American Airlines Launches Wine Subscription Service

Airline hopes to generate $40-50K in sales during the first quarter.

American Airlines is getting into the wine business, offering a premium wine subscription service that combines premium wines with airline miles. Announced last Thursday with a “wine not?” headline, American is offering its new Flagship® Cellars at-home wine experience to customers ages 21 and older. Customers will have three options: they can select from curated collections of mixed wines, create their own custom box, or buy a monthly wine subscription for $99.99 plus delivery, where allowed by law.

“For wine lovers around the world, wine provides a deeper connection to the places they enjoy visiting,” said Alison Taylor, chief customer officer at American. “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.”

American’s wine experts review close to 2,000 bottles of wine each year to determine which it will offer to its premium customers. The wines selected are among the most popular with customers around the world, based on historical data. An award-winning master sommelier then does a blind taste of the wines before sharing with the American team who makes the final selection. The wines selected are those that American serves to its luxury passengers on international and transcontinental flights.

Premium wine subscription

Subscribers to the Flagship® wine subscription service will get three wines each month, all reds or a mix of reds and whites. American estimates the discount on the premium wines ranges between 20% and 50%. Each shipment includes tasting notes and food pairing suggestions, so subscribers can maximize their enjoyment of the wine. As an added bonus, subscribers will receive 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on wine.

With each monthly shipment, American will send tasting notes and food pairing suggestions.
With each monthly shipment, American will send tasting notes and food pairing suggestions. Image courtesy of American Airlines.

Online wine shop

In addition to the wine club, American is selling wines from their online wine shop. Individual bottles of wine and wine collections are available for purchase. Individual bottles range in price from $12.99 to $49.99 per bottle. Wine collections in price from $59.99 to $299.99 for three bottles. Prices do not include any taxes, fees or delivery charges. All 12-bottle cases ship for free though.

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Revenue generator

So why is an airline launching a subscription service? According to ABC7.com, because of the pandemic, American has a lot of leftover wine they want to share with customers. A company spokesperson told ABC7 in an email that the company hopes to raise $40,000 to $50,000 in the first quarter of 2021. While that won’t touch American’s billion-dollar losses caused by COVID, it is another way to connect with and serve customers.

“Though revenue is important, Flagship® Cellars is moreso a way of engaging with customers, even when they are not traveling with us,” the spokesperson told ABC7. “It also gives them a taste of what you can enjoy in Flagship® First or Flagship® Business.”

Insider take

When we first heard about the wine subscription, it seemed like a crazy idea – an airline launching a wine subscription service. Why not stick to what they know – travel? When we dug into the details, it actually makes sense. They have lost billions of dollars with so many of their planes being grounded, and passengers afraid to fly. American is not going to make a lot of revenue on the wine subscription or wine shop sales, but if they can match wine lovers with premium wines and make a little money along the way, then “wine not” indeed. American took an unfortunate situation and turned it into an opportunity, and the subscription model helped make it possible. We commend them for their ingenuity. Cheers!