Delta Is Discontinuing West Coast Shuttle Flights

Both American and Delta offer what they refer to as “shuttle” service on the east coast, where select markets receive extra service. American offers this for flights between Boston, New York LGA, and Washington DCA, while Delta offers this for flights between New York LGA and Boston, Chicago, and Washington DCA. The intent is to offer additional service on highly competitive business routes.

On top of the east coast shuttle, since May of 2016 Delta has been offering shuttle service on select west coast flights. This has obviously been designed to give them a competitive advantage, since they’re just growing their Seattle hub. Specifically, Delta has shuttle flights in the following markets:

  • Los Angeles and San Francisco
  • Los Angeles and Seattle
  • Seattle and San Francisco

What makes these shuttle flights special? Here’s what they currently offer:

  • Check-in as close as 30 minutes prior to departure
  • Dedicated check-in counters exclusively for Shuttle customers
  • Gates located near security
  • Complimentary newspapers
  • Complimentary onboard snacks provided by Luvo, a California-based lifestyle food brand, offering great-tasting, good-for-you food
  • Complimentary beverages in-flight, including craft beer and wine in all classes of service

As you can see, getting things like free alcoholic drinks and snacks on such a short flight is pretty awesome.

Unfortunately it would appear as if Delta hasn’t been getting much of an ROI on offering this. As of January 4, 2018, Delta will no longer offer shuttle service on any west coast flights. This doesn’t actually mean that any schedules are changing, but rather just that they inflight service is changing.

I’m not surprised to see this change, as I doubt they saw much of a revenue premium from this, and serving free drinks and snacks adds up with the number of flights they offer. The cost of flights up and down the coast has gone way down thanks to the amount of competition. I also have to say that I think Delta did a lousy job marketing their shuttle flights, as I had almost forgotten that they even offered these.

Are you surprised to see Delta discontinue their west coast shuttle flights?

(Tip of the hat to Points, Miles & Martinis)

Comments

  1. duh of course they would dump the concept, which was nothing but a fancy marketing ploy in 3 markets in which they’re the leader in none of them. who the heck needs undrinkable alcohol on an 1:15 hop ?

    I can easily imagine LGA-ORD “shuttle” being the next to de-shuttle and revert to boring mainstream DL.

    But in all honesty, the “Shuttle” concept is such a relic of a bygone era. Insufficient PTC issues aside, Amtrak is already the preferred method for business travelers along the BOS-NYC-PHL-WAS corridor.

  2. I fly these flights a lot and forget every time until they say “Delta Shuttle” in their welcome announcement. I

    To me, being east-coast based, “Shuttle” means mostly predictable every-hour same-time frequency. The fact that they didn’t offer that on the west coast was a problem for the marketing.

  3. It is too hard to operate a reliable shuttle on LAX-SFO given how both airports are delay-prone. I’m guessing their decision came down to not being able to operate LAX-SFO anymore and deciding to unwind the other two with it. It’s also very hard to maximize gate usage in LAX when you reserve certain gates for shuttle flights of which 15% are delayed.

  4. It’s not surprising, and on the east coast they’re basically getting rid of the only factor that made the shuttle worthy at LGA, Terminal A, the marine terminal.

  5. The whole points of shuttle is flights every hour or so. When DL announced this I immediately of thought of the fog issues in SF. I’m sure UA was laughing at them.

  6. I looked into trying the SFO-LAX shuttle a few times, because I do the route once or twice a month.

    I ultimately never tried it because it was always substantially more expensive than UA and didn’t have the schedule I needed. Wasn’t worth the move from UA as a 1K.

  7. @Ra They’re getting on the Marine Air terminal at LGA? Noooo, I genuinely liked flying out of that place

  8. I read in the AA magazine last month that American is going to expand its shuttle to ORD as well. Seems sort of strange to me – I had always envisioned it as a short-hop east-coast business center type of thing to help compete with the Acela.

  9. Agree with @Mark and @Jack.

    SFO is a terrible airport out of which to run a shuttle, given how prone to delays the airport is and (unlike LGA) the availability of more reliable (and perhaps even more convenient options) down the peninsula and across the bay. Couple that with the relative lack of frequency, and the shuttle concept was likely doomed from the start.

  10. @Mark S – maybe Henry LAX prefers Bud Light and Popov over good local craft beers & Woodford Reserve, lol

  11. I know some attempts were made (ultimately unsuccessful) to expand capacity at SFO (by landing on the taxiways) which might have made an impact.

  12. >I know some attempts were made (ultimately unsuccessful) to expand capacity at SFO (by landing on the taxiways)

    Steve, I think that drunk, foreign AC pilot managed to not land (through no fault of his own).

  13. I’m a DL Gold Medallion based in LA and I only fly Southwest when flying to Norcal. I’ll easily give C+ and FC upgrades for the frequencies, multiple airports and no change/cancellation fees that Southwest offers.

  14. I can tell you from personal experience delta/American shuttle is definitely preferred to Amtrak. I don’t know one high level business traveler that takes the Amtrak it’s far too slow other than maybe nyc-Philadelphia it likely dominates.

  15. @Jack,

    Disagree. Unless you are on the first shuttle of the day, Amtrak is competitive time wise with the shuttle for Manhattan to DC trips and vv. It is also better for getting work done since you can sit there for a few hours with a laptop. My company will pay for either and I usually take the train. Meetings in Virginia are a different story though.

  16. No, not surprised. In point of fact, it was a losing proposition to begin with.

    Take the LAX SFO shuttle: Southwest flies from every SoCal airport (LAX, SNA, BUR, ONT; only LGB is not on the list), to every Bay Area airport (SFO, OAK, SJC; you can even toss in SMF), and they do it multiple times per day. VX has frequent flights between SFO-LAX and back throughout the day. AS flights come out of LAX and SNA to OAK, SFO, SJC even STS. Certainly UA has multiple flights, as does AA. (Let’s keep Spirit OUT of this discussion.)

    DL was the least popular option, and the only people *I* know who flew DL out of SFO were making a connection in LAX to ATL. That cannot sustain a shuttle-type operation.

  17. Disappointed. I used to take the SFO-LAX shuttle every few weeks and the every-hour availability (yes it existed) and being able to SDC to other hourly flights was invaluable. I thought it was a good service and most of my flights during commute hours were always full.

  18. I’ll really miss the shuttle operation between SFO and SEA–not for the onboard service but because of the guaranteed gate assignments on A1-A6 at SeaTac and the ten minute door closing. SFO T1 is small enough that it doesn’t really matter, but those gate assignments at SeaTac meant that even if you show up at T-45 or T-30 for your flight you can still stop by the SkyClub to freshen up and grab a snack. Here’s hoping that the gate assignments are here to stay informally–that the cost cutting is coming from the F&B and the check in that nobody used anyway!

  19. Did delta offer a “real” shuttle service on these routes? It seems there is some conflicting comments here.

    Shuttle was never about on board service (at least in the east coast format), but about having hourly service (at least), having check in up to 30mins before flight, and having flexible tickets to easily roll to the next service. These things are what make the east coast shuttle services competitive against Amtrak (and it is still very much a competitive product – or was until the major LGA construction work started).

    Offering free booze on board is irrelevant, and as some others have pointed out, LAX and SFO don’t seem to offer as compelling a case for this kind of service as the LGA-centred east coast shuttles.

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