Delta Air Lines is making a few big changes to its route network.
The Atlanta-based carrier is slashing two of its most interesting transcontinental routes, and it’s also adding a second daily flight frequency on one of the longest routes in its network.
There’s lots to digest, so read on for the details.
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Delta cuts 2 transcon flights
To start, Delta is axing two of its longest flights from New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA). Specifically, the airline will cease flying from LGA to Los Angeles and Phoenix effective Jan. 8, 2024, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.
These flights were announced earlier this year as part of a big expansion westward of New York.
In a statement, Delta said that “we continuously evaluate our network to make the changes that will help meet the needs of our customers and best allocate our resources. We apologize for any inconvenience and will work with our customers booked on flights beyond this service suspension date to make the necessary adjustments to their travels.”
Though the airline’s statement doesn’t really shed light on the reasoning behind the cuts, these flights might’ve been doomed from the start.
That’s because of LaGuardia’s “perimeter rule,” which restricts airlines from flying to airports that are farther than 1,500 miles away with just two exceptions — routes to Denver and any flight operated on Saturdays.
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(LaGuardia is also slot-constrained, meaning that airlines need special takeoff and landing permissions to operate flights there, but slots are not needed for flights on Saturdays.)
Saturday-only service isn’t typically all that lucrative, especially for domestic routes. Saturdays are usually the quietest day of the week to fly, and with nearly no business travel demand, airlines must compete for their share of the leisure market traveling during the weekend — a segment that historically hasn’t been all that profitable for airlines.
In fact, Delta once tried flights from LGA to Los Angeles in 2006, but that short-lived experiment was slashed after just six months, Cirium schedules show. (During the pandemic, Spirit Airlines launched a 2,469-mile transcontinental route from LaGuardia to Los Angeles, but that service has since been cut.)
Though Delta is cutting the L.A. and Phoenix flights, the carrier will continue to serve Salt Lake City and Las Vegas on a once-weekly Saturday-only basis from LaGuardia.
At 2,242 miles, Delta’s service from LGA to Las Vegas will become the carrier’s longest from LaGuardia.
Delta adds new Atlanta-to-Seoul flight
Aside from a short break during the pandemic, Delta Air Lines has served Seoul on a once-daily basis from Atlanta consistently since 2017.
This South Korean megapolis is now Delta’s key transpacific connecting gateway, and it’s getting a big boost with the addition of a second daily flight from Atlanta to Seoul beginning in April 2024, Cirium schedules show.
This additional flight will initially operate on a three-times-weekly basis beginning on April 11, 2024, before increasing to daily service starting on May 6, 2024.
The added frequency will complement the existing once-daily service from Atlanta to Seoul operated by Delta and another daily flight to South Korea, which is operated by Korean Air, Delta’s Pacific joint venture partner.
Adding a third Skyteam-marketed flight from Atlanta to Seoul will give travelers a whole host of options to travel to South Korea and beyond.
“With three daily flights to choose from, customers across the U.S. will have opportunities throughout the day to connect through Atlanta for their journey across the Pacific,” Delta said in a statement.
The additional frequency will be operated by Delta’s flagship Airbus A350-900, which features 32 Delta One Suites, 48 Premium Select recliners, 36 extra-legroom Comfort+ seats and 190 standard economy seats.
The new flights will operate with the following schedule:
- Delta Flight 189: Atlanta to Seoul — 9:45 a.m. — 2:20 p.m. (+1 day)
- Delta Flight 188: Seoul to Atlanta— 4:30 p.m. — 5:25 p.m.
Speaking about the strength of Delta’s transpacific strategy, Delta president Glen Hauenstein said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call that “we’re very excited about is the success of our Incheon hub with Korean, and that has really even exceeded our expectations. We think it’s the best place to connect to get to Southeast Asia from any one of our hubs or as a double connect.”
“We’ll have some announcements on continuing to work to increase our capacity next year,” he added, seemingly referring to this new frequency from Atlanta that was just loaded to the schedule over the weekend.