American will fly A321Ts out of Boston
As of November 2, 2021, American Airlines will begin exclusively flying A321Ts on flights between Boston and Los Angeles.
American Airlines’ A321T first class
This is being done as part of American’s strategic alliance with JetBlue — with this update, both airlines will exclusively offer flat beds in business class between Boston and Los Angeles.
Historically American Airlines has only consistently flown A321Ts from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and as of this summer the airline will also fly A321Ts between New York and Orange County.
American Airlines’ A321T routes
For those of you not familiar with this subfleet of A321s, these are the planes that have historically been operated exclusively from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
These planes are unique, as they feature just 102 seats, and include four seating options:
- There are 10 first class fully flat reverse herringbone seats with direct aisle access, in a 1-1 configuration
- There are 20 business class fully flat seats, in a 2-2 configuration
- There are 72 economy seats, with 36 of those seats being Main Cabin Extra, featuring extra legroom
American Airlines’ A321T business class
The challenging Boston to Los Angeles market
It’s interesting to see how airlines have waffled in the Boston to Los Angeles market, as airlines can’t seem to decide whether it’s a premium market or not:
- JetBlue is the only airline that has consistently offered flat beds between Boston and Los Angeles
- American used A321Ts between Boston and Los Angeles between late 2018 and late 2019, but ended up downgrading the route
- Delta and United also used to offer flat beds in these markets, but both have discontinued that practice; funny enough, it’s only last week that Delta stopped flying flat bed planes on this route
JetBlue is the only airline to consistently offer flat beds in the market
Clearly this is a tricky market:
- While on the surface you’d think there would be some demand for a premium product between Boston and Los Angeles, the numbers don’t seem to check out, given all three legacy carriers stopped flying flat beds between the two cities
- Since airlines are also so competitive, I’m sure American and JetBlue both offering flat beds in this market will cause Delta and United to follow
- I can’t help but notice how cheap premium fares are between Boston and Los Angeles, and that was even the case pre-coronavirus; you can fly first class one-way starting at just $319, so it doesn’t seem like this market can sustain the pricing you find between New York and Los Angeles
- If this premium product wasn’t profitable pre-pandemic, one has to wonder how this could make sense post-pandemic, since business travel will likely be down for quite a while
So why is American trying this again, even though it failed before? My guess is that this comes down to American having an excess of A321Ts, as the airline is permanently reducing frequencies on transcons out of New York due to the JetBlue partnership. The airline has to do something with these planes, so maybe American is giving this one more try, and if it doesn’t work out, maybe American will try another market or just reconfigure some of these planes.
I’m curious how American & JetBlue will cooperate
I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering how exactly American and JetBlue will collaborate when it comes to loyalty in these markets. We know that American AAdvantage and JetBlue TrueBlue will be introducing reciprocal loyalty perks and points earning and redemption opportunities in the coming months.
But what exactly will that look like?
- Will American AAdvantage members be able to earn and redeem miles for travel in JetBlue Mint on transcon flights?
- Will JetBlue Mint passengers get lounge access through American Airlines?
To me that’s the missing piece of this puzzle — it’s one thing to coordinate products on routes, but how much metal neutrality will there otherwise be between airlines?
Will American AAdvantage members be able to earn miles for travel in Mint?
American Airlines plans to exclusively begin flying Airbus A321Ts between Boston and Los Angeles, as a way to coordinate the passenger experience with JetBlue.
This is an interesting change because American tried to operate A321Ts in this markets in the past and that experiment failed. Furthermore, both Delta and United have recently stopped offering flat beds in business class on this route.
What do you make of American planning to fly A321Ts between Boston and Los Angeles?