Someone Forgot to Tell Vision Airlines that Small Hubs Don’t Work

Delta’s Memphis cuts have once again stirred up a lot of talk about the death of the mid-size hub. It’s effectively conventional wisdom at this point, but apparently someone forgot to tell Vision. Vision has now decided to make little Destin a hub. Uh oh.

I should, however, point out that it’s not actually Destin that’s the hub. When you go the Vision website, it shows Destin/Ft Walton Beach, FL (VPS) as the airport. Now, try typing Destin/Ft Walton Beach airport into Google Maps and it will take you to an airport right near town. The only problem? That’s not the right airport. Those of us who know airport codes can look at VPS and see that it’s actually 20 miles away over a bridge to the Northwest Florida Regional Airport, but I can’t imagine that many travelers know to look at the airport code.

When Destin Airport Isn't Destin Airport

In fact, we have a concierge client now who went to the wrong airport for her flight, then rushed over to the other airport, only to miss it. So if you do actually decide to use this airline, please keep in mind that it’s not the Destin airport. Of course, if you’re using it as a hub, then you don’t care because you’ll never step foot outside the terminal.

So what does it mean that Vision is turning this into a hub? It really just means that the airline is going to start allowing connections. Many of the ultra low cost carriers out there only let you buy point-to-point flights. On Allegiant, for example, you could buy a ticket from Long Beach to Las Vegas and then on to any city in the system, but Allegiant doesn’t allow it. Why? It’s a cost thing. When you start setting up connecting complexes, you need to have the ability to transfer bags. That’s an investment and it will inevitably result in more lost bags. You also have to take responsibility for people when they miss their connections due to late operations, etc. It just adds complexity. And what do you get? For a low cost airline, not much.

So on Allegiant, you can make a connection yourself if you want, but you’ll have to buy two separate tickets and re-check your bags. Vision was that way for the first few weeks of its life, but no more.

Vision’s Chief Operating Officer David Meers touted how many opportunities this opens up:

For example, the Atlanta passenger could only travel to Louisville, Destin or Gulfport prior to this announcement. Now, the Atlanta passenger can travel to 14 different destinations including Ft. Lauderdale, St. Petersburg/Tampa and Las Vegas.

So now instead of taking one of the 11 daily nonstops on AirTran or Delta from Atlanta to Vegas or one of many connecting options on any other airline, Vision wants to jump into that race. The only way it will take passengers is if its fares are so incredibly cheap that some people will be willing to try the airline. If you have empty seats, that’s fine, but its not going to add much to the bottom line.

That’s why Allegiant doesn’t allow connections. It picks routes that have enough local demand so that it can fill its airplanes with desirable local traffic. That’s smart. Vision’s quick decision to allow connections tells me that there simply isn’t enough demand to fill its airplanes and it’s scrambling to fill those seats, even if it is with rock bottom fares. This is not the best sign for the fledgling Destin hub.

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32 Comments on "Someone Forgot to Tell Vision Airlines that Small Hubs Don’t Work"

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christophe.bottega
Member

I just looked at their online Schedule. With only one to four flights per week to many destination, i don’t even see how they can promote themselves as a hub !!!…

Sanjeev M
Guest

In that case, I think US Airways can still call PIT a hub and AA can call RDU a hub. Or infact nearly all Southwest stations (except CRP) would be hubs.

This is going the way of Independence Air. Vision needs to stay with charter ops.

JC Whattheheck
Guest
Brett- you could write a whole article on the confusing array of airports in the Panama City/Ft. Walton Beach/Destin area. Add in Pensacola-PNS and you have even more. There are two “Northwest Florida” airports within 60 miles of each other (Northwest Florida Beaches-ECP) and (Northwest Florida Regional-VPS). VPS is aka Ft Walton Beach/Destin aka Valpariso aka Eglin AFB aka Okaloosa County Regional Airport. ECP is the new airport in the Panama City area that replaced the old Panama City-Bay County International Airport-PFN that is still physically there but closed and soon to be demolished. As your CC client found out… Read more »
mike
Guest

A hub that when you want to fly from VPS to FLL routes you through SDF. Bad. Just B A D. Heck I liked Skybus better than this mess.

David SF eastbay
Member
They said a new schedule for connections would start June 1 so they must be planning on more service in some markets instead of the two or three flights a week now. I never understood why they have been calling it Destin which I never heard of until they came along. I’ve always known it as Ft Walton Beach, but maybe people on the east coast know it as Destin. I know if someone said to me “Let’s go to Destin Florida for a vacation” I’d say where is that. But if they say Ft Walton Beach I would say… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

Someone also forgot to tell vision that the south corner of the country is a poor spot to put a hub, as it forces folks to fly more..

Why would you want to go south from Atlanta to go north to Louisville?

rparkeruae
Member
Just as crazy to go north from KVPS to KATL to access the rest of Florida or the southeast. There are a lot of moneyed retirees living along the Emerald Coast who appreciate not connecting through Atlanta every time they leave the area. Cranky’s complaint about the alleged misunderstandings of airports is spurious. KDTS is a GA airport unable to support Part 121 carrier operations. KVPS (AKA Eglin Air Force Base) is a joint use military/civilian airport and has been since the ’60s. It was a SAC base back then and has 12,000 ft runways. KVPS boasts a newly revamped… Read more »
Bill from DC
Guest

I strongly disagree that the airport naming conventions are not confusing. CF’s point was that if one looks up “destin/fort walton beach airport” online, the DTS airport is so prominent that it could easily be confused for the “northwest florida regional airport” that is VPS. This is not the fault of VPS, it is the fault of Vision for referring to VPS as such. Not everybody knows every airport code, especially the tourists and occasional travelers who are likely to be looking for this airport in the first place.

P.K. Taylor
Guest

I have flown on Vision Airlines 4 times now and must stay that each time has been an absolute joy!. Low fares, on-time and crews that are happy to be doing what they do. By the looks of their full 737’s and Dornier 328’s they surely seem to be doing something right.

DAB
Guest
One problem with using VPS as a hub is that (at least in the past) scheduled times in and out of VPS had little to do with runway use. If Eglin decided to have 200 planes from the AFB take off ahead of the next flight out of VPS (they were more accomodative to landings…) the airplane from VPS sat and if you were lucky you could watch the line of other planes leaving depending on your plane’s positioning… I was only ever delayed fifteen or twenty minutes on one of the flights I took from there, but an hour… Read more »
Bill from DC
Guest
LOL, I’m not saying Cranky ripped me off in this post but my rant on USA Today’s Today in the Sky blog last week seemed very relevant to this topic! :-) Bill from DC 1:10 PM on May 18, 2011 interestingly, the drive from VPS to destin is at least a half hour. sigh… just another chapter in the book of poorly named north florida airports: 1) VPS – official airport name is “northwest florida regional airport” – located in valparaiso, florida on eglin AFB – referred to as “fort walton beach/destin” and “destin/fort walton beach” even though (a) it… Read more »
David SF eastbay
Member

With all the talk about a confusing name, I wonder how many people who use Allegiant which says Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona actually go to PHX-Sky Harbor looking for Allegiant instead of driving to the AZA-Mesa Gateway airport. It’s all the same metro area, but people would automaticly go to Sky Harbor if they didn’t pay attention that Phoenix-Mesa is not just a general area being talked about, but Allegiants way of saying they fly to/from the Phoenix area, but use the airport in the city of Mesa.

Jim
Guest

That’s actually very common in the US. Manchester-Boston, LA/Ontario, etc. Many smaller airports name themselves after the big city in order to market themselves as an alternative to that airport.

Voyager0927
Guest

That’s also an old trick popularized by Ryanair. Your ticket lists the name of a big city like Frankfurt or Brussels, but the plane actually arrives into an abandoned military base in Hahn or Charleroi, which is upwards of two hours driving time from your intended destination, and where the terminal is little more than a double-wide plunked down in a parking lot.

David M
Guest

I’m still disappointed that SkyBus never flew to Yuma and tried to market it as San Diego/Phoenix.

Bill from DC
Guest

LOL!

Loves2Fly
Guest

I actually missed a flight through Vision as well. They sent me the wrong information via email. Ending result, it actually cost me more to get to my destination. At this point, it is worth the money and my time to fly with a REPUTABLE airline. Vision is extremely misleading. FLYERS BEWARE!!!

bob
Guest

Are you SURE their email was wrong? Maybe YOU were wrong. In any event, Vision is reputable. Why do people like you have to down a company for trying to find a niche and doing it right? By all means, don’t fly with them, I am sure they would rather you didn’t

Stef
Guest

“You might not think this makes any sense”

… Well in that respect nothing has changed, really. None of the airline fees ever made sense to me.

Sophie
Guest

Couldn’t agree more on this, it doesn’t make sense at all.

Smail
Guest

We’ve been “blessed” with Vision Airlines here in Baton Rouge. They’ve recently announced n/s service to Vegas, and one-stop service to Tunica. I’ll be interested to see if they start building up these “scheduled gambling charters” in other cities or not.

Johnie
Guest

Cranky Flyer is just that some cranky old guy who never could get hired by the airlines so he disssssssssssss all new carriers and only in support of the same old mainline carriers with high fares, no meal service and baggage fees up the you know what. Vision Airlines might be this or that, but one thing for sure they are organized, upbeat and willing to try something new and different. Not like the cranky old man that complains about anything and everything. jj

David SF eastbay
Member

Let the cancels begin. Vision put out a press release today saying they will drop cities.

””’Vision Airlines has made the decision to discontinue service to a few cities where the demand has not met the company’s expectations. Vision Airlines plans to cut service to the following cities effective July 17; Huntsville, Savannah, Columbia, Greenville/Spartanburg and Baton Rouge. Vision Airlines plans to add additional cities to the winter schedule and increase frequency to many of its destinations.”””””

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[…]  The USA’s newest airline heart is … Destin, Fla.? (May 18, 2011)ARCHIVES:  Someone forgot to tell Vision that tiny hubs don’t work (May 23, 2011; The Cranky Flier)ARCHIVES:  Vision Airlines says sales are clever after vital […]

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[…]  The USA’s newest airline heart is … Destin, Fla.? (May 18, 2011)ARCHIVES:  Someone forgot to tell Vision that tiny hubs don’t work (May 23, 2011; The Cranky Flier)ARCHIVES:  Vision Airlines says sales are clever after vital […]

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[…]  The USA’s newest airline hub is … Destin, Fla.? (May 18, 2011)ARCHIVES:  Someone forgot to tell Vision that small hubs don’t work (May 23, 2011; The Cranky Flier)ARCHIVES:  Vision Airlines says sales are strong after major […]

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[…]  The USA’s newest airline hub is … Destin, Fla.? (May 18, 2011)ARCHIVES:  Someone forgot to tell Vision that small hubs don’t work (May 23, 2011; The Cranky Flier)ARCHIVES:  Vision Airlines says sales are strong after major […]

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