Frequent LaGuardia fliers are in for a wild ride as Delta and U.S. Airways make significant changes to their routes from the New York airport.
The two airlines exchanged takeoff and landing slots at LaGuardia and Reagan National in Washington, D.C. in order to operate more efficiently, resulting in a dramatic increase in Delta flights from LaGuardia - the number of Delta flights will go up 60% and destinations by 75% - while U.S. Airways is reducing its LaGuardia service to mainly shuttles to Boston Logan and Reagan National.
The route changes, which Delta touts as the “largest single expansion by any carrier at LaGuardia in decades”, will largely start on March 25, with the remainder of new service launching July 11. Read on to see how your travels will be affected by the new airline schedules.
The Good. Delta expects the new schedule to increase passenger traffic at LaGuardia - up to 4 million seats per year - without adding to the notorious airport congestion. Travelers to Charlotte, Cleveland, Miami, Milwaukee , Dallas, Houston and Ottawa, Halifax and Montreal in Canada will see an increase in non-stop Delta flights, a blessing that eliminates connections and layovers for weary road warriors.
The Bad. Travelers to smaller cities will feel the pain as Delta replaces former U.S. Air flights with reduced service or none at all - Delta’s trying to maximize return on the expensive slots at LaGuardia, and serving regional airports doesn’t afford the revenue possible at larger hubs. Cities left out in the cold: Albany, Baltimore, Charlottesville, Harrisburg, Hartford, Ithaca, Providence and Roanoke.
The Unknown. When the schedule changes take effect, Delta will be the dominant domestic airline at LaGuardia - how reduced (or eliminated) competition on certain routes will influence ticket prices remains to be seen. Also greatly affected by the change are U.S. Airways frequent fliers with elite status - will Delta honor that status now that it’s taken over the routes? If not, travelers can fly United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) out of its nearby hub at Newark and earn qualifying miles under Star Alliance.
A major reason Delta (NYSE:DAL) needs to fly to profitable large hubs from LaGuardia is that it’s got a $100 million revamp planned for Terminals C and D including a main terminal expansion, a 600 foot bridge connecting the two terminals, and turning Terminal C’s existing U.S. Air lounge into a Delta Sky Club - all good news for Delta customers.