American to reopen lounges, add flights to Florida, Rockies as flyers return

Jun 4, 2020

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Maybe the summer travel season won’t be quite as bad as first expected at American Airlines.

The carrier will add more flights to its July schedule than it had originally planned and will begin reopening its Admirals Club frequent-flyer lounges at some of its airports.

In rolling out updates to its July schedule, American said it will fly about 55% of what it flew during the same month in 2019. While that’s still a dramatic cut, it comes after American had pared about 90% of its schedule earlier this spring during the peak of coronavirus-related cuts at U.S. airlines.

Even with the changes, however, American’s July operation will be just a shadow of what it has been in previous years. But the carrier’s move to restore flights and reopen lounges are hopeful signs amid what’s become the biggest crisis ever for the U.S. airline industry.

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Among the encouraging news for American, the company said flights were flying about 55% full during the last week of May – up from about 40% earlier in the month and from a low of 15% during April, according to the carrier.

The company said it’s continuing to see more interest in travel as the traditional peak summer travel season arrives and as some areas begin to “reopen” from stay-at-home restrictions.

“We’re feeling good about demand in July and, as such, we’ve built our schedules accordingly,” Brian Znotins, American vice president of network planning, told TPG.

As expected, domestic travel is leading the recovery.

More from TPG: Why I always board last, no matter where I’m sitting on the plane

Citing increased demand from leisure travelers, American’s expanded July schedule will include more flights to vacation destinations like Florida and the Gulf Coast; Charleston, South Carolina; and Asheville, North Carolina. American sees a similar trend has been seen in the West, where it is bolstering its July schedule to mountain destinations in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming — places that are near national parks and other outdoor recreation areas.

Most of the domestic flights American is adding in July will come at its hubs at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Charlotte (CLT), continuing the strategy American has used so far during the pandemic.

“Traditionally Dallas and Charlotte are among our best hubs that we fly,” Znotins said, adding that they help facilitate connecting domestic itineraries. “They happen to be well positioned for where people want to go right now, geographically.”

Regardless of where American is adding flights, the uptick in travelers comes as many flyers remain concerned about the safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

More from TPG: How far can airborne covid germs really spread on a plane?

More on American: American Airlines leads shift to smaller jets for flights still flying in US

To that end, American is waiving change fees and continues to tout its “commitment to clean,” which the carrier says includes expanded plane cleaning and regular electrostatic spraying of cabin surfaces.

American also pointed to heath-related measures at it begins to reopen its lounges. The airline will reopen 11 Admirals Clubs in 10 cities on June 22, though service will be altered to meet health concerns. Complimentary beverages and bar service will return, but food choices will be limited pre-packaged snacks. Service at some locations will be limited – such as at New York airports – to comply with local health restrictions currently in place.

Inside the clubs, customers will notice other changes. They include plexiglass shields at reception and service desks, hand-sanitizer stations and the addition of foot-operated door openers in some club bathrooms.

Beyond the 11 clubs opening later this month, American will reopen about another dozen others as “service centers.”

More: Which US airlines are blocking middle seats, requiring masks?

For those booking flights, American will waive all change fees on tickets booked in June. The move applies to all tickets booked during the month, regardless of travel date. Customers will be able to change both the dates and cities on their itinerary, even on Basic Economy tickets, without paying change fees that typically cost $200 and up. Travelers will still have to pay any fare difference that might result for a rebooked itinerary.

Also, American said it is “deploying new tools” that will give customers on heavily booked flights the option to rebook on another at no additional cost. “On fuller eligible flights, a percentage of customers will be offered the option to rebook to a different flight during the check-in process,” American said.

While American sees a bit of a rebound domestically, it international demand remained “diminished,” the carrier said.

More: What will the future of travel look like? TPG asked 16 industry experts

The airline added eight international destinations back to its network Thursday, ranging from Amsterdam (AMS) and Paris (CDG) to Antigua (ANU) in the Caribbean and Quito (UIO) in Ecuador.

But American will delay the return of a number of international routes that it had previously announced. A number of international routes that had been forecast to return in June or July will now be pushed back into August or beyond. This includes all transatlantic service from American’s hubs in Philadelphia (PHL) and Charlotte.

American’s new schedule updates for European and Latin American routes is below, as are a list of the 11 clubs that will reopen on June 22.

More: With over 90% of flyers still grounded, what it’s like flying in the U.S. right now

Admirals Clubs that are reopening

  • Charlotte (CLT) — Concourse C
  • Chicago (ORD) — Concourse H/K
  • Dallas (DFW) — Terminal A and Terminal C
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Terminal 4
  • New York (JFK) — Terminal B (only prepackaged food and water will be available, per local restrictions)
  • New York (LGA) — Concourse D (only prepackaged food and water will be available, per local restrictions)
  • Miami (MIA) — Gate D30
  • Philadelphia (PHL) — Terminal B/C
  • Phoenix (PHX) — Gate A7
  • Washington, D.C. (DCA) — Terminal B

More: American ends service to Oakland, is first US airline to permanently drop a city after coronavirus

American’s long-haul route updates

TRANS-ATLANTIC

Charlotte (CLT)

London Heathrow (LHR): Service resumes Aug. 5

Munich (MUC): Service resumes Aug. 5

Dallas/Fort Worth

Dublin (DUB): Service resumes July 7 (3 flights per week)

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

New York JFK

Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG): Service resumes Aug. 5

London Heathrow: 1 daily flight continues through Aug. 5

Madrid (MAD): Service resumes Aug. 5

Los Angeles (LAX)

London Heathrow: Service resumes Aug. 5

Related: American says goodbye to shortest domestic route crown with new flexibility to drop cities

Miami (MIA)

Madrid: Service resumes Aug. 5

Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

Athens (ATH): Service resumes Aug. 5

Barcelona (BCN): Service resumes Aug. 5

Dublin: Service resumes Aug. 5

Philadelphia (PHL)

London Heathrow: Service resumes Aug. 5

Madrid: Service resumes Aug. 5

Zurich (ZRH): Service resumes Aug. 5 (3 flights per week)

Related: American CEO expects major US airlines to survive pandemic

Phoenix (PHX)

London Heathorw: Service resumes Oct. 25

Raleigh/Durham (RDU)

London Heathrow: Service resumes Aug. 5

LATIN AMERICA

Dallas/Fort Worth

Sao Paulo (GRU): Service resumes Oct. 25

New York JFK

Buenos Aires (EZE): Service resumes Sept. 9

Sao Paulo: Service resumes Aug. 5

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

Miami

Buenos Aires (EZE): Service resumes Sept. 9

Rio de Janeiro (GIG): Service resumes Aug. 5

Santiago, Chile (SCL): Service resumes Oct. 25

Sao Paulo: Service resumes Aug. 5

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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