American Airlines’ Hong Kong Flight Suspension Extended

Filed Under: American

Update: These cancelations have now been extended through late April 2020.

I don’t want to write 24/7 about the impact the coronavirus is having on the airline industry, but rather want to focus on those airlines that are making choices that counter the trend. That leaves me with quite a few things to write about, given that this is also a rapidly developing situation.

American Airlines first cut mainland China flights

Over the weekend I wrote about how American Airlines cut all flights to mainland China through March 27, 2020. For March 28 and beyond, American will make adjustments as necessary.

American said that this decision was made as a result of the US Department of State’s increase of the China Travel Advisory to a Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”).

However, this also followed American’s pilot union filing a lawsuit against the company, as they were refusing to operate flights to China.

What was odd about the situation is that the pilots didn’t really differentiate between mainland China and Hong Kong for these purposes, so we saw serious delays to Hong Kong flights, as pilots refused to operate these flights as well.

American Airlines then cut Hong Kong flights

Earlier this week American Airlines suspended all Hong Kong flights through February 20, 2020. This included both their flights from Dallas and Los Angeles.

This didn’t come as much of a surprise, as the airline had previously started to zero out inventory on the routes, which is often done in anticipation of flight cancelations.

American initially claimed that this decision was just made due to “operational reasons,” but didn’t expand beyond that.

American Airlines extends LAX to HKG suspension

It has now been announced that American Airlines is extending the cancelation of their Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight through March 27, 2020. As of now the airline plans to resume Dallas to Hong Kong flights as of February 21, 2020, though presumably that has a chance of being extended.

American Airlines says that this decision has been made due to a reduction in demand.

Bottom line

American Airlines has canceled all flights to Hong Kong through February 20, and has canceled Los Angeles to Hong Kong flights through March 27, 2020.

The airline notes that they will continue to review flight schedules to ensure they can accommodate the needs of customers, and will make additional refinement as needed. Therefore I wouldn’t assume that either of the service resumption dates are set in stone.

We’ve now seen both American and United cut Hong Kong flights, in addition to all three big US carriers cutting mainland China flights. As of now United’s cancelations for Hong Kong just extend through February 20, 2020.

Given the latest information on the coronavirus situation, my thinking changed, and I ultimately canceled my flight through Beijing. For more on the rapidly-developing situation, check out these posts:

  1. Favorable situation for Cathay Pacific. Not enough demand for the excess of inventory. CX has no choice but to fly to and from HKG.

  2. AA is very likely suspending LAX/DFW to HKG because pilots have been refusing to fly the route owing to fears around the coronavirus. One of the LAX flights late last week was delayed by 12 hours or something like that. Prior to the virus outbreak and amid the on going social unrest in Hong Kong, AA had reported the HKG routes had been holding up quite well at a time when UA was cutting frequency on the EWR to HKG route, downgauging it from a 77W to a 772, and cut ORD-HKG.

  3. @lucky

    Looking at ExpertFlyer, Cathay pacific has zeroed out all inventory on their Newark, NJ (EWR) to Hong Kong flight from February 17, 2020 through March 29, 2020 as well as the Hong Kong to Newark, NJ flight. As such, it looks like they are planning to suspend/cancel flights for this time frame.

    I am scheduled on one of these flights and have not heard anything from Cathay Pacific yet.

    Also, I know you don’t usually cover cruises but Royal Caribbean is denying boarding to all passengers and crew who have travelled to China and Hong Kong as well as those transiting Mainland China and Hong Kong in the previous 14 days prior to departure.

  4. Currently booked on CX HKG-LAX during that period….and happy as Hell that I booked a “back-up” flight thru ICN just in case!

  5. Hmmmm…Absolutely nothing on their website and I just played around with booking a flight and they’re still showing availability…WTF

  6. Looks like this was talked about here:

    Anyways, I’m VERY curious to see how airlines reshuffle their flights to/from/via China and Hong Kong when “normal operations” resume. We certainly won’t see the same amount of capacity to the region. As noted here and elsewhere, many of these flights have begun bleeding and capacity to China and Hong Kong was already an issue.

    For AA, it may be quite beneficial to pull their HKG capacity and leave that for CX to handle. Pretty much a win-win, assuming those flights weren’t making a ton of money the past 6 months. Might be a reminder of why Alliances were formed in the first place – to spread the benefits of a better route map, while isolating member airlines from regional issues affecting the individual airlines.

  7. Everything to do with demand nothing to do with safety, etc.

    The demand for travel, especially OPM travel is gone, so why fly.

  8. I wonder what happened to all of those folks who said this was nothing and there was almost no risk? Kind of quiet now.

    While the risk isn’t terribly high, it just serves no point to take unnecessary travel to an area where you may get sick. You run into the hassles of needing medical attention in a foreign country, insurance issues, language issues, a strained medical staff or not getting sick but getting stuck in quarantine for a few weeks. Not of those are favorable outcomes.

  9. My flight from LAX to HKG was cancelled. They did not book me on CX but reroute to LAX-NRT-HKG. It doesn’t make sense. What’s going on?

  10. @Rich, pretty sure those of us who said and say that this disease is no big deal have given up on trying to inject rational thought into an irrational conversation.
    To repeat actual, real information, this disease has killed 427 people, the vast majority of which already had underlying conditions and all of whom are being treated in and have grown up with much lower standards of medical care and nutrition than most North Americans. That is approximately the number of people who have died from the flu in the last 10 hours or the number who have died from diarrhea in the last two hours.
    The disease is not the risk, the overreaction to the disease is the risk. If those who said that this is not a reason to panic had been listened to, none of the other consequences you listed would have happened. Prudent precautions make sense, panicked isolation does not. Countries have long memories and this treatment will not easily be forgotten.

  11. I think we should suspend flights to and from America and Europe. Confirmed cases of Coronavirus and a population that thinks they are above all this (yet has a completely inadequate healthcare system)

  12. I’m booked on United to HK in May and already worried about flights.
    At this point I’m hoping they’ll cancel or let us change since it doesn’t seem sensible to go for a pleasure trip at this time.
    We just want to know if we should start looking for other destinations.
    Any ideas?

  13. “The American Airlines pilots’ union sued the carrier to end Hong Kong service.”

    From the CNBC article.

  14. Hi, does anyone have any experience or suggestions on how to get past the AA $300 cancellation fees for flight with a layover in HKG (DFW-HKG-TPE) for travel in 2 weeks? I’ve booked a different flight with Eva (IAH-TPE) to be on the safe side to bypass China or a need to connect….TIA.

  15. @Farnorthradar,
    Completely agree. So far just this winter (2019/2020) in the US over 10,000 people (incl 60+ children) have died from the annual influenza strains making the rounds. Aside from the few voices of reason one rarely hears this fact amid the breathless reports in media about how many hundred deaths have occurred ex-Wuhan. It’s ridiculous, but it gets ratings.

    As one specialist said, we should call our flu season by some exotic sounding name; it might garner more attention to a FAR bigger killer.

  16. this does not come as a surprise because all the coronachinese fly thru HK pretending to be Hongkongers whilst they want the eradication of the Ethnic Hongkong race.

    So before the border forces bans the china passport all together like Kuwait, this is bound to happen.

  17. @Sally – AA told me that HKG flights would be canceled through the end of the month. You probably won’t need to cancel it yourself.

  18. Guess some commenters haven’t read about the HOSPITALIZATION rate…which is 15-20% of “confirmed cases.” Of course..many could be infected and never verified, so lower…but who knows.

    Nor have some seen the videos of collapsed people on Youtube/Twitter with HazMat guys running around (In other words – probability of being fake is low). Or village blockades. Those are facts…rumors are much higher death rates…

    We’ll see..

  19. To all those pointing out that more people have died of the flu than coronavirus, so no big deal: THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. When it comes to pandemics/epidemics – the point is to make sure that they don’t get to that level. Only a few hundred people have died now – so while it is still a few hundred people, the world needs to do its job so it stays at a few hundred people and doesn’t become thousands… than millions.

  20. @ken fully agreed. Up to this date there are more Wuhan virus patients dead than released from hospital. Given that those in hospital will eventually either die or get released from hospital, we are talking about something potentially up to 50 per cent mortality rate. Add the fact that there are many people dead in Wuhan before they are diagonized and the PR Chinese gov’t tries everything to conceal the scope of disease, and far from finding cure for the disease, it is clear tjat Wuhan virus is not something we would compare to common flu (with at most 0.5 percent mortality).

  21. Does anyone have any insight in to how points bookings might be handled in these situations? I have an upcoming HKG > DFW > GRU flight on AA in May, as part of a Qantas RTW redemption. As my ticket is issued through QF, would I automatically be re-routed or is it likely my whole RTW booking could get messed up if this leg gets cancelled and there’s no other availability to DFW?

    I spoke to QF and they said as my flight has not yet been cancelled, they can’t change anything proactively, unless I find availability and propose an alternative routing myself.

  22. That’s too bad. Hong Kong is a great city. I hope the situation improves and flights can resume sooner than later.

  23. Lucky, will you be publishing advice for travelers who are flying but _not_ to those regions? I have a trip between two large domestic cities in the US, and my wife is afraid and tells me I shouldn’t go as I may catch it from someone on the plane (enclosed space, many people around, etc). Of course, she worries too much and she’s a germaphobe. But should people at least wear an N95 mask or take other precautions?

  24. @Farnorthtrader – Sharing a summation of your public health and/or epidemiology credentials might help your statements sound legitimate.

  25. @Jim
    Wearing a mask won’t help you from getting it.
    Wearing a masks will protect others and slow the spread if you’ve already contracted the illness but don’t have symptoms and aren’t aware.

  26. Nowhere else says that American Airlines flights to Hong Kong have been suspended through March 27th. Where’s the source?

  27. I had Business class flights beginning March 10 through HK to Chiang Mai then Phuket for my son’s wedding on March 14 returning to ORD on March 20. Since Feb 4 I’ve called American Airlines daily to see about rerouting, but was told nothing was available. This morning I found flights to Bangkok through NRT and when I called AA they told me the portion of my trip from HK to Chiang Mai was cancelled. I received no notification of the cancellation, but fortunately for me the person I spoke with at AA helped me rebook to Bangkok. I can get to Chiang Mai easily from Bangkkok on another airline.

  28. @JON,
    Masks are somewhat useful.
    Masks offer some protection when the viri are in droplets, such as from someone nearby sneezing. Masks also limit people from touching their own face, a major thing.

  29. I have no expertise in Asia, their economy nor their health care workers. I have taken into account the possible limited diet and healthcare of residents of Wuhan. When a 34 year old Physician succumbs to this disease it sound serious. I imagine that a Physician has the financial ability and knowledge to eat well and be healthy, very few 34 year ols die of influenza.

  30. @JB That’s the article I’ve been waiting for. Really curious if AA (or DL) will just be grounding their widebodies or up-gauging some domestic routes.

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