Airlines fight tooth and nail to operate on time. When they’re lucky they push back a few minutes early. It isn’t often you see flights leaving 5 to 7 hours before they’re scheduled to depart. However a unique situation in Santiago, Chile is causing American Airlines to leave that much earlier than planned.
American flies from Santiago, Chile to both Miami and Dallas Fort-Worth. In the face of mass protests, and a government-imposed curfew of 8 p.m., they decided to continue to operate their flights but to have the planes depart Santiago several hours earlier than scheduled. A spokesperson tells me they expect the same plan will be in place for the next couple of days.
American Airlines has a crew base in Santiago with reserves. That may make it easier to schedule earlier departures.
The airline has been contacting customers on affected flights. Of course, anyone booking direct with American Airlines will have provided contact information and this close in there should be advance passenger information provided as well. However there will certainly be some customers relying on their booking agency to notify them of the change.
From American’s point of view, it’s depart early or cancel the flights. They need to be able to get their crew to the airport safely within the curfew time. It’s also American employees performing above-wing services in Santiago and they need those employees to be able to get out of the airport and back home prior to curfew as well.
From a brief look at flights it appears that United and Delta are keeping to their normal schedules. I don’t think they have their own employees at Santiago, but I’ve reached out to both airlines to see why the curfew isn’t seeming to effect their operations.