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American Airlines extends 9 prime leisure routes, increasing summer vacation options

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 5/9/2021 Zach Griff
a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac at an airport © Provided by The Points Guy
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Long live the summer at American Airlines.

Over the weekend, the Fort Worth-based carrier extended the season for a slew of leisure-focused routes, giving travelers more time to explore some of the country’s top outdoor destinations.

Per Cirium schedules, the following nine routes were extended by at least a month. They were all previously slated to end in August or the first week of September, but they’ll now be operated through the first week of October.

Origin Destination
Charlotte (CLT) Bozeman, Montana (BZN)
Charlotte (CLT) Jackson, Wyoming (JAC)
New York-JFK Jackson, Wyoming (JAC)
Los Angeles (LAX) Aspen (ASE)
Los Angeles (LAX) Kalispell, Montana (FCA)
Los Angeles (LAX) Jackson, Wyoming (JAC)
Phoenix (PHX) Aspen (ASE)
Phoenix (PHX) Bozeman, Montana (BZN)
Phoenix (PHX) Jackson, Wyoming (JAC)

American’s latest route extension is focused on four destinations: Aspen (ASE); Bozeman, Montana (BZN); Jackson, Wyoming (JAC); and Kalispell, Montana (FCA). Each of these airports is located near major national parks or other outdoor-friendly activities, like hiking, fishing or cycling.

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As travel recovers, the first major segment of flyers to return to the skies has been pandemic-weary vacationers looking for an outdoor-focused escape. American’s president Robert Isom told investors during the carrier’s first-quarter earnings call that the recent demand and revenue uptick “was driven by strong leisure demand.”

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To respond to the increased demand, places like Bozeman and Kalispell in Montana have attracted a ton of new routes from nearly every U.S. airline — both the major network carriers and their low-cost competitors. In fact, according to OAG schedule data compiled for TPG, Bozeman is the third fastest-growing domestic airport at the moment, after Key West (EYW) and Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ) in Florida.

BZN, considered the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, is slated to see nearly 87% more seats in July 2021 compared to two years prior. Jackson — close to the world-renowned Jackson Hole mountain resort and Grand Teton National Park — also makes the top ten list, coming in at number nine with a nearly 40% increase in seats compared to 2019 traffic.

Though some international destinations are slowly reopening to vaccinated Americans, analysts expect a surge in demand this summer for domestic travel to destinations with plenty of outdoor activities.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac: American is boosting flights to outdoor-friendly destinations (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy American is boosting flights to outdoor-friendly destinations (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For many places, that’ll mean long lines, sold-out hotels and limited availability at pre-reserved attractions. Some travelers might prefer to avoid the crowds and wait for cooler temperatures, making a shoulder season visit even more appealing.

That’s seemingly AA’s motivation to continue serving the nine aforementioned routes well into the early fall. If there’s enough demand to warrant the flights, then American will be there to serve the market. Plus, by flying from its hubs, American can offer attractive one-stop connections for travelers headed to the great outdoors.

A tenth AA route — Phoenix (PHX) to Cincinnati (CVG) — is also getting a notable boost. The seasonal route was previously slated to resume on Oct. 31, but it’ll now take off once again on Aug. 17, per the latest schedule update.

Extending the season for this 1,569-mile hop comes nearly three months after Delta scrapped plans to resume its own flight between PHX and CVG. American is seemingly filling the gap left by Delta.

It’s not all good news for AA’s route network. The carrier is trimming the season for one outdoor-focused route, from Chicago (ORD) to Aspen (ASE). The seasonal service will now end on Aug. 16, roughly three weeks earlier than initially planned on Sept. 7.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


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