Schedule For American’s New Los Angeles To Hong Kong Flight

Earlier today I wrote about how American leaked the details of their new Los Angeles to Hong Kong route. This is a flight which was originally rumored a couple of months back, though the announcement of it was delayed. This was apparently due to issues with securing a slot in Hong Kong, though they seem to have finally worked that out.

Last night American accidentally updated a page of their website to reflect the new service, even though it hasn’t been formally announced yet. American confirmed the route is in fact happening, and I’m guessing that mistake caused them to formally announce it more quickly.

American’s Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight is official

It’s now officialAmerican will be launching daily nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Hong Kong as of September 7, 2016. The flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER with the following schedule:

Los Angeles to Hong Kong departing 1:55AM arriving 8:10AM (+1 day)
Hong Kong to Los Angeles departing 8:20PM arriving 6:40PM

The new flight should be bookable as of March 20, 2016.

LAX-HKG

Why the flight schedule is strange

Personally I love American’s schedule for the new route between Los Angeles and Hong Kong. It lets me spend most of the day in LA and then get a good night of sleep on the plane, while on the return you arrive in the early evening, so you can have dinner and then go to bed and hopefully beat jetlag.

Of course I imagine the 2AM departure out of Los Angeles is slightly less popular for the flight attendants having to work the flight, or for those in economy.

But the reason for the strange schedule is quite simple. A major motivator behind this new service is American’s terrible aircraft utilization on their Dallas to Hong Kong route, which operates with the following schedule:

Dallas to Hong Kong departing 12:20PM arriving 6:00PM (+1 day)
Hong Kong to Dallas departing 2:30PM arriving 4:15PM

In other words, the plane presently spends 20.5 hours on the ground in Hong Kong every day. Now a plane will operate a different rotation, flying from Dallas to Hong Kong to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Dallas. As a result, American planes will only spend a total of 8hr40min on the ground in Hong Kong every day, between the two flights. That’s fantastic utilization, much better than their current setup.

Victoria-Peak-Hong-Kong
Hong Kong

Why would anyone choose American over Cathay Pacific?

I’ve flown American’s 777-300ER first class and business class, and I’ve also flown Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER first class and business class. Cathay Pacific operates the flight 4x daily, so why would anyone choose American over Cathay Pacific?

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

I will say that Cathay Pacific’s first class is leaps and bounds better than American’s first class. There’s zero competition there.

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class-777-54
Cathay Pacific first class is tough to beat!

Meanwhile the hard product on American and Cathay Pacific are the same in business class. Cathay Pacific food and service is definitely better (though the food isn’t amazing on Cathay Pacific either), but I’d choose American in business class, all else being equal. Why? The wifi. American offers wifi on their 777-300ERs while Cathay Pacific doesn’t, and that’s an amenity I value immensely.

Cathay-Pacific-Business-Class-A330-40
Cathay Pacific’s business class, which is virtually identical to American’s

I’m also going to go ahead and predict that upgrades will be surprisingly easy on this new American route (which is another reason to choose them over Cathay Pacific, since top tier American flyers get four systemwide upgrade certificates per year).

American isn’t operating this flight as a joint venture with Cathay Pacific, so I can’t imagine there will be huge premium demand, given the option of otherwise flying one of Cathay Pacific’s four daily flights (if nothing else, the impression is certainly that Cathay Pacific has a better product). On top of that, American’s elite population in Los Angeles isn’t as big as in other markets (like Dallas), so there shouldn’t be quite as much competition for upgrades.

This should be a much easier upgrade than Los Angeles to London or Sydney, given that those flights are operated as part of joint ventures, in conjunction with British Airways and Qantas, respectively. This flight is operated as part of a joint venture with Japan Airlines, but that shouldn’t have quite as much of an impact as a joint venture with an airline based in the city you’re operating to.

American’s 777-300ER cabins

As mentioned above this route is being operated by American’s flagship 777-300ER.

American-777

American’s 777-300ER features eight first class seats.

American-777-First-Class-01

Then there are 52 reverse herringbone business class seats.

American-777-300-1

Then there’s Main Cabin Extra, featuring nine seats per row and extra legroom.

American-Main-Cabin-Extra

And then the economy cabin features 10 across seating.

American-Economy

Bottom line

I’m really excited about this new route, as I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles, and Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world. While I’ll probably be in the minority, I also love the timing of this flight, especially for the westbound sector. Being able to spend a day in a city and then hop on a plane at night is awesome, and this flight is great for that.

What do you make of the schedule for American’s new route between Los Angeles and Hong Kong — love it or hate it?

Comments

  1. I like nighttime flights, as it is so much easier to fall asleep (even in economy, which I’ve always flown internationally).

    I love Hong Kong!

  2. 10 a row seating for economy is a major no go for majority of the flyers out there. Spending 12-15hrs in economy on CX is already bad enough with 9-row seating.

  3. This flight is PERFECT for me! I live in DC and want to use SWUs to Hong Kong, so this does the trick! I can work nearly a full day and catch a 5:15 pm flight from DCA to LAX, then this flight to Hong Kong and use an SWU that I couldn’t use before on Cathay. Sure, I’d love to fly Cathay but I’m not using miles or paying full price for business, so this is the best I can hope for. Plus, if I’m using an SWU then the flight from DCA to LAX is also in domestic first and I’m very okay with that on a 5.5 hour flight.

  4. I like US-Asia flights where you can leave US evening and arrive Asia 2 days later early morning compared to leaving US morning and arriving Asia 9-11pm the next day.

  5. The westbound flight time is prefect for most people. If you check Cathay Pacific schedule, you can find out most of their westbound flights departing around midnight. The eastbound flight is less than perfect since most people cannot make their connecting flight in the same evening. 🙁

  6. I completely agree the timing of the flight is perfect.

    However you say that all else being equal you’d choose AA. Your opinion is severely biased though because you travel all the time and need the wifi for work. I would argue that most people will not be interested in the wifi and would choose CX based on the superior service, food, and reputation.

  7. I find it interesting that the schedule both ways is now in line with BR and CX – late night departures from LAX and arriving into HKG/TPE in the early morning, and late afternoon departures from Asia arriving into LAX in the afternoon/evening. Fleet utilization aside, I think, this might also attract some connecting pax that don’t want to leave very early to get onto AA137, which is a noon departure from DFW.

  8. For those flying in the back, it’s important to note that at this time CX is has true Premium Economy on their 777-300ER.

  9. Am I the only person who doesn’t want/need wifi on a flight? Ben I know your ‘job’ is travelling so you need to be working while travelling but for most people, especially points junkies, most premium travel is for leisure purposes and I don’t need to be checking social media like I do every other waking hour of the day.
    I really relish long flights because it is the opportunity to relax, recharge, and have some serious ‘me time’ without any distractions. I rarely have the time to watch movies in full, read a book, take random naps etc so its one of my favourite parts of the trip. I don’t need or want wifi.

  10. @Terence, this is mostly an aircraft utilization thing. When arriving into LAX, it is difficult to make any connections that late at night. I find the westbound sector to be excellent timing, but the eastbound sector has disastrous timing.

  11. Any news or thoughts about now finally being able to use the pacific route on an award to India on AA/CX?

  12. @Ben (10:24), I totally agree! I don’t have anything against wifi, but it’s a total non-factor for me when choosing flights. I don’t travel internationally for work, so when I’m looking at a flight like this it’s going to be for vacation. Lucky, I get why wifi is important for someone like you, but please don’t gloss over other aspects of various products in your analysis!

  13. I like the new time for an AA product. Who would be disappointed sleeping through their service?

    For Cathay, I’ve had better luck than most (including my wife) on the food. I try and avoid Cathay flights that leave then because I don’t want to sleep through their wonderful service.

  14. Do you think this will add capacity to the route, or will CX end up dropping one of their flights? Is CX 4x daily year round, or sometimes 3x or 4x depending on the day of the week?

    For someone with an AAdvantage account, I think it makes sense to fly American to get the full amount of EQMs. Flying on other OW carriers generally does not give 1 EQM per mile flown when flying in economy.

    Maybe they’ll coordinate the introduction of premium economy with the inauguration of this route 🙂

  15. @Russell – being DCA based as well, I think the DCA-DFW-HKG still works better. The LAX times are such that you arrive too early in HKG to check into hotel, and you depart HKG too late for normal (or even late check out). Arriving from HKG to LAX is late – so only option is a red eye – so that is two overnight flights back to back. One night flight is enough. The DFW-HKG times work much better, in my view.

    I suspect we will see some good intro fares from LAX-HKG and maybe good C class availability. But all being equal, I will still do the DFW flights.

  16. Surprised to see this as a codeshare with Japan Airlines. Why would anyone want to fly LAX->HKG on AA then HKG->NRT/KIX/whatever on JA? When there are plenty of non stop options from LAX to NRT/HND? And of course nobody is flying NRT->LAX->HKG.

    People can now choose LAX->HKG->SIN/DPS/KUL/BKK/whatever instead of LAX->NRT->SIN/DPS/KUL/BKK

    Seems like Japan Airlines would be hurting their TPAC flights by working with AA on this route.

    Then again, i work in insurance, not for an airline.

  17. I had the choice between CX J and AA J when booking my flights for this summer coming back to the US from HKG. WiFi would certainly be nice on a flight of that length but I didn’t want to forfeit the infinitely better service on CX and better food (even if marginally) just so I have the opportunity to pay for WiFi on AA.

    I get that WiFi may be important to those who must work on planes, but for the majority of people I believe that is not the case. Most of us can go without it and simply enjoy the service, movies and food.

    I don’t think there’s any instance that I’d pick AA over CX in any situation, other than maybe schedule if I was cutting it that tight.

  18. @Ben: I agree with the edge over CX because of the WiFi, but since you talk about sleeping most of the LAX-HKG leg I believe that value is no longer there. In any event, this is a great addition and great if you want to do a same day turn on a MR.

  19. @Randy – for the eastbound flight you can always check in at the Airport Express stations at Hong Kong or Kowloon stations (or leave your bags at the bellhop). So at least for the eastbound, it’s really not a hassle.

    On the westbound I’ve really had no problems either. I go to the hotel and just drop of my luggage as I check in. Then I return to the hotel a little after lunch. Might be a slight inconvenience but you gain at least a few hours of sightseeing or leisure you wouldn’t have otherwise.

  20. @Michael – I don’t see anyone hating on people who want wifi on flights. They’re staying they don’t want/need it, and don’t see what the big deal is. Personally, I don’t hate people who want wifi on flights, but I DO hate that they whine/complain when they don’t have it.

  21. I have flown both American and Cathay internationally many times and there is no comparison between the two as Cathay is far superior in nearly every respect. The politeness of the staff, the food, the comfort from First through Premium Economy, and the flight selection is superior on CP. Beyond WiFi, the only negative with Cathay is that they don’t fill the Premium cabins by upgrading unless the flight is full. Whether American will do that with their top tier travelers on an International flight as they do on domestic flights, may be one factor that might give them kudos over CP. Beyond that, CP is clearly the winner!

  22. There is NOTHING SPECIAL about Cathay Pacific any longer. They were rated the “No. 1” airline in the world, but every year now the rating goes down, and now they have fallen to No. 5. They used to be a “premiere” airline, noted for exceptional service. Not any longer. On several recent flights from LAX to HKG and back, we experienced non-working entertainment systems, lavatory sinks that were blocked up and didn’t drain, and below-average food. For this you pay “top dollar”. In my ‘Premium Economy’ seat, the fold-out video display arm was broken and had to be held in place with duct tape!!! For this I paid $1,100? I’m not even going to mention the rude and indifferent flight attendants who leave the food trays uncleared for over an hour. It’s no wonder Cathay’s reputation and ratings are going downhill. Next time, we are going to try AA….!

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