American Will Fly 787s To Cancun 3x Daily This Winter

I’m not suggesting anyone ever plan their vacations solely around a specific type of plane. However, occasionally I’ll narrow down my vacation choices between a few options based on which destination I can get to most comfortably, where award availability is most readily available, and/or based on where there’s a fare sale.

Over the past couple of months American has announced some significant changes to their route network, including changes to their South America and Mexico network in March, and changes to their Caribbean, Hawaii, and Europe network in early May.

One thing I find quite interesting that wasn’t included in any of those announcements is that American is planning 787 service to Cancun. We’re not just talking about a one-off flight, but this winter American will offer up to 3x daily Boeing 787 flights to Cancun. This includes up to 2x daily flights out of Chicago, and up to 1x daily flight out of Dallas.

Specifically, the following flights will be operated by 787s:

Chicago to Cancun as of November 4, 2018

AA1417 Chicago to Cancun departing 8:25AM arriving 1:06PM
AA1417 Cancun to Chicago departing 2:00PM arriving 4:57PM

Chicago to Cancun as of December 19, 2018

AA1503 Chicago to Cancun departing 10:05AM arriving 2:49PM
AA1503 Cancun to Chicago departing 3:35PM arriving 6:31PM

Dallas to Cancun as of December 19, 2018

AA2684 Dallas to Cancun departing 12:50PM arriving 4:34PM
AA2684 Cancun to Dallas departing 5:43PM arriving 7:40PM

So what?

Cancun generally isn’t a very high yield market, and airlines almost always fly regionally configured planes to Cancun. So it’s interesting to me that American isn’t just operating a one-off flight to Cancun using a 787, but rather is operating up to 3x daily Boeing 787s there.

American’s 787s feature 226 seats, including 28 business class seats, 55 Main Cabin Extra seats, and 143 economy seats. Rather than getting a standard domestic first class seat up front, you’ll get a flat bed with direct aisle access, so it’s a much more comfortable ride than you’d usually have to Mexico.

These flights are eligible for upgrades, so if you are an elite member it might be worth specifically seeking out these flights for any travel to/from Cancun. Beyond that, though, the paid first class fares to Cancun are typically quite attractive.

For example, a roundtrip Chicago to Cancun economy ticket retails for over $400:

Meanwhile a roundtrip business class ticket is just under $700, so you’re paying a premium of less than $150 in each direction to upgrade.

Fares are similarly good out of other markets, with connections in Chicago or Dallas.

Can I just note how tight they’ve scheduled these turns, though? They hope to turn a 787 in Cancun in 46 minutes? Good luck with that!

Bottom line

I’m not saying you should go to Cancun because American is flying 787s there. However, if Cancun has been on your radar, it’s worth keeping in mind that you can fly there especially comfortably this winter, and perhaps it’s worth booking American over another carrier. I’ve been wanting to check out the Andaz Mayakoba, so maybe it’s finally time to get that trip on the books.

Generally speaking I also find this to be a strange route on which to operate 787s. I get that longhaul demand is much lower in winter, so they’re probably looking for somewhere to fly 787s. However, the 787s barely have more capacity than the A321, yet have much higher operating costs. Cancun also isn’t a high yield market, as you can see based on how cheap the premium fares are. You’d think there would be another regional market where the 787s could be better deployed and a fare premium could be commanded in business class. I guess not, or else they would have put the planes on another route.

Anyone considering booking one of these American 787s to Cancun?

(Tip of the hat to @Singal3)

Comments

  1. Great deal. Just booked Spring break 2019 (end of March), economy fare usually costs that much or more if you wait til December.

  2. Air Canada Rouge has daily 767 flights from Toronto/Montreal to Orlando/Fort Lauderdale in the winter so this isn’t that much different. If anything these flights will have more connecting pax than the AC ones. Probably a route where we can expect to see a lot of basic economy.

  3. @ Jimbo — That’s very different. Cancun is a low yield market so flying a Rouge 767 makes perfect sense, given how tight the configuration is. Cancun is the perfect destination for that plane. Flying a longhaul configured, premium 787 is very different, since they won’t be able to command a premium for those business class seats. Even though the 787 is bigger than the 767, the Rouge plane has 50+ more seats than the 787.

  4. They announced this as part of their ORD – PEK cancellation. Basically, they withdrew from ORD- PEK and have no better place to put the 787 than in ORD – CUN. As somebody who has worked in the industry – in pricing and planning – I can tell you that Cancun generally IS a high yield destination. Fares are not cheap. There is a reason that there’s so much capacity going down there. The fact that AA has a transpacific capable plane going to Cancun twice a day from Chicago rather than to China or somewhere else speaks volumes about the relative yields of CUN versus long haul flying right now.

  5. @ Lucky – I just got back from Andaz Mayakoba… could not recommend it enough. Feels like a great boutique but with solid Globalist recognition (free boat tour, tequila tasting… in addition to normal stuff like the awesome breakfast). Great place to use a CSUG and spend some time; you get a very nice suite with a plunge pool.

    Kind of place that makes you feel good about being loyal.

    DFW-CUN has pretty solid availability at 25k/OW in First Class. Hopefully I can snag this product next time.

  6. Why not have more NON-STOP flights from other cities instead? Why would I care if it is 787 or other plane. Instead being able to fly non-stop from my city would actually be useful. As usual, useless AA.

  7. AA may have been inspired by DL last winter’s 330 MSP-CUN 1 roundtrip daily. DL catered the return on the outbound from MSP; AA likely to do the same in ORD, DFW. Interesting, however, that DL’s winter 18/19 schedule MSP-CUN has more conventional equipment: 320s & 757s 4x daily. AA’s 787 ORD-CUN 2x daily (UA ORD-CUN 3x daily 737s).

  8. Are aircraft being pulled from TATL and TPAC markets, or are they being utilized at times when they would otherwise be on the tarmac, waiting for the next bank of TATL or TPAC flights?

  9. @jfhscott – American is canceling its Chicago – Beijing flight and using the aircraft for these Cancun flights.

  10. And if this Cancun thing doesn’t work out, perhaps AA might consider adding an extra flight or two to Europe over the winter.

  11. @Donna – Europe is the absolute WORST over the winter. Every flight does poorly. There’s no way they’ll add more.

  12. @ Carlos Rabinovich. Stupid comment as it depends where you live and AA are operating from their hubs. It’s not a surprise if they fly from ORD DFW MIA or LAX assuming you’re within the 48 contiguous states. If you live in Billings it’s unlikely there are any non stop services to Cancun therefore you have to look st alternative via a larger city on a number of airlines

    You can’t please all of the people all of the time

  13. @Donna – Full flights dont necessarily mean profitable flights. When they’re full of people on low fares, they lose money. And maybe you’re on full flights, but that doesnt mean that every single flight is full, regardless. When you look at industry T100 data, you’ll see that on average flights in the winter (especially January and February) are 10-20 load factor points less than in summer. So maybe here and there a flight is full, but in general this is a weak period, especially for the more leisure focused flights in destinations such as Rome, Spain, Ireland, Venice, Athens.

  14. This (I would imagine) is a huge bonus for anyone wanting to upgrade to/fro CUN – DFW or ORD. I fly (2x/month) MIA-CUN-MIA and always upgraded on their 737- typically 4 days in advance. I would love to fly the 787 but content on the very reliable service with their ubiquitous 737.

  15. I’ve seen AA fly A330s from CLT and PHL to CUN during the winter season in years past. I suspect that will change with this announcement.

  16. DL has been doing this for a few years. Usually mid-December – late March I believe. Last minute fares can also be reasonable, and F fares. Great odds of getting upgraded though even as Silver as not a heavy elite market.

  17. “I’m not suggesting anyone ever plan their vacations solely around a specific type of plane.”

    Have you forgotten your reader base?? Of course we do that 🙂

  18. @Jason. I never claimed a few more winter flights to the EU would be hugely profitable but it’s hard to imagine that these cheap fare widebody flights to Cancun in the wintertime will do any better.

    You might be surprised how many business travelers go to European leisure locations for work (year round), myself included. And, in Paris last February there were a lot of American tourists, in spite of very cold weather. Great deals on hotel rooms and fights.

  19. @Donna – I’ve worked in network planning and pricing for a few domestic and international airlines, so I know very well the USA – Europe and USA – Latin travel patterns. Fares are high and demand is strong to Cancun and other beach resorts in the winter – they’re often higher than Europe fares during that time of year. Yield is very high in those markets because people, in general, will pay whatever to get out of the cold. Europe is much less demanded during that time period, and airlines in general either resort to selling seats at cheap fares get anybody on board or cancelling service/ making it seasonal (which you see on flights to leisure heavy destinations like Italy, Spain, etc). You said it best – “Great deals on…flights”. Great deals on flights for a customer means cheap fares. Good for the customer. Bad for the airline as they’re trying to do whatever it takes to sell seats.
    Point is, in general, Cancun and other warm weather destinations are NOT low yield routes in the winter – they’re high fare markets then. Europe, with few exceptions, tend to see yields and demand fall off a cliff during the winter months; in many cases, airlines resort to cheap fares, or, “great deals” as you put it, to get people on the planes.

    Also, certain places in Europe will always have business demand. That’s why you’ll see schedules to London, Paris, Frankfurt, and increasingly Amsterdam stay consistent year round (there are business people, either paying for J or for a high coach fare) while flights to more leisure – oriented destinations such as Athens, Rome, Venice, Lisbon, Barcelona, Prague, Budapest, etc are cut either all together or drastically in the winter.

  20. Already had a J award booked from CUN this winter and was able to change our connection to the ORD flight with no fee. Even snagged seats 6A/7A! Thanks so much, Ben!

  21. The cleaning crews in Mexico are armies of people. They can clean that plane in less than 10 minutes and catering is double catered in the states. That turn around is definitely doable.

  22. As some have noted, Delta does this with some regularity from Atlanta and Minneapolis. I flew a flat-bed 767 from CUN to MSP this past January. Much better than an A320, to say the least. The only problem with the double catering in the US is that only soft drinks are served in first or business before takeoff from Cancun because, inevitably, all the prosecco or champagne reserved for pre-departure drinks was entirely consumed on the flight down. What is curious, however, is that on international flights from the US, and any other international flight I have been on, the pre-departure drinks are limited to OJ, champagne or beer–not possible to have any other soft drink. I realize this has everything to do with airlines not wanting to pay the taxes on the whole cart once the seal is broken. Fair enough. But how does it work that, if the cart is open, they can serve any soft drink in Mexico but no alcohol? Anyone have any insight into this?

  23. I wonder how much they will charge when you come back in a coffin, Cancun, it’s not safe to stop at a stop sign, even the mexican’s are scared to go there,

  24. Why not deploy the added capacity using the 767-300s? Better suited for this market, less wasteful of a premium product.

  25. If you have ever suffered through an Illinois winter, believe me, you would just about sell a limb to get to CUN. ORD-CUN makes a LOT of sense.

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