American Airlines will begin “banking” its flights at its Miami International Airport hub on August 19, the carrier told employees in a Thursday communique.
American said in December that this change would be coming, a story covered well by the Dallas Morning News. American is now saying the changes will be visible to customers with Miami flights starting this weekend. Other hubs will eventually switch, too.
First for our novice readers. What is banking? Banking means that most flights arrive and depart at the same time. For example, American might schedule many flights to arrive in Miami at around 1 p.m. Then at 2:30 p.m., American would schedule all those flights to leave, also at nearly the same time. This is efficient for the airline. It also can be helpful for customers, because the entire schedule is built on making sure passengers can make connecting flights with short layovers. (It also means airports with banked hubs can be very crowded during the banks.)
Almost every airline uses banked hubs. But for several years, American has been using what it calls “rolling hubs.” Essentially this means American schedules flights on a seemingly random basis, all day. Customers still make a lot of connections, but the entire system is not built to facilitate short layovers.
Here’s the new plan at Miami, American wrote to employees.
“In the new banked structure, flights are generally grouped to either arrive or depart from geographical locations at certain times of the day. For example, in MIA flights from the south will arrive into the hub within a certain period of time, allowing customers to connect to flights headed north shortly thereafter.”
American thinks customers win here. What do you think?
“For customers, banking increases the number of connecting options available from a given flight. More connections, more opportunities,” American told employees. “For the company, it gives us the ability to make changes to the fleet so that we’re putting the right size aircraft on the right route, better matching customer demand. And more demand typically translates into higher load factors and improved financial results. It’s a win-win for all.”
American included a chart of flights throughout the day in Miami under the current system: