A few days ago American Airlines and JetBlue Airways announced a slew of new routes as part of their new Northeast strategic alliance. While I covered those new routes big-picture in a separate post, I dedicated a separate post to what I found to be the most interesting route addition.
I wanted to provide an update on this, as the flight is now on sale, and in the process the schedule has also been revealed.
American will fly A321Ts between JFK & SNA
As of July 2, 2021, American Airlines will launch daily nonstop flights between New York (JFK) and Orange County (SNA). These flights will operate with the following schedule:
AA991 New York to Orange County departing 5:10PM arriving 8:48PM
AA976 Orange County to New York departing 9:25PM arriving 6:25AM (+1 day)
The 2,437 mile flight is blocked at 6hr38min westbound and 6hr eastbound. It’s interesting to see the schedule on this — I’m sure some will like the flight timing (especially the evening westbound departure), while others may not like it so much (especially the eastbound redeye).
The most surprising part of this new route is the aircraft American will use — American plans to fly an A321T between New York and Orange County. 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 first class
Seeing American schedule A321Ts in this market is both surprising and not surprising:
- On the one hand, this has historically been reserved for the transcon markets that are known to have a ton of premium demand, particularly among business travelers and the entertainment crowd
- While Orange County is quite affluent, it doesn’t have quite the entertainment or business demand of the other markets; I would have expected to see an A321T between New York and Burbank before something like this
- I wonder if this might have something to do with SNA’s runway length; the airport has a short runway, and the A321T is lighter than the standard A321, so has better performance for airports like this
American Airlines’ A321T business class
Could we see more A321T routes from American?
American has a significant surplus of A321Ts, and it seems like that will continue to be the case:
- This is especially true during the pandemic, given the complete lack of demand between New York and California
- In general there had been rumors of American reconfiguring A321Ts into a more standard configuration, though there has been nothing concrete there
With the new American & JetBlue Northeast partnership, it seems that we can expect a reduction in American service between New York and Los Angeles:
- American and JetBlue will operate a combined 14 daily flights between the New York-area (JFK & EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX); that flying will be split pretty evenly between the two airlines
- Previously American operated up to a dozen flights per day in the market using its own A321Ts
American & JetBlue will split flying between JFK & LAX
It goes without saying that American will have more A321Ts in the future than it needs, assuming American and JetBlue do in fact plan to decrease transcon service to the extent that has been revealed.
Only time will tell whether American chooses to launch more A321T routes, or if some of these planes will simply be reconfigured.
American Airlines will launch daily A321T flights between New York and Orange County as of the summer of 2021. This will only be the third route to have this aircraft regularly scheduled.
This announcement definitely caught me off guard — while Orange County is a premium leisure market, this still seems surprising.
We’ll have to see what the future holds for American’s A321Ts — will the airline reconfigure A321Ts, fly these planes in more markets, or eventually increase service from JFK to LAX and SFO?
Are you surprised to see American flying A321Ts between JFK & SNA?