American Airlines Adds Big New Routes to Austin and Several One Off Event Flights

American Airlines announced this morning several new routes, the biggest of which are from my home airport in Austin. They also announced several one-off services to major events like the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting and Augusta National Masters Golf Tournament.

The Austin flights in particular are exciting because they’re a departure from American’s usual strategy. These are point-to-point flights that don’t touch hubs, instead they’re aggressively competing with new flights between Delta focus cities.

Three New Austin Flights

American Airlines has announced three new Austin flights. None of them are daily, but the two biggest routes are big out of the gate with large narrowbodies and two flights each Monday through Friday.

  • Two flights six days a week to Boston with a Boeing 737-800 starting April 7
  • Two flights six day a week to San Jose with a Boeing 737-800 starting April 7
  • Saturday/Sunday service to Los Cabos, Mexico with a Boeing 737-800 starting May 9

Here are the schedules:

Departure City Arrival City Departure Time Arrival Time Frequency
Austin, Texas (AUS) San Jose, California (SJC) 7 a.m. 9:05 a.m. Daily, except Saturday
SJC AUS 9:55 a.m. 3:47 p.m. Daily, except Saturday
AUS SJC 6:50 p.m. 8:55 p.m. Mon.–Fri.
SJC AUS 6 p.m. 11:52 p.m. Daily, except Saturday
AUS SJC 4:30 p.m. 6:35 p.m. Sunday only
AUS Boston (BOS) 6:15 a.m. 11 a.m. Mon.–Fri.
BOS AUS 11:45 a.m. 3:10 p.m. Mon.–Fri.
AUS BOS 4:30 p.m. 9:15 p.m. Mon.–Fri.
BOS AUS 8:05 p.m. 11:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.
AUS BOS 10 a.m. 2:45 p.m. Sunday only
BOS AUS 3:30 p.m. 6:55 p.m. Sunday only
AUS Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas (SJD) 9:30 a.m. 11:10 a.m. Sat.–Sun.
SJD AUS 12:05 p.m. 3:40 p.m.

Both Boston and San Jose are major tech centers. American has a big customer base in Austin and several corporate contracts and these are designed as business flights, though Sunday service doesn’t just make it possible to preposition there for the week, but also makes it possible to use the flights for weekend trips as well.

Austin isn’t an American Airlines hub, but American is the largest legacy carrier in Austin (and #2 behind Southwest). Their lead isn’t significant, and Delta has declared Austin a focus city and opened a gorgeous new Sky Club.


Barbara Jordan Terminal, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

These Are Surprising (And Great) Routes For American

These routes are out of character for American.

  • They’ve historically flown only to and from their hubs (some recent seasonal Saturday Key West service not withstanding)
  • They’ve historically avoided competition and both routes are already served by other airlines

Both San Jose and Boston are declared Delta focus cities. Austin – San Jose is currently served by Alaska Airlines (which American broke up with) and Austin – Boston is currently served by JetBlue and Delta. It’s nice to see American compete for customers.

Back in September American’s head of planning, Vasu Raja, told employees that they wouldn’t be adding “daily trips from Austin to somewhere but we do envision a world where we do Saturday flights from Austin to Cancun and things like that.”

It’s true that the new flights aren’t daily, but they’re better than seasonal Cancun Saturday service – which Southwest already offers, and Spirit has come in and added several Austin – Cancun frequencies. And the Cabo flight is great – a weekend trip is tough, but you can go down Saturday or Sunday and come back either day the following weekend.

Not in the release, I’m also excited that American has added their second Austin – New York JFK flight back into the schedule, and starting in early March the flight times before better too. I’ve found their post-8 p.m. New York JFK – Austin flight to be unhelpful, as is departing Austin for New York before 8 a.m. (since it doesn’t help make a productive day in New York, 9 a.m. is far more civilized).

American’s schedule just got a lot more useful to me out of Austin. Just this past weekend I was questioning whether I’d still be an Executive Platinum in 2021, and the new service – if it works – makes it more likely that the route map will make it easier for me to stay with the airline.

American Claims To Have Renovated The Austin Admirals Club?

In the release American announced that they’ll have five contiguous gates at the Austin airport by the end of the year, and also claimed that they’ve recently renovated the Admirals Club there. That last is a stretch beyond imagination. They clarified for me that they meant they “added some capacity to the Club in 2018 by removing the putting green, and we refreshed the space with new finishes and furniture.”

The Admirals Club seating where the putting green used to be in the entryway (before club check-in) was supposed to be a stop gap measure. The renovation that’s been talked about for years involves moving the check-in desks out into the old putting green space and expanding the footprint of the club into the office space that’s behind the current back of the club. I had hopes the investment would finally be green lit with Delta introducing its top shelf new club with indoor and outdoor spaces.

Calling the new furniture in the bar area, chairs in the old conference room, and seating prior to check-in a renovation seems like a stretch.


The Old Putting Green In The Entryway of the Austin Admirals Club Has Been Replaced By Seats

New One-Off Flights For Events

American is adding several event-driven flights to serve the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, Coachella music festival, Churchill Downs horse racing and the Augusta National Masters golf tournament.

American is adding direct service from Los Angeles (LAX) to PSP in April, for a faster way to get to one of the biggest music festivals of the year.

The airline is also adding new service to AGS from BOS on an Embraer E175, and upgauging existing service from Chicago (ORD) to Augusta on a 737-800 to help customers who want a front row seat to golf’s biggest championship tournament.

And in May, American will have the most seats to Louisville, Kentucky (SDF), for one of the most unique sporting events under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs, from BOS, CLT, DCA, DFW, LAX, LGA, MIA, ORD and PHL.

American also has customers covered who care more about investing with the only service from BOS to OMA, as well as new flights from New York City (LGA) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to OMA on an E175 on May 1.

Here’s the flight details:

Departure City Arrival City Date Range
Boston (BOS) Augusta, Georgia (AGS) April 7–13
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
Washington, D.C. (DCA)
New York City (LGA)
Miami (MIA)
Philadelphia (PHL)
Chicago (ORD)
Departure City Arrival City Date Range
BOS Louisville, Kentucky (SDF) April 30 and May 3
Departure City Arrival City Date Range
BOS Omaha, Nebraska (OMA) May 1 and May 3
DCA
LGA
MIA April 30–May 3
Departure City Arrival City Date Range
Los Angeles (LAX) Palm Springs, California (PSP) April 9, April 13, April 16 and April 20

These even include flights from New York LaGuardia and Washington National, congested airports where there hasn’t been much of an opportunity for growth (outside of Saturday LaGuardia flights to Florida and ski destinations).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I’ve seen the upgrade list easily in the 40s here. So many AA elites ripe to be poached by a superior airline being treated like dirt with the DFW shuffle.

  2. Whats old is new I guess

    The AA nerd bird AUSSJC flights are not technically “new”, American AAbandoned this route in 2009.

  3. I was just in the Austin Admiral’s Club last Saturday and I guess because I was there early and there were very few people in there, I distinctly noticed the soiled carpet, the outdated and stained furniture, marks and tears on the walls, etc., etc. Come on American, you need to do some major updating. Yes, the front area that Gary talks about that was the former putting green and now has been converted to more seating – that furniture is new, clean and modern looking which makes the 1980’s furniture in the rest of the club look even worse! I felt dirty after setting in the 1980’s furniture. With that being said, the staff are always very nice and helpful.

  4. Can’t help but notice how much attention BOS is getting in all of this, too. Did American change their articulation of BOS? When the USAir merger first closed, the new AA was the largest legacy carrier in BOS, but quickly wound that service down and is now almost exclusively serviced by hub flights. Might we see more BOS expansion coming, with all of these flights, plus the London flight? I know the lie-flat 321 experiment with LAX was considered a failure and they stopped offering that premium flight, which was a disappointment to be sure – I was hopeful they would go lie-flat full time, and even consider bringing back BOS-SFO on the same plane. Curious as to your thoughts on AA at BOS.

  5. @SFO-BOS Exec Plat – It was a mistake for AA to draw down in BOS. This management did the same thing with BOS at US Airways. They didn’t fly non-hub routes, and didn’t see building BOS into a hub with PHL/ORD. Other carriers are eating their lunch and they’re playing catchup. We’ve already seen a bit of non-hub scheduling at Boston eg Key West. Don’t know how far they’ll go in building back there.

  6. @CJS – the Austin club staff are THE BEST IN THE SYSTEM. And the furniture in the bar area is new. But for AA to claim they’ve renovated the lounge is disingenuous at best.

  7. Interesting to see AA reverse a bad decision after almost 20 years without the nerd bird. Well, I’m on SWA metal now, so good for them. Will be nice to have the competition on the route.

  8. It would be interesting to see how LAX>PSP lines up with hub traffic, since I can only assume this is aimed at industry folks coming in from, say, NYC or BNA… Can’t imagine anyone in LA that’s headed out to Coachella actually taking this.

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