There can be little doubt the American based airlines have a tough time "winning the hearts and minds" of the New Zealand traveller. One of the most common complaints we hear from clients who travel to North America is the step-down in onboard experience when they move from a longhaul Air New Zealand or Qantas flight onto a domestic airline in the USA. So why should you consider the new American Airlines direct service from Auckland to Los Angeles?
Qantas Demanded a Consistent Service Standard
When Qantas partnered with American Airlines to offer a direct service from Auckland to Los Angeles, Qantas wanted its customers to have a consistent experience between the two airlines, and they focused on two areas.
Firstly, the "hard product" had to be up to scratch. In response, American Airlines allocating one of its brand new Dreamliners on the direct Auckland to Los Angeles route. And for Business Class passengers it included the inclusion of small things like onboard pyjamas (of course lie flat beds go without saying).
The second, and more interesting focus, was a commitment to consistent service. Qantas has a remarkable cabin crew training facility in Sydney and it became the home for a group of American Airlines cabin crew. This gave the opportunity for the Qantas and American Airlines cabin crew to work alongside each other and develop a common service standard.
Time will tell whether this will align the service standards between the two airlines, but it was a good start to acknowledging an issue.
A Direct Service for OneWorld Frequent Flyers
Qantas and American Airlines are oneworld member airlines and although it seems that Air New Zealand's Airpoints has almost become the preferred currency in New Zealand, having a oneworld carrier offering a direct service from Auckland to Los Angeles is an important consideration (especially when it comes to maintaining status levels).
Convenient Arrival Time into Los Angeles
The combination of an attractive arrival time into Los Angeles and the extent of the American Airlines network also prevents benefits for travellers looking to fly beyond LA. The flight arrives into LA in the early morning which then allows for same day connections to the East Coast and potentially the Caribbean (making Caribbean cruises a more attractive option).
American Airlines also flys from New York to London and other points in Europe. This makes an itinerary involving both US coasts and Europe a viable option (and New York stopovers are attractively priced).
Enjoy the Benefits of Competition
As much as it almost feels unpatriotic to not support our national carrier, competition benefits travellers from New Zealand. In monitoring Business Class specials for our Business and First Class sales alerts we have seen an increase in the frequency and extent of the specials between New Zealand and North America.
In addition to better prices, we also see the benefits of competition in the quality of the aircraft assigned to a route and the frequency of the flights. Hawaiian Airlines entering the New Zealand to Hawaii route was a great example where we now see cheaper airfares, more frequent flights and better quality aircraft on the route.
Overall, for travellers from New Zealand wanting to experience North America, Mexico or the Caribbean, the direct American Airlines / Qantas flight from New Zealand to Los Angeles will be attractive.