Is American a luxury airline? Should it try to be one?

Espresso? Shrimp Scampi? Fine wines?

You may have seen a recent Bloomberg News article detailing the perks of first class in American's new sub-fleet of 17 Airbus A321s that fly from New York to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The walkup fare is about $8,000 roundtrip. But don't worry. If you book far enough in advance, you can fly up there for $3,000 or so. 

I found two interesting things about this story. One is that it's a real puff piece. And two, this is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of the new American Airlines. Yes, American does have this super special fleet of aircraft it flies on special routes. But American is not a luxury airline.  

American has a nice product from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco. But is it really a luxury airline? Should it try to be one? Photo: American Airlines. 

American has a nice product from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco. But is it really a luxury airline? Should it try to be one? Photo: American Airlines. 

This is not Emirates or Etihad or even Lufthansa. And I get the feeling that American, which is now under new management, knows that. The new American's job, as I see it, is to give all customers a decent travel experience. 

I heard Scott Kirby, American's president, speak on Sunday, and I was struck about what he said about how the airline will proper. Beyond the branding stuff and that promise of luxury, the key is just to do a bunch of little things right -- for everyone. 

"We are committed to improving the operation," Kirby said. "We think that is the most important thing to do at the airline. If you don't get the customers where they want to go on time, if you cancel their flight, or if your lose their bag, it ruins the experience."

What do you think? What's more important? Do you want a luxury travel experience? Or do you want to fly on an on-time, efficient airline? (You'd probably prefer both.)