Skip to content

Airlines get a break on slot rules at New York, Washington airports

October 6 2020
4 min read
Airlines get a break on slot rules at New York, Washington airports
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Airlines can hold onto their slots at busy airports in New York and Washington until March, a bit of good news from U.S. officials amid a worsening outlook for their first winter during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Aviation Administration has waived slot usage rules at the congested New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) and New York LaGuardia (LGA) airports as well as at Washington Reagan National (DCA). The waiver now extends until March 27, 2021, the FAA said in a notice posted on Oct. 5. One slot is needed for every takeoff or landing — two for a round-trip flight — at these airports.

In addition, rules governing the coordination of flights at busy Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) airports were partially extended through March.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Previous waivers to both sets of rules were set to expire Oct. 24.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG's free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

The move by the FAA is good news for airlines. Without the waiver, any airline with a slot at JFK, LaGuardia or Washington National faced the prospect of having to fly 80% of its schedule or risk losing those valuable rights. That could have meant hundreds of nearly-empty "ghost flights" operating this winter — costing airlines precious money and pumping unneeded carbon into the atmosphere.

For example, American Airlines is scheduled to resume its pre-pandemic schedule of up to 258 daily departures from its Washington National hub on Dec. 1 — a dramatic jump from just 63 departures the day before — according to Cirium schedules. The airline can now decide what level of air service is warranted based on the number of travelers taking to the skies rather than a need to comply with slot rules.

Flyers, however, are not expected to be back in significant numbers by then. Recent data from travel analytics firm OAG shows November bookings at American, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines at at most a quarter of the level seen at the the beginning of October 2019.

Related: Thanksgiving a bust? Airlines slash November schedules as demand sputters

Data from trade group Airlines for America (A4A) shows U.S. domestic flyer numbers down 65% during the week ending Sept. 27 compared to last year.

Not every airline supported the FAA's waiver extension. Discounter Spirit Airlines objected to the move in comments to the regulator on Sept. 22. The carrier said extending waivers was "unacceptably protective of dominant incumbent carriers at the expense of the traveling public and of low-cost carriers ready and willing to serve.”

Spirit has a history of pushing for more access to capacity-controlled airports in the U.S. In December 2019, it sued the FAA to allocate unused peak-period flights at Newark. The case was undecided when COVID-19 hit.

Related: Spirit Airlines sues DOT for Southwest’s flights at Newark

In its September comment, Spirit told the regulator that it has sought access to JFK for 14 years but not able to secure the necessary gates and ground facilities to add flights.

Alaska Airlines, Delta, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United, plus A4A, all supported an extension of slot waivers in comments filed in September.

Related: Airlines are flying some unexpected routes during the pandemic. Will they stick around?

Featured photo by CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees