Not the Onion: American Airlines Named Five Star Global Airline

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker spoke at the Airline Passenger Experience Association event in Boston, and his airline was awarded the distinction of being a ‘Five Star Global Airline’ at the APEX event.

American’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Loyalty & Sales Kurt Stache says, “Being named a Five Star airline shows that our customers are noticing our investments and the hard work by our team. It’s an honor to be one of only three North American airlines to receive this distinction.”

This year Air Canada was also elevated to Five Stars alongside Delta.

What American doesn’t tell you is that there are other categories besides ‘global airlines’ where five stars are given. Regional airlines Alaska, JetBlue, and Hawaiian have five stars as well.

The APEX Official Airline Ratings™ were created based on passenger feedback gathered through APEX’s partnership with TripIt® from Concur®, the world’s highest-rated travel-organizing app. Using a five-star scale, more than one million flights were rated by passengers across nearly 500 airlines from around the world between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.

First, passengers rated their overall flight experience from one to five stars. On the same screen, passengers were given the opportunity to provide anonymous ratings in five subcategories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment and Wi-Fi. The single screen rating allows airline passengers to easily rate their flight in less than 15 seconds.

Last year’s included Five Star low cost carriers as well, and included JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country, and Virgin America. This year they don’t list any low cost carrier five star carriers, and they moved JetBlue into the regional category.

So congratulations, American Airlines, you’re not Spirit or Frontier. And you’re ranked more highly than four star airlines British Airways (which seats eight across in business class) and Air France (which flies its A380s with an angled business class seat).

In all seriousness American Airlines offers a strong international business class. They have a very good seat on their Boeing 787 and 777 fleet (though some customers don’t like the ‘Concept D’ seats on a handful of Boeing 777-200s). Their food is decent. They’ve improved inflight bedding. And their new Flagship Lounges are a real improvement, too, though not quite at the level of United’s Polaris lounges.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX

It’s really economy (where any airline squeezing 10-abreast on a 777 can hardly be called five star) and domestic (where even first class legroom is getting squeezed) that they have their challenges.

So how you rate American correlates directly, I think, with the routes and class of service that you fly.

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. AA is Five Star airline? LOL. It reminds me of the dumpy hotels in China who claim to be 5 star hotels. I stayed at one of those dumps and literally had to have a mosquito net over my bed to keep me from getting bitten during the night. AA isn’t close to being 5 stars.

  2. Question Gary- you say that no airline that puts 10 across in a 777 should be considered five star. So you don’t think Cathay, Etihad, Emirates, Qatar and several others are “five star”, whatever that means?

  3. AA is not a “5-star airline.” But few are. It’s hard to be 5-star when people only want to pay for 2-star.

  4. I have 465,000 MQMs on AA this year so far. There is a big difference domestic versus international. Over the last three years I have seen the airline improve across the board but it is most noticeable on long-haul international flights. Still room for improvement IMO, the cabin service can be great but can be spotty too.
    Are they 5-star? Not really. That’s Cathay territory. But 4 to 4 1/2 would be fair.
    @Gary: The Flagship Lounge may not be Polaris quality — don’t know, don’t fly United — but Flagship First dining is the best you are getting in the US.

  5. It reminds me of buying a compact camera from 47th Street photo many years ago. The salesman recommended a Cannon. I said the consumer rating companies are recommending xxx brand. He said dismissively, those ratings are a racket. Actually, the Cannon worked great until I dropped it 6 feet on cement in India years later. No-body every go rich or famous recommending a dinky airline.

  6. @JetAway. The pocket Canon (yea, typo)was a great portable camera. In Centurion lounge, drinking too much wine. I am about to leave the Lounge and eat a free dinner thanks to my Priority Pass. I am thinking Claim Chowder and Fish. Travel is torture because of too much wine and too much food, but someone has to do it. Back to the camera, the Canon in my pocket. Survive lots of abuse. Took great pictures. No complaints.

  7. Amusingly, none of the five “sub categories” were operational reliability. Great seats are nice. Food and service are good to have. But fundamentally, I don’t want to sit in Dallas for five hours after my transpac because the airline can’t figure out how to keep to a schedule.

  8. @Dug Parker
    I’m jealous, but at least Gary mentioned my Polaris Lounge is better than your Flag.
    Need a favor: Do not repair those Concept D’s in J.

  9. How underwhelming! Note to AA: I notice a lot of your first class is only 36 inches now, and on those flights I will buy economy exit row, defeating your stupidity.

    And I’ll pay 2x as much to fly MINT on any route

  10. New Poll –

    How did AA win 5-Star Global Airline award?

    A. Rounding Error
    B. IT glitch
    C. Judges bribed
    D. Typo on trophy

  11. I doubt any airline is really 5 Star, but AA has improved in last 5 years after being best US Airline in the 90’s and then sinking. On international, they still. need to dramatically improve the bedside manner of the flight attendants, too many are jaded, still waiting for more routes from medium size cities to rest of world, and need more work to be truly 5-Star!

  12. I believe it is 5 Star. It deserves it. People never take American’s offerings to their advantage. Like the streaming TV on their phone. The seats are also nice, (not top notch tho) but comfy. The food is ok, but it’s viable. American also has delays, no one is perfect, but I think y’all are just unlucky. I’ve been flying American for 6 years and only 1 flight got delayed. Give American another chance.

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