Los Angeles is a hyper-competitive market. There’s no more high revenue market than New York – Los Angeles, with New York – San Francisco following it.
That’s why the routes are so competitive, not just with so many airlines offering service but also with a better product than what’s offered domestically on other routes.
American Airlines has a dedicated fleet — the Airbus A321T — for the two routes. It’s a 3-cabin aircraft with economy (including Main Cabin Extra extra legroom seating), fully flat business class, and 1-1 seating first class. It’s the most luxurious, high-end narrow body aircraft and the best plane flying domestically in the U.S. (and I include the Qantas Boeing 747 that flies Los Angeles – New York JFK in that assessment).
First class on the A321T is the same seat as American’s best international business class product, on the Boeing 777-300ER.
Here’s business class:
United’s premium cabin is almost identical to American’s business class on the route. But American has been the only airline offering 3-cabin service on these two New York – West Coast routes.
According to AirlineRoute.net, United is introducing 3-cabin Boeing 777 service between Newark and both Los Angeles and San Francisco and between Washington Dulles and those two cities.
UNITED in this weekend’s schedule update has opened reservation for planned Boeing 777 service on Newark – Los Angeles and Newark – San Francisco route, each served once a day. Currently, the 777 service is scheduled to operate from 06APR16 to 04MAY16. Schedules on/after 05MAY16 will be updated in the coming weeks.
…The Boeing 777-200ER is configured in 3-class, F8J40Y221 (Including 113 seats in Economy Plus). Additionally the 777 will also operate Washington Dulles – Los Angeles UA719/360 and Washington Dulles – San Francisco UA1476/644 service from 06APR16 to 04MAY16.
This adds a lot of capacity to the market. It’s not like my younger days of travel, of course, when I could choose between an afternoon 777 or a 747 for Washington Dulles – West Coast flying. I considered those upgrades gimmes even when I was just a basic Premier member. And of course it’s a better product, too.
United is only offering this one flight per day in each direction, rather than throughout the schedule, so American remains the only one with 3-cabin service on all of its flights. But it’s no longer the only airline with true 3-cabin service on the route. Frequency matters, and I doubt United will win premium corporate business with a single flight.
Here’s the New York schedules:
- Newark – Los Angeles
UA1600 EWR1659 – 1950LAX 777 D
UA247 LAX0700 – 1513EWR 777 D
Newark – San Francisco
UA1885 EWR1645 – 1949SFO 777 D
UA577 SFO0730 – 1550EWR 777 D
These flights aren’t feeding United’s West Coast Asia route network, since other than Australia flying the arrive in San Francisco and Los Angeles too late (and even for those flights depart the West Coast too early). San Francisco is moving to more and more 2-cabin service across the Pacific in any case. And there’s not much 3-cabin transatlantic traffic via Newark that these could provide West Coast connections for. So it’s not obvious the strategy here.
Last summer United ran ‘p.s. service’ between Boston and Los Angeles. They had the spare aircraft to do it. And it didn’t stick. So this may well not continue.