American Airlines now sells ‘Business Plus’ fares that include Flagship check-in, Flagship First Dining access (currently only available at New York JFK, Miami and Dallas Fort-Worth) and a third checked bag.
View it as bundling Flagship First Dining into the fare, but beware this is useful only at a limited number of airports. My recent visit at New York JFK was wonderful and worth a modest premium.
American doesn’t plan to offer these fares on routes served by Boeing 777-300ER or Airbus A321T aircraft – which have actual first class cabins. This fare type is a buy up option for planes where business class is the top cabin, offering some of the perks of first class.
In a statement to The Points Guy, American Airlines offered,
We are pleased to offer customers a new way to access American’s Flagship premium travel experience. With Flagship Business Plus, customers can enjoy Flagship First Check-In, receive a taste of our Flagship First Dining and relax in our Flagship Lounge prior to their departure. Flagship Business Plus also provides a third complimentary checked bag and access to the Arrivals Lounge at LHR.
Today, Flagship Business Plus is broadly available on aa.com and in third-party channels. We plan to enhance the offering in the future to provide additional value to customers, which would require NDC technology to access and book Flagship Business Plus.
Note that American confirms to me that “customers with regular business fares will continue to have access to the Arrivals Lounge at LHR. No change.” so it doesn’t seem as though Arrivals Lounge access at London Heathrow should be touted as a benefit of these premium business fares.
In my view this could be worth a couple hundred extra bucks to some customers, but American may be banking on it as a choice for customers traveling on other peoples’ money – they’re still buying a business class fare (staying within policy), and getting to enjoy the extra perks.
When the fare type accidentally leaked in January I offered that it could be used “as an upsell opportunity” and “could come bundled with some premium services like Flagship first class check-in.” What this says for the future of first class at the airline remains unclear.