When it comes to attracting corporate travelers airlines have many tools at their disposal, from targeted promotions and route-specific discounts to elite status challenges or comps for employees and travel coordinators. American Airlines is casting a broad net with its latest announced benefit. The carrier will extends its Priority Access benefits to all passengers traveling on tickets marketed and operated by American and issued using American Airlines Corporate Travel Agreements. The deal was announced this week at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) 2019 Convention in Chicago.
With the new benefits American’s corporate customers will receive complimentary access to Preferred seats on AA metal, as well as priority check-in, security and boarding with Group 4. That puts these travelers on par with AAdvantage Gold elite members, premium co-brand credit card holders and others who pay for priority boarding. Passengers on corporate contracts are also eligible for priority re-accommodation in case of operational disruptions, including weather-related issues.
The benefits announced today are similar to those United Airlines introduced a year ago, though also much more evenly applied. United created tiers within its corporate contract customers and included upgrade priority and other factors for some customers as a result. But complimentary access to Priority Seating – something UA also introduced as part of that announcement – was part of the deal. American has long sold priority seats. In that context this change has greater potential to erode some ancillary sales, with the trade-off of boosting overall corporate travel revenue.
The AA move could also cause some disenfranchisement from some AAdvantage Gold elite members as the new program delivers a significant subset of the benefits without the need to qualify for the status. It also delivers some credit card-related benefits. If cardholders are primarily focused on the early boarding benefits of the card this could erode those numbers as well. In both cases, however, expect that the customers lost will be minimal.
Metal-neutral transatlantic venture
In addition to the benefits on American-operated flights the new program extends certain benefits to the carrier’s transatlantic joint venture partners as well.
Travelers expect a consistent experience whether they’re flying on American or any one of our Atlantic Joint Business partners. With corporate recognition now available on American, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia, we’re elevating the recognition, prioritization and benefits that our corporate customers receive at every touchpoint possible. Simplifying the day-to-day experience for our corporate travelers is one more way we can demonstrate our commitment to being the easiest airline to do business with as we continue to grow and diversify our corporate account portfolio.– Alison Taylor, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Distribution
The JV benefits include access to preferred seating and priority disruption recovery no matter which airline they fly. The carrier also promises additional enhancements to come on each carrier by early 2020.
NDC in action
In addition to the new passenger-focused benefits Amadeus and American Express Global Business Travel announced that they are now processing AA bookings through an Amadeus-powered NDC Travel API interface.
The offering delivers an end-to-end workflow, exposing NDC-enabled content from American to its customers. Alison Taylor, SVP of Global Sales and Distribution for American notes that this is just the beginning for NDC content for the carrier, “Today’s milestone is a significant step closer to making NDC-enabled content broadly available through Amadeus-powered travel companies.”