It looks like the initial reductions on the Shuttle service to/from LaGuardia was not sufficient to really see the cost savings that Delta was looking for. The next step appears to be a wholesale halving of capacity on the Washington, DC route. Rather than cut it in half frequency-wise, however, they’re just going to be using smaller airplanes.
Of course, they don’t have any smaller mainline aircraft, so the service is going to be operated by the aptly named Shuttle America regional carrier. The service will be on Embrear E-175s which are nice enough, I suppose, but they have only 64 seats in coach which means that the early morning flights are going to be a bit harder to find a seat on, especially last minute. The service will be half and half of the existing planes and the new starting in January and fully E75s by the end of March.
There are a couple reasons to make such a move, namely a significant drop in demand or a desperate attempt to drive up fares by only having last-minute seats available. The thing about the Shuttle pricing is that it is almost always full-fare for day trips, albeit with most big companies having a decent discount rate. But with most fares being so high it is hard to make them much higher without being priced completely out of the market.
The other reason to do this is a significant drop in expected passenger loads. I guess they are seeing that coming down the pike, which isn’t all that surprising considering the current state of the economy, but the route has generally withstood those issues in the past to some extent.
I used to love the Shuttle service. Now I like it. I guess I will see in the spring if it is going to last as a true product or just fall back to another route that Delta operates flights on with a regional partner carrier. It used to be something special. That attitude/experience is long gone now.
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