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American Airlines unveils major Miami expansion, another new route to Tel Aviv

Feb. 08, 2021
9 min read
American Airlines unveils major Miami expansion, another new route to Tel Aviv
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American Airlines is doubling down on Miami with its latest pandemic-era network adjustment.

The Fort Worth-based carrier will launch a brand-new long-haul flight, add two pins to its route map and increase capacity across Latin American and the Caribbean.

“This move reinforces how much American Airlines is identified by Miami. It is one of the core elements of our airline. We are committed to Miami and this capacity increase really reflects that," said Brian Znotins, American's vice president of network planning in an interview with TPG.

As such, let's take a look at American's sweeping Miami-focused expansion.

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American adds Miami to Tel Aviv

American hasn't flown to Tel Aviv since January 2016, and now it has plans to serve Israel from three hubs.

On Monday, the airline announced a brand-new thrice-weekly Miami (MIA) to Tel Aviv (TLV) flight, operated on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the eastbound direction by a 273-seat Boeing 777-200.

Flights take off on June 4 and will be available to book starting on Feb. 15, with the full schedule below.

American's 777-200 sports 37 lie-flat business-class pods, 24 premium economy recliners, 66 extra-legroom economy seats and 146 standard coach seats. The carrier will offer Kosher meals for pre-order as well as Kosher wine on board.

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The Miami to Tel Aviv route will start roughly one month after American begins serving Israel from New York-JFK. As part of the carrier's new Northeast-focused alliance with JetBlue, American is launching two long-haul routes from JFK, to Athens and Tel Aviv.

AA will then follow up with a third new TLV service come October 31, when it finally launches flights from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), a route that was originally delayed last year due to the pandemic.

Asked about why American is starting so many flights to Israel during a pandemic, Znotins explained the rationale behind each route.

The feasibility of the JFK-TLV flights is boosted by "the new JetBlue partnership. In the case of Tel Aviv, once we build in the presence and connectivity of JetBlue in the New York area, we recalibrate our list of forecasts for every possible long-haul route and all of a sudden Tel Aviv and Athens jump to first on that list."

As for flights from DFW, "while Tel Aviv from JFK is our best opportunity, we still want to fly from DFW later this year."

So, why also add Miami?

"It really is an opportunistic move for us right now. First, the demand for flights to Tel Aviv has shrunk less than other leisure destinations in Europe. Second, Israel is way ahead of the curve when it comes to vaccinations. In terms of markets that could open up to less restricted travel, they will be one of the first to do that when they're ready for it," Znotins explained to TPG.

While the Miami to Tel Aviv market might appear to be a short-term play, Znotins told us that "we're going to stick with the route for as long as it works. Miami to Tel Aviv may not have been on the radar last year, but because the world is different now, we're going to give it a go."

American will have limited competition from El Al on its new Miami route (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

American will face limited competition on its Miami to Tel Aviv route. El Al re-entered the market in November 2017 following a nine-year hiatus. In June 2021, the Israeli flag carrier plans 22 flights for the month, per Cirium schedules.

Related: The tiny country with a rapidly growing airline route map

Two new Caribbean and South American destinations

American's also adding two new pins to its route map.

The carrier will start flying to Paramaribo, Suriname (PBM) from Miami on July 1. Flights will operate five times weekly aboard the 128-seat Airbus A319. Suriname will be the ninth South American country served by American, further solidifying the carrier's stronghold in the region.

The only other airline flying from the U.S. to Suriname is Surinam Airways with roughly once-weekly flights from Miami, according to Cirium timetables.

American will also start flying to Samana, Dominican Republic (AZS) on June 5 with seasonal twice-weekly service from Charlotte (CLT). AA last flew to AZS in 2008 from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Network-wide domestic boosts

In recent weeks, most major U.S. carriers, including American Airlines, have been tweaking their route maps to boost service to leisure-oriented destinations like Panama City, Florida and Salt Lake City.

This week is no exception.

AA will add once-weekly Saturday service during summer months from Miami to Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT) and Portland, Maine (PWM) beginning on June 5. This move will both help boost connectivity to points in Latin American and the Caribbean, as well as offer travelers more flights to sunny South Florida.

Effective June 3, American is also adding new and expanded service from its Charlotte (CLT) hub, including:

  • Daily summer service to Reno, Nevada (RNO)
  • Expanded summer service to Jackson Hole, Wyoming (JAC) and Traverse City, Michigan (TVC)

More American route news: American Airlines adds 8 new and expanded routes

Short-haul international growth, too

But wait, there's more. American is also doubling down on its short-haul international flying from Miami.

Znotins was particularly excited that "capacity between Miami and Colombia will be more than double what it was prior to the pandemic."

American will upgauge short-haul flying with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

To capitalize on the strong VFR (visiting friends and relatives) traffic to Latin America and the Caribbean, American is adding frequency and upgauging aircraft to many existing destinations, with a plan to offer 16% more capacity to the region from Miami compared to 2019.

Some of the many boosts include:

  • Miami to Port-au-Prince (PAP) will increase to five daily flights beginning in April
  • Miami to Santiago (STI) and Santo Domingo (SDQ) in the Dominican Republic will increase to four and seven daily flights, respectively
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to PAP will get a second daily flight beginning April 2

Interestingly, many of these short-haul flights are aimed at some of the carrier's low-cost competitors, like Frontier and Spirit. American will also be competing with its new partner in the Northeast, JetBlue, on its expanded FLL-PAP flight, a move that's similar to the three other new domestic FLL routes American is adding in the coming months.

Other airlines: Delta charges into leisure markets with latest route shakeup

In addition to much of the Miami-focused expansion, American is adding frequency to the Caribbean and Mexico from other hubs as well, including:

  • Seasonal service from DFW to St. Maarten (SXM) and St. Lucia (UVF)
  • New seasonal route from DFW to Merida, Mexico (MID)
  • New route from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cancun (CUN)

All this international expansion comes as the U.S. recently added a new COVID test requirement for all inbound travelers heading to the country.

"We're seeing the industry adapt to the testing rules," said Znotins. Many of the hotels and resorts in the Caribbean and Latin America are offering on-site COVID testing to streamline the new requirements.

Znotins added that "our bookings to some of these places aren't down nearly as much as we anticipated. Some are even starting to rebound."

A full list of the new routes is below:

New Destinations

DepartureArrivalOperating DaysStart DateDeparture TimeArrival TimeAircraft
MIAPBMMon/Tues/Thurs/Fri/SunJuly 15:30 p.m.11:30 p.m.A319
PBMMIAMon/Tues/Wed/Fri/SatJuly 21:45 a.m.5:05 a.m.A319
CLTAZS*Wed/SatJune 59:45 a.m.1:05 p.m.E175
AZSCLTWed/SatJune 52:00 p.m.5:30 p.m.E175

*Seasonal from June 5 through Aug. 14. Returning Winter 2021.

New Routes

DepartureArrivalOperating DaysStart DateDeparture TimeArrival TimeAircraft
MIATLVWed/Fri/SunJune 48 p.m.3:10 p.m.B777-2
TLVMIAMon/Thurs/SatJune 511:55 p.m.6:25 a.m.B777-2
DFWSXM*SatJune 58:50 a.m.3:15 p.m.A319
SXMDFWSatJune 52:35 p.m.7:14 p.mA319
DFWUVF**SatJune 58:40 a.m.3:40 p.m.A321
UVFDFWSatJune 52:30 p.m.7:22 p.m.A321
DFWMID*SatJune 510:55 a.m.1:37 p.m.E175
MIDDFWSatJune 52:17 p.m4:51 p.m.E175
CUNLAXSatJune 54:40 p.m.7:46 p.m.A321
LAXCUNSatJune 58:45 a.m.3:36 p.m.A321

*Seasonal from June 5 through Aug. 14. Summer service only.
**Seasonal from June 5 through Aug. 14. Returning Winter 2021.

New Domestic Schedules

DepartureArrivalOperating DaysStart DateDeparture TimeArrival TimeAircraft
MIALITSatJune 57:40 p.m.9:15 p.m.E175
LITMIASatJune 56 a.m.9:45 a.m.E175
MIAPWMSatJune 510:25 a.m.1:45 p.m.E175
PWMMIASatJune 52:30 p.m.5:59 p.m.E175
Featured image by GC Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more