Midwest Express returns: The beloved regional airline begins operations in December

Nov 17, 2019

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Remember Midwest Express?

Nobody would blame you if you didn’t. It was once Milwaukee’s very own airline, serving 20+ destinations around the U.S. It was a beloved element in the life of a Cheesehead, offering leather seats, warm chocolate chip cookies (the DoubleTree of the skies), and fantastic customer service — but it ceased operations in 2010 after financial woes, and an eventual merger with Frontier.

But it’s making a comeback.

Midwest Express coming December 2019

On Friday, airline president Greg Aretakis announced the reincarnation of Midwest Express (which at one point changed its name to Midwest Airlines during its hey day). Proposed routes are between Milwaukee (MKE) and the following cities:

  •  Grand Rapids (GRR)
  • Omaha (OMA)
  • Cincinnati (CVG)

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Midwest Express plans to release a schedule within four weeks and begin flights before 2020, partnering with Elite Airways (based in Maine). Aretakis stated that the airline will stick with the main features that made it a Wisconsin sweetheart, including a premium cabin experience at competitive prices.

But a lot has changed since Midwest Express and later Midwest Airlines last retracted its landing gear. Can it manage to offer the same great product in an entirely different world? Many predict that the harmony between competitive price and quality product are far more difficult today than when Midwest was last in operation: Fuel was astoundingly cheap back then, and Southwest has now wrapped its garish tentacles around Wisconsin.

And aircraft have changed for the worse in many ways: the planes Midwest once used, which were spacier than other regional jets, are now discontinued by major airlines due to grave inefficiencies. Using smaller planes portends a less luxurious experience for Midwest flyers than what was available a decade ago. For those curious, Elite Airways flies Bombardier CRJ 200 (50 seats) and CRJ 700 (70 seats) regional jets. Those booking a Midwest Express ticket can expect to board these aircraft for the foreseeable future.

It appears too early to tell the miles and points implications of this phoenix from the ashes. Once upon a time, you could redeem Delta miles for flights on Midwest Airlines (and you could redeem Midwest miles for Delta flights, too).

Initial routes are very limited, as expected from a small regional airline, but any additional route is good news for points enthusiasts, no matter how seemingly peripheral. Even if you don’t plan to fly Midwest, the extra competition may lower prices for select routes, and perhaps even open up some award availability on legacy carriers by poaching their business.

Featured photo courtesy of QualityHD/Shutterstock

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