Competitive advantage is a key concept in the functioning of free markets.
Companies are motivated to strive to gain an advantage because it will increase sales, profits and stock price. And consumers cheer on companies' efforts because they stand to benefit from enhanced services or lower prices.
But in the real world, the race for competitive advantage is run at such a slow pace that the progress is all but undetectable.
While it only affects a narrow slice of the traveling public—business travelers who place a high value on mobile productivity—a new initiative from American truly qualifies as a breakout move, giving American's Admirals Club lounges a significant advantage over other airlines' lounge networks.
Through a tie-up with an operator of urban business-services centers, subscribers to American's airport lounge access program will now have access to an extensive network of "business lounges."
From the airline's press release: "Admirals Club members will receive unlimited access to Regus' prestigious business lounges in downtown areas and major suburban markets in 350 cities providing additional locations to the more than 40 Admirals Club airport business lounges."
Since the price of an annual Admirals Club membership remains the same (from $450), the access to Regus locations represents substantial added value for consumers. And it's a competitive advantage other airlines will be challenged to address.