Category Archives: American Airlines

Alaska Airlines’ elite flyers will earn added benefits on American Airlines in 2021

Alaska Airlines has made this announcement:

Starting this spring, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines will make it a more hassle-free, rewarding experience for elite guests from one airline to travel on the other, with new benefits that will roll out during 2021.

As part of the enhancements, Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K, MVP Gold and MVP Mileage Plan members will be able to access premium seating, and MVP Gold 75Ks will be eligible for upgrades, when they book flights on American’s domestic and international routes. Travelers can take advantage of these benefits on itineraries that are solely on American or when connecting to an American flight.

Here’s some of what’s to come:

  • In the spring, all Alaska elite members will receive complimentary access to preferred seats when traveling on American Airlines, including Main Cabin Extra.
  • Alaska MVP Gold 75K members will be eligible to earn global upgrade certificates that can be used to move from the main cabin to Business Class on American. For example, one of those certificates can be redeemed to upgrade from the main cabin to Business Class on American’s new nonstop international service from Seattle to London or Seattle to Shanghai in spring 2021, based on availability.
  • Later in 2021, Alaska MVP Gold 75K members will be eligible for unlimited complimentary, space available upgrades to Business or First Class when traveling on American’s domestic flights.

These benefits will be in addition to the elite perks offered as part of Alaska’s membership in the oneworld global alliance, which takes effect on March 31, 2021. As a oneworld member, Alaska’s elite travelers will be able to take advantage of priority services, international lounge access and baggage benefits.

“Our upcoming membership in oneworld makes these added benefits with American even more rewarding for our guests,” said Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “On any American flight, our elites will have access to premium seating or a possible upgrade for a more comfortable journey, in addition to other perks.”

American’s AAdvantage program elite members will receive reciprocal benefits on Alaska.

“Alaska and American are improving our service on the West Coast so that customers can enjoy their loyalty benefits on either carrier,” said Vasu Raja, American’s chief revenue officer. “Next year will bring significant enhancements that will make the experience more seamless and rewarding for our customers traveling to, through or from the West Coast.”

The expanded relationship between Alaska and American was first announced in February 2020. In fall 2021, American will begin its inaugural service from Seattle to Bangalore, India – connecting two global technology hubs.

Video:

American Airlines eliminates change fees on international tickets

American Airlines is giving customers complete flexibility when they travel on American.

“We are committed to making travel easier for our customers who fly on American,” said American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja. “By eliminating change fees, we’re giving customers more flexibility no matter when or where they plan to travel.”

No more change fees

Effective immediately, American will eliminate change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin (except Basic Economy) tickets for all long-haul international flying when travel originates in North or South America. This new policy matches American’s previous announcement to get rid of change fees on most domestic and short-haul international flying.

As a reminder, American allows customers to keep the full value of eligible tickets if they change their travel plans prior to their scheduled travel. Although customers will have to pay the fare difference for a new flight, customers will not lose their ticket value if the new flight is less expensive.

Customer-friendly initiatives

Customers will no longer pay a service charge when booking a ticket through reservations. The service charge had been waived during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but will be eliminated going forward.

American is dedicated to providing customers flexibility during this uncertain time. Recently, the airline removed reinstatement fees on award tickets and began offering customers free same-day standby on earlier flights. And AAdvantage® members who have achieved Elite status now receive the benefits, such as upgrades, Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seating and same day flight changes, that they have earned no matter what ticket they purchase.

Intl fees

American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld launch transatlantic COVID-19 testing trial

American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld® have launched an optional coronavirus (COVID-19) medical-based testing trial on select flights from cities in the United States to London Heathrow (LHR), in a combined effort to scientifically demonstrate how COVID-19 testing can reopen international travel and remove the need for passengers to quarantine on arrival.

The free tests will initially be offered to eligible customers booked on American Airlines Flight AA50 departing Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to LHR; British Airways Flight BA114 departing New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to LHR; and British Airways Flight BA268 from Los Angeles (LAX) to LHR, beginning Nov. 25. The test will be expanded to American Airlines Flight AA106 from JFK to LHR, with a launch date to be communicated.

Eligible customers booked on flights that are part of the trial will be contacted by American Airlines and British Airways with instructions on how to volunteer. Each customer participating in the trial will take three tests in conjunction with the journey. If a customer tests positive, they should reschedule or cancel their travel.

The first test, to be taken 72 hours before departure from the U.S., is a convenient at-home RT-PCR test provided by LetsGetChecked. Customers will self-collect a nasal sample, under the supervision of medical professionals via a virtual visit.

After landing at LHR, participating customers will proceed to their second test at the airport. The LAMP test, provided by Collinson, involves the collection of a nasal sample by a medical professional. After the test is completed, a test kit for the third test will be provided to the customer. The third test kit offers an at-home testing option through the self-collection of a saliva sample which is taken three days after arrival in to the United Kingdom.

The three-test approach aims to validate a customer’s negative status for COVID-19 throughout the travel journey and will provide insight into the most effective and practical testing interval. The third test is intended to further confirm the results of the first two tests, to demonstrate that one or two tests will be sufficient to allow travel to safely restart.

A task force comprising oneworld member airline representatives and independent medical experts are overseeing the implementation of the trial. American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld will closely monitor customer participation. The task force will share aggregated results with the U.S. and UK Governments and other stakeholders to demonstrate the essential role that COVID-19 testing programmes can play in safely restarting travel.

Trade between the UK and U.S. totals more than $262 billion a year, which airlines are critical to facilitating. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, together American Airlines and British Airways flew to more than 30 destinations in the U.S. from London. Today, the carriers are flying a fraction of that figure. Previously, the carriers operated up to 111 flights a week from London to New York; now they operate 14* flights per week combined between the two cities.

Based on current UK Government policies, international travelers arriving in the UK from the U.S. are required to self-isolate for 14 days even if they have tested negative for COVID-19. The tests being used as part of the trial will not impact UK National Health Service testing capacity.

British Airways and American Airlines have worked with Heathrow on implementation of the trial in to Terminal 5, and as a result Heathrow is now exploring whether trials can be introduced on more routes between the airport and the US.

Chairman and Chief Executive of American Airlines Doug Parker said, “American has already successfully introduced a pre-flight COVID-19 testing programme for customers travelling from the U.S. to international destinations across the Caribbean and Latin America. We have received tremendous feedback from our customers in response to testing, as it provides peace of mind for safe and enjoyable travel.

“The UK is a critically important business and leisure destination that our customers want to visit. We believe the results provided by this trial will be vital for reopening transatlantic travel safely.”

Chief Executive of British Airways Sean Doyle said, “We know people want to travel but our skies remain all but closed and the UK is being left behind. Major economies like Germany are adopting testing to replace quarantine.

“We need the UK Government to introduce a system that allows travelers to take reliable, affordable tests before departure, so they are confident that fellow passengers are COVID-free. For people arriving from countries with high infection rates, a further test on arrival should then release them from quarantine.

“We are confident this approach would open routes, stimulate economies and get people traveling with confidence. The UK’s economic recovery depends on the swift reopening of its skies.”

Chief Executive of oneworld Rob Gurney said, “We believe that COVID-19 testing will play an important role in safely restarting international travel. A comprehensive testing program will provide governments the confidence to reduce or waive quarantine requirements and safely reopen their economies to international visitors, while further assuring customers that their health and well-being are protected.”

Independent research into COVID-19 and travel

Data from industry body IATA suggests the risk of contracting COVID-19 on aircraft is extremely low, with just 44 cases of COVID-19 recorded as linked to flights, since the start of 2020. Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.

A study issued on 27 October by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that a robust, multi-layered strategy can effectively reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during air travel. The study also found that the universal use of face coverings is the most essential part of a comprehensive set of measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission while traveling by air. The study also noted that to-date, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not confirmed a single case of viral transmission on a US plane.

Photo by Brandon Wade for American Airlines

About the trials

The trial for each individual passenger will comprise:

  • An initial at-home test to be taken 72 hours before departure from the US
  • A second test will take place upon arrival at LHR
  • A third test to be taken three days after arrival in the UK

The joint trial will offer free tests to passengers who choose to participate in the programme.

The ultimate objective of this and other trials is to validate that a pre-departure test provides a high level of certainty of a passenger being COVID-19 negative, which are hoped to result in policies that further relax US and UK border restrictions, including the 14-day quarantine and entry into the US.

 

American Airlines expands preflight testing program to more destinations

American Airlines is expanding its current preflight testing program to additional destinations, further opening the world for customers who want to travel. The airline will now offer preflight testing options to more destinations than any other U.S. carrier.

In November, preflight testing will be available for all American flights to Belize, Grenada, St. Lucia and the Hawaiian Islands.

“Our initial preflight testing has performed remarkably well, including terrific customer feedback about the ease and availability of testing options,” said Robert Isom, President of American Airlines. “This next phase is an invigorating step forward in American’s relentless pursuit of reopening international travel and driving industry recovery while delivering a safe and positive travel experience.”

The Caribbean and Latin America

Starting Nov. 16, American will expand its partnership with LetsGetChecked, a convenient at-home testing option that includes observation by a medical professional via virtual visit, to offer at-home PCR testing to customers traveling to Belize (BZE), Grenada (GND) and St. Lucia (UVF). Results can be expected in 48 hours on average.

Testing requirements for each country currently include:

  • Belize: Travelers 6 years old and up must complete PCR testing within 72 hours of departure.
  • Grenada: Testing must be completed within 7 days prior to departure.
  • St. Lucia: Travelers 5 years and older must complete testing within 7 days of departure. Customers cannot board flights to St. Lucia without presenting a negative test result. Pre-arrival registration is mandatory; customers should visit stlucia.org for the latest information on travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

 

American is currently operating service to BZE, GND and UVF from its Miami (MIA) hub and later this month will also launch service to UVF from Chicago (ORD). In December, the carrier will increase its flying to all three markets with service from BZE to MIA, Charlotte (CLT) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW); from GND to MIA and CLT; and from UVF to MIA, CLT, ORD and Philadelphia (PHL).

Hawaii expansion

After launching a series of testing options to open travel to Hawaii in October, American is also expanding its partnership with LetsGetChecked for customers traveling to the Aloha State.

Beginning today, customers traveling to Hawaii from ORD, Los Angeles (LAX) and Phoenix (PHX) can now use LetsGetChecked. Results can be expected in 48 hours on average, and testing must be completed within 72 hours of the final leg of departure. As of this announcement, travelers who present a negative test upon arrival will be exempt from the state’s 14-day quarantine*.

Visit aa.com to learn more about the preflight COVID-19 options available to customers.

American Airlines reports a third quarter net loss of $2.4 billion, will retire its 15 Airbus A330-200s

American Airlines Group Inc. today reported its third-quarter 2020 financial results, including:

  • Third-quarter revenue of $3.2 billion, down 73% year-over-year on a 59% year-over-year reduction in total available seat miles (ASMs).
  • Third-quarter pretax loss of $3.1 billion. Excluding net special items1, third-quarter pretax loss of $3.6 billion.
  • Third-quarter net loss of $2.4 billion, or ($4.71) per share. Excluding net special items1, third-quarter net loss of $2.8 billion, or ($5.54) per share.
  • Ended third quarter with approximately $13.6 billion of total available liquidity. In addition, in October, the company increased its loan capacity by $2 billion through the CARES Act loan program to $7.5 billion. With this increase, the company’s third-quarter pro forma liquidity balance is approximately $15.6 billion.
  • Announced authorization to issue up to $1 billion of equity in an at-the-market offering to further bolster liquidity.

“During the third quarter, we took action to reduce our costs, strengthen our financial position, and ensure our customers return to travel with confidence,” said American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “The American Airlines team is doing a remarkable job taking care of our customers and each other during the most challenging time in our industry’s history.

“We have a long road ahead and our team remains fully engaged and focused not just on managing through the pandemic, but on making sure we are prepared for when demand returns. We are confident that the continued efforts of our team and the actions we have taken will drive customer confidence and strengthen our company for the future.”

Supporting team members, customers and communities

To ensure the safety and well-being of its team members and customers, American:

  • Upgraded its Clean Commitment by adding the electrostatic spraying solution SurfaceWise®2 to its cleaning and safety program. SurfaceWise2 is approved by the EPA as the first-ever long-lasting product to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus and it will be applied to American’s entire fleet in the coming months.
  • Announced a preflight COVID-19 testing program to help reopen markets to travel. Testing options are now available to customers traveling to Hawaii and Costa Rica, with Jamaica and the Bahamas soon to follow.
  • Launched a new travel tool to help customers quickly see the current COVID-19 travel guidelines for domestic and international destinations.
  • Continues to work with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council for GBAC STAR® Accreditation for its aircraft and lounges. American is the first airline to seek the accreditation and expects to receive the designation by the end of 2020.

To provide its customers additional flexibility, American:

  • Eliminated change fees for most domestic and short-haul international flying. American will also allow customers to keep the full value of their original tickets if they change their plans prior to scheduled travel.
  • Is giving customers the option to stand by on flights on the same day at no charge.
  • Enhanced its Basic Economy product to give customers the ability to tailor their travel experience, including upgrades, Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats, priority boarding, and same-day flight changes.
  • Is allowing AAdvantage® elite members to apply their current travel benefits when purchasing a Basic Economy fare.
  • Reopened additional Admirals Club lounges with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols as customers begin planning holiday travel.

To support the communities it serves, American:

  • More than doubled its cargo-only flying from August to September and operated more than 1,900 flights serving 32 destinations during the third quarter. To date, these cargo flights have helped the airline’s customers move more than 85 million pounds of critical goods around the world amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Through these efforts, the company’s cargo revenue was $207 million in the third quarter, effectively flat year-over-year on a 59% reduction in total ASMs.
  • Donated more than 1 million pounds of food to fight hunger in communities around the world since the start of the pandemic. Through its partnership with Feeding America® and other charitable organizations, American has contributed its surplus food to help provide meals to families in need throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.

American Airlines Airbus A330-243 N286AY (msn 1415) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 927524.

Above Copyright Photo: American Airlines Airbus A330-243 N286AY (msn 1415) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 927524.

Conserving cash

American continues to take aggressive action to reduce costs and preserve cash. The airline estimates that it has removed approximately $17 billion from its operating and capital budgets for 2020. This has been achieved primarily through cost savings resulting from reduced flying. The company also:

  • Removed more than 150 aircraft from its fleet through early retirements or by placing aircraft into temporary storage. In addition to the previously announced retirements of the Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Embraer E190, Airbus A330-300, Bombardier CRJ-200 and certain other regional aircraft, the company recently decided to permanently retire all 15 of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft (above). Note: For the record, the last AA Airbus A330-200 revenue flight was operated on April 23, 2020 between San Salvador and El Paso (AA9608) with N284AY.
  • Reached an agreement with Boeing to secure rights to defer deliveries of 18 737 MAX aircraft scheduled to be delivered in 2021 and 2022 to 2023 and 2024. The company also finalized a series of sale-leaseback transactions to finance its remaining Airbus A321 aircraft deliveries in 2021. As a result, the company now has financing secured for
  • Made the difficult decision to proceed with furloughs to reduce headcount absent an extension of the CARES Act Payroll Support Program (PSP). In total, more than 20,000 team members have opted for an early out or long-term leave, and 19,000 team members were furloughed beginning Oct. 1. The company, along with its union partners, continues to aggressively fight for an extension of the PSP that would allow the airline to bring back those furloughed employees and reinstate service to small- and medium-sized markets that have suffered without the extension of funds.
  • Reduced its non-aircraft capital expense — by $700 million in 2020 and another $300 million in 2021 — through reductions in fleet modification work, the elimination of all new ground service equipment purchases, and pausing all noncritical facility investments and IT projects.

Bolstering liquidity

In addition to reducing its operating and capital expenditures, American continues to strengthen its liquidity position. The company:

  • Finalized a $5.5 billion loan agreement with the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the CARES Act loan program. In October, the company increased its loan capacity through the program to $7.5 billion.
  • Closed $1.2 billion of financing with Goldman Sachs Merchant Bank through two senior secured note transactions. American does not have any large non-aircraft debt maturities until its $750 million unsecured bonds mature in June 2022.
  • Received the final payments of allotted PSP funds, including an incremental $168 million of previously unallocated funds identified by the Treasury Department.
  • Announced authorization to issue up to $1 billion of equity in an at-the-market offering to further bolster liquidity.
  • Reduced its daily cash burn rate2 to approximately $44 million per day in the third quarter from approximately $58 million per day in the second quarter. The company presently expects its fourth-quarter cash burn rate to be approximately $25 to $30 million per day.
  • The company’s third-quarter pro forma liquidity balance is approximately $15.6 billion and it expects to end the fourth quarter with more than $13 billion in total available liquidity, which excludes any proceeds from the $1 billion at-the-market equity offering.

Demand and capacity outlook

American saw improvements in passenger demand and load factors during the third quarter, but both continue to be significantly below 2019 levels. The company will continue to match its forward capacity with observed bookings trends and currently expects its fourth-quarter system capacity to be down more than 50% year over year, with long-haul international capacity down approximately 75% year over year.

American Airlines aircraft photo gallery (Airbus):

Reuters: American Airlines plans to return Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 to service on December 29

From Reuters:

“American Airlines Group plans to return Boeing  737 MAX jets to service for passenger flights by the end of this year depending on certification of the aircraft from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it said on Sunday.

The airline said it will operate a daily 737 MAX flight between Miami and New York from December 29 to January 4, 2021 with flights available for booking from October 24.”

 

Sabre and American Airlines renew global distribution agreement as the industry eyes recovery

Sabre Corporation, a leading software and technology company that powers the global travel industry, and American Airlines have renewed their long-term, worldwide distribution agreement.

Under the renewed agreement, Sabre will continue to distribute American Airlines flights and services through the Sabre travel marketplace, ensuring that Sabre connected-agencies will continue to have access to the same American Airlines content, including branded fares, ancillary products and services.

“It’s been a challenging year for the travel industry, and it is critical to us that we support our agency community well,” said Alison Taylor, chief customer officer of American Airlines. “Sabre remains important to American, as we work together with our mutual agency partners to facilitate bookings.”

American Airlines is a long-standing Sabre customer employing Sabre’s travel marketplace as well its SabreSonic reservations system, and multiple other airline IT solutions. With a partnership that extends over 20 years, Sabre and American are committed to delivering relevant and meaningful content that helps connect travelers with experiences that matter in their lives.

“As the industry continues to deal with the fallout from COVID-19, distribution of air content through the Sabre global distribution system (GDS) remains an important part of a carrier’s distribution strategy” said Roshan Mendis, chief commercial officer for Sabre Travel Solutions. “This agreement strengthens our long-term and ongoing collaboration with American Airlines and demonstrates our shared commitment to providing the hundreds of thousands of Sabre-connected travel agencies and the travelers they serve with the most relevant air content.”

In addition, American continues to collaborate with Sabre on NDC as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to providing a seamless booking experience and the development of next-generation retailing, distribution and fulfilment solutions that benefit airlines, travel retailers and consumers. Sabre recently announced it had achieved Level 4 Certification and is partnering with several airlines as part of its Beyond NDC initiative.

American Airlines plans move to Beijing Daxing International Airport in March 2021

American Airlines Group Inc. is moving flights to the biggest airport in the world: the new Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) when service returns from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) on March 27, 2021. Flights will operate on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and will be available for purchase on Monday, Oct. 12.

The relocation to PKX will offer tremendous benefits for customers. PKX offers incredible new facilities and services, and currently utilizes four runways, with the ambition to increase to seven in the future. And while the terminal spans 700,000 square meters, customers will never have to walk more than eight minutes to a gate.

Before flights were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, American and China Southern codeshared on flights beyond Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and intend to codeshare on flights beyond PKX, which will bring enhanced benefits to the customer experience.

American is currently operating cargo flights to PEK, which will continue through the end of March. Customers booked on flights to PEK will be re-accommodated with optimal flight times for seamless connections at DFW.

American Airlines adds Costa Rica to preflight Covid-19 testing program

American Airlines made this announcement:

Earlier this week American announced its preflight coronavirus (COVID-19) testing program for customers traveling to international destinations and Hawaii. The initial launch, scheduled for Oct. 15 for passengers traveling from the airline’s hub at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Hawaii, will now also include passengers traveling to Costa Rica.

In the coming weeks, the airline plans to launch a testing program at its Miami International Airport (MIA) hub for passengers traveling to Jamaica, the Bahamas and Costa Rica. American is also working with CARICOM, an integrated grouping of 20 Caribbean countries, to expand the program to additional markets in the region.

Preflight testing for travel to Costa Rica

Starting Oct. 15, customers traveling from DFW to Costa Rica will have access to the airline’s preflight COVID-19 testing program, in partnership with LetsGetChecked, CareNow and DFW Airport. Customers will be responsible for testing costs.

American will offer three options for preflight testing to customers with flights from DFW to Costa Rica:

  • At-home test from LetsGetChecked, observed by a medical professional via virtual visit, with results expected in 48 hours on average.
  • In-person testing at a CareNow urgent care location.
  • Onsite rapid testing, administered by CareNow, at DFW.

Customers traveling from MIA to Costa Rica will initially have one option for preflight testing, with more options becoming available after the program launches at the hub.

  • At-home test from LetsGetChecked, observed by a medical professional via virtual visit, with results expected in 48 hours on average.

Testing must be completed within 72 hours of the final leg of departure. Tourists and Costa Rican residents who test negative will be exempt from the country’s 14-day quarantine. Negative test results must be uploaded to the country’s Health Pass.

“We applaud American’s efforts to develop a COVID-19 testing program for international travel and we are proud to partner with the airline to include Costa Rica in their initial launch,” said Gustavo Segura Sancho, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism. “Initiatives like these are crucial for the recovery of tourism in Costa Rica, an important economic engine for our country, while ensuring passenger health and safety.”

American resumed its operation in Costa Rica in Sept. with service from its DFW and MIA hubs to San Jose (SJO). On Oct. 7, American will resume service to Liberia (LIR) from DFW and MIA, operating a total of 19 weekly flights to the country.

American’s Clean Commitment
American’s preflight testing program will serve as a key element of the airline’s Clean Commitment, a multifaceted approach to giving customers peace of mind when they travel. American has also launched a travel tool, powered by Sherpa, to make travel planning easier for customers who are eager to reconnect with the people and places that matter most.

About LetsGetChecked
LetsGetChecked is a direct-to-consumer at-home health testing and insights company. Offering an end-to-end model, LetsGetChecked’s Sure-track Test offers consumers an FDA EUA-authorized Coronavirus at-home testing solution. The at-home Coronavirus (COVID-19) test incorporates a nasal swab and PCR lab analysis, offering convenient and secure results on average 48 hours upon receipt in the lab.

About CareNow®
Since 1993, CareNow has been committed to providing high-quality family care, urgent care and occupational medicine services in the North Texas area. Open seven days a week and weeknights until 9 p.m., CareNow has over 40 North Texas locations providing convenient, quality and cost-effective urgent care and is accredited by AAAHC and UCA. CareNow is affiliated with Medical City Healthcare. Medical City Healthcare has 46 urgent care centers in North Texas: CareNow (42) and Medical City Children’s Urgent Care (4).