There have been reports recently speculating that American Airlines will remove Flagship First. Whether they keep offering it or not remains to be seen, but should they keep it or not?
Flagship First is offered on transcontinental flights, with 10 seats on the Airbus A321T, the same seats as offered in Flagship Business on long-haul flights. There are also eight proper first class seats available for international sectors flown by the Boeing 777-300ER fleet.
Is It Needed Domestically?
When looking at the transcontinental flights within the United States, I would argue it is not really needed. For starters, the Flagship Business seating on these aircraft is already a huge step up over the standard premium seating at the airline. This class alone should be enough for virtually all travellers.
While there are some other extra bells and whistles given in transcontinental first, is it really suitable for domestic flights? The competition hardly offers three classes of service, so this could probably go. Flagship Business class on internal US flights is definitely good enough here.
Should AA Keep Offering Flagship First?
On long-haul flights it is another matter. American Airlines is the only US based airline offering a separate first class cabin, which is available on their fleet of 20 Boeing 777-300ERs. This cabin should be kept and here’s why.
For starters, all of the best quality oneworld alliance airlines offer first class. By that I’m talking about Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qantas, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways. Why does that matter though?
Codeshare agreements are one reason. I recall when Qantas and American were going to cooperate on transpacific services, and AA were going to use their 777s with an elevated product to match the Australian airline. This way passengers could book either airline and know they were getting a comparable service.
There is also the transatlantic joint venture to consider, where AA and British Airways cooperate very closely. You should be able to book all four classes on either airline without any issue, which is how things are at the moment on certain routes. From a customer perspective, it makes sense, and that’s before even considering the aspirational aspect of the product for those who might want to collect miles to someday be able to treat themselves to a trip at the pointy end.
It would be nice if American Airlines kept offering Flagship First on selected long-haul services as they do now. There are a variety of reasons why it would be a good idea, but the fundamental question is – what does American Airlines want to be?
Are they wanting to be a world class carrier on the same level as their oneworld alliance peers? Or are they wanting to be a second rate also ran in the aviation world that people only use because they are the only airline flying on routes where they want to go?
I am firmly of the belief that AA can be and should be a top quality airline. While that is far from how things are at the moment, the potential is there and since the cabins already exist, it would be silly to remove them.
What do you think? Should American keep offering Flagship First? Is it best to keep the status quo, or to remove it from one, other or both domestic transcon and international? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.