American Airlines is bringing back its swankiest jet, the Airbus A321T
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This March, American Airlines’ flyers trekking across the country will have the opportunity to fly the carrier’s best domestic jet.
During the weekend, the Fort Worth-based carrier filed its March 2021 schedule, which included a welcome upgrade for transcon travelers. Specifically, one of the carrier’s three New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) frequencies will be operated by the Airbus A321T.
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This jet, outfitted with just 102 seats, is the most premium in the entire fleet. It sports a 10-seat Flagship First cabin, 20 seats of lie-flat Flagship Business and 72 in coach, with half in the extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra configuration.
The A321T will fly the following route for March 2021, as confirmed by the carrier:
- American Flight 3: JFK – LAX 12 p.m. – 3:24 p.m.
- American Flight 4: LAX – JFK 2 p.m. – 10:21 p.m.
Additionally, AA is boosting the JFK to San Francisco (SFO) frequency from once-daily to twice-daily, with both flights operated by the A321T, according to Cirium schedules.
For now, business-class fares start at roughly $500 one way, roughly in line with pandemic-era lows, but first-class pods start at a whopping $1,500. There’s plenty of Web Special award availability for biz starting at 20,000 AAdvantange miles.
In a statement, American confirmed the move, saying:
The A321T will start to return in March, supplementing some of the widebody flying that has been operating over the past few months. As customers safely return to the sky, we look forward to bringing back the product they know and love on an important route.
Before the pandemic, the A321T was a mainstay on American’s transcon routes. With rare exception, every flight between the cities was operated by this plane.
Once the pandemic hit, however, the transcon strategy changed.
Back in November, Brian Znotins, AA’s vice president of network planning, explained to TPG why the A321T was largely grounded, in favor of larger Boeing 777s, with many more coach seats than premium ones in the pointy end of the plane.
“It’s pretty simple. The A321T is a business-focused aircraft and there’s very little business demand right now,” Znotins told TPG. “VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure demand” warrants a “low-frequency, high-gauge schedule,” he added.
Despite Znotins’ confirmation that the A321T would be back, several reports surfaced in late November questioning AA’s commitment to the premium-heavy jet. Some rumored that the plane would never return, theorizing that American would convert the jets to a standard, domestic configuration with a handful of first-class recliners and a large coach cabin.
Fortunately, for AA flyers, Monday’s news appears to squash such rumors.
American isn’t ready to boost its frequencies to pre-pandemic levels, though. Despite re-adding the A321T to the schedule, the carrier will only fly three daily LAX frequencies in March 2021, down from roughly 11 per day one year ago.
The timing of the A321T’s return coincides with the recent news that American’s Northeast-focused alliance with JetBlue was just approved by regulators. One of the many promised benefits of the tie-up include coordinating transcon routes from New York, where JetBlue currently flies its Mint-equipped A321s.
As for American’s other routes, the carrier confirmed that its March schedule will be approximately 36% smaller than the same time period in 2019, in an effort to match low demand resulting from COVID-19.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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