Today was a big day for American Airlines. Earlier today the airline officially announced several additional routes for 2018 and beyond. American added a few international destinations to their route network; namely Budapest, Prague, and Reykjavik. Additionally, the airline added a few new, much less exciting, domestic destinations such as South Bend, IN. The press release boasts that in total, American will be adding 52 new nonstop routes to its network.
In addition to the new nonstop routes officially announced today, American also announced the expansion of the American Airlines Shuttle Service. Beginning April 4, 2018 American will begin offering the Shuttle Service between Chicago O’Hare and New York LaGuardia airports.
What Is American Airlines Shuttle Service?
While many American frequent fliers from the East Coast may be familiar with this Shuttle Service, many more western flies may have no idea what Shuttle Service is.
Essentially, American Airlines Shuttle Service is an enhanced travel experience which caters to the business traveler market. Shuttle Service offers passengers traveling between “major business cities” the following benefits according to American:
- Dedicated check-in kiosks and ticket counters
- Boarding gates close to security and the curb
- Quick deplaning from front or rear door*
- Complimentary snack basket, beer, wine and spirits in First
- Free plated meals in First on Chicago flights
- Free snacks, beer and wine in Main Cabin
As you can see, the idea behind Shuttle Service is to make the entire experience quicker and more comfortable for the frequent business traveler.
This service is currently offered on select weekday flights between New York (LGA) and Boston, Chicago, and Washington DC. The Shuttle Service is also offered on nonstop flights between Boston and Washington DC.
How Does American Airlines Shuttle Service Work?
It’s hard to believe, but American currently operates 15 daily flights between Chicago O’Hare and New York LaGuardia. Beginning April 4, 2018 these flights will automatically turn into American Airlines Shuttle Flights. From a booking perspective nothing changes once the change to Shuttle Service begins. As you book your flights there isn’t a special “Shuttle Service” option you need to check. Instead, all of the major changes between standard service and Shuttle Service appear on the day of travel.
Traveling On A American Airlines Shuttle Service Flight
With the Shuttle product passengers can arrive at the airport much later than is typically recommended. At just 35 to 30 minutes prior to departure passengers have the ability to still check a bag onto the flight. This is possible because American has dedicated kiosks at the airport for shuttle flights.
Once checked in an through security all Shuttle flights depart from dedicated gates. That means you don’t have to search the departure board anymore to find your flight. In theory, your Shuttle flight should depart from the same gate every single time. This is perfect for business travelers who take these flights week after week or often multiple times in a single week.
While in the air all main cabin shuttle passengers have access to free beer, wine, and snacks. Clearly this is geared toward the busy business traveler who didn’t have time to grab a bite in the terminal before a flight. Likewise, this service is definitely for those who just worked a hectic week and want to take the edge off on the way home.
With Shuttle the First Class experience is also enhanced, but I don’t think these changes are significant. Lastly, Shuttle flights in select airports will deplane from either end of the aircraft. This will help busy business travelers get off the plane an into a cab quicker than ever before.
This may surprise many of you, but the busiest airline route within the United States is between New York City and Chicago. More than 4 million passengers travel between these cities every year. Cleary with that much demand the competition among carriers is stiff. I like that American is trying to enhance their service between these two cities.
It’s been a while since I traveled weekly for work, but I wish this product was around back then. Often when you’re trying to catch a Monday morning flight you rarely budget time to breakfast. Typically, I’d arrive at the airport around the scheduled boarding time and frantically search for my gate. It’s great to know that with Shuttle service you can simply arrive at the airport and head to the same gate every time. Then once on board you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a complimentary snack in the main cabin.
For years American has been in the business of worsening the passenger experience so it’s nice to see a positive change for once. I travel to/from New York a few times each year so I look forward to giving this service a try. I don’t think this Shuttle service is going to convince United or Delta fliers to switch to American, but I do think it will prevent American frequent fliers from choosing a different carrier based on price alone.