American adds 78 red-eyes from DFW to handle Thanksgiving rush
This summer, American Airlines launched "DFW 900," with more than 100 new flights from its largest hub. This Thanksgiving , the carrier has rolled out a schedule that could be called "DFW 2:44 a.m."
The Oneworld airline will operate 78 flights from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) that depart between midnight and 3 a.m. CST following the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The flights, technically early Monday morning departures, are part of an effort by American to boost its DFW schedule with an extra set of late flights aimed at holiday travelers heading home. The flights will operate to dozens of cities around the U.S., including Albuquerque (ABQ), Sacramento (SMF), Pittsburgh (PIT) and Washington D.C. (Washington National/DCA)
None of the flights operate on a normal basis, and for good reason. The flight between DFW and Washington departs at 2:01 a.m. and lands at 5:43 a.m., (all times local) — a quick three-hour flight in the wee hours that is sure to put the "red" in red-eye.
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"On peak days during the holidays we try to offer as many flights as possible for our customers to make sure there are several options for them to visit their friends and family when it matters the most," American spokeswoman Nichelle Barrett told TPG.
The flights, which American has operated since at least its merger with US Airways in 2013, have been as popular as the airline's other flights on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in past years, she said.
While single-day data is not available, American filled 83.2% of its seats from Dallas/Fort Worth in November 2018, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.
Industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A) expects 3.1 million passengers to fly on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, making it both the busiest travel day of the holiday week and an expected single-day record. Cumulatively, U.S. airlines will add roughly 859 more flights that day to handle the crowds.
Related: How American Airlines will grow its Charlotte hub to more than 700 flights
Dallas/Fort Worth is not the only American hub with extra wee-hour flights over the Thanksgiving holiday. American will do the same, though on a smaller scale, at its Charlotte (CLT), Philadelphia (PHL) and Phoenix (PHX) hubs on Sunday night, Barrett said.
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines also plan extra flights on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, though not necessarily during overnight hours. Delta spokesman Drake Castañeda told TPG the airline will operate roughly 330 additional flights that day compared to a normal Sunday. However, only "a few" will be early on Monday morning.
Atlanta-based Delta expects to carry more than 690,000 travelers on 6,130 flights this Sunday, the airline said Tuesday.
United spokesman Jonathan Guerin told TPG that the carrier will similarly offer extra flights on Sunday. Additions include an extra "bank" — a period of closely-timed arrivals and departures — in Chicago (ORD), Denver (DEN) and Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and additional red-eyes in Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO) and Washington Dulles (IAD).
While all of these extra flights will help travelers get home after the Thanksgiving holiday, one thing remains outside airlines' control — the weather. On Tuesday more than 500 flights were cancelled in Denver due to snow, and carriers have also issued weather waivers for Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) and parts of the upper Midwest.
Related: Snow snarls flights in Denver; what you need to know