United/Trans States End the San Antonio Experiment

SAT - San Antonio, Schedule Changes, Trans States, United

Back at the beginning of this year, United and Trans States decided to try a little experiment. United had been performing well at San Antonio. In fact, as recently as a couple years ago they only flew to Denver and Chicago, but they added LAX, SFO, and Washington/Dulles with successful results.

Seeing the opportunity for more growth, United started investigating. Since they are notoriously risk averse over there, they found the ideal setup. Trans States agreed to operate the flights at their own risk with 50 seat jets, and they would be marketed as United Express flights. These flights would operate regionally to places like Albuquerque, New Orleans, Kansas City, and more.

This grand experiment began at the beginning of this year, and by the end of September, it’ll be over. San Antonio’s newspaper had an article about the end yesterday. Last flights are on September 20.

There are probably a million reasons why this failed, the chief one being not enough demand (duh). I’d also argue that there is no United loyalty down in Texas, so it was difficult to move people off Southwest, American, and Continental. Those 50 seaters aren’t exactly the most comfortable rides either, even though they went nonstop.

I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet a lack of marketing commitment on United’s part played a role as well. It’s not easy to start a ton of service in thin markets in a city where nobody really knows you. This must have been barely a blip on United’s marketing radar screen.

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