Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America has really been shaking things up, especially as far as the west coast and transcon markets go. We’ve seen JetBlue respond by offering status matches and targeting Virgin America flyers, while Virgin America has even improved elite benefits and expanded their status match program.
The “new” Alaska is branding itself as “the premier West Coast airline.”
It looks like Delta is responding to this takeover with a new product offering.
As of Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Delta will begin operating their Shuttle service from Seattle to Los Angeles & San Francisco. This is the service which is presently available between San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as in a few markets further east.
Back in the day Shuttle service actually meant something, in the sense that there was hourly service with no seat assignments and the ability to easily switch between flights. Nowadays it’s more of a marketing gimmick, especially in the case of Delta in Seattle.
In the top three business markets on the West Coast, Delta stands out as the only airline to offer a shuttle product with the introduction of Delta Shuttle service from Seattle to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Seattle shuttle service complements existing Delta Shuttle service on the West Coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Delta Shuttle service on the West Coast is a product created with business travelers in mind that offers dedicated check-in counters and gates located near security, among other amenities. Delta’s eight peak-day flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport and eight peak-day flights to San Francisco International Airport will feature the service. Delta will also add two more daily flights from Seattle to Los Angeles for a total of 10 peak-day Delta Shuttle flights beginning May 23. Flights to Los Angeles will be operated with a mix of Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 717 jets, while flights to San Francisco will be operated by Delta Shuttle carrier Compass Airlines using two-class, Embraer 175 jets.
“Fueled by their ideas and ambitions, Seattleites fly with purpose and deserve a product that supports their pursuits, particularly when flying between the largest business markets on the West Coast,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s Vice President–Seattle. “Delta Shuttle service brings a tailored, thoughtful approach to travel that starts as soon as your feet hit the curb.”
Here are the features Delta Shuttle will have between Seattle and LA/SF:
- Dedicated check-in counters exclusively for Delta Shuttle customers
- Gates located near security
- Complimentary newspapers for all customers including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Financial Times
- Assigned seating
- Two classes of service with complimentary upgrades for SkyMiles Medallion members when available
- Complimentary meals in First Class on all flights
- Complimentary Luvo snack box offered in Comfort+ on all flights
- Complimentary onboard snacks provided by Nourish Snacks in the main cabin
- Complimentary in-flight beer, wine, spirits and other beverages in all classes of service, including Lagunitas Brewing Company and Fremont Brewing Company craft beer and Starbucks coffee
- Access to in-flight Wi-Fi and free entertainment options through Delta Studio
- Convenient access to the new Delta Sky Club set to open in Fall 2016 on Concourse A
In practice the key features here are free snacks, beer, wine, spirits, and newspapers. Furthermore, gates will be located close to the security checkpoint.
Other than that, these routes lack the other standard “Shuttle” features. The service isn’t hourly, the plane types are all over the place, etc. Delta presently offers eight daily flights between Seattle and Los Angeles (mostly 737s, with some 717s as well), as well as eight daily flights between Seattle and San Francisco (operated by a mix of Embraer 170s, CRJ-700s, and CRJ-900s).
Ultimately there’s not much substance to the new Delta Shuttle out of Seattle, other than free drinks and newspapers. The lack of a consistent schedule or aircraft type makes this less useful than the Shuttles in other markets. If Delta really wanted to “show” Alaska, they should have introduced hourly service and a real Shuttle product.
I’m curious to see if Alaska responds to Delta’s new offering on their bread-and-butter route. Alaska has introduced a new onboard product with “Alaska Beyond,” which really doesn’t translate to a whole lot. But then again, these changes from Delta aren’t exactly a game changer either.
Will Delta introducing Shuttle service out of Seattle impact whether or not you fly with them?