American Airlines is competing with United to shuttle passengers between Texas and Yucatán.
AA’s once-weekly Dallas-Fort Worth flights to Mérida begin Saturday, June 5. Flights depart 10:55 a.m., arriving in Mexico at 1:37 p.m. The return flight was not disclosed, and the route and pricing did not yet appear on the airline’s calendar Tuesday morning.
Rival United Airlines still has Merida-Houston flights on its schedule, although cancellations have been frequent since the pandemic. For now, it’s charging US$590 round trip for a similar June flight.
Passengers will fly on an Embraer 175, which is designed for regional, short or mid-range flights. The jet seats 75.
An air-travel critic praised the Embraer 175 for its quiet engines and high ratio of first-class seats — around 16%, so “upgrade chances don’t get much better,” according to onemealatatime.com. There are also no middle seats, so everyone has a window or an aisle. Overhead bins are large enough to fit full-size carry-ons.
“It’s always a joy to fly Embraer jets. They’re comfortable, regardless of whether you’re in economy or first class, and I don’t even mind them for long stretches. My one point of frustration is that American doesn’t have power outlets on these planes, but then again, they don’t on most of their A321s either,” said travel critic “Ben.”
American already flies Mérida passengers daily to Miami, which is one of its hubs. Looking optimistically toward 2021 travel, AA is building its Miami-Caribbean/Latin American offer.
For example, Port-au-Prince will increase to five daily flights beginning in April; and Santiago and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic will increase to operate four and seven daily flights, respectively.
Other Latin American destinations building back from lockdown include Bogota, Medellin and Cali, Colombia; Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; and Santiago, Chile.
American Airlines is also adding weekly Los Angeles-Cancun flights on June 5. The new flights to Yucatán will end Aug. 14.
The flights from DFW are part of a larger list of new routes announced Monday that significantly boosts flights from American’s Latin American and Caribbean hub in Miami, including an entirely new South American destination in Paramaribo, Suriname.
“Latin America and the Caribbean haven’t declined as much as other destinations have throughout the course of the crisis,” said Brian Znotins, American’s vice president of network planning. “And this is our natural strength — our presence in Latin America.”
Airlines have leaned more heavily on Mexico and Caribbean routes, along with warm weather destinations along the Gulf Coast of the United States, as they struggle to recover from pandemic-related declines.
Latin America has the added advantage of being popular among first- and second-generation immigrants to the United States wanting to return to their native countries to visit family and friends.
In the Caribbean, island governments are eager to bring back tourists and travelers and are aggressive in creating testing protocols and rules to allow airline passengers. Some resorts, including many on the Riviera Maya, will foot the bill for customers who are forced to remain quarantined because of COVID-19 protocols.
Much of the added emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean boosts American’s hub in Miami, where it plans to increase flights by 16% compared to last year. But it also trickles down to DFW, a better gateway for American’s customers in the western United States, Great Plains and Mountain West regions.
American is also adding a handful of domestic routes in the U.S. to Miami from places including Little Rock, Ark., and Portland, Maine, to give better connections to the South and Central America regions.
With information from the Dallas Morning News.