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Now flying on American Airlines: First class on every route from Washington, DC

April 19, 2021
3 min read
Now flying on American Airlines: First class on every route from Washington, DC
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American Airlines is sticking to its word.

The Fort Worth-based carrier made a notable schedule update during the weekend for its Washington flying, per Cirium timetables. Specifically, American removed the Embraer 145 regional jet from routes to or from Reagan National (DCA) airport through the end of the schedule in April 2022.

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AA is upgauging the affected service, including short hops to Albany, New York, and Lansing, Michigan, with larger regional jets, like the 65-seat CRJ-700, 76-seat CRJ-900 and Embraer E175. American's Embraer 145s had just 50 seats in an all-coach configuration with just three seats marked as extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra.

This means that every route to or from DCA (as well as those at nearby Dulles/IAD airport) will be operated by planes featuring both a first-class and coach cabin, a long-term play that was promised alongside American's move to the new 14-gate DCA regional concourse.

For years, American's regional operations from DCA were largely confined to the universally hated and notoriously overcrowded Gate 35X, a ground-level bus operation that served 14 remote stands for regional operations that saw more than 250,000 flights during its tenure.

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Washington airport authorities, along with American Airlines, built a brand-new concourse to replace the bus operation, giving each regional aircraft its own jet bridge and terminal waiting area. That concourse opens Tuesday (April 20), marking one of the airport's biggest improvements in nearly two decades — and one that comes amid the broader "Project Journey" initiative that will reshape DCA's main concourse.

DCA's new concourse opens on Thursday (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

During TPG's preview tour of the new regional concourse, American’s managing director of DCA operations, Radney Robertson, explained that it "allows us to offer more connections. There will be no 50-seat aircraft in this market. Our entire regional product will be in a two-class regional jet with a first-class cabin. From service to more seats to more connections, it's a win-win."

American's making a similar move about 200 miles away along the Northeast corridor. Flying larger regional jets equipped with a first-class cabin was one of the major selling points for AA’s new Northeast alliance with JetBlue. As part of the pact, American promised to upgauge all New York flying to jets equipped with a first-class cabin.

Related: First look at the new 14-gate DCA concourse

This spring, AA is adding 22 spacious, 65-seat Embraer 170 jets to its Eagle subsidiaries to support its upgauge strategy in New York. By offering first-class cabins on every flight, American likely is hoping to woo business travelers who are booking with a corporate budget and might appreciate the extra space.

Upgrading its Washington and New York regional operations comes as American is gearing up to retire its smallest jet, the Embraer 140, this May. Brian Znotins, American’s vice president of network planning, recently told TPG that “we are publishing our plans now to phase out that aircraft type. As we continue bringing larger regional jets into our system, the Embraer 140s are the first we are phasing out.”

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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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
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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.
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  • 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

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  • 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