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 official — American 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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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’s 777-300ER features eight first class seats.
Then there are 52 reverse herringbone business class seats.
Then there’s Main Cabin Extra, featuring nine seats per row and extra legroom.
And then the economy cabin features 10 across seating.
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?