Monday will mark a turning point in the recovery. American Airlines is preparing to welcome back the travelers who have been previously barred from entering the United States. A major step toward the final leg of the recovery, long-haul international travel is showing strong signs of returning, American is preparing for the future with more returning inflight service and reopening lounges.
The US is preparing to reopen
Starting Monday, November 8th, the United States will relax its longstanding travel bans in favor of a policy that allows fully vaccinated foreigners to visit. This will enable travelers from two of American’s key geographies, Europe and Brazil, to come back to the United States.
Vasu Raja, American’s Chief Revenue Officer, stated the following on the reopening:
“Since the start of the pandemic, our customers have been waiting for the day they can get on a plane bound for the people and places in the United States that they know, love and miss — but now the wait is over.
“As restrictions give way to new frameworks for safe and healthy travel, the American Airlines team is looking forward to flexing our international network and welcoming our customers back on board as they fly to the destinations they’ve long-awaited.
“We appreciate the Biden administration, as well as the U.K. government, for working in collaboration with our industry to make this reopening of international travel a reality, and we’re excited about the boost it promises to bring to travelers and the economy.”
American Airlines has been working on digital tools to help streamline the travel process. With an expected bump in demand, the airline will display the “Ready to Fly” checklist to ensure they are ready to travel on the day of departure.
American allows its customers to use the VeriFLY app prior to departure. This app synthesizes the travel requirements for a given customer based on their itinerary and enables them to ensure they have met their travel requirements. Customers can upload documentation, which is then validated against the country’s requirements and displays a simple pass or fail message. When told they have met their requirements, the app allows customers to check-in online or through the app, saving time at the airport.
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A “booster” shot for American Airlines
On November 8th, American will have over 150 international inbound flights arriving in the United States. This includes just under 20 arrivals from transatlantic markets. Demand on flights from London and Brazil, according to American, is up 70% week-over-week. In the next few weeks, international point-of-sale customers are up 400% compared to last week, indicating the strong demand from foreign travelers to the United States.
Through November, American will operate over 200 daily flights to international destinations – including short-haul flights. By the beginning of 2022, American expects those numbers to hit 300 daily international flights as it brings back more of its international network.
In September, on an exclusive webinar with Simple Flying, Mr. Raja described the lifting of travel bans as “a big shot to the arm.” This mainly included significant markets in Europe reopening for Americans, though not the other way around during the summer. However, in September, the Biden Administration announced plans to reopen for vaccinated foreigners, thereby bringing down the travel bans that first came about in early 2020.
This served as a boost to bookings, but at the time, there were still some uncertainties. With a date firmed now, a vaccine list ready, and testing requirements outlined, the last couple of weeks where more information has come out seems to be acting as a kind of booster shot.
With its partners across the Atlantic, American will have nearly six times more flights between the US and UK and almost three times as many flights between the US and Spain. The airline has also decided to restart service to Paris (CDG) and Madrid (MAD) from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) earlier than planned due to increased demand. Those flights will resume on December 16th.
In Brazil, American Airlines is preparing to retain its position as the top US carrier to and from the country. American announced a new increase in service. In February, American will operate a second daily flight from its Latin American hub in Miami (MIA) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) – in time for Carnival.
Next year, in January, February, and March, American will operate a third daily flight between MIA and São Paulo (GRU). In January and February, American will also operate a daily service between DFW and GRU. Its schedules early next year will be up over 30% compared to 2019-levels in the carrier’s strongest international geography.
As the next phase of the recovery comes around, American Airlines will resume its growth plans abroad. This weekend, the airline delayed its flights between Seattle and Bangalore and between Dallas/Fort Worth and Tel Aviv. As international travel and business travel, in particular, continue to return, the airline is finally getting closer to launching those flights.
Bringing back more services
Starting on November 10th, American will bring back nearly all onboard service elements in its Flagship First and Flagship Business cabins on international, transcontinental, and Hawaii routes. Premium cabin customers will get to experience coursed meal service, pre-departure beverages, ice cream sundaes, and espresso service.
On the ground, American Airlines has also started reopening its Flagship Lounges. New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) lounges are already reopened. The remaining three at Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), and Chicago (ORD) will reopen soon. The Flagship Lounges are among the most exclusive ground spaces American offers that include curated local menus and specialty cocktails, and premium wines.
Accessing a Flagship Lounge requires a ticket in a Flagship-branded cabin. Top-tier elites on international itineraries, ConciergeKey members, and oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members can also enter the lounge. Single-visit passes are also available for sale.
Separately, American has reopened all of its Admirals Club lounges in the United States. Select international locations have also reopened. American sells access to Admirals Clubs in the form of memberships or day passes.