? Really? Nothing, no food, even from Premium Plus or Economy? Really?? A spare entrees, dessert, nothing?? This is simply not true and you know it. Man Gary, I knew your bias against United was big, but this? This? Seriously it’s beyond the pale man!

  4. @Gravelly Point Guy – it is 100% true. They did not have even a bag of chips left. I did a trip report.

  5. And so funny to call me ‘biased against United’ every airline thinks I am unfair to them, AA put together a data project once trying to argue United got disproportionally too favorable coverage relative to them.

  6. Anything is better than the crappy kits from Shinola. So cheap they don’t include a comb, although the have a discount coupon for their overpriced merchandise.

  7. @ Gary, thanks for the update. However, that AA thought you were too favorable to UA is just sort of funny, kind of brought a smile to my face because then it feels like we’re just going around in circles . Anyways, besides the point, I think then UA and the FAs were messing with you, they were just messing with you. I hope you fought this outright and got compensated for it. Frankly, I think a full refund was merited in case such as this one. Miles, money, miles + money, whichever the case. That is just unacceptable!

  8. United has a long way to go in terms of offering edible food in Polaris. The current offering is simply disgusting, weird, and insufficient in portion size. Correctional facilities have better offerings.

  9. AA needs to get rid of those cheap Shinola amenity kits. They are horrible, cannot even re-use the pouches.

  10. WRT “lean more into the club space [in the airport], going club to cabin”, is that about trying to get us to eat meals in the lounges before boarding so that the airline can try to reduce its flight catering costs per meal? I would assume that the cost of a business class meal catered for say a US-Switzerland-US flight is more expensive than the same meal catered for lounge eating at an AA lounge in the US.

  11. Señor Leff, welcome to the party for being disbelieved for no good reason.

    Of course, you’re fair to United by noting what you experienced on your flight to SYD. Lots of disbelievers just can’t believe that their own experiences and that of their fellow amen choir members aren’t wholly representative of what does happen to others at times.

    If you have an anti-UA bias, it’s not really ever grabbed my attention. If anything, I would say you gave DL its due more than you gave AA and UA.

  12. You actually liked the This is Ground kits? I feel like the bags have been a constant downgrade since the first batch of Cole Haan ones.

    Heck, I still use numerous of the Cole Haan bags for chargers, toiletries, even the large bags from the end of the contract are great for shoes. Can’t find a single reuse for the small, clumsy designed This is Ground bags

  13. Would love to see AA exploring more “hip” brands for their amenities. I absolutely love their move towards DS & Durga soaps in the Admiral’s Clubs and plane bathrooms. They could expand this relationship deeper or go for brands like Le Labo or Diptyque.

  14. “Diversity of suppliers and a “local aspect” seem like the least important things they could emphasize as they consider new amenity kits.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. But unfortunately in today’s uber-woke virtue-signaling competition that companies seem to think is priority #1, this kind of crap gets shouted from the rooftops in hopes of winning on ‘good feelings’. It’s ridiculous but unfortunately it’s only getting worse.

  15. Good luck with that! American cut down on their crew for service, they don’t have enough support! Most airlines work with 14 people these planes american have 8 or 9

  16. What a joke. Why should one-time-use utility kits take “sustainability” into account at all? The kits are designed for in-flight use not to be kept at home and are taken by the passenger or junked by the cleaning crews at the end of the flight; unless they are collected to be sold on eBay. People who travel consistently in the Upper classes are really not interested in squirreling the kits away to take home or sell. You can always tell a passenger who is used to Business or First by his or her quick glance at the utility bags. Those for who Business or First is a flying adventure are those who look around and then swiftly put the bag in their carry-on. As long as you Yanks fill your heads with this type of nonsense about sustainability you will never come near the Asian and Middle East carriers Business, or still less so First Class, offerings.

  17. The chapstick is nice to have but the rest is just garbage for the landfill. Emirate, JAL, QR doesn’t matter it’s all just one time use trash. I can’t believe some people go crazy over this dollar store junk (yes even the Jal F kits)

  18. I posted before reading Chad’s reply. I take comfort that others share my own sentiment when it comes to these kits. Agree with the yanks point too. Us Americans are pure consumers. It’s disappointing.

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