Why I Am Sad About the End of American Airlines Service Between New York and San Juan

E ffective as of Tuesday, August 22, 2017, nonstop flights operated by American Airlines between New York and San Juan in Puerto Rico will end greater than 46 years after it first began in March of 1971 after the acquisition of Trans Caribbean Airlines by American Airlines.

Why I Am Sad About the End of American Airlines Service Between New York and San Juan

“We have made the difficult decision to cancel our service between JFK and San Juan,” LaKesha Beown — a spokeswoman for American Airlines — said in a statement to Ben Mutzabaugh in this article for USA TODAY. “We continually evaluate our network, looking at supply and demand for each route we serve. We want to ensure our fleet and crews are serving routes that are profitable, better positioning us for long term success against global competition.”

Although American Airlines will continue to operate 21 daily nonstop flights between San Juan and five of its hub airports — specifically, Charlotte, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and Philadelphia; and down almost 80 percent from the approximately 100 flights per day which it used to operate — the discontinuation of the service between San Juan and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York is a reminder of San Juan no longer being the home of a hub airport for American Airlines as of 2013, which resulted in significant cutbacks in service to the city in Puerto Rico.


The reason why I am sad about the end of this service is rather simple: my very first time as a passenger on an airplane was on a flight operated by American Airlines from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to San Juan when I was twelve years old.

I remember how excited I was: the smell of jet fuel; the hustle and bustle of hundreds of passengers going from one place to another; the shiny metal airplane waiting outside of the gate area; the snacks and drinks served by the flight attendant as I sat by the window aboard the airplane; listening to the music of the in-flight entertainment system. Combined with exploring a place to which I had never been before, the combined result was an experience which left an indelible impression on me and fueled my passion for travel.

The sentimentality related to the demise of this route might seem silly; but for me, it is the end of what contributed to an iconic moment which changed my life.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “Why I Am Sad About the End of American Airlines Service Between New York and San Juan”

  1. DavidB says:

    Alas, Puerto Rico is going through a serious downturn in its economy and hardly a place one would want to spend a vacation. (It has been horribly exploited of late by big pharma and other companies who used favourable tax laws to establish plants, then shutting them down when the abatement came to an end, devastating a diversification of the economy.). Hotel prices are still high and if staying in San Juan, the cost of a cab to any major hotel much higher than it should be. (Not to mention the decrepid state of several of the cabs I’ve had to use at the airport…one was riding an empty gas tank and had to refuel (a $2 expenditure as the driver rode the fuel pump meter too) before getting me to the Sheraton in the old city! I suspect AA’s traffic ex-JFK was primarily ex-pats returning to visit family back on the island and paying rock bottom fares too. And then there’s Jet Blue’s apparent domination of mainland flights and use of the new terminal building while the legacies occupy the ancient old one? As your president would say: Sad!

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