American temporarily eliminates A321T, reduces frequency between JFK and LAX

Oct 4, 2020

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For years, American has been the only North American carrier to offer a three-class onboard service (first, business and economy), including the coveted New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) premium route.

However, the pandemic has shifted the competitive landscape. Demand for premium travel has plummeted. The short- to medium-term market is heavily skewing toward leisure travel, with many of those passengers seated in economy.

While American has reintroduced Flagship Business service onboard flights between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the onboard catering is exactly the same in Flagship First as it is in business. That is a sign that airlines just don’t value premium cabins as they did before; the demand just isn’t there.

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Now, American has made some major changes to its premium transcontinental flights.

A321T business class (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)
A321T business class (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Reduced frequency, elimination of A321T between JFK and LAX

Between Nov. 4 and Nov. 30, American has significantly altered its premium transcon schedule. Instead of more flight options, the airline is consolidating capacity.

The airline will be dropping to just two daily flights per day between JFK and LAX and a single daily flight between JFK and SFO. Meanwhile, American is pulling the premium-configured subfleet of Airbus A321Ts between JFK and LAX. Those flights have been replaced by a two-class Boeing 777-200.

JFK-LAX on Nov. 3 (Screenshot courtesy of ExpertFlyer)
JFK-LAX on Nov. 3 (Screenshot courtesy of ExpertFlyer)


JFK-LAX on Nov. 4 (Screenshot courtesy of ExpertFlyer)
JFK-LAX on Nov. 4 (Screenshot courtesy of ExpertFlyer)

Related: What is it like flying American Flagship First during the pandemic? 

On the flight between JFK and SFO, the Airbus A321T remains.

Come Dec. 1, the “normal” schedule returns to the premium transcon market. AA plans to fly 12 daily flights between New York and Los Angeles, and five daily flights between New York and San Francisco. All flights are scheduled to be operated by the Airbus A321T, according to Cirium schedules. Of course, it’s possible that AA pulls the A321T in December and onwards, but for now, the A321T is only being pulled for most of November.

More Miami and Los Angeles premium flights

Flights between American’s Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA) hubs are also affected by this schedule and aircraft update. That route will receive two premium transcontinental flights daily (previously there was one).

Both flights will be on the Boeing 777-300ER and Flagship First will be sold. This change aligns with the shift in demand for travel to and from Florida.

Flagship First on the 777-300ER (Photo by The Points Guy)

Related: 9 ways the pandemic has transformed the American Airlines lounge experience

For American flyers used to the A321T between JFK and LAX — and the accompanying nearly hourly service pre-COVID — this will be a stark change, albeit temporary. However, it’s not all bad news on the 777-200, with an all-aisle-access configuration for Flagship Business passengers and premium economy seats likely able to be selected for free by American elites.

The pandemic continues to force airlines to make widespread changes, including on established, premium routes.

TPG has reached out to American Airlines for comment and will update this post with any additional information. 

H/T: TPG reader Matt S. for the tip.

Featured photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy.

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