Why American Airlines Flights Are Departing Santiago Over 5 Hours Early

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.

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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  1. @gary
    My santiago to lax latam flight Saturday night was the last one to depart before the airport shut down..I was lucky
    Regardind AA, how do they deal with customs and immigration in dallas if they land at 1 am or so?

  2. I guess this means connecting passengers will be sleeping in the airport or a hotel on their own dime unlike Delta and United passengers.

  3. Aeromexico seems to be doing the same thing both to and from the Santiago. Was scheduled to arrive on AM 10 tomorrow at 810 PM but now arriving around 6 according to Flight Aware.

  4. If your schedule isn’t tight, the new times are actually better. It’s a daytime flight instead of a red eye.

  5. @Doug – the DFW flight landed before midnight, customs was open, in any case American should be coordinating with customs. [Miami customs is open 24 hours]

  6. The early times are better if DFW or MIA is your final destination. If you have to connect, you’re stuck sleeping in the terminal and trying to get on the first morning flight to your final destination.

    In the 1990s, American had daytime flights between MIA and SCL. The northbound flights arrived in MIA around 5pm, early enough to catch a connecting flight to DCA. I loved those flights.

  7. This makes total sense with AA having local staff.

    I’m in Santiago right now and the night time curfews are starting from as early as 7pm (last night’s was 8pm). So the concern will be to get the local staff home while they can, before the curfew hits. There’s next to no chance of getting any nearby hotels as they’re all fully booked.

  8. @gary
    Tks gary
    So if you land before midnight at dfw I guess then you need to spend the night there if you had connection to any other west or mid west city?

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