American Airlines rerouting its biggest planes to Orlando

Airlines adding capacity through the holidays

American Airlines will begin flying its largest plane - the Boeing 777 - to Orlando from Dallas starting in December.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – American Airlines will begin flying its largest plane -- the Boeing 777 -- to Orlando from Dallas starting in December.

The “triple seven” dual-aisle widebody jet can hold upwards of 350 passengers.

An American Airlines spokesperson confirmed the high-capacity flights through “winter peak.” American’s flight schedules show as many as four 777s per day flying from DFW to MCO in December.

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Delta Airlines said it is also “upgauging” aircraft from several of its hubs.

Only Delta will continue to block middle seats.

The Florida Department of Health’s website states “currently, the state of Florida has no travel restrictions in place.” Gov. Ron DeSantis rescinded them earlier this year.

Passengers arriving Monday afternoon said they chose Florida because of the lack of COVID-19 restrictions, while many states around the U.S. require strict 14-day quarantine for travelers returning home.

“We were going to go to Indiana to see another family for Thanksgiving and that’s pretty much closed down so we decided to come to Florida to see Mama and Papa and throw Disney in there,” Desiree Sheppard of New Jersey said.

The CDC continues to warn against traveling.

“More than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States over the last 7 days,” the CDC said on its website. “As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with... postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”

The Orlando International Airport said it’s expecting to reach approximately 50% of pre-COVID levels and “half of the 12 holiday travel days, which start on Friday, November 20th, is expected to see traffic above 40,000 daily departures at MCO.”

Monday evening, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Orlando International Airport was the second busiest in the nation over the past few days.

“Do I have a concern?” Demings said. “The answer will be yes. But we have to balance out living with the ability of people to relax. You have to balance that against our livelihoods. The ability of our businesses and others to safely operate and to make a profit. So we’re balancing this as the best as we can, I think, and so it may be a good thing that people feel safe traveling here, you know, it kind of speaks to the type of community that we have, you know. So I would celebrate that at the same time but certainly would, you know, can’t say I don’t have any concerns about it because I do.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer also said there must be a balance.

“We have to learn, well, until we have the vaccine being widely available to everyone, we need to continue to do what the medical professionals suggested that we do,” Dyer said. “People flying in and going to Disney or Universal, those are two safer places I can think of to go and not worry as much about whether you might contract COVID because of the social distancing and other practices that they put in place. If you went to some of our bars, I’d worry a little bit more about that.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.