Back in June the DOT made its rule final that Delta would lose its Seattle – Haneda route since the airline was unwilling to operate it daily. American received the authority to fly Los Angeles – Tokyo Haneda.. which puts them into the Haneda market, against a ton of competition out of LA.
There’s already daily Los Angeles – Tokyo Haneda service from both Star Alliance member ANA and Skyteam member Delta.
American used to have one of the Haneda slots, flying from New York JFK, but they gave that up to stop the bleeding. US carriers get the worst flight times, and lose money. But American has a joint venture partner in Japan Airlines and thinks they can at least control the losses enough to make it worthwhile:
- To have a foothold in the airport when competition there opens up, or better slot times become available.
- To prevent Delta from having the slots
Delta was just sitting on the slots offering the legally required minimum empty flights from Seattle in hopes the slots wouldn’t be forfeit. The DOT took the slots away anyway.
Then Delta complained to the DOT that American hadn’t actually started service with the new slots. They argued American should have initiated service within 60 days. and American said that getting their own slots at Tokyo Haneda isn’t something you do overnight (although they emphasized ‘commercially viable’ slots, which isn’t necessarily the same thing) and they were working on it.
Now American has announced the start of service, and that they will be selling tickets this Sunday. While the DOT hasn’t yet ruled on Delta’s request for the slots back, that American has actually published a schedule and will be selling tickets helps them and makes it far less likely that the DOT will intervene again.
American will operate the service daily starting February 11 with a Boeing 787-8. Here’s the schedule:
- Los Angeles – Tokyo Haneda, 6:00pm – 11:00pm +1, Flight AA27
Tokyo Haneda – Los Angeles, 1:30am – 6:20pm -1, Flight AA26
I’m not at all a fan of 9-across economy seating on a Boeing 787 (although it’s similar to 10-across on a 777, which I do not love either).
The Los Angeles – Tokyo flight actually isn’t badly timed for a workday in Los Angeles, although it will preclude connections beyond Tokyo on joint venture partner JAL. The return flight at 1:30 in the morning, on the other hand, is awful. It’s even a little more awful than Delta’s and ANA’s competing flights in my view.
On the other hand, with the timing of Haneda – Los Angeles departures at least we get to confuse reservations agents with time travel since the flight arrives in Los Angeles the day before it leaves.
For those booking award travel bear in mind that connecting flights in Japan booked as part of a single award ticket must be booked in economy class, even flying a premium cabin award across the Pacific.
- Business class awards can be booked on intra-Japan flights on a standalone basis, but not as part of a connecting itinerary.
- Japan Airlines sells premium cabin upgrades at the airport, and there’s frequently space. Pricing is often quite reasonable (I’ve seen economy to business upgrades reported for as little as ~ US$10).
Economy awards between the US and “Asia 1” which includes Japan cost:
- 25,000 miles each way in economy during ‘off peak’ October through April. That’s a huge window. Otherwise they’re 32,500 miles each way May through September.
- 50,000 miles each way in business class.
- 62,500 miles each way in first class. (American’s Los Angeles – Tokyo Haneda flight will not offer a first class cabin.
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on American or Japan Airlines. Many Japanese domestic flights do not even entail additional taxes.