In domestic route developments, Alaska can’t seem to get enough transcontinental routes; Delta extends a new seating option to smaller regional jets; Southwest takes on another intra-California market; American drops a key Caribbean route but adds a Michigan link; and Frontier expands to Puerto Rico.
Alaska Airlines is getting into several new transcontinental markets thanks to its acquisition of Virgin America, and it has been adding some of its own, like the San Jose-Newark, Portland-Orlando and San Diego-Baltimore/Washington flights it started last month. But that’s not enough for Alaska: It just announced plans to add new daily transcon flights from Portland to New York JFK and from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. And it’s not quite a transcon, but Alaska also announced plans to start flying once a day from Portland to Detroit.
The Portland-Detroit service starts August 30, followed by one daily LAX-Philadelphia flight September 1 and one daily Portland-JFK roundtrip beginning November 6. All the eastbound flights on the new routes will be red-eyes. The two Portland routes will use 737s, while the LAX-Philadelphia route will use an Airbus from the A320 family (i.e., a Virgin America plane). LAX-Philadelphia was previously served by Virgin America from 2012 to 2014.
Major carriers have been transitioning their fleets away from smaller regional jets to the larger ones preferred by passengers. Delta still has some 50-seat CRJ-200s operated by Endeavor/SkyWest, and it just announced it has started selling its extra-legroom Comfort+ seating on those planes, effective for travel beginning May 1. With this enhancement, Delta said it “will now offer Delta Comfort+ on nearly all single-cabin delta Connection aircraft, in addition to its two-cabin aircraft.”
Delta’s announcement didn’t say how many Comfort+ seats the CRJ-200s would have, or how much extra pitch they would offer, or what would happen to seat pitch for the regular economy seats on those aircraft.
Southwest Airlines, which started flying out of southern California’s Long Beach Airport last year with several flights a day to Oakland, has been eager to expand at Long Beach if only it could get more slots there. Well, it recently picked up a couple of slots given up by American, and said it will use them to begin twice-daily flights from Long Beach to Sacramento starting August 1.
American Airlines has been flying from New York JFK to San Juan, Puerto Rico for more than 45 years. But it has decided to give up that market on August 22, when it will eliminate its two daily flights on the route. AA still will fly to San Juan from several other hubs. Elsewhere, American Eagle has started up new service from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Washington D.C.’s Reagan National Airport, operating 12 flights a week.
While American is cutting capacity to San Juan, Frontier Airlines is adding it. Frontier is due to begin daily flights from Philadelphia and Orlando to San Juan on June 11, operating one daily A321 roundtrip on each route.