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Delta and Other Airlines Fill the United-Sized Hole at JFK

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Last week, United Airlines announced plans to end service to New York (JFK) airport as of October 25, 2015, citing a lack of profitability due to limited connections. The airline’s remaining transcontinental flights to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) will now depart from United’s hub at Newark (EWR), taking the airline’s p.s. Premium Service with them.

In the wake of United’s departure, other airlines are moving to fill the void by stepping up their own transcontinental service. Foremost among them, Delta is swapping some of its slots at Newark for United’s remaining slots at JFK (pending regulatory approval), and will add another daily flight in each direction between JFK and LAX. Delta will also swap out 757 aircraft for wider 767s on three of its daily flights between JFK and SFO.

Delta will be adding flights between JFK and LAX, which should feature full-flat beds in BusinessElite.

While Delta is the only airline slated to earn extra takeoff and landing slots, others are working to soak up some of the overall capacity left behind by United. American Airlines will increase its service between JFK and SFO by adding one to two round-trip flights daily beginning on September 9.

JetBlue — which recently announced plans to launch Mint Business Class service to the Caribbean — will also get in the game by adding transcontinental flights out of JFK. Beginning on October 25, JetBlue will operate up to six daily flights between New York and San Francisco, and by February will operate up to 10 flights between New York and Los Angeles on its newest A321 Mint aircraft. Check out TPG’s review of JetBlue Mint Business Class for more details.

JetBlue Mint seats laid with handwritten notes and plush duvet sets
JetBlue will be adding transcontinental service with Mint Business Class between JFK and both LAX and SFO.

For its part, United will increase transcontinental service out of Newark, and is maintaining its presence at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. As part of the move, United will operate 15 daily flights each way between Newark and Los Angeles, and a whopping 17 flights between Newark and San Francisco. United executives stated that the p.s. fleet will be expanded by adding several 757 aircraft that are currently being used for transatlantic flights. They also said that Premium Service could be further expanded from 23 daily flights to 32 by the summer of 2016.

The upshot of all these changes is that the transcontinental premium market (which has been heating up for years) is becoming even more competitive. With several airlines jockeying for market share between JFK and LAX/SFO, and with Delta and Alaska going toe-to-toe between JFK and Seattle, the end result will hopefully be increased availability and lower prices for passengers overall.

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