American’s New Los Angeles To Hong Kong Flight Now Bookable

As was officially confirmed a couple of weeks ago (and as has been rumored for quite a while), American will be launching nonstop daily Boeing 777-300ER flights between Los Angeles and Hong Kong as of September 7, 2016.

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American 777-300ER

The flight will operate 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

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American 777-300ER business class

On the surface it seems like a rather strange route choice, given that American’s partner Cathay Pacific flies 4x daily between Los Angeles and Hong Kong. A large part of the motivation for the route is that it will allow American to improve the efficiency of their Dallas to Hong Kong flight, which presently sits on the ground in Hong Kong for 20.5 hours per day:

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

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Airshow for American’s Dallas to Hong Kong flight

By operating this new route and cycling the planes between the Dallas and Hong Kong flights, American will be reducing their downtime in Hong Kong from a total of 20.5 hours per day for one plane, to a total of 6.5 hours for two planes. That’s going to translate into some fantastic aircraft utilization.

DFW-HKG-LAX

Anyway, if you’ve been eying this new flight, it’s worth noting that American’s Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight is now bookable. It has technically been bookable since this past Sunday, but it wasn’t until last night that American began loading some of the lower fare buckets into inventory.

The good news is that economy award tickets are wide open, all the way through the end of the schedule.

American-Awards

The bad news is that there’s not a single first or business class upgrade or award seat on the route as of now. I expect that will change, as American has at least been getting better about making confirmable upgrade space available.

The fares on the route are fantastic, though, which has been true of routes to Asia this year in general. I see roundtrip tickets between Los Angeles and Hong Kong for ~$730.

American-Hong-Kong-Fare

I’ve already booked three trips to Asia this year, and booking this would be the most expensive one I’ve booked yet. It really is incredible how much fares to Asia have dropped — a couple of years back I’d be thrilled with a ~$1,000 fare, let alone the $500-700 I’ve been paying lately for roundtrip tickets to Asia.

Also keep in mind that upgrade priority at American is based on your status and then based on when you add yourself to the waitlist. So if you’re an Executive Platinum member and waitlist your upgrade now, it’s a near guarantee that you’ll clear. I’d feel totally comfortable booking this flight and waitlisting, and banking on the upgrade clearing (ordinarily waitlisting upgrades on longhaul flights makes me nervous).

I suspect this flight will be quite an easy upgrade in general, though. Cathay Pacific operates 4x daily flights between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, so will likely continue to command the premium traffic in the market. American can only win on price, and that’s good news for those of us looking to upgrade.

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Cathay Pacific operates 4x daily 777-300ERs between Los Angeles and Hong Kong

Furthermore, since this isn’t being operated as a joint venture with Cathay Pacific (unlike the Sydney and Auckland, which are part of a Qantas joint venture, or London flights, which are a British Airways joint venture), I don’t expect many Cathay Pacific flyers will end up on the American flight.

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Hong Kong

Bottom line

Personally I’m really excited about this route. Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I love the early morning departure out of the US, which allows me to have a full day on the ground in Los Angeles (or connect from elsewhere in the late evening), before sleeping most of the way to Hong Kong.

Fares are cheap and upgrades should be easy on this route, so I’m just trying to figure out my dates now.

Do you plan on booking American’s new flight between Los Angeles and Hong Kong?

Comments

  1. Why do you think the fares to Asia have dropped? I think fares to everywhere have dropped.

    There was also a class action against airlines for collusion for price fixing for trips to Asia.

  2. I wonder if AA and CX will look at a joint venture (or are already in discussions)? With the overlap on routes (DFW and LAX to HKG) and connection potential it would seem to make a lot of sense. HKG is great for onward connections to Southeast Asia, less great for much of China (given how far south it is, requiring a backtrack for most Chinese cities), but given Cathay/Dragonair’s extensive China network, lack of a mainland Chinese carrier in OneWorld (unlike Star and SkyTeam), and AA’s own fairly limited service to China, a JV would make a lot of sense.

  3. @02nz – The US generally wont – and hasn’t – permitted any JV until the two countries in question have an open skies agreement in place. There’s no open skies between Hong Kong and the US or between China and the US, so no JV for now.

  4. What if you’re just regular platinum. What are the chances you’d expect an upgrade to clear?

  5. For the dates I looked at, business fares start at $4900 for (JFK-LAX-HKG) which I think is very competitive (CX charges at least $1k more) and appealing (at least the hard product is the same, but most people know the AA soft product will be abysmal) on that route. I don’t know if this translates into a guaranteed upgrade to C inventory for an AA EP, but you’re right the odds are really good. Do you know if AA has historically deeply discounted the DFW-HKG route in J? Because I could see a sub $3k business fare as a great way to get 2x EQM and guaranteed J seat.

  6. I think HKG locals may choose CX, but being US-based and if traveling for business, I would choose AA over CX. The hard product (including wifi) is all that really matters, and the service in CX J is nothing spectacular anyways.

  7. @NewToMiles

    Upgrades on international AA travel require System Wide Upgrades (SWUs). Those are only given out to Exec Plats. So your chances of an upgrade as a Plat are zero . . . . unless you know an Exec Plat who will give you one.

  8. Even though CX is running 4 flights a day plus twice a day to SFO, it is extremely difficult to come across business and first class awards at any time of the year. Hence, this route must be doing very well.
    Good decision by AA.
    Looking forward to some good deals in the premium sector.

  9. @Andrew: A family of 4 – ‘Hong Kong Locals as you described’ has chosen to fly AA on this route and visit relatives and friends in LAX, ORD, YTO and IAH. All International C and domestic F by AA. The fare including taxes and fees is less than 3k or 12k for 4… What an affordable trip compared to the 2016 CNY period CX F fare to LAX at 23K per person!

  10. @chester — while AA fares might well be less expensive generally than CX fares, comparing AA international business fares to CX international first fares makes no sense. That’s apples to oranges!

  11. @paul5795 If you have read Andrew’s comment, you would understand I was trying to echo him. The CX service IS nothing special, spectacular or legendary. On the other hand, as local HKers who travel with family to North America, would still choose AA over CX due to cost issue. The return LAX F fare at 23k is outrageous while I had eventually taken that 1A seat for the both legs of the immediate past CNY period to LAX. The CX F service IS nothing spectacular as I would repeat, let alone CX C service. For the similar itinerary, LAX, ORD, YTO and IAH return on CX C, it would cost ~8-10k pp which is equally outrageous compared to AA’s 3k. Personally I am not sold the difference in soft product would worth that 7k gap pp. It is indeed a good sign to see more competition on this route albeit AA and CX are both oneworld members. Well when you can not collude / cooperate, then you have to compete.. head-on..

  12. I took an economy class flight with family and had to find a place to write my review. AA has the worse customer service for any LAX to HKG airline. I felt like they hired the worse flight attendants to service the flights. Half assed everything. They were trying to cater to Asian customers and fails at it. It is fine if they were catering to Americans who are used to bad service, but they’re not. Domestic American flight service on an international Asian travel is degrading.

    Food was subpar, why serve americnaized Chinese food to Chinese people. It’s an insult. Also, the Chinese attendants could barely speak Chinese.(Cantonese and mandarin). The annocements in Chinese was terrible.

    I lost count how many times the flight attendant push his cart into my seat and numerous others. Unapologetically. Going to HKG they at least provided headphones, the return flight they said “we don’t have any”.

    During food service they ran out of chicken dish (vs beef) with a quarter of the plane unserved. They don’t understand that Asian usually choose chicken over beef. Know your audience AA.

    Good thing I only paid $500 for the flight, I get what I paid for.

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