How tAAcky! American Airlines adds elite lines while economy implodes

By | September 22nd, 2008

Like most other travel bloggers, I normally ignore any press releases sent to me on Monday night or Tuesday morning, because they’re what I like to call “paper fodder” — failed pitches to the marquee business travel columns in one of the dying national newspapers. But for this one, I’ll make an exception.

Here’s what crossed the wire a few moments ago.

AMERICAN AIRLINES TO INTRODUCE PRIORITYAACCESS PRIVILEGES FOR ITS TOP CUSTOMERS

Privileges Ease Check In, Security, and Boarding for AAdvantage Elite Status Members, First and Business Class Travelers, AAirpass Customers, and Passengers Traveling on Full-Fare Economy Class Tickets

FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines will soon introduce to its top customers PriorityAAccessSM privileges, which are an array of enhancements designed to make the airport process and overall travel experience more convenient.

American’s AAdvantage® elite status members, First and Business Class travelers , AAirpass customers, and passengers traveling on full-fare Economy Class tickets will receive more control and be offered an easier journey when they travel with dedicated PriorityAAccess check-in, security screening lanes (where available), and exclusive boarding lanes at the gate.

“American Airlines greatly appreciates the loyalty of our customers, and we have been working hard to deliver the product features and recognition we know they value and deserve,” said Mark Mitchell, American’s Managing Director – Customer Experience. “PriorityAAccess benefits provide a differentiated experience for our top customers at the ticket counter, at security checkpoints, and at the gate.”

American will introduce PriorityAAccess privileges on Sept. 30 and expects to complete the rollout by the end of October.

Following is a summary of American’s PriorityAAccess benefits. These benefits will be available to First and Business Class customers; AAdvantage Executive Platinum®, AAdvantage Platinum®, and AAdvantage Gold® members; AAirpass® customers; oneworld® Alliance Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby members; and customers traveling on full-fare Economy Class tickets, which are booked in American’s “Y” ticket category.


PriorityAAccess Check-In

PriorityAAccess customers will enjoy their own dedicated check-in area at the ticket counter with distinctive signage clearly identifying PriorityAAccess lines. In addition, “PriorityAAccess” will be printed on boarding passes, designating travelers as American’s top customers. American will offer PriorityAAccess check-in areas at all of the airports it serves worldwide.

PriorityAAccess Security Screening

Where permitted by airport policy and government security regulations, American will offer exclusive PriorityAAccess security screening lanes. Like the dedicated check-in lines, PriorityAAccess screening lanes will be clearly marked with special signage. Currently, American plans to offer PriorityAAccess screening lanes in its 10 largest airports, as well as in other airports where permitted by the TSA.

The airports that will have exclusive PriorityAAccess security screen lanes are: Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Miami (MIA), Los Angeles (LAX), New York JFK (JFK), New York La Guardia (LGA), St. Louis (STL), San Francisco (SFO), Boston (BOS) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU).

PriorityAAccess Boarding Lanes

To further enhance convenience for its top customers, American will offer dual boarding lanes at its gates – one for PriorityAAccess customers and one for general boarding. Customers with PriorityAccess privileges will be invited to board first or board at any time through their exclusive PriorityAAccess lane, which allows them to bypass lines after general boarding has begun.

“PriorityAAccess is aptly named on several levels since it highlights American’s priority to expedite and smooth our customers’ journeys,” Mitchell said.

I have just one thing to say: How tacky!

At a time when the economy is on the verge of a collapse, this is the last thing American should be doing. A more fitting move, if you ask me, is to give the least fortunate passengers — the ones who can barely scrape enough money together for an airline ticket — some relief.

American could start by lifting the fee for the first checked bag.



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