The Las Vegas-Tokyo nonstops, which start Jan. 4 and run through Jan. 14, coincide with the 2019 CES consumer electronics show – one of Las Vegas’ top corporate draws. The 2019 event is expected to bring more than 180,000 visitors to Las Vegas, according to projections from the city’s McCarran International Airport.
American plans to market the new Tokyo-Las Vegas option in conjunction with its frequent-flier and joint-venture partner Japan Airlines (JAL).
“Thousands of travelers from Japan and other parts of Asia make their way to Las Vegas every year for CES,” Shane Hodges, American’s managing director of Asia Pacific Sales, says in a statement. “The network and onboard experience offered by American and Japan Airlines as part of our Pacific Joint Business is world-class, and we are thrilled to make getting to the world’s largest technology event faster and easier than ever before.”
American will operate one daily flight between Tokyo Narita and Las Vegas during the period with 226-seat Boeing 787-8 “Dreamliners” that include 28 lie-flat business-class seats.
PHOTO ARCHIVES: American Airlines shows off its Boeing 787 Dreamliner (story continues below)
However, American will modify its existing Chicago O’Hare (ORD)-Tokyo Narita (NRT) route to facilitate the Las Vegas option. During the nearly two-week window around the CES show, American’s flights on that route will instead operate through Las Vegas (LAS). The westbound flight will depart Chicago with a stop in Las Vegas before continuing on to Tokyo. The return will operate nonstop from Narita to Las Vegas before flying on to O’Hare.
“While we are primarily offering this flight for LAS-NRT-LAS, we are also allowing customers to use this route to continue on to ORD on the same aircraft,” American spokeswoman Nichelle Tait says to USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky blog.
Japan Airlines’ nonstop Tokyo Narita-Chicago O’Hare will continue to operate as normal during the period, preserving a nonstop option for American frequent-fliers via its Japanese partner.
American’s normal Tokyo Narita-Chicago O’Hare schedules will resume Jan. 15.
The move is an interesting one for American. The nonstop Las Vegas option gives the airline a chance to try an unusual route at a time when demand will be high because of CES.
Conversely, the 11-day break of the carrier’s Chicago-Tokyo option in early January comes during what is typically one of the softest periods of the year for most U.S. airlines. Theoretically, that would give American a low-risk window to try the Las Vegas route while also letting it briefly pare capacity during what typically is period of lower-than-normal bookings.