In December 2019, American Airlines launched a partnership with the James Beard Foundation that saw dishes by Beard Award-winning chefs presented in its First and Business Class cabins and Flagship lounges, along with wines hand-picked by an expert team of sommeliers. Unfortunately, given what happened to the world of air travel shortly thereafter (and the fact that meals are still unavailable on most domestic flights), most AA fliers likely didn’t get the chance to experience that service, and the further rollout of the program has been temporarily paused. But until it starts up again—and until we can safely get back on board—American is offering those of us missing the perks of premium cabin travel a way to enjoy a taste of it at home, with this month’s introduction of the Flagship Cellars wine delivery program.
Over the years, American has earned numerous distinctions—including four first-place Global Traveler “Wines on the Wing” awards—for its wine program, which is based on a thorough selection and vetting process. To determine what is served on board and in the lounges, a panel of wine experts meets twice a year to go over customer feedback and global service data, then joins with a master sommelier to whittle down a list of over 2,000 bottles for a series of blind tastings; the picks from those sessions are then presented to more airline team members for further feedback. The result is a menu that spans a variety of regions and prestigious vineyards from around the world, including such labels as Hall and Stag’s Leap.
Because of how airline ordering and inventory works, and the fact that the selection changes every six to nine months, the airline often finds itself with a surplus of these premium wines—and thus the idea for Flagship Cellars was born. “For wine lovers around the world, wine provides a deeper connection to the places they enjoy visiting,” says Alison Taylor, chief customer officer at American, in a release about the program. “We created Flagship Cellars to provide more opportunities for customers to enjoy our Flagship wine even if they aren’t flying in one of our premium cabins.”
With the industry-first program, customers over the age of 21 can browse a curated collection of wines, Champagnes and ports, then purchase individual bottles or build their own custom cases. They can also sign up for limited-edition monthly subscriptions, which will include three bottles for $99.99; the selection is subject to change, based on availability. In addition to offering these wines at lower-than-retail prices, the program allows American Airlines AAdvantage® loyalty members to earn two miles per dollar spent on every order (excluding taxes, shipping and fees). Subscriptions can be cancelled at any time, and the introductory offer includes one complimentary bottle as a welcome gift.