This article is a part of a 5 piece opinion on how American Airlines can regain investor confidence, passenger loyalty and general good public perception. For the index of the articles, see here.
One of the main places American can improve on revenue generation is with premium passengers. This group of passengers consist of their top tier frequent fliers, as well as price-insensitive corporate consumers. At the moment, American’s premium experience is sub par, and there are many ways to improve it. Here are some of them (in no particular order).
American’s first class meal service is dismal. Unless I am starving, or I can order one of the special meals, I avoid eating on board. Their food has gone from meh, to bad, to sometimes inedible. If American wants to tout their onboard catering, they should invest in their meal options. They have had the same dinner and lunch options for the whole year. This gets boring, especially when the food is terrible. They should have a selection of entrees that they rotate among routes, throughout the year. I say have 12 meal options per season, and rotate them every trimester. Even if the food isn’t gourmet (something I can’t expect from a US carrier), variety makes it more palatable (pun intended lol).
Better International Wifi
I just flew from the US to Tokyo and back. I purchased wifi on board. However, I did not have wifi on board. The speeds were about 1 mbps for download, and .2 mbps for upload. This. Is. Pathetic. Imagine how I felt spending $20 for inoperable wifi. It was like throwing money out the plane’s window. I am aware that domestically, American is improving their wifi networks and coverage, but internationally, on flights were I needed to be productive, all I could do was send iMessages. I couldn’t even send emails. This needs to change, since wifi is key for business passengers. It is hard to believe that some airlines don’t have wifi yet, and although AA has wifi, it is as good as worthless. I don’t really know how to improve international wifi, but I know it is possible. My flights with JAL have had reasonable wifi, and at a reasonable cost.
Powerports on A320s and LUS A321s
American has a large fleet of A320s and A321s that they inherited from US Airways. None of these aircraft have powerports on any cabin. Some of these planes fly from coast to coast, and they also don’t have IFE screens (a side note). If AA wants to make these planes worth flying, the least they can do is add powerports. I know AA is in the slow process of doing this, but they need to pick up the pace. I cannot be on a plane for 5 hours, and not be able to plug in my laptop, either to watch TV or work.
American has a good enough international premium product. I like their Casper bedding, and their PJs are some of the best I have gotten. This is a small note, and not really a key issue, but American needs to improve their Amenity Kits. There needs to be consistency on what the kit will be (I have gotten 6 different kits on 6 different international flights) and the contents have gotten meh. I like their partnership with CO Bigelow, but maybe spice up the options, variety (as with the meals). Minor point, but it makes a difference for me, at least.
MORE PREMIUM SEATS
American has the least number of premium seats relative to aircraft in the industry. They are adding more coach seats, while reducing the value of premium cabins. Although the A321neos and A321 retrofits will get 4 more business class seats, their A320s and 737s OASIS are still a terrible option for business class passengers. Their addition of P/E on their 788s has also reduced the number of premium seats down to 20, which is below my 10:1 ratio of economy class to premium class. The A320s, 737s and some A321s do not meet this standard, and that is sad. Delta has the most premium seats, and United is somewhere in the middle. American needs to improve this, but this will probably not happen.