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

May 23, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

American Airlines can say goodbye to the title of operating the shortest domestic route among major U.S. carriers. American, along with 14 other airlines, will be able to suspend flights to 75 cities across the country as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep most would-be travelers out of the skies.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) handed out the exemptions to air service requirements under the government’s coronavirus aid package, known as the CARES Act, late on May 22. While no city will lose air service entirely, the move allows airlines to operate fewer money-losing flights even after accepting federal payroll assistance.

The exemptions allow airlines to suspend flights until Sept. 30. After that, restrictions under the CARES Act expire allowing carriers to cancel routes at will if they choose.

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

One victim of the new exemptions are many airlines’ new tag or triangle routes. These services combine stops in multiple cities on one flight, reducing the cost to airlines at a time when few people are flying.

As a result of this push, American briefly flew a three-stop triangle from its Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) base to Vail (EGE), Aspen (ASE), Montrose (MTJ) and then back to Dallas/Fort Worth. The 29-mile Vail-Aspen leg was the shortest domestic flight among major carriers for several weeks. American can suspend flights to Aspen, Montrose and Vail, as well as Worcester (ORH) in Massachusetts, under the DOT’s new exemptions.

Other large carriers receiving exemptions include Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. Southwest Airlines, notably, did not seek to suspend service to any cities. Hawaiian Airlines has already suspended service to most of its destinations on the U.S. mainland.

Related: With planes flying empty, government allows airlines to drop more cities

Seven smaller airlines, including Cape Air, Silver Airways and Sun Country Airlines, also received exemptions from the regulator.

The news comes even as airlines are seeing a small uptick in the number of travelers. Airline executives have reported small but notable increases in leisure bookings and passengers since the beginning of May. Carriers have added back a few flights, with United planning to fly a quarter of its schedule in July compared to just 10% in May and June.

Keeping with the trend, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported its single busiest day since the pandemic began on May 22, the Friday before Memorial Day. The agency screened 348,673 people, or just 12% of the number a year ago.

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

Here is a full list of the DOT’s exemptions to large airlines:

Alaska

  • Charleston, South Carolina (CHS)
  • Columbus (CMH)
  • El Paso (ELP)
  • New Orleans (MSY)
  • San Antonio (SAT)

Allegiant

  • New Orleans
  • Ogdensburg, New York (OGS)
  • Palm Springs (PSP)
  • San Antonio
  • Springfield, Illinois (SPI)
  • Tucson (TUS)

American

  • Aspen
  • Montrose
  • Vail
  • Worcester

Delta

  • Aspen
  • Bangor (BGR)
  • Erie, Pennsylvania (ERI)
  • Flint, Michigan (FNT)
  • Fort Smith, Arkansas (FSM)
  • Lincoln, Nebraska (LNK)
  • New Bern, North Carolina (EWN)
  • Peoria, Illinois (PIA)
  • Santa Barbara (SBA)
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (AVP)
  • Williston, North Dakota (XWA)

Frontier

  • Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina (GSP)
  • Mobile, Alabama (MOB)
  • Palm Springs
  • Portland, Maine (PWM)
  • Tyler, Texas (TYR)

JetBlue

  • Albuquerque (ABQ)
  • Palm Springs
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ)
  • Worcester

Spirit

  • Asheville (AVL)
  • Greensboro (GSO)
  • Plattsburgh, New York (PBG)
  • St. Crois (STX)
  • St. Thomas (STT)

United

  • Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton (ABE)
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee (CHA)
  • Fairbanks (FAI)
  • Hilton Head, South Carolina (HHH)
  • Ithaca (ITH)
  • Kalamazoo, Michigan (AZO)
  • Key West (EYW)
  • Lansing, Michigan (LAN)
  • Myrtle Beach (MYR)
  • Rochester, Minnesota (RST)
  • St. Thomas (STT)

Featured image courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.