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The common theme amongst US carriers this year has been the mad rush to recapture business travelers now that the economy is rebounding and road warriors are back on the road. Each major carrier has been investing in new premium products and even premium coach seats for the road warrior whose upgrade doesn’t clear, but wants to be treated better than the non-loyal economy class flyer.
Investments haven’t only been focused on the in-flight product. Delta has been investing a lot to beef up their New York presence, with a multi-million dollar investment in a renovated JFK Terminal 4 (complete with a swanky new SkyClub), but their growth strategy is not limited to the east coast. Today they announced that they will be launching hourly Los Angeles and San Francisco service beginning on Sept. 3, 2013. The new service features 14 daily flights in each direction which leave at the top of the hour. The route will be operated by Delta Connection partner, Compass Airlines using E-175 aircraft with a 76 passenger capacity configured with 12 seats in the First Class cabin, 12 Economy Comfort seats and 52 Economy seats.
I’ve flown Delta and US Airways shuttle service between Boston/NY/DC/Chicago many times and the experience is usually much less chaotic than normal flights. The shuttle flights are generally all out of the same gate areas and switching between flights is generally pretty easy. For morning flights, Delta offers bagels/newspapers and alcoholic drinks are free. The whole experience is meant to allow business travelers a quicker and more seamless experience between business hubs.
Even if you don’t fly Delta, this new increased competition is sure to keep fares competitive, at least in the short term. A quick glance at fares shows that one-eways between the city pairs are $69-$79 on most days in September and October and you can fly Delta, Virgin America, United or American.
Details from the Delta press release:
Customers flying the Delta Shuttle between Los Angeles and San Francisco will enjoy:
- Check-in as close as 30 minutes prior to departure
- Dedicated check-in counters exclusively for Shuttle customers
- Gates located near security
- Complimentary newspapers for all customers including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times and more
- Assigned seating
- Two classes of service with complimentary upgrades for SkyMiles Medallion members when available.
- Complimentary onboard snacks provided by LYFE Kitchen, a California-based lifestyle food brand, offering great-tasting, good-for-you food
- Complimentary beverages in-flight including Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. craft beer, Starbucks coffee and wine from Wente Vineyards in all classes of service
- Access to in-flight Wi-Fi on all Shuttle flights
Delta SkyMiles members will earn a minimum of 500 miles for all Shuttle flights.
Delta has partnered with the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports to invest $229 million to overhaul Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport. The construction project has already begun and will be complete in 2015. Highlights of the project include doubling the size of the ticketing lobby and federal security screening checkpoints; an exclusive Sky Priority experience with a separate lobby and checkpoint; a renovation of the Delta Sky Club; new baggage carousels; upgraded facilities to improve international baggage recheck; and new finishes providing a cleaner, brighter customer experience. All Delta and Delta Connection flights serving Los Angeles offer customers the option of First Class, Economy Comfort or Economy seating, along with in-flight Wi-Fi. Delta operates the largest Wi-Fi-equipped fleet in the world, including all Delta Connection two-class regional jets.”