It’s been a tough road at American Airlines. But the company had cause for optimism after a pretty impressive third quarter this year-;in fact, the best third quarter in American Airlines history, apparently by one metric, with more than $11.5 billion in revenue.
But even in that report, there’s an area where American Airlines says it’s just not doing well enough, according to a recent call with analysts.
They have plenty of passengers, but they aren’t getting those passengers to pay enough.
Far not, they have a plan, American CEO Doug Parker said in the recent earnings call. But they’re going to need American Airlines passengers like you and me to do our part in order for it to work.
Brian Sumers summarized the call and the plan at Skyft:
The airline plans to add a big chunk of revenue by improving its segmentation strategies, selling customers different products, including business class, premium economy and extra-legroom seats, depending on what they value.
It’s already selling the various cabins, but Parker said American will become more sophisticated about how it markets its premium seats and makes offers by next year.
In other words, they’re not selling just transportation. They’re selling experiences, good and bad, big and small. And they’ll need you to buy more of them.
The hope is that this extra push will translate into an extra $1 billion in revenues, while meanwhile cutting costs another $300 million.
Do you really want skimpy?
This isn’t limited to just basic economy, but it sure is reminiscent of what American said just a few months ago it was hoping to do for economy minded passengers.
Or more to the point, how many passengers come close to buying basic economy, but at the last second upgrade their purchases for more expensive seats, once they’re presented with just how little service they get with a basic economy ticket.
No advanced seat assignment, $30 (at least) to check your first bag, no standby or same-day changes, and no chance of an upgrade.
It starts to feel a little skimpy.
The art of the upsell
So you upgrade, maybe. That’s the spirit.
The upsell rate only went up apparently last year, too.
In August, when American was trying to justify why it was going to let people carry on a bag for free with basic economy, the argument was largely that it didn’t matter, because 60 percent of passengers were upgrading anyway.
But it seems maybe that’s still not good enough.
All about the UX
If’s not as if American came up with this upselling idea on its own. It’s a highly profitable strategy for its competitors, for better or worse.
That explains why analysts and investors want to know why American isn’t pursuing it better already. And Parker acknowledged that those other airlines “are doing a better job than we can today of making sure this sell-up activity is available to the customers.”
So, the answe is largely technology, he said. User experience. They need to find the right mix of times and ways to bombard customers with offers to upgrade their purchases.
And of course they also have to have better upgrades to offer, such as more premium economy seats to sell.
Rest assured, American is on the case. They’ll be adding upsell opportunities and making sure that you know about them.
And then the rest, my fellow American Airlines passengers, will be up to us.