American Airlines is joining a bandwagon of carriers making big upgrades to economy class buy-on-board menus. American being American, the new food must be a marketing opportunity.
Last week I wrote about how airlines are turning cabins into experiential marketing nests, and American’s latest announcement plays right into that ethos. Conveniently, the airline is also replacing the business class Bose headphones with a new brand.
Taste: American x Zoes’ Kitchen
With the high customer value of premium cabins, it’s no wonder marketing departments put its focus on partnerships at the front of the plane. However, with today’s press release, American is announcing they haven’t forgotten about its Main Cabin.
This change is hot off the heels of United’s refresh earlier this month, which was (slightly) less branded. News flash—if you haven’t flown in the last decade within the US, you might not be aware that most domestic economy meals now cost a thing or two, though complimentary food has returned on certain transcontinental flights.
If you do get hunger pangs onboard, don’t forget the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard comes with 25% off in-flight food and beverage purchases.
With its new partnership with Zoës Kitchen, American promises “delicious, light and healthy choices onboard.” Those are three adjectives that American has been sorely lacking in the meal department.
However, I found some highly positive reviews for Zoës Kitchen, a Texas-based Mediterranean fast-casual chain that I had never heard of before. There are over 200 Zoës spread across the country, mostly concentrated in Texas and the southeast.
Here’s what will be onboard starting Dec. 1:
Breakfast Sandwich: Turkey bacon, egg slices and tomato topped with baby arugula on a waffle brioche bun with Calabrian pepper aioli.
Continental Breakfast Box: Belgian waffle, hazelnut spread and fresh berries.
The Grüben: Zoës signature sandwich with sliced turkey, Manchego cheese, crunchy Mediterranean slaw and feta spread layered on marble wheat bread, served with a Zoës chocolate chip cookie.
Chicken Wrap: Grilled chicken wrap with mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, arugula and artichokes, served with a Zoës chocolate chip cookie.
Hummus Duo: Zoës signature hummus duo, including their classic flavor topped with Kalamata olives and basil pesto hummus, served with pita bread, cucumber and carrot.
With American’s Main Cabin meals a sad state of affairs, especially of late, (see: American’s infamous barbecue sandwich), I don’t have huge expectations that things will turn around overnight. But I do have hopes that this is more than just a mindless branding initiative.
Sound: American x Bang & Olufson
American had a long relationship with Bose, offering their over-the-ear noise canceling headsets to customers traveling in long-haul and premium transcon (LAX/SFO-JFK) first and business class. Their QC2 headphones are high quality and common amongst the frequent flier crowd. However, that partnership has hit its saturation point and is looking like it’s going the way of the dodo bird.
Starting in the first half of 2019, Bang & Olufson headphones will be found in premium AA cabins. They’re stylish and chic—and will pair nicely with the trendy Casper bedding also found at your seat. Quality-wise, I’ve heard good things, although I’m curious about comfort. The Bose QC25’s could be worn comfortably for hours at a time.
Now, if American can figure out a way to attach the headphones to the seat, so they aren’t snatched away by a flight attendant an hour before landing.
With these two new partnership and product initiatives, it looks like American is attempting to make improvements to both its Main Cabin and premium cabins. Press releases are one thing, but execution is entirely another. I’m excited to give these marketing collabs a whirl in the coming months.