New York to Los Angeles & San Francisco are two of the most fiercely competitive routes in the US, and they’re markets where the major airlines invest a lot in their onboard experience. American, Delta, United, and JetBlue all offer flat bed business class between the cities (Virgin America is also competitive in the market, but doesn’t have any planes with flat beds).
Boston has long been a high yield destination as well, though it hasn’t gotten the same love as New York. However, that has slowly been changing, thanks to JetBlue:
- In 2016, JetBlue introduced their Mint product between Boston and San Francisco, and then a few months later between Boston and Los Angeles
- Earlier this year, Delta added flights between Boston and San Francisco, using 757-200s with “Delta One” (their fully flat business class product)
- Clearly United felt threatened by this, so they switched their Boston to San Francisco route to 777-200s and 757-200s, meaning they also offer fully flat beds in business class on the route
This leaves American as the odd airline out, as they’re the only one not offering flat beds on any transcons from Boston. The irony is that American used to have a sizable hub in Boston, though they’ve mostly given up, and now JetBlue dominates that market.
This brings us to a rumor (I’m emphasizing that because this post is more about talking through this, rather than just sharing the rumor) from the eerily reliable JonNYC, who suggests that American is considering running their “premium” three cabin A321s between Boston and Los Angeles.
***_RUMOR_*** @AmericanAir to run an A321 (3-cabin transcon version) on the BOS-LAX route.
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) September 21, 2017
Flat beds between Boston and Los Angeles isn’t something I thought about much previously, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. American doesn’t fly between Boston and San Francisco, and they’re not going to try to jump into that market and compete like Delta did.
However, what’s interesting is that even though American, Delta, JetBlue, and United all fly between Boston and Los Angeles, JetBlue is the only one to offer flat beds. I suspect this is largely a function of yields, and that Boston to San Francisco is more lucrative. Boston is more about technology than entertainment, so that makes sense.
However, American is trying to establish themselves as LA’s hometown airline, so it seems logical enough to try and take the lead on the route. While Boston to Los Angeles isn’t as high yield as Boston to San Francisco, it’s my understanding that there’s still a lot of premium demand. I know upgrades on the route are generally tough.
In looking at the frequencies various airlines offer between Boston and Los Angeles:
- American offers 4x daily flights
- JetBlue offers 3x daily flights
- Delta offers 2x daily flights
- United offers 2x daily flights
As believable as this seems, there’s one major hurdle — I don’t know where American would get the planes from. American has a limited number of A321Ts, and they have 4x daily flights between Boston and Los Angeles. So I could see them maybe changing up rotations so that they have one daily A321T flight to Boston, but there’s no way they can get enough of these to operate four daily flights, at least without reconfiguring existing planes, making drastic cuts to their existing markets, etc.
For now I’ll say that I find this to be an interesting rumor. I could see American wanting to do this, though the logistics seem challenging. At best it seems like American could maybe operate one daily flight with an A321T. However, without a consistent product across flights, I’m not sure this move would help them gain all that much premium market share.
I’ve reached out to American for comment, and will update this post if I hear anything.
What do you guys think about this rumor?