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On the rebound? American Airlines' flights were 56% full over Memorial Day

May 27, 2020
3 min read
On the rebound? American Airlines' flights were 56% full over Memorial Day
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American Airlines saw a banner Memorial Day weekend — at least by 2020 standards — as more travelers seemed ready to shrug off concerns about flying during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier's flights were 56% full over what is the symbolic start of summer in the U.S., American CEO Doug Parker said at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions conference on Wednesday.

“We are still flying only 20% of our schedule, but on that much reduced schedule we are definitely seeing more demand than we were seeing in prior months," he said.

Get Coronavirus travel updates. Stay on top of industry impacts, flight cancellations, and more.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) saw an uptick in people screened over the holiday long weekend. The agency screened 348,673 people on Friday, May 22, at the outset of the weekend. That marked the highest total since March, when people began staying home in large numbers because of COVID-19. Still, even the May 22 total represented less than 15% of the number screened a year ago.

Still, the uptick in travel is good for airlines as they look to cut losses. At the same time, however, it raises questions over traveler safety as concerns of COVID-19 remain high.

Some travelers tweeted images of busy airports and long queues, including at American's Charlotte (CLT) hub.

Related: American, Delta and United plan to fly these long-haul international routes in June

American is slowly adding back flights in response to the improving demand. In June, the airline will operate about a third of the schedule it flew a year ago, according to Cirium data.

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The carrier will resume a number of routes in June, including select flights to Europe from both its Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) hubs. At the same time, it will suspend service to four smaller cities: Aspen (ASE), Montrose (MTJ), Vail (EGE) and Worcester (ORH).

Related: A complete list of major carriers' coronavirus change and cancellation policies

American has extended its waiver allowing travelers to change bookings without a fee through June 30. Tickets must be for travel by Sept. 30.

“These are early returns but they are encouraging," Parker said of the Memorial Day weekend performance. "We certainly believe the worst is behind us and we’re on the uptick.”

Related: Major US airlines see uptick in summer bookings

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
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4 / 5
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023