Bose noise-canceling headsets, bed slippers and amenity kits with Dermalogica and Akhassa products await premium travelers at their seats, along with menus offering a choice of four entrees and several wine and liquor selections.
And by the time flight attendants serve made-to-order sundaes a few hours into the flight, it’s clear that business class is more than just hot towels and a few more inches of legroom.
“You spend a lot of time on an airplane so we wanted to make sure the design and the finishes allow for a peaceful journey,” said Fern Fernandez, American’s vice president of global marketing. “We’re in the business of transporting you from point A to point B, but we want to make it in a comfortable sort of fashion that puts you at ease.”
American received its first 777-300ER, now its largest plane with seats for 310 passengers, in January 2013. It currently has 10 in its fleet, with 10 more on order from Boeing. It flies the aircraft on flights from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Los Angeles and New York to Hong Kong, London and Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Fernandez expects the incoming 777-300ERs will be used on similar, long international flights where there is demand for a premium travel product.
For the Fort Worth-based carrier, new airplanes with premium cabins and older aircraft retrofitted with modern finishes and comfortable seats are critical to winning back corporate customers lost during a two-year stint in bankruptcy court.
Frequent fliers and high-spending business customers want two things on a long flight: aisle access and lie-flat seats, said Brett Snyder, founder of CrankyFlier.com. With the introduction of the Boeing 777-300ER, which has both features in business and first class, American is finally catching up to competitors United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which already have lie-flat seats in business class on their long-haul aircraft.
“If you’re looking to compete with international carriers, you need these premium products,” said Snyder, who experienced American’s new 777-300 aircraft on a flight from Los Angeles to London’s Heathrow Airport last summer. “I think it’s a great product, and it’s something they can build off of.”