Rumor: New American Los Angeles To Hong Kong Route

In the summer of 2014, American launched daily Boeing 777-300ER flights between Dallas and Hong Kong. This is a route I was especially excited about, given that Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world, and this is also American’s longest route.

American-Business-Class-777-17
Dallas to Hong Kong airshow

I’ve had the opportunity to fly business class from Dallas to Hong Kong and back — suffice to say it was my best ever use of American systemwide upgrades. I think American’s business class product is especially competitive, given that it has reverse herringbone seats and wifi — I’d almost choose it over Cathay Pacific business class as a result (which has the same seats but no wifi).

American-Business-Class
American 777-300ER business class

For a while now we’ve heard rumors of American launching a Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight. When American announced their new flights from Los Angeles to Sydney and later flights from Los Angeles to Auckland, they marketed it as creating a Pacific hub out of Los Angeles. That suggested there was more growth coming later.

While the Los Angeles to Hong Kong route hasn’t been officially announced, there’s at least now a very reliable rumor. Via JonNYC at TravelingBetter, American will announce Los Angeles to Hong Kong flights next week. When JonNYC shares a rumor it’s generally as close to fact as it can get without being confirmed.

Victoria-Peak-Hong-Kong
Hong Kong skyline

In theory the flight could be operated by a 787 or a 777-300ER, though my guess is it will be operated by the latter. Why? Because American’s aircraft utilization for the Dallas to Hong Kong flight is terrible. It operates with the following schedule:

AA137 Dallas to Hong Kong departing 11:30AM arriving 6:35PM (+1 day)
AA138 Hong Kong to Dallas departing 1:40PM arriving 2:20PM

So every day there’s an American 777-300ER sitting on the ground in Hong Kong for ~19 hours. Hong Kong also happens to be one of the most expensive airports in the world to park planes at, so I imagine that cuts into the route’s profits quite a bit.

For example, if American operated a Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight with the following schedule, they could hugely decrease aircraft downtime in Hong Kong:

Los Angeles to Hong Kong departing 1:10AM arriving 8:40AM (+1 day)
Hong Kong to Los Angeles departing 8:35PM arriving 5:10PM

With such a schedule, the two routes would simply “trade” planes in Hong Kong — the Dallas route would get the Los Angeles route’s plane, and the Los Angeles route would get the Dallas route’s plane. And downtime in Hong Kong would be cut from ~19 hours for one plane to a total of ~8 hours for two planes.

But this route decision overall would be interesting. American partners with Cathay Pacific, which flies between Los Angeles and Hong Kong 3-4 times per day. The catch is that American doesn’t have a joint venture with Cathay Pacific, unlike what they have with Qantas to Australia, Japan Airlines to Japan, and British Airways/Finnair/Iberia to Europe. So while they are partners, it’s not the highest form of partnership.

British-Airways-Lounge-Chicago-22
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER

Bottom line

It seems we finally have a “reliable” rumor of American announcing a Los Angeles to Hong Kong route next week. I’m especially curious to see the details of this route announcement. On one hand a 787 seems better suited for a new route on which American isn’t operating as part of a joint venture. On the other hand, if putting a 777-300ER on the route could hugely reduce the aircraft downtime, that’s probably what they will choose.

I suppose in theory it’s possible that American and Cathay Pacific will announce a joint venture, though I haven’t heard many rumblings about that. If they don’t, I wonder if they’ll just overlap on departure times, which wouldn’t surprise me since Cathay Pacific has nicely optimized their LAX schedule.

What do you make of American potentially adding flights between Los Angeles and Hong Kong?

Comments

  1. I highly doubt there will be a JV. CX isn’t the easiest partner to work with. If I were to take a stab at the timings, I would say the flight would depart late morning early afternoon. I look at AA’s NRT schedule and I noticed they like to have their flights roughly around the same time.

  2. A minor comment: CX flies 4x daily LAX to HKG and vice versa, not “3-4x” daily. Cx898/897, cx884/885, cx882/883 and cx880/881. Occasionally flights are cancelled but all four flights are a daily service.

    Would be nice to get AA on the route. Since UA canned the route years ago CX has owned the monopoly. Really hope they don’t get a JV, because any competitive element of fare prices will be lost if the two are sharing profits. Given how skewed the capacity will be in favor if CX, I’d bet CX can simply codeshare on it but not a JV on the route.

  3. I am looking forward to using AA systemwide upgrades from NYC to HKG via DFW for which I found availability in March. Almost every month, I take CX or JL non stop flights from NYC to HKG or NRT respectively (Jan and Feb) but this will be my first on AA metal in March. While scheduling, I am wondering it is worth it to have a longer layover in DFW to experience the lounge there?

  4. @Sanjay Pai AA’s lounges fine but not worth an extended layover. If you have an any type of Amex Platinum Card, you can access the Centurion lounge, which is fantastic. However, I still wouldn’t plan an especially long layover unless you wanted to venture out into Dallas or elsewhere or if you would like to lounge hop.

  5. Who cares? AA has zero award availability on DFW-HKG route, so the LAX route will be equally useless and I’d rather just fly Cathay from LA since you get to use the much much nicer lounges in Hong Kong.

    I’d be very excited if Cathay starts flying to Dallas, as it makes my flying more convenient and gives me a good chance at awards.

  6. I hope the chance of clearing SWU gets easier to/from HKG. I’ve never seen that many EXP on one plane last time I flew back from HKG.

  7. Also agree with @atxtravel! You can’t get any availability, so not very exciting unless some “saver” level seats open up. I’d also still fly CX J any day over AA as I have not found that Lucky’s VIP blogger experience on flights mirrors those of a regular joe like me! And never mind lounge access in HKG…

  8. @You guys who want lounge access in HKG

    You guys know that 1W premium cabin passengers can access any 1W lounge appropriate for their class of service? I.e., I was there a couple of weeks ago, flying CX J, and visited the QF J lounge.

  9. What’s wrong with lounge access? If I fly CX J or AA J, I can still access CX lounges at HKG, right? Then, what is the difference that you guys are talking about?

  10. I suppose there’s no difference then, I thought AA flyers get to use the usually mediocre OW lounges.

    Award availability is the bigger issue for me. I’ll often fly EVA out of Houston if I don’t want to deal with long connections to catch CX flights from Texas.

  11. I personally would welcome this. CX fares on this route are very high and I welcome the competition. Plus, not only do I find them having the most comfortable economy seat in the industry, AA also have some of the most beautiful flight attendants in the sky.

  12. Funny comments by SXC travelling in CX Biz class when he never actually flown in there by his own admission, only what he learns from his wannbe flyer friends on FT

  13. John Lin: I love how you’re making fun of a dude for reading about premium travel in FT, when you’re clearly yourself reading (and commenting on) the hands down best premium travel porn website on the internet…..

  14. Been waiting for this for a long time. They took too long though…I’m leave for Delta after 7 years as EXPL. AA is stiff arming it’s elites with the criminal Doug Parker in control and I have had it. Not only do I now miss almost all my domestic upgrades, my name falls off the upgrade list with regularity…which I find out when I get to the airport. Flew JFK to LAX yesterday…#133…30 people on upgrade list! I didn’t make it…my name fell off anyways. This merger has been a nightmare for elites

  15. @John Lin,
    I’m not sure who you are, nor do I intend to care. But I can assure you I been a GO member for over 7 years now and have done my fair share of J and F travel on CX. They have been nothing but a downhill decline over the years. Some of the FAs are even borderline rude when I ask them more than 1-2 questions. AA on the other hand have much friendlier FAs and tend to chat with you for a while. I have made a number of acquaintances over the year with AA’s flight attendants. And for this reason alone, I would vote for AA over CX hands down. If you have any more questions or concern, feel free to PM me on Flyertalk.

  16. $5xx your obviously on another planet. I fly 250K + a year with CX in Biz and F and never once ever had a bad word or porr service so I am guessing they might be giving back what you obviously dish out. You know the old saying you can only kick a dog so many times.

    Oh and

    “”Bob Trial says:
    January 15, 2016 at 4:46 am
    John Lin: I love how you’re making fun of a dude for reading about premium travel in FT, when you’re clearly yourself reading (and commenting on) the hands down best premium travel porn website on the internet…..””

    Now I am enlightened that not only are the biggest plane dipsticks are not just on FT.

  17. The Hong Kong route is very profitable . I don’t see why American didn’t start service sooner. I really hope American adds another section to HKG because that return flight to Dallas is always full and I fly non rev but have been mileage running on cheap fares using the Citi Advantage card . I hope to use miles and fly first class on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and non rev back on American but it looks risky. The return flight from Beijing is good for non revs because business class is always wide open.

  18. Being based in HK, I pray this will happen. CX’s soft product quality has become noticably (significantly) worse in the past few years. In-flight service and catering are really not much better than the US airlines and have fallen far behind their asian peers SQ, JL and BR. Lots of senior staff turnover recently as well, which is never a good sign.

    CX needs a good kick in the pants to remind them we have choices.

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