Number Crunch

If You Can’t Buy a Ticket, American Airlines Hopes You Will Buy Its Wine

Airline wine: It’s not a punchline if it can help the bottom line

$40,000: That’s how much American Airlines is hoping to make this quarter through its new Flagship Cellars program, which delivers wine that the airline would normally serve onboard to customers on the ground, Bloomberg reported. Wine use on airlines has dropped 80% during the pandemic, Bloomberg noted, maybe because it’s hard to drink wine while keeping your mask on during a flight, but more likely because a lot fewer people have been flying in the first place.

American Airlines posted an annual loss of $8.9 billion in 2020, a record for the airline. Against that figure, $40,000 a quarter in wine sales won’t even begin to make a dent. But that’s just one of the many desperate measures airlines are taking to earn some extra revenue and retain members in their frequent flyer programs during the pandemic. Airlines have also sold in-flight meals in grocery stores, sold off fully stocked drink carts, and, in one case, repurposed an Airbus A380 as a runway restaurant..

It’s not just the airlines that are struggling. The aircraft manufacturer Boeing reported a record annual loss of $11.4 billion in 2020. Sadly, they have no wine to sell.

Your sense of taste is dulled when you’re in an airplane. Get ready to find out what airline wine really tastes like.

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