American Airlines Increases Domestic Flights With Slowly Rising Demand in Summer Travel

Implementing incentives for vacationers

American Airlines is pivoting its summer travel schedule to reflect the times, offering more flights to Florida and states where there are popular national parks and outdoor adventures. American Airlines, Pexels
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The coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, but some people are finding the urge to hop on a plane—despite the risks—to be irresistible.

American Airlines’ numbers in April had tanked amid the coronavirus outbreak, subsequent lockdowns and restrictive policies—the airline only served an average 32,000 daily customers on a domestic flight schedule reduced by 65%. But in May, American saw an increase in domestic flight demand starting, according to the company. By the last week of the month, the airline had flown about 110,000 customers per day on a domestic flight schedule reduced by 80%.

Because of consumer interest in vacationing again, American Airlines is restoring and offering more flights domestically and internationally in time for the summer travel season. To incentivize cautious jet-setters further, the airline will also be offering double AAdvantage miles for flights booked in June (and completed by Sept. 30). The airline is also removing change fees on flights booked in June and, on eligible fuller flights, customers will be offered the option to rebook a flight with fewer booked seats at checkin. Currently, American has a change fee waiver in place for all tickets, including basic economy, for travel through Sept. 30.

“We’re seeing a slow but steady rise in domestic demand. After a careful review of data, we’ve built a July schedule to match,” said Vasu Raja, American’s svp of network strategy.

American is planning to fly more than 55% of its domestic capacity and nearly 20% of its international capacity in July compared to the same period last year. American also says it is increasing flights to its hub cities in July and, as theme parks open, will “offer more seats than any other airline” to Florida. Due to higher demand for travel to national parks and outdoor recreational spaces where social distancing is much more feasible, the airline is also adding more flying to mountain destinations in Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

“Our July schedule includes the smallest year-over-year capacity reduction since March,” Raja added. “We’ll continue to look for prudent opportunities to restore service so our customers can travel whenever and wherever they are ready.”

Similar to the standard for hospitals, American mainline and regional aircraft will be equipped with onboard HEPA filters that provide a complete air change every two to four minutes. The company will also continue robust cleaning procedures and electrostatic spraying of every surface of the interior of the aircraft. According to the company, this practice “eliminates 99.999% of viruses and bacteria within 10 minutes and creates a protective layer for up to seven days.”

Though international flight demand continues to be low, American Airlines today resumed service to eight international destinations: Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Antigua, Guayaquil, Quito and London.

Moreover, the airline is reopening Admiral Club lounges in phases, beginning June 22, in key U.S. cities such as Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington D.C. Pandemic-friendly implementations include offering prepackaged snacks, limiting lounge capacity, plexiglass shields at reception and service desks, foot-operated door openers to enable touchless operation of restroom doors (where feasible), hand sanitizer stations for customers and signage to remind customers to practice social distancing.

In April, American released an ad after receiving nearly $6 billion in a federal bailout—”You Are Why We Fly”—that showed gloved and masked attendants. Janelle Anderson, vp of global marketing at American, said that there could be an emphasis on customer experience and the travel journey in post-pandemic marketing for the airline.

“We know as an airline we’re going to have to do things to reassure people that it’s safe,” Anderson said.

American wasn’t the only airline that saw an uptick in demand in May. Delta and United Airlines noted domestic demand had moderately improved.

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@monicroqueta Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.