American Airlines Cuts Holiday Flight Schedule in Half for 2020

More tests, fewer flights: Here's how American Airlines is planning for holiday travel this year.

As American Airlines expands its pre-flight COVID-19 testing program, the Dallas-Fort Worth-based airline is cutting back its holiday flight schedule.

American Airlines has cut its December flight schedule by almost 50%, meaning it will fly 100,000 fewer flights over the holidays, the Dallas Morning News reports.

American is cutting back service at both John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York City, which has some of the strictest COVID-19 travel restrictions in the U.S. American also made significant cutbacks to service at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Still, American expects to fly 105,619 flights in December, 10,000 more than it flew in November, the Morning News said.

Throughout the pandemic, airlines including American have been cutting service to better align with government shutdowns, the near-elimination of business travel, and a significant slowdown in leisure travel.

Fewer than 600,000 people passed through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints on Tuesday, the agency reported. That’s less than 30% of the volume of passengers who crossed TSA checkpoints on the same day a year earlier.

While American is planning for an overall decline in holiday travel this year, it is adding a few new routes and betting pandemic travelers will look to escape winter temperatures.

This month, American will begin flying from Chicago to St. Lucia. Next month, it’ll begin flights to Belize from Dallas-Fort Worth and Charlotte and to Grenada from Charlotte. It also will add flights to St. Lucia from Charlotte and Philadelphia.

American is offering pre-flight testing to passengers traveling on these routes and between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. Passengers can take COVID-19 PCR tests at home and expect results within 48 hours, the airline said.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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