American Resumes Flights Over Russian Airspace After One-Day Freeze
After just one day of announced route changes and diversions, American Airlines has resumed flights on traditional routes flying over Russian airspace.
Following Saturday's memo to pilots that three routes — Dallas (DFW) to Hong Kong (HKG), Dallas to Beijing (PEK) and Chicago (ORD) to Beijing — would be rerouted and possibly diverted to avoid Russian airspace, American announced on Sunday that it's rethought the policy. As reported by Reuters, American's monitoring of "global geopolitical issues" led it to rethink the changes.
The one day of rerouting not only made its flights longer by requiring a stop in Los Angeles (LAX) to refuel. But also, the longer travel time meant crews needed to be swapped because of "time out" limits being met prior to the flight's arrival at final destination.
AA Flight 263 resumed its typical route over northern Russia on Sunday. This, as opposed to its Saturday routing in which it was diverted to LAX.
Although it's no longer rerouting its flights to avoid Russian airspace, AA still has its travel waiver in place, allowing passengers to change their reservations. The waiver states that if you’re traveling to, from or through Beijing (PEK) or Hong Kong (HKG) between April 14-21, and have purchased your ticket by April 14, the airline will allow you to change your reservation. However, customers are reporting being told by AA agents that only the three affected routes — DFW-PEK, DFW-HKG and ORD-PEK — are eligible for the waiver. Rebooked travel must be completed between April 14 and May 5, and you must rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference in fare, as well as not changing your origin or destination city.
American was the only airline of the major US carriers that announced reroutings or diversions over Russia.
The announcement of returning to normal operations also comes at a time when an agreement between the US and Russia that allows airlines from both countries to use each other's airspace is set to expire this week.