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 has historically sometimes operated one daily 777-300ER between Los Angeles and Miami, but I don’t ever recall there being two daily flights
- The airline is selling three cabin first class on this route, though there’s no differentiation in service
- For those in economy, the plane features premium economy, so that’s a great value, since it’s the same cost as Main Cabin Extra
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
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?