Transatlantic Troubles: A321XLR’s Range Cut Disrupts Airline Route Maps [Roundup]

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Airbus A321XLR to have less range than previously expected – and low cost carriers, with more seats, do worse than legacy airlines like BA.

    If true, this is a huge whack to airline plans for the aircraft. It’ll certainly undercut how American plans to use the new aircraft. Routes like Philadelphia to Berlin, Zurich and Rome would be out. Charlotte and Chicago O’Hare transatlantics would generally be out.

    IAG believes that Dublin (DUB) – St. Louis (STL) is right on the range line for the A321 XLR in their configuration. That puts the range at 3925 miles which is considerably shorter than we previously thought. The idea of 4700 was definitely something being talked about previously.

  • After being pushed out of Austin, JSX moves operations to Austin Executive Airport in… Pflugerville, starting December 14. This is in the Northeast, I suppose not inconvenient to some, but the main airport is consistently no more than a 25 minute drive for me in traffic while this drive will have greater variance.

    So far it’s just their subsidized Taos flight on the schedule. We’ll see what they’re able to do with an EDC airport presence.

  • Airlines are experiencing mysterious GPS attacks over the Middle East (HT: Paul H)

  • UK-based British Airways Executive Club members can now earn status tier points from co-brand card spend. This U.S. idea is spreading, even where interchange is less significant than in the U.S.

  • Hyatt-Lindblad Expeditions partnership ends December 31. (IMHO no great loss, I suspect not many of you were using this, please share if otherwise.)

    Existing paid reservations booked prior to December 31, 2023 on Hyatt channels (i.e.,, via a Hyatt Global Reservation Center will remain eligible to earn World of Hyatt points and tier-qualifying nights in accordance with the collaboration terms. Reservations booked with World of Hyatt points prior to December 31, 2023, for Lindblad Expeditions to be completed by December 31, 2024, will also be honored.

  • In fairness, hull writeoffs often sit for years in the U.S. too.

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, 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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  1. Boeing has an incredible opportunity to update and redesign a new 757. It still perplexes me how they are missing this year after year. Now the door is opening again, will they finally walk through?

  2. FWIW, I booked a trip with Lindblad via Hyatt for a cruise in Alaska in May/June 2022 using my Chase Hyatt card. In return, I received 59,180 Hyatt points upon completing the cruise and an additional 6,000 or so for the downpayment I made on the cruise months before. I used the bulk of these points for a several night stay at the Park Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Paying for the cruise also put me over $15,000 spend for the year on my Chase Hyatt card, giving me a category 1-4 free night award, which I used. I was going to take the Lindblad cruise regardless of the opportunity to earn Hyatt points/awards, so the Hyatt extras seemed pretty good to me.

    I made a downpayment for another Lindblad Alaska cruise via Hyatt several months ago, which earned me about 5,600 Hyatt points. The Chase Hyatt card also gave me a $200 credit for booking the cruise. I haven’t paid off the rest of the cruise, which is set for June 2024. We’ll see how it goes from here on out. I realize that one may receive perks or credits by booking cruises through travel agents. Maybe those would be more lucrative than booking via Hyatt; I don’t know.

  3. Based on what I’ve seen, the reduced range XLR will still have about the same capabilities as the 757-200. And that was what airlines generally wanted.

  4. Did the A321XLR come with wrong mileage numbers or was the interpretation of those numbers wrong by the buyers?

    The GPS spoofing is a more serious problem. Hopefully GPS will be able to be hardened to stop the attacks.

  5. The A321XLR still can’t overcome that it is a small airplane for transoceanic use but will have labor costs comparable to widebodies. It works for low cost carriers and even carriers from other countries but having to pay 3 pilots at AA and UA levels for 8+ hour flights will result in higher seat mile costs than widebodies.
    AA thinks the A321XLR will allow it to fly routes which DL and UA can fly with widebodies from other hubs while UA thinks it will be able to profitably serve routes based on a fare premium that they likely will not get. The Atlantic is too competitive for a carrier to be able to sustain higher unit costs on routes which other carriers serve via widebodies either nonstop or with connections via partner hubs.

    The good news for US carriers with the XLR is that it can be reconfigured to fly domestic routes -even if you can’t ever get the extra fuel tank weight off the plane – and the planes will economically work on routes up to 8 hours.

  6. I’m curious if there will be lawsuits brought against Airbus by airlines that ordered the aircraft under false pretenses.

  7. Gary unfortunately shows his ignorance here. 4700nm range never translates into 4700nm usable range. First is it 4700 going Westbound or Eastbound? Most likely, it can do DFW-DUB. But what’s the point is it cannot do DUB-DFW. Second, what are the alternate airports used? is ETOPS a consideration? Finally, great circle is very different from actual flown. NAT tracks across the Atlantic guarantee that the two will be off.

    How can you blog about aviation while being ignorant about these considerations?

  8. Mantis,
    Airplane manufacturers put performance guarantees in sales contracts if the airlines push for them; delivering a plane that is not able to perform triggers those performance clauses which usually end up as discounts on future orders although cash can be involved if there is significant economic damage. Same is true for the engine makers which is why RTX is going to spend so much to compensate airlines with GTF engine problems because many of the planes will be out of service for extended periods of time.

    And though the 757 was used for transatlantic flights and others over 8 hours, it did not do so reliably in inclement weather when higher fuel loads were required. and longhaul (over 8 hour) 757 ops were not just a small fraction of the total 757 fleet but also of transatlantic ops compared to widebodies.

    The A320 family has far better acceptance than the 757 which was mostly used by US airlines but the economics of longhaul narrowbody ops are still dependent on labor costs; even fuel costs per seat for the A321NEO are not lower than new generation widebodies such as the 787-9 or 10 or the A330-900, both of which also have much higher labor efficiency than the A321XLR.

  9. @Minos – you’re reading something in here that wasn’t written. There’s a current belief from IAG about max usable range that forecloses specific flights American Airlines has had an intention to use the aircraft for.

  10. airmilescalculator has DAL-DUB at 3885nm and the A321XLR is rated up to 4700nm. That seems to work in both directions but the A321XLR has much less range according to the report.

  11. The biggest problem AA is at the start of the Pandemic they retired their fleets of 330’s 757’s and 767’s. American put themselves in this mess by the early retirements of these fleets. Also the narrow bodies cost more to operate per passenger seat. . American needs to take the 3 fleets out of long term storage and get flight crews their retrained on these aircraft. Narrow bodies are uncomfortable for Transatlantic flight, let alone any flight over 6 hours.

  12. I took my first Lindblad cruise this year and it was fantastic. I’d taken Hurtigruten before and thought I’d try Lindblad due to its partnership with Hyatt (plus I’d read good things). If you’re gonna spend that much money on a cruise, which is easy on several luxury lines, it’s nice to earn points on one. Otherwise, less reason to stay with Lindblad.

  13. How come none of you have noticed that this Enilria constantly confuses NAUTICAL MILES with STATUTE MILES.

    Airbus advertised the -XLR as capable of 4700 *nautical* miles. The 3900 range he’s giving you is statute.

    Converted, it’d be 3400 nautical miles, meaning the -XLR would be missing its target by 1300nm, which I don’t believe for a second…. considering that the aircraft could probably hit that even without most of the fuel in the RCT, based on its wing/flap changes and other improvements.

    So might want to take this with a grain o’ salt, until something more official comes out.

  14. Idk where the writer got this info but the latest is that the range will be reduced by 200nm, putting it at approximately 4,500nm range. The B757-200 was at 3,900nm, and the -300 at ~ 3,300nm.

    The xlr will fly farther than the 75, albeit with less payload, making this aircraft more dependent on premium ticket sales. AA will fly this aircraft to Europe, and possibly Asia out of Alaska hubs.

  15. While I don’t know that this is the cause, Airbus had to rework the additional XLR fuel tanks just behind the landing gear because of previous issues in other planes with landing gear puncturing what’s above it on a very hard landing. Boeing was the first to bring attention to this issue to Airbus’s regulator, EASA. The FAA also placed some requirements on these tanks.The changes were certain to add weight to the airplane, and possibly some loss in fuel capacity.

  16. Maybe Airbus can release an A321XXLrs 🙂

    Seriously I think it’s foolish to plan TATL routes with small planes unless you are only going East Coast to UK/Ireland. Heck BA did it for years on their A318 but notice they didn’t fly it to ORD, etc.

  17. I don’t see this 200 nm reduction as threatening “AA’s plans,” for the XLR, at least the examples you quoted. The XLR originally had 4,700nm range, now will be more like 4,500nm. Take away another 300nm or so for winter flying westbound from Europe, that leaves 4,200nm. PHL-Berlin is only 3,540nm! PHL-ZRH is 3,497nm. PHL-Rome is 3,798. It seems that the real limiting factor on these flights is crew. With no crew bunk, and only about 155 seats vs 225-275 on a smaller widebody, having to pull revenue seat(s) for crew rest, likely business class to boot, would make flights over 8 hours expensive to operate. With the XLR flying 450nm/hour, that means 10 hour flights are technically possible. We might see most XLR’s flying on routes 3,600nm or less so they can avoid having to operate with more crew on them. That’s also probably why IAG showed STL-DUB (3,407nm) as just within the XLR’s range, too. It’s might be an issue of crew costs versus technical range. But even with a 3,600nm limitation, that still leaves PHL to Brussels, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Milan, Venice, anywhere in Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, France, and the UK. Also Chicago to AMS, BRU, CDG, the UK, etc. STL is mostly limited to the UK and Ireland. Perhaps those 10 hour, 4,500nm flights would work for those flights where loads and fares are good. Not sure if the 10-hour rule requiring an extra pilot means just one to rotate out the captain and FO, or if both pilots need a backup on flights between 8 and 10 hours.

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