Qantas & American Airlines Promise Improvements

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As we wait to see if we’re going to get regular cheaper fares on flights to Australia and New Zealand, the airlines are already doing their bit to improve things from a passenger experience point of view. Or at least they’re telling us that they’ll be doing their bit soon.

Qantas has announced that they are to upgrade their Auckland Airport lounge to what they’re describing as  “the best lounge in New Zealand”. 

As Australian Business Traveller points out, that’s a bold statement when you consider just how good Air New Zealand’s Auckland flagship lounge is.

Still, I’m happy to take Qantas at their word because I’ve seen what they can do when they put their mind to it. Sure, the current Auckland lounge is regarded by travelers as the worst lounge in Qantas’ international network but their First Class lounge in Sydney is fantastic and their First Class lounge in Los Angeles (Review: Qantas First Class Lounge LAX) is probably my favorite lounge in the US.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAXQantas First Class Lounge LAX

Unfortunately Qantas aren’t giving us any timescale so we have no idea when these promised improvements will come to fruition – with American Airlines’s flights to Auckland scheduled to commence in June, they’ve got their work cut out to get things done in time for the inaugural flight.

American Airlines are trying to pull their weight in this joint venture too. have been reporting:

American Airlines executives joined partner Qantas to talk up their Australian offering — which is unlike anything else the US carrier operates.

As well as an improved economy class service, American Airlines is putting pyjamas into business class and finessing their coffee in an effort to impress savvy Aussie travellers.

The line in that paragraph that interested me most was the one that suggested an improved Economy Class service…because I’m not sure what they’re suggesting.

American Airlines will be flying a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to Sydney and, like it or not, that means 10-across seating with 17″ wide seats for most of the Economy Class cabin  – that’s not an improvement over anything. It’s actually 0.5″ less room than Qantas gives its passengers in their A380 and B747 aircraft.

american-airlines-777-300er-economy-classAmerican Airlines 777-300ER Economy Class Cabin – Image courtesy of American Airlines

Perhaps we’ll see better food? Or perhaps American Airlines plans on explaining to their more dour flight attendants what customer service is actually about (I’m not holding my breath on that one) but, whatever it is, I’d love American to explain further.

Pyjamas are a nice touch and, as the coffee on American Airlines is so incredibly awful (except in First Class where they have a coffee machine – then it’s just poor), they have a lot of room with which to work on improving the offering.

There’s no doubt that the Aussies will like the Business Class hard-product on American’s 777-300 aircraft – it’s one of the best out there – but American Airlines could be in for a big surprise if they think that a few token gestures and platitudes are going to win the Aussies over.

American Airlines 777-300ER Business ClassAmerican Airlines Business Class seat on the B777-300ER

I’ve flown in Premium Economy and in Business Class on Qantas and, in both instances, the service was in a different league to what is generally seen on American Airlines. American is really going to have to step up to the plate on this one or it could get embarrassing.

Whatever improvements we see will be nice to have but they won’t be the most important thing for most passengers from the US. I’m sure I’m not going to be the only person keeping a very close watch on the fares over the coming few months – hopefully we’ll see a few nice deals turn up when all the routes are up and running.

Featured  Image courtesy of Qantas.


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