American Has Started Serving GREAT Champagne In First Class!!!

American is taking an interesting long term approach towards first class, as they plan on keeping it around, though in a very scaled back way. American is presently reconfiguring all of their 777-200 aircraft, and in the process is removing the 16 first class seats on those aircraft, and instead installing a superior business class product.

However, American plans on maintaining first class on their 777-300 aircraft, with just eight first class seats per plane.

American-777-First-Class-01

When American launched their flight between Los Angeles and Sydney, they greatly improved the first class experience. Under pressure from Qantas they invested in the soft product. All of the changes were minor, but it truly felt like they were putting effort into the service, and it was actually differentiated from the business class experience.

American-First-Class-Sydney - 3

For example, how much does a caviar tartlet, a proper cheese course, and being able to choose which sides you want with your main course really cost? Probably not much. But the difference in perception is huge.

American-First-Class-Sydney - 6

Apparently feedback has been great, so at some point in 2016 they’re planning on rolling out similar service on other flights.

Doug-Parker-Presentation

Along similar lines of improving the soft product, I was shocked when my friend Robert posted a picture of the champagne he was being served in American first class on a flight from Tokyo Narita to Dallas. And it doesn’t seem to be a catering fluke, since it was also posted on the menu. American is now serving Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle in international first class.

Laurent-Perrier

While it’s not quite to the level of Krug, Veuve La Grande Dam, or Dom 2005, it’s still a very nice champagne. It’s the same champagne British Airways serves in first class, and also offers in their Concorde Rooms.

BA-Champagne

British-Airways-Concorde-Room-JFK-36

American has been known to switch around which champagne they cater pretty often, so it has gone through varying degrees of quality. That being said, in the past several years I don’t recall them ever serving something as nice as Grand Siecle, so I’ll assume this is intentional, and not just a random rotation.

It’s also interesting that they adopted their improved meal service from Qantas, and perhaps adopted their better champagne from British Airways — both are joint venture partners, so this may very well be intentional.

Bottom line

It’s fantastic to see American investing in their international first class product. I’ll assume this champagne change is intentional, and not just part of some random rotation. Now I can’t wait to see what their new dining facility for international first class passengers looks like.

Flagship-Dining

Keep it up, American. When you consider that American offers among the best wifi of any international carrier (it’s fast, and costs $19 per flight without data limits), their international first class product is actually starting to look competitive. If only they could make the service a bit more consistent.

Do you think American’s new champagne offering will stick around? Does the quality of champagne impact your overall impression of a product?

Comments

  1. When I travel in First it’s for pleasure so WIFI means nothing to me. Quality of food/alcohol & the product is important but it would still take a lot for me to fly American because of the crew. You pay top dollar/miles and I expect the service to match which isn’t the case with American.

  2. too bad the AA first class interior looks like !@#&… no champagne is going to improve that.

  3. Wifi service was in and out so many times on my flight last week. Yes, it’s fast for what it is, but the sheer frustration of trying to stay connected made the whole thing a waste of time and money.

  4. Dammit, I’m flying the 77W next month in business, well I guess I’ll have to do witout the champagne haha. Overall, good news to separate the “marginally” better than business first class according to a previous post of yours.

  5. This post reminded me of my experience on AA first from LAX to LHR. I ordered the goat cheese and beet ravioli as the starter. When they brought out the food they presented a plate with a couple beet slices. I checked the menu again. Sure enough it said goat cheese and beet ravioli. I got the attendants attention and said, “Excuse me, actually I got the goat cheese and beet ravioli”. He said something along the lines of, “That is correct”. It was just silent. I wasn’t sure if he didn’t see the problem or what. I started to doubt myself thinking I must have read it wrong. Ravioli is a weird word that I don’t see often maybe I had mixed it up. At the very least I knew the menu said goat cheese and there was none on the plate. I said, “Well the menu says goat cheese and beet ravioli. This doesn’t look like ravioli and these isn’t any goat cheese on it.” He said something along the lines of being able to get me something different. I don’t think he understood the difference between what he gave me and what was on the menu. I wasn’t mad and didn’t really care all that much about the food. I was just so confused by the whole thing. I think their menu and our menu were not in sync. There were only a couple options, this is then only one that had beets in it, thus it was what I ordered. Before this I had flown only Cathay first class before and it was very apparent the different in quality. The flight overall was pleasant and I can’t complain but, as you mentioned in other posts, there wasn’t a reason to choose first over business with AA. At the very least it was a lot cheaper to fly than BA.

  6. “too bad the AA first class interior looks like !@#&… no champagne is going to improve that.”

    Alcohol, consumed in liberal enough quantities, can and will change the way you look at anything.

    AA lost some ‘points’ with me due to their recent award mileage devaluation, but it’s good to see that they are improving their First Class product for those who can still afford it.

  7. Pretty impressive. GS is what Lufthansa was serving in F at least as of a year or two ago when I flew them last. Personally I would prefer GS over LGD (btw: it’s “Grand Dame”), and am a bit underwhelmed with DP05 — spoiled a bit after the great 04? — but certainly American is stepping up its game, which is a good sign.

  8. Lucky, I’m curious your thoughts on cabin decor. It’s not something you seem to spend a whole lot of time on so i’m wondering if when you’ve sat down it really doesn’t matter. On the US and major Euro carriers that First class honestly looks like a office supply closet in the basement of any high-rise. The UAE carriers look a bit better especially Emerites with the cute little lamp. The ads Jennifer Anniston is in make the cabin look pretty good but overall not too spectacular. Any light you can shed on the subject of the interiors or have you written about it before? Thanks so much.

  9. A Big Step in the right direction for AA. Lucky, do you know if they will also be serving this to First Class Passengers on their 3-Class Transcon A321’s?

  10. Nice little quote in there from American Ben 🙂

    My last flight AA J LAX-LHR I had a rather mixed crew, they were all fantastic, one of them had not even flown in 2 months, but they were really really nice.

  11. AA is making an effort for sure! Their F and J (new seats) is now worth paying for

    I’ve had outstanding service in F on EZE-MIA, NRT-DFW, NRT-LAX and DFW-LHR lately. They are most certainly taking pointers from QF and BA.

    Unlike other carriers and alliances. AA makes the most of their partnerships by listening to them, and also understands that with a JV, passengers WILL expect and demand a similar service across airlines.

  12. I guarantee you that if you took off the label, 99.9% of the people wouldn’t know the difference.

  13. “at some point in 2016 they’re planning on rolling out similar service on other flights”

    ‘at some point’: Ay, there’s the rub.

    Flying FC DFW-LHR 777-300 in mid August. Really, and I mean REALLY, hope this upgraded soft product is implemented on that flight by then. Coming home SQ Suite FRA-HKG, then JAL FC to LAX, so that would make a Trifecta. 🙂

    @Bob I guarantee you, that if they took off the label, I would certainly know the difference. 😉

  14. In my opinion, American would need to get rid off some of their mid-age Trolley-Dolleys. They might have joined a company in the “glorious” days, but have been through some hard-cut backs/lay-offs,

    However, if American plans to offer a fair competition toward ME3, they would have to encourage their staff, modify their hard product and focus on the soft-product.

    Staff / Non-Rev are treated way better then full-fare revenue pax.

  15. On my emirates flight first class from dubai to sydney last week i had the champagne degustation menu coupled with offerings of food to match the champagne. It was devine. Following that spa shower i then returned to my suite for a sleep in pj’s. Absolutely nothing beats emirates first.
    Like jennifer Aniston commercial for emirates it highlights the vaste difference in hard and soft products between EK and AA that its hinting at.

  16. Wow – that’s nice to see. Had Grand Siecle in F on Lufthansa and it’s one of the first times I’ve actually noticed a huge difference in terms of taste over mid-priced champagne. Wouldn’t ever make it worth choosing American over others or doing First over Business imo but if you’re already there it’s nice.

  17. Very interesting.

    But no doubt, the most sensible way for someone who wants Laurent Perrier, Krug or Dom Perignon, to get it is to go the the store and buy it.

    But perhaps AA is learning that in premium cabins its terribly important to create the appearance that they finally give a shit about premium experiences.

  18. Gosset Grande Reserve is pretty good, but price point is still cheaper than GS.

    If someone uses Gosset Grande Reserve for international business, it will be really nice.

    GS is certainly an upgrade.

  19. Can’t you bloggers stop writing about champagne in every other post and start writing about a man’s drink like scotch or bourbon? Let’s get some momentum building and put pressure on the airlines to improve their offerings for the good stuff. Aka the liquor for those not reading between the lines.

    I don’t know dick about champagne but I know the words Grand Siecle (probably with a backwards accent on one of the e’s if I recall correct) because I’ve read it 1000x here. Let’s find some new material.

    Especially with the tightening rules about credit card signups, you’ll have to start catering to the unwashed masses at some point. And not everybody cares about Grand Siecle Grand Siecle Grand Siecle ad nauseum.

  20. Amen to what Tim said. Airlines should really work on improving beer and cocktail options as a differentiator. I always find beer selection to be atrocious on nearly every airline.

    I also think it is funny when an airline serves $150 bottles of champagne and $15 bottles of red and white alongside.

  21. Hi all, it’s great to see American finally upping their game on the champagne stakes. I would like to clarify London to JFK served grand seicle on the 777-300ER on 12th April. Looks like it’s a cert. to continue. Iv as totally shocked of course but did consume a few more glasses more than the average stuff they use to serve.

  22. Tim your comment about real men drinking borbon and whiskers seriously most of us are fruits.
    Take mrs lucky for example she is a fruit and her partner mr hersey highway.
    And yes we don’t drink such common fluid but rather krug gs veu clitoris and billycart.

    Thats how we fruits/habdbags operate.

  23. Does anyone know if this also goes for the old 777-200’s first class? Have a flight coming up from Miami to Buenos Aires soon….

  24. If the pictured ‘Refreshed’ meals in J and F are what they are serving, then they have a long way to go in terms of content and presentation to be comparable to Qantas. What is that served with the caviar tartlet? tomato soup? How bizzare! Should be the champagne. And the steak main course looks like it’s been dumped on a plate without any thought. Motto for AA for 2016: “MUST TRY HARDER!”

  25. @Tim

    I’m a man. I have Caol Ila and Laphroaig 15 in my liquor cabinet, neither of which you are likely to ever find on an airline (though you might find them in the Lufthansa FCL or Swiss SEN scotch bar in ZRH ;)), because Islays tend to provoke strong opinions pro/con, and to a certain extent airlines need to cater to a lower common denominator, which is why you often find Glenlivet or Macallan as the high end single malt in a first class cabin (though I’ve also gotten Highland Park 12 in business class on Singapore Air).

    The default bourbon seems to be becoming Woodford Reserve, which is fine, I suppose, but the really high-end stuff would be difficult for an airline to source in the quantities they need, given all the frantic scrambling after Pappy Van Winkle and so on.

    I also drink champagne. For one thing, scotch is difficult to pair with food because of the high proof involved (it can be done, but come on, you’re at 35,000 feet and the aircraft galley is not a fully stocked kitchen) so it works better without a meal (or as a digestif when they bring your praline/coffee around). Also, champagne is acidic enough to retain taste that you often lose when your cabin is only pressurized to 8,000 feet or so, which can make it a better food pairing than red or white wine.

    Anyways, why on earth does Lucky have to write about drinks he’s not fond of, if by some chance he’s not fond of brown liquors? This is his blog and it’s a big internet. You just typed some words on a screen criticizing him. Why don’t YOU publish a blog about bourbon and scotch at 35,000 feet if you think it’s something people need to read about?

  26. Coins,

    Starts at $99 a bottle in the states, and ‘only’ gets a 92 rating. In the wine world, that means biz seats that don’t go all the way back, 😉

  27. @ eponymous coward — Not to get sidetracked, but how do you find the Caol Ila compared to the other Islays? We just finished a bottle of Laphroaig 18, which was magical, but others have been hit or miss.

  28. @Tiffany

    Less iodine/sea brine/medicinal. more smoke/peat/leather and balanced than the Laphroaig 10 base expression (I’m more familiar with that than the 18).

    I commend the Laphroaig 15 to you if Laphroaig’s flavor profile is up your alley. It hasn’t been around for a few years and might not stick around for much longer. I’m also partial to the Ardbeg Uigeadail and Lagavulin, so you can see that I’m very happy with the Islays (though if I had one single malt to stick with forever it would probably be a Highland Park).

    And why not a little diversion, it seems like some the readers are asking for it? 😉

  29. @ eponymous coward — Thanks! Those are great recommendations. The last Ardbeg I tried was reminiscent of “burnt clutch” as opposed to the smokey peat we generally prefer. Will give all three a try, the husband says thanks as well. 🙂

  30. I flew on AA 51(LHR-DFW) in FC on April 6 and had the opportunity to try the LPGS and enjoyed it. The FA were actually trying to pay attention to the customers and not snarl at them as I had heard reports. They did really need to learn to listen. The FA at first thought I did not like the champagne. What I said is that I was not a big wine expert, but this was really good. I had to prompt her to get another glass with my meal. She wanted to give me just water and not water and some more of the champagne or one othe other wines.

    I was in seat 2J. The only other complaint is that the attendant seemed to push the divider current up against my seat when going between FC and buisiness class.

  31. My wife & I have a segment DFW-ICN in 1st on AA281 scheduled for late January of 2017. Currently the equipment is listed as the old 777-200 with 16 first class seats. What do you think are the chances that we will be downgraded to business if they swap out for the new 777-200 business class only configuration? Or are they more likely to replace with the new 777-300?

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