American’s Interesting Domestic Aircraft Changes

Filed Under: American

Airlines have been forced to take a completely new approach to route planning. Not only are airlines dealing with business travel drying up, but they’re also dealing with constantly changing travel restrictions.

Domestic American aircraft & frequency changes

Over the weekend American Airlines loaded a bunch of schedule changes. In the past airlines would typically firm up schedules months in advance, while nowadays we’re sometimes seeing changes just days and weeks before departure.

For the most part we’re seeing airlines focus on point-to-point flying to warm weather destinations this fall and winter, and that includes:

  • Flights to Florida
  • Flights to Mexico (since the country has no coronavirus travel restrictions)
  • Flights to Hawaii (as the state is opening up to tourists with testing as of October 15)

In this post I wanted to talk about four aircraft and frequency changes I find interesting, which were just loaded:

American cuts A321Ts between JFK & LAX

American has specially configured A321Ts, which have historically been used to operate up to a dozen daily flights between New York and Los Angeles. These planes feature just 102 seats, and are in a three cabin configuration.

Between November 4 and November 30, 2020, American will instead operate two daily 777-200 flights between New York and Los Angeles, with the following frequencies:

AA1 New York to Los Angeles departing 9:00AM arriving 12:21PM
AA3 New York to Los Angeles departing 6:00PM arriving 9:19PM

AA2 Los Angeles to New York departing 8:30AM arriving 4:47PM
AA4 Los Angeles to New York departing 9:35PM arriving 5:45AM (+1 day)

With this change:

  • American will have just two daily flights between New York and Los Angeles, compared to five daily A321T flights through early November, and 12 daily A321T flights as of December (though I’d be shocked to see if the schedule wasn’t adjusted)
  • American will have significantly fewer frequencies than Delta, JetBlue, and United
  • American will no longer have Flagship First on the route, as American’s 777-200s don’t feature first class
  • On the plus side for economy passengers, there are premium economy seats which can be reserved as Main Cabin Extra seats, so that’s a comfortable way to fly
  • American briefly did something similar earlier this year, but only with select frequencies

My guess is that this decision comes down to a few factors:

  • There’s not a lot of premium demand, and American’s A321Ts are ridiculously premium heavy
  • The 777s have a lot more cargo capacity than A321Ts
  • With American furloughing pilots, American might be in a situation where it doesn’t have as many Airbus pilots as needed in the current schedule (lots of pilots need to be retrained, since furloughs happened purely based on seniority)

American’s 777-200s feature premium economy seats

American goes once daily between JFK & SFO

Between November 4 and November 30, 2020, American will operate a single daily flight between New York and San Francisco, still with an A321T. The flight will operate with the following schedule:

AA76 New York to San Francisco departing 7:30AM arriving 11:07AM
AA276 San Francisco to New York departing 9:27PM arriving 6:00AM (+1 day)

With this change:

  • This will be the only frequency in American’s system to be flown by the A321T
  • American has two daily A321T flights in the market through early November, and five daily flights as of December, though that’s also likely to change

This will be the only A321T route for most of November

American goes 2x daily with 777-300ERs between MIA & LAX

Airlines have hugely been increasing their service to Florida, and American will soon be operating two of its flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between Miami and Los Angeles.

Between November 4 and November 30, 2020, American will operate the following two frequencies with 777-300ERs (there are five total daily flights, with the others being operated by A321s):

AA1235 Miami to Los Angeles departing 3:30PM arriving 6:09PM
AA2289 Miami to Los Angeles departing 7:22PM arriving 10:05PM

AA1782 Los Angeles to Miami departing 12:10AM arriving 7:50AM
AA1473 Los Angeles to Miami departing 9:00AM arriving 4:44PM

For some context:

American is selling first class on this route

American sends 777-300ERs to Hawaii

Between November 4 and November 30, 2020, American will fly a 777-300ER daily between Dallas and Honolulu, replacing a 777-200 on at least one daily frequency. The flight will operate with the following frequency:

AA5 Dallas to Honolulu departing 11:10AM arriving 3:36PM
AA8 Honolulu to Dallas departing 8:00PM arriving 7:27AM (+1 day)

There are a few interesting things about this:

  • To my knowledge this is the first time that American has scheduled a 777-300ER to Hawaii
  • American isn’t selling three cabin first class on this route, meaning that business class passengers can assign first class seats at no extra cost

American will fly the 777-300ER to Honolulu

Bottom line

Understandably airlines have modifying their schedules last minute, given the constantly evolving situation. While there are lots of changes being made, the above four are the ones I find most interesting.

It’s kind of surprising how little transcon flying American will do out of New York. It’s also cool to see more 777-300ERs domestically, including between Miami and Los Angeles, as well as between Dallas and Honolulu.

Do any of these American Airlines frequency or aircraft changes surprise you?

Comments
  1. I’m flying PHL-MIA on Wednesday on a 788. Pretty sure it’s the first time an AA Dreamliner is flying to Miami. Looks like it’s here to stay for at least the month, and probably longer. They used to operate 3x daily 767 flights between PHL and MIA

  2. The final December schedule hasnt been loaded yet – you wont see 12 A321T JFKLAX in December once it’s finally loaded, I’m sure of it.

  3. One has to wonder if AA will permanently alter the A321 strategy from JFK to LAX/SFO. I loved taking those flights but after the first year or so the market got so competitive that I’m not sure they made money on those routes.

  4. AA cannot offer the full Flagship First experience right now, so they have no business selling the product. The right decision.

  5. Just booked DFW-HNL in business for 3 pax and put us in First Class. Used 25k Etihad points! Rate should be higher but I was ticketed and didn’t say anything. Space must be there due to aircraft change.

  6. I’m sure that when Mint was introduced into these 2 markets it gave AA it’s run for the money. I’m not sure Post COVID this route can support a 3 class narrowbody, may be a narrowbody with a bigger J class. Also, the dynamics of Hollywood are changing. The podcast world and Netflix/Apple TV is replacing network television and large movie studios. You can do a podcast from anywhere. You don’t need Hollywood to produce content. This could mean less Entertainment flying between LA and New York.

  7. If they drop the A321T from the route long term, would there be another route they could use them on? Or would they have to reconfigure the whole subfleet?

  8. I’m sure that when Mint was introduced into these 2 markets it gave AA it’s run for the money. I’m not sure Post COVID this route can support a 3 class narrowbody, may be a narrowbody with a bigger J class. Also, the dynamics of Hollywood are changing. The podcast world and Netflix/Apple TV is replacing network television and large movie studios. You can do a podcast from anywhere. You don’t need Hollywood to produce content. This could mean less Entertainment flying between LA and New York.
    – George N Romey

    Many YouTubers and Twitch streamers still move to LA when they get big enough, because all of the talent representation & marketing apparatus exist there.

    That said, as it relates to this article, LA may no longer be an AA hub or focus city. Their long-term transcon offering may depend more strongly on the JetBlue partnership.

    As an AA frequent flyer, I’m cautiously optimistic to hear what the AAdvantage integration (earning chart, etc.) looks like with JetBlue when they announce it.

  9. With that schedule, I would not fly AA SFO-JFK. I do not like red eye flights because it ruins the next day.

  10. Why so many redeye flights? I refuse to fly west coast to east coast redeyes. With so few flights, AA should be able to fit them all into daylight hours.

  11. @Lucky – something is wrong with your timing on this segment “ AA76 New York to San Francisco departing 7:30AM arriving 11:07AM”. I wasn’t aware it took that long to fly across the country

  12. Two points:

    1) For the SFO flight, the A321T is just parked for almost a full day until the evening flight? That seems wasteful

    2) The 772 is back double daily on JFK-MIA!

  13. @SN

    I think that’s not incorrect/unreasonable. A winter/autumn westbound blocked at 6h47m is not unheard of.

    @Andrew Y

    I was wondering about the A321T too. Maybe it flies other little segments during the day, and ends back up at SFO in time to do the eastbound.

  14. Is this new November schedule why AA has canceled a ton of non-stop flights on Thanksgiving day out of DFW? My outbound on Thanksgiving day was canceled without notice (the return is still active from SAF). No flights to Mexico or smaller US Domestic airports either

  15. @b Thanksgiving day itself is generally a very low travel day. The day before and the weekend after totally the opposite.

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