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Reduction/Schedule Changes in Premium Transcontinental Flights Starting Nov 2020

Reduction/Schedule Changes in Premium Transcontinental Flights Starting Nov 2020

Old Oct 4, 20, 4:08 am
  #1  
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Reduction/Schedule Changes in Premium Transcontinental Flights Starting Nov 2020

When I was looking through the new updated domestic schedule for November ( 5 November - 30 November ) which was recently published, I have realized that there are significant changes on transcontinental flights.

I am reporting this before any aviation website so it should be considered as an ISTFlyer exclusive.
Note: This analysis is a courtesy from me to FlyerTalk members and visitors

Route 1: New York JFK to Los Angeles

It's down to two daily 777-200ER flights. No more A321T aircraft on this route. No Flagship First would be offered in this route temporarily after 5 November.

The new schedule looks like;

AA 1 JFK LAX 9:00 12:21 77E
AA 3 JFK LAX 18:00 21:19 77E

AA 2 LAX JFK 08:30 16:47 77E
AA 4 LAX JFK 21:35 05:45+1 77E

Competitors: UA from EWR - 4 daily service ( 2 x 757; 2 x 787 )
B6 from JFK/EWR - 5 to 9 daily service ( All A321Mint - Service varies by day )
DL from JFK - 5 daily service ( All service with 767 )

* Alaska Airlines is not added to the list as they are not considering this route as premium transcontinental.


Route 2: New York JFK to San Fransisco

It's down to single daily with the Airbus A321T with the only eastbound option being a red-eye. Plus no service on 26 November and 27 November in both directions. Flagship First is offered on this route.

AA 76 JFK SFO 07:30 11:07 321T
AA 276 SFO JFK 21:27 06:00+1 A321T


Competitors: UA from EWR - 5 daily service ( Mixture of 757, 777, 787 )
B6 from JFK/EWR - 3 to 4 daily service ( All A321Mint - Service varies by day but 1 daily EWR, 2-3 daily JFK)
DL from JFK - 2-3 daily service ( All service with 757; Service varies by day )

* Alaska Airlines is not added to the list as they are not considering this route as premium transcontinental.


Route 3: Miami to Los Angeles

Instead of one premium transcontinental flight on this route, two premium transcontinental flights would be offered daily. Both flights with the Boeing 777-300ER and Flagship First being sold.

Note: Only premium transcontinental services are covered here. An additional 3 daily mainline domestic service is available in this route.

AA 1235 MIA LAX 10:30 13:06 77W
AA 2289 MIA LAX 19:22 22:05 77W

AA 1782 LAX MIA 00:10 07:50 77W
AA 1473 LAX MIA 09:00 16:44 77W

Competitors: AA has no direct competitors on this route.

************************************************** *****

Overview of this post:

- AA does only have one 321T flight daily in November. They currently have 17 A321T in their fleet and unless they are assigned to other routes, they would be grounded.
- Instead of a flexible schedule on the JFK-LAX route vv., AA has decided to consolidate flights and operate with a wide-body and eliminate Flagship First for a while.
- It's understandable that LAX-MIA is increased as there is a high demand for premium travel towards Florida so they added an additional red-eye flight on the LAX-MIA route ( + subsequently a return from MIA).
- AA does not expect much from the JFK-SFO route. I know many people who avoid red-eyes as they could not sleep onboard planes. AA has now lost these customers on this route unless they are willing to make a connection somewhere.
- They might start partnering with JetBlue as earlier this month or next month. Both JetBlue and American has decreased the number of NYC-LAX & NYC-SFO flights compared to October. This might be a sign.
- AA might introduce domestic Premium Economy like United, Delta; although PE seats on 777's are still marketed as MCE.

So what could be asked:

- Did AA gave hope from their premium transcontinental routes and would start leaning towards their other hub operations such as DFW, CLT & PHL?
- Did the AA & B6 partnership led to a decrease in ex-JFK transcontinental route.
- What is AA planning to do with their 16 grounded Airbus A321T's in November. It is a sign of early-phase out; reconfiguration, retrofit; etc... or is it AA planning to add more premium transcontinental routes across the US or maybe some flights to Hawaii?
- How is AA planning to compete with UA and DL on ex-NYC routes, where Delta and United offer a more flexible schedule for travelers?

Maybe more questions may be asked upon this analysis, although these were what came to my mind when I was creating this thread.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 6:41 am
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Reflects continued paucity of premium travel demand. 772 has only seven more J seats than sum of J and F on 321T, but 164 more Y seats. Two 772s have as much Y capacity as 6.5 321Ts, but only 2.5 321Ts at the front.

At the margin self-paying pax will appreciate the ability to get the 772 premium economy seats for the price of a MCE upcharge (or free if elite).
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Old Oct 4, 20, 8:19 am
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IMHO the 77E is an upgrade for the most part. Now those in J/F will enjoy “F like” hard product, AA elites not booked in J/F probably can select premium economy for free, and the Y product is better.

The only real loss is the F soft product which isn’t really significantly different from J aside from Flagship Dining and a more intimate cabin. With how weak premium and bookings have been I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the flights goes out with around 50-60% of the J seats booked or less.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 8:46 am
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Wow, AA has really thrown in the towel in the JFK market. Though, I would pin this more on NY's quarantine issues than anything else. Just look at the number of hotel properties in Manhattan that are closing permanently/foreclosing, etc.

With that said, I can see how the 772 makes more sense at the moment to JFK. I can't imagine there are a lot of people out there right now purchasing 'Flagship' F fares when you're being sent to a marginal Admirals Club and being offered a domestic F service on board the aircraft. With 10 of those seats on the A321T, that's a lot of the airplane that becomes useless and filled with non-revs, not ideal. With plenty of 777s hanging around, it makes sense to deploy them on this route with a much larger J cabin to be sold. With that said, it does surprise me to see only 2 daily flights. That's definitely extremely low, even for now when DL and B6 are both running 5 daily.

MIA getting an additional 77W doesn't surprise me at all. The existing 777 service is always packed in the premium cabins, even F, and everyone that I know will only fly AA on this route if they can get on a 777. No one wants to fly on a nasty domestic A321 with no service.

As far as the B6 partnership goes, they certainly don't have antitrust immunity, so to my knowledge they can't really be coordinating schedules without that in place.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 9:40 am
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I just purchased an LAX-JFK "A" fare for this month. I will miss Flagship Dining for sure. Sad to see this reduction, but it is understandable. It appears the airlines are in terrible shape, unfortunately.


also, I am seeing (on ITA Matrix) the MIA-LAX 777 departures at 3:30pm and 7:22pm, not the times listed above, for November.

Last edited by nachosdelux; Oct 4, 20 at 9:47 am
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Old Oct 4, 20, 10:26 am
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The F issue is accounted for by the fact that it is largely no longer a factor. No FL, no FFD, and same catering for F/J. This leaves a marginally nicer F hard product and that's it.

My guess is that the demand simply is not there and that the others will, over time, largely follow suit.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 10:33 am
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Originally Posted by nachosdelux View Post
I just purchased an LAX-JFK "A" fare for this month. I will miss Flagship Dining for sure. Sad to see this reduction, but it is understandable. It appears the airlines are in terrible shape, unfortunately.

also, I am seeing (on ITA Matrix) the MIA-LAX 777 departures at 3:30pm and 7:22pm, not the times listed above, for November.
The schedule is modified one more time, I now see the same departure times as you.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 10:59 am
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It's a New York thing more than an AA thing for sure. New York imposes a 14 day quarantine on travelers from 31 states and basically every foreign country of consequence. This has shut down virtually all out-of-town business travel and most tourist travel. Even to the extent not applicable (e.g., California is not on the restricted list), Manhattan remains closed for office-type business for essentially all purposes, and suburban businesses have largely replicated that - all meetings online only.

JFK, LGA and EWR can feel nearly as empty now as they were at the depths of the shutdown in April and early May. It's a shocking contrast to DEN, DFW, MIA, ATL, CLT etc. which at least in their home hub carriers' terminal(s) can feel as busy as ever during their bank times, and in some cases busier given that a lot of restaurants, bars and airport lounges remain closed or limited service creating long lines elsewhere. (Although they quiet down a LOT between banks, which in many cases are reduced by at least half on a daily basis.)
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Old Oct 4, 20, 11:18 am
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
MIA getting an additional 77W doesn't surprise me at all. The existing 777 service is always packed in the premium cabins, even F, and everyone that I know will only fly AA on this route if they can get on a 777. No one wants to fly on a nasty domestic A321 with no service.

As far as the B6 partnership goes, they certainly don't have antitrust immunity, so to my knowledge they can't really be coordinating schedules without that in place.
Exactly. AA has always been able to fill the MIA LAX with very high LF whether on 772 or 77W.

Because of these schedule changes to JFK, AA should revise its lounge policy or they are going to get a lot of complains for the lack of AC access which is just greedy from AA's part really and neither DL nor UA has such ridiculous lounge policies.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 1:44 pm
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Originally Posted by golfingboy View Post
IMHO the 77E is an upgrade for the most part. Now those in J/F will enjoy “F like” hard product, AA elites not booked in J/F probably can select premium economy for free, and the Y product is better.

The only real loss is the F soft product which isn’t really significantly different from J aside from Flagship Dining and a more intimate cabin. With how weak premium and bookings have been I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the flights goes out with around 50-60% of the J seats booked or less.
For premium cabins, guaranteed direct aisle access may be a key feature. American was the only carrier not providing this in the NYC-LAX route alongside Alaska which offers Domestic First service on this route.

I also agree with the MCE part that pax could choose Premium Economy seats for free, although 10 abreast 777 with 30 inch legroom might not sound good as an A321.

For Business Class, it would give AAdvantage users to book Economy and spend their miles or upgrade coupons to upgrade in a season where the premium cabins are not full as the upgrade list would probably not be full and most passengers request would be cleared.

Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
With that said, I can see how the 772 makes more sense at the moment to JFK. I can't imagine there are a lot of people out there right now purchasing 'Flagship' F fares when you're being sent to a marginal Admirals Club and being offered a domestic F service on board the aircraft. With 10 of those seats on the A321T, that's a lot of the airplane that becomes useless and filled with non-revs, not ideal. With plenty of 777s hanging around, it makes sense to deploy them on this route with a much larger J cabin to be sold. With that said, it does surprise me to see only 2 daily flights. That's definitely extremely low, even for now when DL and B6 are both running 5 daily.
To clarify, currently, Flagship First passengers are getting the Flagship Business soft product which is a high improvement over Domestic First. I guess that Delta is the only one who serves Domestic First soft product on their premium transcontinental routes.

By the way, I was also surprised to see only 2 daily services.

Originally Posted by only1percent View Post
It's a New York thing more than an AA thing for sure. New York imposes a 14 day quarantine on travelers from 31 states and basically every foreign country of consequence. This has shut down virtually all out-of-town business travel and most tourist travel. Even to the extent not applicable (e.g., California is not on the restricted list), Manhattan remains closed for office-type business for essentially all purposes, and suburban businesses have largely replicated that - all meetings online only.

JFK, LGA and EWR can feel nearly as empty now as they were at the depths of the shutdown in April and early May. It's a shocking contrast to DEN, DFW, MIA, ATL, CLT etc. which at least in their home hub carriers' terminal(s) can feel as busy as ever during their bank times, and in some cases busier given that a lot of restaurants, bars and airport lounges remain closed or limited service creating long lines elsewhere. (Although they quiet down a LOT between banks, which in many cases are reduced by at least half on a daily basis.)
Most passengers on the JFK-LAX route used to be O<-->D pax rather than connecting traffic.
For the reduction of flights, yes, it might be related to the decrease of business travelers, although there are many leisure travelers flying this route as well. AFAIK no LCC operates NYC-LAX at the moment so they have no other choice to make a connection or choose the US3, Alaska or JetBlue.

I have flown LAX-EWR in September with United and I could tell that the flight was fully booked, standby's didn't clear, and there were many leisure travelers including families with children under the age of 10 and many solo passengers under the age of 30 in the Economy cabin. EWR Terminal C was also crowded; although not crowded like CLT which I visited last month as well.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 2:46 pm
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
To clarify, currently, Flagship First passengers are getting the Flagship Business soft product which is a high improvement over Domestic First. I guess that Delta is the only one who serves Domestic First soft product on their premium transcontinental routes.

By the way, I was also surprised to see only 2 daily services.
It's similar to the old flagship business offerings although the quality and portion size is a bit off from what it used to be IMO. It's an improvement over domestic F only really in that there are four choices, otherwise in terms of quality and quantity it's about the same.

Delta doesn't really serve anything on their premium transcon routes. It's the same thing you get though the rest of the system at the moment which is a choice of Dasani, beer, or wine and a shelf-stable snack box.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 3:00 pm
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
For Business Class, it would give AAdvantage users to book Economy and spend their miles or upgrade coupons to upgrade in a season where the premium cabins are not full as the upgrade list would probably not be full and most passengers request would be cleared.
Have you flown AA recently? LAX MIA on 772 is regularly booked to 100% and I have been on flights where not a single person cleared from the upgrade list (of 20+ flyers) even on weekends. With AA now significantly reducing LAX/JFK frequencies, there will be a lot less opportunities for people to upgrade to J or use their miles for low J awards.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 3:18 pm
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Thank you ISTFlyer -- was able to snag a web saver 23.5k J seat in late November. Just need to cross fingers/toes/etc that the schedule holds.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 3:35 pm
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
For premium cabins, guaranteed direct aisle access may be a key feature. American was the only carrier not providing this in the NYC-LAX route alongside Alaska which offers Domestic First service on this route.
United does not provide direct aisle access on all flights. Overall, I think it's a bit premature to suggest there is a strategic rationale behind these changes, particularly if SFO continues on the 32T. I think AA is just responding to what's shaping up as a very weak period.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 3:55 pm
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As someone bicoastal I can understand this move. I was on an AA flight where I was the only pax in J on the A321, and F was full of non revs. ( this back in March)
It would be perfect for people if they had at least 1 afternoon flight from LA because unlike my younger self, I don't take red eyes.

In some ways it is an upgrade. I have been op-up and upgraded to F many times, ( as a BA gold - I don't have status on AA) besides the seat ( which is better on the 77E) the food and dining is the other differentiator ( which I don't really care for). Too much food actually in F.

People that fly to SF that don't like red eyes are kind of screwed. DL doesn't serve proper food in business class, and UA's old 757s and EWR is a non starter.

Last edited by OpenSky; Oct 5, 20 at 10:57 pm
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