Just as predicted…
American Airlines (AA) has applied to commence services from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Beijing Capital Airport (PEK). It’s a long overdue move that was equally long expected as AA ramps up their LAX operations and simultaneously boost their presence in Asia which is quite poor in comparison to their ‘Big 3’ counterparts in United and Delta.
What’s interesting is that not only have they filed the application for the new route to China with the Department of Transport (DoT), they have filed it to be competitive to Delta’s own application, meaning that possibly only one of the airlines in question will receive the route authority depending on the merit of the application and the number of frequencies the Chinese government will allow them to operate. Basically, the airline is trying to usurp their rivals to the potentially lucrative market.
Per the DoT filing from American, this is their proposed schedule for the new service that will link the two important cities:
Effective Dec 16th, 2016
AA181 LAX–PEK Dep: 11:15 – Arr: 16:05+1
AA180 PEK–LAX Dep: 18:05 – Arr: 14:15
It follows the general trend of West Coast – East Asia operations of most airlines and largely mirrors Star Alliance carrier Air China’s flight on the route. Given United’s massive Asian operations just up the road in San Francisco and Delta’s sizeable Asia operations in Seattle, this is an important addition for oneworld members based on the West Coast. Yes, fellow member Cathay Pacific (CX) has a huge presence in the market, you’d still need to connect through Hong Kong. And while CX has a
vastly superior product to that of AA, for business travelers direct access to a market is always key so it’s nice to see this option popping up.
Flights will be operated on newly refurbished Boeing 777-200 aircraft that will feature the new Business Class direct aisle access flat bed product and the new Economy product with the new entertainment system that is vastly superior to the current 777-200 fleet that does not have Audio/Video on demand and operates on a looping system. The reverse herringbone configuration in Business is one of the best out there with both privacy and convenience for passengers. The one downside for Coach passengers is that rather than the current 3-3-3 seating arrangement AA have decided to cram in one more seat to make it 10 seats abreast in comparison to the previous 9 – so you do lose some space.
AA continues to grow their LA market share which is great to see them do. For far too long the airline has neglected the city, and even more so the Asia region with no flights venturing south of Tokyo. Now we see them adding Hong Kong from Dallas and now this Beijing application – great to see the airline finally venturing out east. If you’re a oneworld frequent flier, this is a great add as well.
May the Eagle fly long and prosperously out there.