Austin Is Quickly Becoming An Accidental American Airlines Connecting Hub

In June American Airlines is operating an average of 40 flights a day out of Austin, including flights on its regional partners.

Austin destinations with American now include Boston, Charlotte, Dallas Fort-Worth, New York JFK, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, Nassau, Chicago O’Hare, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Cabo, Tampa, Aspen, Nashville, Fort Walton Beach and New Orleans.

They’ll be adding Raleigh and Washington Dulles service later this summer, too. And that doesn’t count flights on partners Alaska or on JetBlue (where AAdvantage members can also now earn miles). We’ll see British Airways service to London again as well.

Before the pandemic American was looking at marginal adds of non-hub routes in Austin – Boston, San Jose, and weekend Cabo service – to augment its flights to hubs. However with the rise of leisure travel and a need to find spots to fly with business travel still grounded they aggressively added new destinations from Austin.

For years Austin has been one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the country, tracking the city’s growth more generally. This growth has continued – Austin isn’t just UT Austin and Dell Computers, it’s Google, Facebook, Apple, and Tesla now. It’s Oracle, Facebook, Indeed, Amazon, VRBO and eBay. And it’s startups like Eterneva which is disrupting both the diamond and grieving industries.

And Austin has been a strong market for American Airlines, with existing corporate contracts and customer loyalty. While Delta has made splashes with its fancy new Sky Club and American has consistently put off renovation and expansion of their lounge, American’s Admirals Club agents are the best in their entire system and generate a lot of that loyalty.

What’s interesting is that two things are happening simultaneously with a third unintended result,

  1. American is adding new Austin destinations
  2. Leisure travel is growing generally with planes full

And that’s led to passengers turning Austin into a connecting hub on their own either because connecting itineraries through Austin in a given instance are less expensive or because they can’t get their normal connections at all or at least at a reasonable price.

For Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, American expected a 97.6% load factor for its Austin flights. This was substantially helped by connecting traffic such as:

  • 14 passengers on a single flight connecting between Las Vegas and Miami
  • 27 passengers on a single flight connecting between Miami and Dallas
  • 47 passengers on a single flight connecting between Las Vegas and Orlando
  • 21 passengers on a single flight connecting between Las Vegas and New Orleans
  • 15 passengers on a single flight connecting between Las Vegas and Nashville
  • 18 passengers on a single flight connecting between Los Angeles and Miami
  • 18 passengers on a single flight connecting between Phoenix and Miami
  • 16 passengers on a single flight connecting between Nashville and Los Angeles
  • 42 passengers on a single flight connecting between Miami and Los Angeles
  • 10 passengers on a single flight connecting between Dallas and Phoenix
  • 10 passengers on a single flight connecting between Dallas and Las Vegas
  • 14 passengers on a single flight connecting between Orlando and Las Vegas

LA-Miami is actually a reasonable 40 minute connection in Austin, and Austin is a much easier and quicker city to connect in than Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte or Dallas. It’s only natural that customers would ‘make their own connecting hub’ in Austin. And it serves as a great reliever when bad weather hits North Texas, since DFW ‘Doesn’t Function Wet’.

Now if only American would relax its standby policy so that customers could take advantage of its numerous official – and unofficial! – hubs, and allow customers to change their routing when they try to get onto another flight without having that change confirmed in advance.

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. Basic rule in life – if you present someone in authority with a reasonable solution to your problem rather than just a complaint and a demand that they solve it, they will often take your solution as long as it doesn’t violate some major rule. (Not always, sometimes they’re just a-holes and creating a problem for you is solving some unrevealed problem for them.)

    Although I fly less than a dozen times a year, it seems there’s always some sort of hiccup at least a few times that needs solving. At the first sign of trouble, consulting your phone or computer and knowing all the possible alternative options has saved me more often than not. And sometimes, with enough warning and knowledge of the rules, you can even get something better than your original flights.

  2. I’ve always been interested in how they come up with routings. I would think that it would look for the most efficient route between point A and point B, regardless of connecting hub.

    Strangely, when flying out of DCA, AA has tried to have me connecting in Columbus and Providence as of recently for some flights (I haven’t booked them, I’ve just seen them).

  3. Cheaper fares, double the segments and perhaps a chance to get Salt Lick BBQ during your connection…win/win/win!

  4. Does American code share with Hawaiian? I just saw HA has a new Non stop HNL-AUS flight?

  5. HT, To which cities were they connecting. Can only be CLT, ORD or PHL (I think).
    And oh by the way, Rhode Island is becoming a very hot destination. Shhh!

  6. I echo Gary’s sentiment that the Admiral’s Club staff at the Austin airport are the absolute best – from the front door agents to the cleaning staff to the very personable bartender. I travel to Austin frequently and always look forward to my visit to this Admiral’s Club. Kudos to them and I hope that the growth of AA in Austin doesn’t hamper the personable staff there.

  7. Frontier is much smaller than they were in AUS 2 years ago while UA and WN are still double digit percentages smaller than they were in 2019. AA is looking to solidify its position and cut off DL’s attempts at building a focus city – but AUS growth, just as in equally fast-growing BNA – comes down to gate space.

    Maybe the AUS flights were full a week ago but the number of connecting passengers this weekend at AUS might have been helped by days of storms and ATC delays at DFW.

  8. I think eventually AUS wll become a full hub of AA.I agree AA got their best Admirals club agents at Austin and London . Very loyal and extremely warm to their loyal passengers . oil can see they are proud of working for AA

  9. Not just AUS: I was looking for LHR-AUS later this year and the cheapest option was LHR-BNA-AUS on BA/AA. Cool.

  10. @Jimmy

    I think that’s the company that turns human cremains into synthetic diamonds a person can wear as jewelry.

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