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The Big Apple, the Empire City, the City That Never Sleeps … however you refer to New York City, there is no denying its draw for tourism, for business and for those who call it home. The city holds great significance for us at American Airlines. We had our headquarters there for years, and it’s an important market with a colorful history that we have served with passionate dedication for more than 80 years. Whether it’s your origin or your destination, we understand what our New York customers expect, and we’ve used that insight to evolve our operation.

Each year, American carries nearly 13 million passengers through New York. To better serve you, we’re always evaluating where to focus our efforts to provide the best customer experience. Currently, we have a few projects under way, investing approximately $30 million in LaGuardia and JFK airport-terminal improvements and putting emphasis on our airport clubs and lounges, all in an effort to offer the industry’s best facilities.

After years of hard work, JFK’s Terminal 8, a $1.3 billion facility that spans nearly 1.5 million square feet, was opened in 2007. In December 2010, TheStreet.com named the terminal one of the four most beautiful terminals in the U.S., proving that our vision of a state-of-the-art terminal has come to life. As you step off the plane, an oversized apple sculpture created by world-renowned pop artist Romero Britto welcomes you to New York. Strolling through the terminal, you pass by authentic eateries, stylish bars and classic brands that make you feel like you’re shopping on Fifth Avenue.

I’m also proud of our partnerships with oneworld airlines, partnerships which have strengthened our network in New York. One example came in early April: With our trans-Pacific relationship with Japan Airlines (JAL), customers benefit from booking travel between New York and Tokyo on either American or JAL. The expanded relationship gives customers seamless access to JAL’s network in Asia and access to more fares and service options.

As part of our trans-Atlantic relationship with British Airways (BA) and Iberia, we offer customers an express summer service to London with 15 daily flights between New York City and London. Our customers can use BA and Iberia lounges, redeem frequent-flier miles or visit the transfer center at JFK to make re-bookings easier and boarding faster when flying our three airlines. The steps we’re taking better the global travel experience, making it more rewarding to fly with us.

For our frequent travelers, we’re focused on investing in premium services. In 1939, American opened the industry’s first VIP lounge at LaGuardia. Today, our Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounges are essential to our business, especially in New York. In 2005, we replaced Idlewild, the first JFK Admirals Club, with an impressive club at JFK Concourse C. The club recently underwent a 3,000-square-foot expansion and complete refurbishment, giving customers a New York feel with photos of city landmarks decorating the lounge.

We’ve also begun renovations to the LaGuardia Concourse D Admirals Club, adding computers, high-speed Internet and a TV lounge where customers can relax. Want to get the VIP experience? Our Five Star Service offers travel assistance when flying through JFK or LGA. We can coordinate your car service, help you through Customs or monitor your flights. For more information on the Five Star Service, visit www.aa.com/fivestar.

I know New York is more than our airport experience, and we’re committed to the greater New York community, not only through the nearly 100,000 jobs we support but by the philanthropic and educational organizations we support. Our involvement in Miles for Kids in Need, Ladders for Leaders and PENCIL (an organization that partners private-sector leaders and New York City school principals to help meet school needs) are just a few examples of our dedication to the people that make New York what it is.

We’re even bringing our message into the city. If you’ve walked through Grand Central Terminal or waited in the subway, you’ve likely seen the creative work we’ve displayed with NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism agency. Through this partnership, we hope to bring more visitors to New York. American is also part of the culture, from The New York Pops and Harlem Stage to Nederlander historic theatres and the Roundabout Theatre on Broadway. We’re giving back to the city that has given so much to our airline since we first started serving New York in 1936.

Have you seen us around the city or noticed us at the airport? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Let us know how we’re doing by going to www.aa.com/customerrelations.

Craig S. Kreeger
Senior Vice President – Customer Experience
American Airlines