Snag a wide-body flight on these unusual domestic routes during the holidays

Dec 2, 2020

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In a “normal” year, the travel industry would be gearing up for a busy holiday season.

For airlines, that includes tweaking schedules to boost capacity on the most popular domestic routes. During winter in the Northern Hemisphere — and particularly over the holidays — U.S. carriers typically see weaker demand for transatlantic travel. Instead of parking their wide-body jets or flying them well below capacity, many are redeployed on the busiest domestic hops.

While 2020 is far from “normal”, this annual trend still holds. Airlines are running some interesting flights between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights below, based on the latest Cirium schedule data.

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American’s widebodies to warm destinations

American Airlines has long deployed wide-body planes on many domestic routes. But during this holiday season, the carrier is doubling down on its strategy.

From Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW), the carrier is sending its flagship planes to multiple warm-weather, outdoor destinations across the United States. Some of the highlights include:

  • Daily flights to Las Vegas (LAS) using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
  • Daily flights to Miami (MIA) using the Boeing 777-200 or Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
  • Daily flights to Orlando (MCO) using the Boeing 777-200 or 777-300
  • Flights to Phoenix (PHX) using the Boeing 777-200 (daily through Jan. 4, 2021)

Aside from Dallas, the carrier will continue flying from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) using the Boeing 777-200 instead of the Airbus A321T. Plus, the carrier will operate multiple daily flights from JFK to Miami using a Boeing 777.

Related: American is offering lie-flat seats on some surprising domestic routes

Delta’s push for beaches and skiing

Like American, Delta will also deploy some of its largest planes to warm-weather destinations this holiday season.

From its mega-hub in Atlanta, the carrier will fly the Boeing 767 to:

  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Tampa (TPA)

Wide-body flights to Phoenix and Tampa are operating daily, but be sure to check the schedules before booking to the three other, non-daily destinations.

But that’s not all.

The carrier is also entrenching its position in Fort Myers (RSW) from its second- and third-busiest airports, Detroit (DTW) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). Delta will fly the Boeing 767 on most days for routes between these cities.

In addition, Delta is clearly betting that flyers will want to hit the slopes this holiday season. The carrier will operate 35 flights from Atlanta to Denver using the Boeing 767 — the first time it’s done that since 2018.

Related: Colorado braces to wave of new winter flights as Americans flock to ‘snow and sun’ destinations

Mint to the Caribbean

JetBlue’s Mint business class is one of the best — and most affordable — products in the skies.

JetBlue Mint (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the New York City-based carrier typically flies its Mint-equipped Airbus A321s on long cross-country routes, the carrier does strategically deploy them to the Caribbean on days with weaker transcontinental demand.

This holiday season, JetBlue is doubling down on Aruba (AUA), with daily nonstop flights from both Boston (BOS) and New York (JFK). You’ll also see Mint on select routes from BOS and JFK to Liberia (LIR), St. Lucia (UVF) and St. Maarten (SXM), among others.

The best part about flying Mint to the Caribbean is that you can often snag a great deal. Couple that with a newly overhauled soft product (think: restaurant-inspired menus and comfy bedding), and you’ll be starting your vacation in style.

United is playing the hub-to-hub strategy

American and Delta are both planning to fly their largest planes on multiple leisure-oriented domestic routes this holiday season. United, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to be making a similar strategy shift.

Instead, the carrier is largely sticking to its year-round domestic wide-body schedule. The Chicago-based carrier has long flown some of its largest jets between hubs, like Chicago (ORD) to Houston (IAH).

Many of these routes are continuing this holiday season. Aside from the traditional hub-to-hub routes, you’ll find widebodies on most of United’s Hawaii flights, as well as select frequencies on the premium transcontinental service between Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO).

Bottom line

This holiday season, carriers are largely boosting the capacity on routes to “snow and sun” destinations.

With airlines strategically redeploying their largest international jets on these domestic routes, flyers can enjoy lie-flat seats and wider cabins when flying around the country.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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