The Reason American Airlines Started A Wine Delivery Service

In the face of pandemic travel restrictions, many major airlines have had to get creative with unused supplies — from British Airways selling their plates and glasses (via The Guardian) to JetBlue's snack supplier shipping in-flight snacks directly to customers (via The Washington Post).

Now American Airlines is launching a new alcohol delivery service in order to unload some of their excess wines. In a press release, the airline unveiled a brand-new wine subscription service: American Airlines Flagship Cellars. The wine club will enable customers to purchase premium wine bottles from the airline's curated collection at a discount. Wine lovers have the option to join a subscription program at $99.99 per month, which will include three bottles of premium wine per month (and can be cancelled at any time), or they can choose to build their own box of wine or select from curated collections of mixed wines. 

According to CNN, the prices of the individual wine bottles currently range from $13-40, with the exception of some pricier bottles of Champagne. American is offering early subscribers an extra complimentary bottle of wine with their first box. And, as a bonus, customers who are members of the American Airlines loyalty program will also earn two miles per dollar spent on any Flagship Cellars order, according to the press release.

"For wine lovers around the world, wine provides a deeper connection to the places they enjoy visiting," said Alison Taylor, American's Chief Customer Officer, of the new program. "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."

The airline is hoping to recoup the cost of unserved wine

According to American, each year their airline-wide line-up of wines is curated by a team of wine experts, lead by an award-winning master sommelier. The panel of experts taste around 2,000 bottles every year before making their selections for the American flights and lounges. In the past, this attention to detail has won the airline more of Global Traveler Magazine's Wines on the Wing awards than any other airline.

However, the award-winning wine program was brought to halt when the airline — which initially suspended service of alcoholic beverages to main cabin passengers in March 2020 — announced they would continue its booze moratorium until January 18, 2022, in an effort to foster a safer flying environment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic (via Travel & Leisure).

According to CNN, the company anticipates the wine subscription program will bring in about $40,000-50,000 in sales in the first few months of 2022. While this is a far cry from the net loss of $3.6 billion the company reported in its last earnings report, the wine sales will help recoup a portion of the cost of the unserved wine.

"Though revenue is important, Flagship Cellars is moreso a way of engaging with customers, even when they are not traveling with us," an American Airlines spokesperson told CNN. Now travel lovers will have the opportunity to try the airline's curated selection of premium wines without the cost of an airline ticket (or stress of the security line). To subscribe or shop the curated collection, wine enthusiasts (21 and up) can visit the Flagship Cellars site now.