A luxurious encounter
American Airlines beefs up efforts to provide eligible passengers
Published: Apr 12, 2018 08:28 PM

An American Airlines B787 Dreamliner Photos: Courtesy of American Airlines

The dining area of the airline's flagship lounge at LAX Photos: Courtesy of American Airlines

More and more carriers are realizing that pleasing first and business class passengers should start from the second they enter the airport, meaning the improvement of lounge services has become an absolute must.

American Airlines is one of those carriers.

In January 2018, American, the largest carrier in the world in terms of fleet size, marked the opening of its refurbished flagship lounge as well as its first flagship dining facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

With the opening, eligible customers can now enjoy a sit-down meal before boarding their flights, the first service of its kind at LAX, with the lounge services offering passengers more food and drink options as well as a space to unwind while waiting for their flight.

"Upgrading lounge products is important for our international first class and business class, and it is supporting our onboard products," James J. Moses, managing director of Los Angeles International Airport with American Airlines, said in an interview with the Global Times on April 4.

Customers should enjoy the same experience when they enter the airport as when they board the aircraft, and when we started to redesign the lounge, we wanted to ensure it would secure that experience, he added. 


American's renovations to its flagship lounges and establishment of its first flagship dining facilities are part of a $200 million investment in luxury travel experience in key US cities such as Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago.

Furthermore, the airline announced in 2017 that it would be investing more than $1.5 billion in service improvements at LAX Terminals 4 and 5 for its passengers.

According to Moses, the company started the initial construction of its airport lounges back in 2014 at LAX, with the recent upgrading now offering a better food menu and hiring new chefs, a total transformation compared to the company's past services.

However, the lounge improvements are a small part of a bigger picture. American is the largest carrier at LAX with more than 200 flights on peak days to 70 destinations across five continents, including China.

Since 2015, American has added services to 24 new destinations from LAX, including Sydney, Auckland, Hong Kong, Tokyo and, as of November 2017, nonstop services to Beijing, with Los Angeles now being regarded as "the West Coast gateway to the Asia-Pacific region."

Currently, American operates daily flights to Shanghai and to Beijing.

The airline's load factor for both its business and premium economy class cabins on the routes to China is about 80 or 90 percent, better than the load factor for its economy class cabin, Moses noted.

Effective cooperation

In January, American announced a code-sharing partnership with China Southern Airlines, one of China's "big four" carriers, adding new momentum to the international operations of both airlines by enabling more diverse options for passengers traveling between the world's two biggest aviation markets.

Thanks to a strategic partnership with China Southern, American Airlines passengers can now connect via Beijing to even more Chinese cities such as Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province, Shenyang in Northeast China's Liaoning Province and Changsha in Central China's Hunan Province.

That strategic partnership was established in March 2017 between the two airline giants, with American investing $200 million in purchasing an H-share issued by China Southern.

The cooperation shows the ambitions of the two carriers in this growing market. However, Moses said it also shows the competition between China and the US is very fierce in terms of flying capacity.

According to the latest data from CADAS, a research institution operated by aviation news portal, showed that 5.3 million passengers traveled between China and the US in the first eight months of 2017, an increase of 6.3 percent year-on-year.

The data also showed that Chinese carriers have grabbed 207 weekly flights among the total 350 flights per week between China and the US.

In terms of capacity, the data also noted that more than 63 percent of travelers in the US fly starting from either Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or New York City.

"We are satisfied with the performance of the Beijing route, although it has been flying only for about five months, and there is always room for improvement," Moses said, adding that currently, there are no plans to add more cities in China, as it is quite difficult to secure slots in many Chinese airports.