Ever since I can remember, I have been a loyal American Airlines flyer. Although I have flown multiple airlines in my life, I hold a special spot for American in my heart. That being said, I believe American has lagged behind many of its competitors in all playing fields. Given this, I have earned this year United Premier Silver Status, Alaska MVP status, and JetBlue Mosaic. Nonetheless, I still strive to reach Executive Platinum every year. That being said, I have a few things I would love to see American improve on:
Unlimited Upgrades for All Elites
Something I believe United and Delta do better than American is offering their non-top tier elites unlimited upgrades. American should allow their lower tier elites access to upgrades regardless of stickers.
Defining How to Achieve Concierge Key Status
American should publish how to achieve Concierge Key Status. They should make it an official premium status. The only published way to obtain said status is via an AirPass.
Executive Platinums Access to Premium Economy
Given the addition of Premium Economy, AA should allow their top tier elites (CKs and EXPs) to space available upgrades about 48 hours before departure. This would make their elite program the most rewarding.
Admirals Club Access to Executive Platinums
Some airlines offer their top tier elite members access to their lounges when they travel. American should imitate this, and allow their EXPs access to Admirals Clubs, and their CKs access to Flagship Lounges.
Systemwide Upgrades Increases
American should increase systemwide upgrades back to 8. Since their onboard product is not that great, the airline can possibly compensate by offering their elites chances to upgrade.
American should re-instate their partnership with Qatar and Etihad, as well as add new partners of strategic interest. Some of those partners should be S7 and Sri Lankan within oneWorld. Outside of oneWorld, I would love American to proceed with their purchase of China Southern, as well as investing in partnerships with Airlines in Mexico, India and Canada.
Improve their On Board Service
American (and just about every other legacy carrier) needs to improve their onboard service. For the longest time, US carriers have had issues providing consistent service. I blame mainly company culture, union leverage, and customer’s inability to compliment and complain when they have great or poor service. If US carriers, not just American, could get their act together, they could offer service comparable to other carriers in similar situations (think Air France, British Airways, etc).
American has some of the worst airline catering I’ve had. Occasionally, their international catering is good. Yet, on domestic segments there is hardly any variety and the food is of very lackluster quality. A minimal investment in variety would go a long way, as would a slight improvement of food quality. I don’t expect them to use DO&CO but they could improve their suppliers.
Enhancing the Premium Experience
American’s Premium Experience is lacking. Their Flagship lounges are not very “first class-y” especially at Los Angeles and Chicago. American could learn from Air France’s first class lounge, and add spa services in them. American can also provide transfers for their First Class passengers, there are so few first class seats available now, it would not be very difficult. These improvements would make the First Class experience much more exclusive.
Enhanced Transcon Premium Service
American’s First Class transcon service is just like a really good business class service. There is no other airline offering First Class services, but jetBlue Mint runs circles around them. Seat and food-wise they are so much better. American can improve many of these aspects, and integrate them with the above mentioned improvements.
Uniform International Business Class Seat
Something that really upsets me is how American has about 9 configurations on their international aircraft in business class. The airline doesn’t offer a consistent product, and makes it very difficult for me to decide which aircraft I would fly. The airline should make their 777s, A330s and 787 have sufficiently similar seats.
Improve Domestic Lounges
Going back to the lounge issue, American Airlines should improve their domestic lounges to offer e a bit more food to passengers. Even if it’s finger sandwiches and full salads, it would be an improvement to their current offering. They offer a very comprehensive network of lounges, so it would be a major plus if they improved them.
Improve their Wifi
American is currently in the process of installing Gogo 2Ku wifi, as well as adding ViaSat to their 737MAX and their Panasonic equipped international aircraft. You can see the problem here. There are 3 different wifi providers, this means that you cannot get a monthly pass, or annual pass that will work on the entire fleet. If American can work out with its providers a way to have this fixed, this would be ideal.
Improved Food for Purchase in Economy
American has a very limited menu onboard for purchase. When you compare it to the offerings on United and jetBlue, American falls behind. They should add more options in terms of solid food as well as snack boxes. This is an easy place to improve, and I believe the airline should be on its way doing this.
Retrofit Legacy US Airways Aircraft
The biggest complaint I have about American Airlines is their sub-par (read deplorable) US Airways A320s and A321s. These aircraft are awful, no power ports, bad wifi, no IFE at all. The airline can and should remodel these aircraft and add both Main Cabin Extra and some form on onboard power. This is the complaint many people have regarding American, and this nudges back at the airline’s inconsistent fleet product.
Improved Aviator Silver Card Benefits
American offer two premium credit cards. One via Citi (The World Elite Executive MasterCard) and the other is offered via Barclaycard. Barclaycard’s premium card is called the Aviator Silver, and it offers EQD waivers for certain spends. This only applies to the Aviator Cards (the Red and Silver). The Citi Executive Card offers Admirals Club access, but no EQD waiver. This forces people to have both credit cards if they want to have the full set of benefits .I believe American should synergize the benefits from each card.
Improving Joint Ventures
American should improve their Joint Ventures and match the products offered in each airline. Just as American has been improving their cabin service to align with Qantas and JAL, American should match the offers of BA, Iberia and Finnair. This could improve the quality of economy class service on the airline.
Delta has been leading the charge on diversifying assets. They own parts of China Eastern, Virgin Atlantic, GOL, Aeromexico and possibly Jet Airways soon. American should purchase assets in some airlines, such as their current interest in purchasing a stake in China Southern. They should also look into other airlines. I believe Air India would be a good purchase. Other airlines as mentioned before in Russia and Mexico could be good purchases.
I have been a loyal American flyer for almost 23 years. I do not intend on changing my top loyalty any time soon. That being said, there are thing American can do to push me away. I hope American soon takes up some of these improvements, instead of continuing the “race to the bottom”. Only time will tell what will happen.
What do you think? How else should American improve? What other changes would you like to see at American? Let us know!
All images from the Author or Wikipedia.