Many of the world's most powerful airlines have nearly given up trying to promote true luxury with international first class. But not American Airlines.
American said Wednesday it will invest significantly in its ground experience for travelers who buy the most expensive tickets. In International Flagship Lounges in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Dallas, American says it soon will serve elegant and free restaurant-style meals. You'll have to be flying in first class on three-class airplanes to qualify.
"Flagship Dining is something no other U.S. carrier has offered, and this separates us from the competition," American Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Nocella said in a release. "It makes American a clear choice for the customers who expect a refined, personal touch when they fly.”
Free meals will be limited to lounges in the four cities that are likely American's most lucrative markets, where passengers booking first class at the last minute might pay $10,000 or more for a roundtrip fare. American used the buzz phrases "chef-driven" and "locally sourced" to describe its prospective menus.
Business class passengers will be rewarded, too.
American now has Flagship Lounges in Chicago, New York JFK, Los Angeles and London. They're supposed to be a step up from American's regular Admirals Club, and they're generally reserved for first class passengers on three-class flights. These lounges tend to be quiet, if a little dated.
Starting next year, American will loosen its rules on which passengers can enter. In 2017, American will let international business class passengers into the Flagship Lounges, as well as business class customers flying between New York and L.A. and San Francisco.
American will also update the existing flagship lounges and add a new one in Philadelphia. Here's what the airline says in the release:
As part of a multi-million dollar renovation, American will introduce a new Flagship Lounge experience in six gateways, offering dramatic renovations, refined décor and ambiance, and additional healthy cold and hot food and beverage options as customers unwind before their flights.
I know most travelers will never step foot in a Flagship lounge. But can you blame American for trying to reward its top customers?