Is American Replacing First Class With Business Plus?

An American Airlines spokesman said that they are not getting rid of their first class product. The Flagship First fare product was temporarily removed due to an error. The fare is once again available for booking on our A321T and 777. The original post can be found below.

It seems to me that this could spell the slow death of American's first class product.

Business Plus is American's replacement for first class?

American Airlines is the only US airline that has a three cabin or four cabin first class product. American has first class on both the A321Ts that operate premium transcontinental routes and the Boeing 777-300ERs that operate long haul flights. American has it, and it sets the carrier apart.

Travelers noticed something interesting yesterday. Main Cabin, Business, and First are the most popular fares between New York and Los Angeles.

For several hours yesterday, these flights did not show first. They showed a new class called "Flagship Business Plus."

The Flagship Business Plus tickets are still booked into the F fare class, meaning that they will still get the typical first class seats. Flagship Business Plus pricing was lower than most first class pricing.

This was only spotted on A321T routes. I wouldn't read too much into that.

First class on American Airlines.

What should we think about American's Business Plus?

There are a few things to note upfront.

This is a situation where something was quickly removed, so it's clear that something was rolled out early.
This is something that American must be working on, and probably has the intent to implement in the not too distant future.
I think the airline wasn't ready to roll out this yet, because they haven't issued a statement yet.
Senior people at American have been talking about eliminating premium first class for years.

First class on American Airlines.

There is some speculation on my part.

It is possible that Flagship Business Plus is just a bundled product, and isn't actually intended to replace first class, but rather will offer extra services at a fee for business class passengers.
American doesn't do much to differentiate its first class soft product in the sky, and it's possible that the airline is changing its first class to Business Plus to be more realistic.
If first class is changed to Business Plus, we will see the same service in the two cabins, and the only difference will be the types of seats people get.
I wonder if there is a reason that business travelers who are allowed to book business class per company policy could book Business Plus.
It is possible that American maintains the standard first class branding on the Boeing 717s, given that the airline has a joint venture with British Airways and there is a lot of premium demand on trans-Atlantic flights.

The truth is that American's A321T first class offers a better seat and access to Flagship First Dining. First class is more or less an employee class, as unsold seats are typically filled by employees traveling on their own.

American Airlines first dining.

Maybe American would make more money selling those seats at a more reasonable price with some extra services, so that there is demand for them? I am curious to see how this plays out.

The bottom line.

For several hours yesterday, American's routes no longer showed first class, but instead showed a new product called Business Plus. I am sure we will find out what this product is intended to be soon.

It is most likely that American will replace first class with Business Plus. What services are included with this? Business Plus is a bundled business class fare product. It seems unlikely based on how this was implemented.

What is the name of American Flagship Business Plus?