American Airlines could have created a really good international first class product. They have the lounges (with first class dining). They have the ground service, they just needed to bundle Five Star in with Flagship first class tickets. The seats are antiquated, but comfortable and spacious and the bedding works. They’ve even done nice first class amenity kits before. All that was really needed beyond Five Star was an investment in onboard service and more spend on food and beverage.
Sadly, in their move to suites with doors they’ve committed to eliminating Flagship first class. Boeing 777-300ERs, the only widebody planes with the product, will be getting more business class suites instead. And the fleet of premium cross country A321T that offered a true first class will be reconfigured like standard domestic planes, with routes like New York – Los Angeles either served by new Airbus A321XLRs that will have suites or with widebody aircraft instead.
In the meantime American still has first class. It’s not a competitive product. And they’ve basically already given up on it. In fact, American Airlines Vice President of Inflight and Premium Services Brady Byrnes told a group of employees at a meeting in Dallas on December 9th (a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing) that one way they’re compensating for having fewer flight attendants working flights is by reducing what each one is expected to do – even in international first class. American no longer sets the table for first class passengers and now just delivers trays with flatware already on it.
We’ve continued to make modifications to our current service footprint in the hopes of streamlining onboard delivery a bit. For example in first class on the 777-3 when we used to table set, now it’s all preset on the tray….just a few little nits that will hopefully take a some pain points out of your guys’s daily duties.
American will be working through its “next service iteration” with flight attendant focus groups starting in a few months, retrofitting what service looks like including with feedback from British Airways about service on dense premium Boeing 777s.