American Airlines is gearing up for one of its busiest holidays of the year, shipping flowers, plants, chocolates and gifts all around the globe to help millions of people celebrate Valentine's Day.
Although American ships flowers and other perishable goods year round, the first half of February is especially busy for the carrier. Throughout 2017, the airline shipped more than 18 million pounds of flowers alone, roughly 25 tons each day. Considering a typical flower weighs less than 10 grams, that's a mind-boggling amount of blossoming cargo.
The most popular flowers around Valentine's Day tend to be carnations, mini-carnations, roses and tropical flowers, like calla lilies.
While Valentine's Day flowers come from countries all across the world, they're one of the most popular exports from Latin America. That's particularly true from locations such as Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia, where warm weather creates an ideal year-round growing season.
In 2017, American Airlines Cargo shipped more than 10 million pounds of flowers out of Amsterdam (AMS) into the United States. That total is only expected to grow in 2018 now that the airline has implemented a new direct seasonal service from AMS to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), providing additional support for the (literally and figuratively) growing flower business. For people celebrating Valentine's Day, this means even faster delivery of fresh, beautiful flowers straight from Europe's largest floral producer.
Thanks to Valentine's Day and other major holidays, like Mother's Day and the Chinese New Year, demand for Valentine's Day flowers in the United States remains steady, while the carrier has seen an increased demand for flowers across the rest of the American network, from places in Central America to China, Japan and the U.K., and then from Europe to North America.
Inside the cargo offices across the world, chocolates are a favorite and managers across the organization took a moment to thank team members for their work during this busy season.
American Airlines Cargo is continually improving its systems and protocol to ensure fast delivery of perishables like flowers. In June 2017, the airline added a new option for a protective shield for flower shipments that helps them maintain the highest possible quality throughout the journey. No matter where they are sent, flower shipments are always boarded with a high priority to avoid delays and exposure to any harsh temperatures.
"Transporting delicate, fresh-cut flowers across the globe certainly requires a lot of attention and care," said David Vance, American's vice president of Cargo Operations. "We have to constantly monitor minimum and maximum temperature exposure throughout the entire routing process, and we have to meet very specific requirements to help ensure every flower's freshness is properly preserved. But this extra care is worthwhile—that's how we make it possible for people around the world to send and receive things, like delicate chocolates and fresh roses, as if they were made—or picked—that same day."