Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
American Airlines (AA) has been showing its new, and seriously revamped, transatlantic business class, offering it to the travel trade in London at both Canary Wharf and close by Liverpool Street Station in the heart of The City.
Mounted on a massive articulated wagon, the AA display came complete with fully working examples of the impressive Ricaro seats, plus of course samples of both liquid and very edible refreshments available on the actual flights. The London exposure ” and Manchester on Thursday (14 June 2007) ” comes near the end of a European ”Grand Tour”, a showing off of the product at American Airlines continental gateways. Madrid, on 20 June, is the last stopping off point for the oneworld alliance US representative.
The product is currently being introduced on its international Boeing 767 fleet and will be launched on the long haul 777s during 2008. It is a major step forward in the quality of business class across the North Atlantic and is a parallel introduction to the revised British Airways Club World and the yet to be seen Delta product.
The key to the new American Airlines business class is the fully flat seat which has been well thought out by the airline in conjunction with the German-based manufacturer. The cushion itself is cloth rather than leather, which makes for a much more comfortable feel, does not sweat, nor allow the passenger to slide.
Clearly an ergonomics expert has been involved with the seat design. Gone are the difficult to reach controls, replaced by two highly visible consoles within the arm rests which manage the actual seats, the lights and call button. The seats can move forward from the set position, a real innovation, but perhaps the most important advancement is a three-position memory setting. Go to a flat bed, push a button and the seat goes back to the original position set by you. Most inventive is a double table, allowing for plenty of eating and working space, and there is a personal video-on-demand and audio system that can be mounted on the tray or seat back.
Amongst the storage space, room has been found for somewhere to put away a laptop, but making it instantly available. There is even a light in the back of the seat which makes for a nice bright area when the table trays are set up and a cigarette lighter type power point for electrical gadgets.
The high quality seats come in a two-person module and are not stepped, which does reduce access for the window passenger. For those sitting on the aisle the new seats can justifiably claim to be the class leader for the 767.
American Airlines now offers more than 20 daily non-stop flights from the UK to seven US gateway cities. Most sectors are with three-class Boeing 777s, with the exception of Manchester and some Gatwick services. The Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester routes represent nearly two-thirds of American Airlines current North Atlantic business.
Speaking at the London introduction, American Airlines vice-president sales and marketing Europe, Middle East and Africa, Maria Sebastian said: ”We are the only US carrier never to have gone into administration, something we are very proud of. Our net earnings for the first quarter of 2007 were $81m [”40m], $173 better than 2006.” American last made a profit in 2000. Load factor was 78.1%, up 0.9% year over year. ”With our turnover plan, now into its fourth year, well on line we have turned the financial corner. This in spite of our fuel bill rising from $2.5bn in 2002 to $6.4bn in 2006.”
See also FLYING AT THE FRONT END ABTN 20 October 2006
Maria Sebastian is seen here with European PR manager Anneliese Morris