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American Airlines responds to JetBlue in Hartford, fills United's gap in Vail

March 22, 2021
4 min read
An American Airlines plane parked at an airport.
American Airlines responds to JetBlue in Hartford, fills United's gap in Vail
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Editor's Note

This post has been updated with a comment from American Airlines. 

American Airlines is defending its home turf.

Over the weekend, the Fort Worth-based carrier made some interesting route updates, seemingly aimed at responding to its competitors.

The first route — between Miami (MIA) and Hartford (BDL) — will get a 200% boost in flights. Beginning on June 3, the carrier will start flying the 1,194-mile hop three-times daily, up from the current once-daily schedule. The two added frequencies have been loaded through the end of the schedule, in March 2022.

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The move comes just weeks after American announced a sweeping Miami-focused expansion, with a brand-new long-haul flight to Tel Aviv (TLV) and increased capacity across Latin American and the Caribbean, including a new destination: Paramaribo, Suriname (PBM).

Right now, Florida is hot — both in its temperature and in terms of increased air traffic. Cirium schedules show that the Sunshine State will see about 177% more flights in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the same time period in 2020, at the height of the pandemic. With travelers looking for outdoor-friendly destinations, it's no surprise that Florida's beaches climb to the top of the list.

But American's move likely isn't about serving the record-breaking spring break crowds headed south. After all, the additional Hartford flights don't begin until June.

Instead, it's seemingly a response to JetBlue. In February, the New York-based carrier started flying to the American Airlines fortress hub, with four routes from New York-JFK, Newark (EWR), Boston (BOS) and Los Angeles (LAX). Less than a month since launching Miami flights, JetBlue announced that it'll fly once-daily between, you guessed it, Miami and Hartford starting on June 24.

Related: JetBlue already expanding in Miami, takes on American with new Northeast route

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Despite American's new Northeast-focused alliance with JetBlue, the heat is on down south. The two carriers might be codesharing in New York and Boston, but that partnership doesn't extend to the Miami-to-Hartford route, where the two airlines will go head-to-head in June.

For it's part, American cited high demand for the extra flights.

"The bookings trend over the last four weeks has increased significantly from MIA to BDL and we’re adding frequencies to match the increased demand," an American spokesperson said in an email to TPG.

American and JetBlue have teamed up in the Northeast (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The one upside to both American and JetBlue is that their Miami growth could help blunt some of Delta’s ambitions to grow service to the city. In 2019, the Atlanta-based carrier took a 20% stake in LATAM, designed to bolster the Delta’s presence in Latin and South America. Despite the pandemic, Delta still plans to turn Miami into a “gateway hub.”

Elsewhere, American is also responding to moves made by a competitor in another outdoor-focused destination. AA will add daily summer seasonal flights between Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Vail/Eagle (EGE) from June 3 to Sept. 7. If all goes according to plan, this will be American's first time flying this route in the summer in at least 18 years, per Cirium schedules. (American flies to Vail from Chicago each winter season.)

So, why fly the route this summer?

For one, Vail seemingly fits the bill as an outdoor-friendly destination. With access to hiking, white-water rafting and more, pandemic-weary travelers can find plenty of socially distant activities there.

Related: United Airlines adds Mexico, Caribbean flights in major summer boost

The carrier also is filling a void left by United.

Earlier in March, United dropped two Vail routes from its summer timetable. The carrier was originally planning to fly twice-weekly EGE service this summer from both Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Houston Intercontinental (IAH), but that's since been scrapped.

With United's Chicago-Vail service out of the cards for the summer, American is perhaps betting that it can capture travelers headed to the mountains. With daily flights aboard a 128-seat Airbus A319, the carrier will have plenty of seats to fill.

The good news? It won't face any direct competition.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
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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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees