American Will Fly A321Ts Between BOS & LAX

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has today announced a significant product upgrade on one transcon route, in addition to announcing a new route between New York and Delhi.

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?

Bottom line

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?

Comments
  1. Hope to see more 321T out of SFO!

    I’m an AA loyalist and the SFO -> JFK F service is what won me over. I used to fly the route weekly pre-pandemic

  2. United is back to flat beds, ps style service on SFO-BOS now (or at least it starts again very shortly). They never had it on LAX-BOS.

    What’s interesting to me is that SF-BOS commands a decent premium to the NY flights simply due to lack of competition.

  3. AA has briefly operated the 321T out of BOS to LAX before on one frequency, before the pandemic. They routinely would fly the 321T up from JFK and back. This is a full scale charge on DL’s retreat, since DL is going all 737-800 on BOS-LAX, none of which have flat beds. Not sure it really matters whether there are flat beds on transcons right now as business travel isn’t picking up steam.

  4. Definitely interesting to see them try it again but happy to see it happen. It almost would seem like running the 788 on this route would make more sense albeit more seating in the back My assumption would be that this is a better market for Flagship Business than Flagship First on this route. Another option would be to sell and operate the first class pods on the 321T as business for this market but tack on an extra fee to reserve those seats as JetBlue is doing with their new Mint Studio.

  5. @adam – interesting. I will have to try it out if I fly to BOS.

    I like that AA has 1-1 seating in F, but UA has 2-2 seating in a 757 to EWR. I really like the extra privacy and I think AA should do a lot more to compete in premium markets with aircraft like those.

    They are a high cost carrier by virtue of their debt load, and customer centric culture (at least pre-2014). Naturally would make sense to go for premium experiences.

  6. If they don’t upgrade the food and beverage to Mint standards AA will fail. Savvy HVFs aren’t stupid.

  7. According to US DOT data, American’s average fare in the BOS-LAX market was the lowest of all carriers serving the market pre-covid except for AS which has apparently dropped out of the market -and that includes when AA operated A321Ts in the market.

    The A321T is the highest unit cost mainline aircraft in the US carrier fleet. Aircraft like B6′ Mint A321 and DL or UA’s premium cabin 757s which have “normal” sized coach/economy cabins have lower unit costs even with less fuel efficient engines.

    Capacity for June in the market is down 33% with Delta the only carrier that has increased capacity and also is the largest carrier based on seats scheduled. United is the only carrier not scheduling multiple flights per day in the market.

    American and JetBlue do not and cannot share revenue but can coordinate schedules. They can buy seats on each other via codeshare and exchange loyalty and lounge benefits.

    A similar dynamic is playing out in JFK-LAX with AA and B6’s individual capacity down from 2019 .

  8. @lucky Will they be priced the same as before(same as current recliner seats), like when they put a321t’s bos-jfk and charge the same as a crj/ejet? The very late NOV 2ND start date suggests no.

  9. Defining a premium market upfront should determine whether a route will be successful. In my mind it means two or more carriers can operate profitably with lie flat seats. Boston does not seem to fit.

  10. This has previously operated on BOS-LAX. Interesting to see if they do the nightly JFK-BOS repositioning flight with these, it’s a really fun and cheap way to ride the A321T.

  11. @ROBERT J FAHR

    Both B6 and DL have operated lie flat business class consistently for several years on LAX-BOS. DL recently temporarily stopped because of the pandemic, but during normal times the Boston route is absolutely a premium market with two carriers offering business class, now soon to be three.

  12. @greg Your point laughable. Customers who purchased first class on those routes rarely eat. They could maybe have an appetizer and go to sleep/ work and desire not to be interrupted. They appreciate the privacy, the flagship check in, and the flagship lounge access.
    The thought that a customer would base a purchase based on food, says a lot on what kind of customer that is. Jetblue, does not offer any club access, and do not offer a meal oboard. It is more of a cold tapas style refreshment.

  13. @AdamH United had the B757-200 with flat beds LAX-BOS from late Fall 2018 until at least June 2019. I fly that route often, usually on the eastbound red eye and westbound evening flights. They started out on both daily non-stops in both directions between the two airports. Then they tried just the later non-stops in both directions. It wasn’t treated as a true premium route like EWR-SFO/LAX and BOS-SFO, so Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) were available. I was lucky enough to get upgraded quite a few times. I was sorry they were discontinued. I hope they’re offered again.

  14. I had booked this route, LAX to BOS for December 2021 last month when it showed it as a 2 class plane. I booked a rewards 1st class ticket. Now that it is a 3 class plane my seat is now in business class. While it looks like business class on this plane seems like its better than regular domestic first class, i still wonder if AA did the right thing or should my seats had remained first class?

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