Delta drops from hourly service on NY-DC Shuttle


The history of the Shuttle services from New York’s LaGuardia airport to Boston and Washington, DC is somewhat tumultuous, with boom and bust cycles that have mostly matched the country’s economy. Through it all, however, hourly service has been a hallmark of the operations. Delta is changing that starting in August as it pulls down frequencies on the NYC-DC route to accommodate new service between DC and Raleigh.

Back in 2008 Delta transitioned away from the dedicated, roomier Shuttle fleet to the EJet operation which has carried through to now. In 2009 fares were slashed as well, though they have crept back up in the intervening years to reach over $400 for a walk-up ticket on the 214 mile flight. But demand mid-day is often weak and the company believes it can get away with cutting a couple frequencies in those troughs while still delivering on the promise of frequencies that makes the operation compelling for business travelers. As of 1 August 2016 the 11am and 1pm flights from LGA to DCA are off the schedule.

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So, where does this leave the Shuttle? In reality, probably just a smidgen better off than it was before. Hourly service is great from a nostalgia perspective but dropping thee two off-hour flights likely isn’t going to put much of a dent in Delta’s operations. And adding the new Raleigh service is an opportunity to realize growth in a new market. Then again, the fares are lower in that market (same at the top end but more discounted in advance or even for walk-ups from what I’m seeing) and Delta remains in competition with American Airlines‘ seven daily flights compared to Delta’s four. Delta can also flow more passengers out of DC via LaGuardia to some destinations in upstate New York and New England, though I’ll assume that traffic is not particularly high yield.

Ultimately not a huge shift of the market in reality. But what it represents in terms of the “prestige” of the Shuttle is interesting. If you’re a dork like me.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

5 Comments

  1. It’s funny because I would have expected this more on the BOS-LGA route vs LGA-DCA, especially given B6’s recent announcement. I’m frankly surprised AA hasn’t gone every-other hour on BOS-LGA, as the loads are 50% or less on most flights but Mon AM, Fri PM and holiday weeks. AA’s BOS-DCA is a big money maker, and I’d be shocked to ever see that have service cuts, though.

  2. @Dave, Acela is more competitive on the LGA-DCA route. From downtown to downtown, it is usually a tie unless you are on the 6am or 7am shuttles. I think that is why the reduction here and not to BOS.

    1. Acela is more competitive but that’s not why the drops are happening here IMO. The drops are happening here because Delta needs the DCA slots for RDU service, not the LGA slots. I’m sure they’ll come up with something to do with the LGA slots, but they NEED the DCA slots for the RDU flights.

  3. From an airline nerd perspective, I’ve always been partial to AA’s shuttle service, because they are scheduled exactly on the hour, as opposed to the :59 that you see with DL. Just something very clean about seeing 14-16 flights a day every hour, exactly on the hour!

    1. And it used to be US on the top of the hour and DL on the bottom of the hour, alternating to make things more convenient for passengers who just wanted to get there, regardless of the airline. I used that to my advantage at least once, hopping in a cab and heading to the airport with no ticket yet purchased. I told the driver I’d pick a terminal once I get to the airport. Made it through the tunnel and up the BQE quickly enough to get to the MAT and the DL shuttle 5 minutes before departure. Had we hit traffic I would have picked the US terminal instead.

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