American Airlines has turned surplus of wine into delivery service

Credit: AJC

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American Airlines now asking travelers to take COVID-19 survey

Credit: AJC

New wine service will offer individual bottles and monthly subscription for its nearly 2,000 wines

American Airlines, like most airlines, has suspended its in-flight alcohol sales, so that means many of the award-winning wines once served in the friendly skies are collecting dust. Rather than let its thousands of select vinos go to waste, American will offer them in its new Flagship Cellars at-home wine program.

For the first time, American will deliver its nearly 2,000 bottles of wine to anyone 21 and older to enjoy in the comfort of their homes. The Flagship Cellars at-home wine experience, made possible by Vinesse Wines, offers a variety of options, which have been carefully reviewed and vetted, as single bottles, for as low as $12.99; increments of 12 or through the airline’s monthly subscription service are offered for $99.99.

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“For wine lovers around the world, wine provides a deeper connection to the places they enjoy visiting,” Alison Taylor, chief customer officer at American, said in a statement. “We created Flagship Cellars to provide more ways for customers to enjoy our Flagship wine even if they aren’t flying in one of our premium cabins.”

Wines considered for the American Airlines wine program undergo a thorough process, with wine experts identifying top selections based on their notes and historical data on what has been most popular with customers around the world biannually. The team meets with its award-winning master sommelier to blind taste wines before presenting final options to a variety of American team members to solicit feedback and identify which wines are best suited for onboard and in lounges.

Wines are lined up before a wine tasting for American Airlines’ new in-flight menus at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)
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Wines are lined up before a wine tasting for American Airlines’ new in-flight menus at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)

The exclusive new wine program was a crafty way for American to make use of its hundreds of wines that it no longer serves because it is one of several airlines that have suspended in-flight alcohol sales to reduce interactions between flight attendants and customers in the era of COVID-19.

According to its most recent earnings report obtained by CNN, American posted a net loss of $3.6 billion last year. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said recently that seating capacity for all international airlines fell by about 50% last year, that left 1.8 billion passengers taking flights through 2020, compared with about 4.5 billion in 2019.

Though the wine sales likely won’t make up for the loss of in-flight purchases or dwindling flights, the program could be a wise business move to ensure their collections don’t go to waste and expand the base of customers for their unique international and regional wines.

Here’s how the Flagship Cellars wine experience works:

— American will handpick wines from its Flagship wine collection, chosen by an award-winning master sommelier exclusively for American.

— Anyone 21 years or older can select their wine preferences at vinesse.com/flagshipcellars.

— Customers can select from curated collections of mixed wines, build their own custom box or purchase a monthly wine subscription which includes three prestigious wines for $99.99, including delivery.

— Subscriptions may be for a limited time (while supplies last) and can be canceled at any time. Introductory offer includes an extra complimentary bottle of wine. Program and availability limitations on orders vary by state.