Topic of the Week: Delta Shuttles Goes to the West Coast

Delta announced yesterday that it will begin flying an hourly shuttle between LA and San Francisco, similar to what it has in the northeast corridor. Anyone think this has a chance of working? Will Delta be able to get people to fly the Shuttle instead of flying other airlines?


36 Responses to Topic of the Week: Delta Shuttles Goes to the West Coast

  1. Sanjeev M says:

    It seems people in this country go nuts over free beer/wine, so I’m sure they’ll do just fine. In fact wasn’t DL already flying 11x daily before this?

    The real test if they get those corporate contracts in LA that they’ve been trying to pry away from AA/UA.

    • In my opinion the only way Delta can maintain a successful presence in this market is to be much more competitive than it is accustomed to be. Perhaps drop some baggage fees or other fees, competitive fares, be more creative in competing with other airlines. If they don’t they are throwing away money and effort. Delta will have to do this fast or it will bleed money immediately.

      As a side note, I think Delta would have been better served by starting this service from another airport such as Oxnard (Ventura County)or Ontario (San Bernadino County) to capture these underserved markets. As the freeway traffic gets worse, believe me, people would definitely opt NOT to commute to LAX. Especially with the approaching holiday traffic to add to the traffic load.

  2. Jim M says:

    UA and WN do a pretty good job of this already. Plus WN you can fly into Burbank or Ontario or out of Oakland or San Jose — and that is a huge plus for the “California Commute.” And why deal with SFO’s crappy weather?

    • David M says:

      SFO has the best transit option into San Francisco proper, with a BART station at the airport. OAK requires a separate AirBART bus connection from the airport to the closest BART station, and the bus has its own separate fare.

      • Al B says:

        Construction on a BART line to the Oakland airport is underway and is due to be completed in Fall 2014.

        More information from bart.gov: http://www.bart.gov/about/projects/oac/index.aspx

        • Jim M says:

          I used to live in the Bay Area and frequent it often. That Oakland BART station will be a game changer. BART to SFO is functional but a haul from the east bay, and a virtual non-factor from the south and north areas.

          • Carl says:

            BART won’t be going into the OAK airport. They are building a connecting line which will require a change at the Colisseum station. Knowing how BART gouges SFO travelers, I expect there will be a premium fare charged for riding this connecting service.

  3. Ben says:

    I have to wonder how well the whole “Shuttle” brand will do on the west coast too. United used that as a stripped down “Southwest fighter” style of brand and it bombed. I wonder if people in California will see the name and think of it that way, instead of a service that caters to business travelers.

    That said, it is worth a shot. But with so many carriers focused on this route, something’s going to have to give. WN will be fine, and so will UA. But between AA, DL, and VX – who is still standing when this is all over?

    • John says:

      Each carrier offers something different. If you fly DL as a habit, then you will want DL rather that Southworst, same with AA. I try to avoid WN as much as possible, they just make me feel like I am on the bus. VX is an entirely different class of passenger, people pay for the “hip-ness”. DL can be sucessful with the right fare and the right ammenities.

  4. Darkwater says:

    Maybe they’ll do better this time than they did the last time they tried this, in the early ’90’s.

  5. David says:

    76 seats, 14 times a day in each direction, 21 days per month = 44,700 seats per month in an aircraft with the fuel consumption of a jet but spread over regional sized aircraft
    That’s a lot to fill from where they are right now. Perhaps it’ll work, but this is a big roll of the dice

  6. MeanMeosh says:

    I guess it’s a decent enough idea in theory – but how is this going to work when the inevitable SFO fog/ATC delays roll in? Seems like a commuter shuttle service would need reliability as its #1 priority, which is going to be a challenge at SFO. Then again, I guess you could say the same about all of those NY-based shuttles.

  7. I read somewhere that 14 different airlines code share on these flights. That could help provide enough traffic for everyone.

  8. Bosdalflyer says:

    Does anyone know how Delta plans on basing the aircraft for this operation??

  9. A says:

    Sounds like Delta has some idle planes and is throwing something up there to see if it’ll stick.

  10. BarryATL says:

    The NY shuttles used to cater to walk-up customers. They guaranteed to bring in another aircraft if they filled the scheduled one. Do they still do this on the east coast? Will that be part of the west coast service?

    As an added note, the guarantee I am referring to may have been one of the previous owners of the NY shuttle service.

    • Preston says:

      The current Shuttle services (DL and US) no longer offer the walk-up guarantee. That went away in 2005, and I believe Delta was the last to offer it. It killed aircraft utilization which became more of an issue with the financial hit the industry took after 9/11.

  11. Carl says:

    I am surprised if United will give up the business traffic on this route without a fight. They do have to up their game and reliability, but they have flow traffic at both ends, so they should be able to offer the highest frequency

  12. Johnny Jet says:

    I’m getting ready for some double or triple mile offers!

  13. Glen Lewis says:

    If only they’d take half of those flights and fly out of OAK. I’d gladly give up Southwest for a “reserved” seat. What kind of airplanes?

    • Hunter says:

      They’re using E175s.

    • Daniel says:

      Delta does fly LAX-OAK around 4 or 5 times a day.

    • mharris127 says:

      An Oakland-based service would be a good idea. Smaller, easier to use airport and just across one bridge, BART train (when the unions aren’t on strike) or ferry ride from SF. There are also companies based in or near Oakland along with U Cal Berkeley just up the road that would probably use this service. Oakland might also be an option on days where SFO is shrouded in fog (which happens many early mornings from what I am told). I would recommend a 50/50 split between SFO and OAK to begin with but I don’t work at Delta (or any airline) so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter.

    • Bravenav says:

      Delta is also increasing its LAXOAK to 7x daily and LAXSJC to 5x daily.

  14. Jim says:

    I don’t see what is new, except for the “shuttle” brand and higher frequency. I’ll pass. Southwest, Jetblue and Virgin America are good for me.

    • Hunter says:

      Hourly service, free beer and wine, late check, miles earned into a global program. Those could all be compelling reasons for some to choose DL over B6 and VX.

  15. Since the service is all E175 aircraft that could make a difference with some people who rather fly a larger jet. The Bay Area is still a Mileage Plus area and with Southwest flying within California for so many years, there mileage program is also big. I always read here about how bad Skymiles is so will UA/WN members give up flying UA and WN for DL.

    • Jason H says:

      The E175 is actually quite nice – it feels like a larger jet but with no middle seats, so I think many people would even prefer these over the 737s that Southwest flies.

  16. Chris says:

    One advantage to this possibly working is that they don’t have to compete with a different mode of transportation like they do on the East Coast. The fact that the Acela can get you between downtown Manhattan and downtown Washington, DC in a little under three hours is a major disadvantage for the DL & US Shuttles between LGA-DCA. I’ve gotten caught in weather delays at LGA and DCA and wish I had taken the train many times. Amtrak isn’t perfect but it has worked pretty well when I’ve used them.

    • Jim says:

      Megabus will get you from LA to SF in 7 hours. Flying is 1 hour in the air, an hour for check in and security, and time to travel to/from the airport on both ends. It’s still faster to fly, but it’s not like there are no other options.

  17. mharris127 says:

    If I recall PSA (long ago merged into US Airways) had a shuttle service from LAX to either SFO or OAK (probably whatever airport was offering the best deal to them that month) in the late 70’s and early 80’s where flights left every 30 minutes from (approximately) 7am all the way into the night. No free beverages, no VIP treatment but tickets were super cheap. We will see if it works in the modern age, I hope it is profitable for Delta.

    Speaking of Amtrak, the CA state government is in the beginning stages of building a train shuttle that travels over 100 mph between LA and SF, it isn’t due to be completed in the near future but once it is, air travel between these cities is kaput especially with the expected heavy state subsidy lowering fares to levels that the airlines can’t profitably match. California even received federal funding for this project although Caltrain (and not the fed’s Amtrak) will be running it once trains start moving on this one.

    • Oliver says:

      Hmmm, no, I think it is quite unlikely that Caltrain would be operating the high-speed rail system. They are just a regional operator in the Bay Area. They will likely share tracks on the peninsula, but that’s all for now. Operator undetermined according to Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_High-Speed_Rail

    • George says:

      I’ve been hearing about this High Speed Train between SF and LA for close to 40 Years. And the fares will have to be heavily subsidized simply due to the high cost of building this thing. My guess is a Billion a mile for this puppy-and who will pay for it-the taxpayers. And just wait till the Sierra Club weighs in on this.
      I’ll believe it when I see it.

  18. Will V says:

    There is minimal Delta/OneWorld loyalty in the Bay Area. Anybody showing preference for this shuttle is likely to be from outside sf/oak area. Most people ahere re already loyal to UA, SW or Virgin. Seems more to bolseter the intensified LA hub than anything.

    But I do love those 175s

  19. john says:

    Didnt Delta try this already pre-9/11? I remember 737-200s being used SFO-LAX and Delta highlighting the fact that they used the gate CLOSEST to the taxiway.

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