American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) and US Airways (Phoenix) are celebrating one year under the same American Airlines Group ownership group as they continue the merger process towards a single operating certificate. Meanwhile US Airways continues to paint its fleet in the new American brand. American Airlines has outlined its plans to upgrade the travel experience for its passengers in 2015 with this report:
One year after closing its merger, American Airlines is looking ahead to 2015 and beyond with more than $2 billion in investments to give its customers a world-class travel experience.
“Now that we have the network to compete globally, we’re going to deliver a product that’s better than our competitors,” said Doug Parker, American Airlines chairman and CEO. “Refreshed cabins and clubs, modernized ticket counters, improved technology and new aircraft are further examples of how American is ‘going for great’ – providing our outstanding team members the tools they need to deliver a great experience for our customers.”
These capital investments include fully lie-flat seats; international Wi-Fi; more in-flight entertainment options; a new, modern design for Admirals Club lounges worldwide; and an upgraded assortment of complimentary healthy food, cocktails and more.
American closed the merger with US Airways on December 9, 2013, and has made significant progress in combining the two airlines.
Customers now have full access to the combined network thanks to the world’s largest codeshare. They can also earn and redeem miles on flights operated by American and US Airways and receive reciprocal access to clubs and upgrades. American’s cargo operation now functions as a single airline and planning is well underway for the major projects that will make American one airline during 2015. Meanwhile, American has posted consistent profits and has begun returning cash to shareholders through a stock buyback and dividend program implemented earlier this year.
American Airlines is taking delivery of nearly 100 aircraft in 2014, giving it the youngest fleet of any U.S.-based network carrier, with an average aircraft age of 12.3 years. In addition, American will take delivery of 112 aircraft next year and 84 in 2016. Orders include the Airbus A320 family, A350-900s, Boeing 737 MAX, 777-300ERs and 787s, which will make American’s fleet even younger, more modern and fuel efficient. The airline continues to see success with its unmatched transcontinental service on the award-winning “A321T” (officially A321-231), which has the only true First Class service between the West Coast and New York.
American is upgrading the customer experience on several aircraft types that customers already fly today. Whether flying domestic or international, customers want recharging capabilities, comfort, and more modern features. American is delivering this to them with a new cabin environment onboard certain Boeing 757s and 767-300s, and a complete nose-to-tail overhaul on more than 90 Airbus A319s and all Boeing 777-200s. The investments mean that every First Class and Business Class seat on nearly every American Airlines widebody jet will feature fully lie-flat and direct aisle access seats.
Boeing 777-200 – The first refurbished 777-200 is already in service, featuring a Business Class seat designed especially for American Airlines customers, with direct aisle access and a private flying experience. The plane will have a modern interior – including a walk-up bar – with unique lighting, a dramatic archway and a spacious look. Main Cabin Extra will be added and all Main Cabin seats will have in-seat entertainment systems. All 47 aircraft are scheduled to be retrofitted by the end of 2016.
Boeing 757 – Aircraft used on trans-Atlantic and Latin America flights will get fully lie-flat seats in Business Class. Customers flying in the Main Cabin will also benefit from a refreshed cabin, power ports and in-flight connectivity.
Airbus A319 – One of the workhorses of the legacy US Airways fleet is scheduled for all new seats. Planned improvements include new seats throughout First Class and Main Cabin, and adding 24 Main Cabin Extra seats and power outlets throughout the cabin to charge personal electronic devices. All 93 A319s will be retrofitted and in service by the end of 2016.
Boeing 767-300 – Eleven refurbished aircraft are already in service and 14 more will be complete in 2015. The cabin will feature fully lie-flat seats with direct aisle access in Business Class and a refreshed Main Cabin. In addition, these aircraft will receive satellite in-flight connectivity.
Entertainment, W-Fi and Power
These investments also will include expanding in-flight entertainment and connectivity.
New Boeing 737-800s, nearly all new Airbus A321s, as well as retrofitted Airbus A319s will have power ports in every row. All new widebody deliveries, including Boeing 777-300 ERs and 787s, come with power at every seat, allowing customers to charge their laptops and their personal electronic devices from gate to gate.
In premium cabins, American is upgrading to the latest Bose® headset, the QC®25, on all flights to South America, Europe and Asia, as well as transcontinental flights.
Customers’ access to the Internet will soon extend around the globe. American is adding satellite-based Internet access on all 777s and A330s, as well as all of the retrofitted 767-300s and 757s, and all 787s, providing connectivity for international flights.
Admirals Club lounges
This year American Airlines celebrated the 75th anniversary of the industry’s first VIP lounge, the Admirals Club lounge in New York, which forever changed the air travel experience. In 2015, American will begin rolling out a modern design across its global network of lounges.
Admirals Club customers will see new and expanded complimentary food options, refurbished restroom and shower facilities, toiletry amenities, and improved technology for customers to use before flights. Additional healthy food items include Greek yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast, hearty soup offerings in every club, crudites and desserts. Additional improvements will continue to roll out in the coming months.
“We invented the airport lounge and in 2015 customers can expect us to reinvent the lounge experience,” said Fernand Fernandez, vice president of Global Marketing. “The same way we transformed transcontinental travel with the award-winning A321T, we will transform every aspect of our clubs with a remodeled design and furnishings, new food choices, and a first class assortment of wines and cocktails.”
American is also improving the customer’s passage through the airport by removing barriers between customers and agents, reducing queues and congestion, and keeping tech-savvy customers connected with charging stations for their devices. With the help of updated lobby designs, newer, faster and more reliable kiosks at check-in counters, and 400 additional kiosks in gate areas, customers will enjoy a faster, more streamlined experience.
Customers will also see 500 worktables with 12 power outlets each and seating for eight people near gates at all hub and gateway airports so they can charge their devices before their flight.
American’s partnership with Cadillac improves the travel experience for the most loyal customers with tight transfer times as they are escorted to their next gate in luxury vehicles. The exclusive service is available now at Los Angeles International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy airports.
For customers who desire a private check-in experience, American will continue to offer exclusive service with Flagship Check-In at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport, and New York Kennedy.
Copyright Photo: Fred Freketic/AirlinersGallery.com. American Airlines’ Airbus A321-231 N112AN (msn 5991) taxies at the New York (JFK) hub.