Behold the power of the business traveler. American Airlines is extending its “Shuttle” product off the east coast, bringing the LaGuardia-O’Hare route under that moniker. The service will fly 14 times daily in each direction, operate from dedicated gates and deliver upgraded amenities on board. The official start of the new service is 4 April 2018.
The flight frequencies are not increasing to establish the Shuttle service; American already flies the route a ton.
United has the most flights, but doesn't call it a shuttle like AA and DL.
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) January 18, 2018
But strong demand from business travelers, mostly in New York City, is pushing the company to change the way it thinks about the market. Vasu Raja, VP Network & Schedule Planning, explains the Shuttle market as more than just the schedule frequencies:
The Shuttle for us is a very specific product:
- It is a regular recurrent schedule pattern
- It is dedicated gates
- It is dedicated check-in
- It is free beer & wine as well
Raja also noted that the, while the formal announcement of the Shuttle service is new, the carrier has been operating with a de facto Shuttle operation (minus the free drinks) for the last three to four months “without the branding so we know we can deliver this.”
American is not alone in offering the Shuttle service on this route. Delta chose that designator for its service between the two airports way back in 2010. The frequencies and aircraft have shifted through the years but the route still carries the Shuttle benefits.
It is designed to cater to the last-minute business traveler and is something we’ve had a lot of success with.
Raja admits that the biggest push for the service change comes from the New York side of the business, “Many New York customers are familiar with [the Shuttle product] and thought it would be a great product [in this market]. This is in response to that.” Given that the frequencies are already operating the value proposition of shifting to “Shuttle” operations would appear to be mostly in the dedicated gates near terminal entrances and the check-in facilities. And certainly sure a free drink doesn’t hurt, either.
Other than the free drinks the catering standards on the service will not change. For those in the back of the plane that still means no hot meal on board.
The shuttle shift comes amidst a significant growth in domestic routes for the carrier. Some 52 new routes will be added this year, with Raja suggesting that “For the first time we can really start thinking about how we plan an single airline and not worry about the next integration milestone.”
Among the routes being added for travel starting on 7 June 2018:
- Three routes from PHL to Fort Wayne, Indiana (FWA); Oklahoma City (OKC); and Pensacola, Florida (PNS)
- New service from both Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and DFW to Panama City, Florida (ECP) and South Bend, Indiana (SBN)
- Service from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania (AVP)
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