Topic of the Week: Delta in Los Angeles


Ever since Delta took over Western 25 years ago (wow), the airline has flirted with the City of Angels. Delta would ramp up, then pull back again, only to ramp up again. Now we see Delta has started to add flights again by adding frequencies to San Francisco and starting Sacramento flights. Yesterday, the airline announced it had become the official airline of the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. Does this mean Delta is looking to give LA a shot again?

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24 comments on “Topic of the Week: Delta in Los Angeles

  1. The issue here is that Delta doesn’t offer anything to the LAX market that is not available from AA, UA, or WN.

  2. when I was 17, I traded letters with Arthur F Kelly, then CEO of……I lived in Denver at the time and he arranged a Western greet and meet at Stapleton.
    Glad to see them with the strong western presence……

  3. On the other side of the coin from what Dan said, the fact that Delta offers a hodgepodge of what is currently available from AA, UA, and WN can be seen as a strength. Delta has really tackled the regional market in the west, and it continues to add to its Asia/Pacific service (NRT, HND, SYD, etc.). I don’t ever expect Delta to serve Europe via LAX (why would it?), but LA is a very important market, and I like the way Delta continues to expand its market share.

  4. Maybe someone finally told them that Los Angeles is the second largest city in the country so they now want to try and own it like they want to own New York.

    Also the weather in the west is a lot better then in the east so if they ramp up service it can help keep money coming in when weather shuts down the east.

  5. :) Love it.

    I really like the way DL has kept LA a focus city operation. Obviously the O&D is so huge that even UA (the largest carrier) has only a 18% share of seats or something like that. Don’t forget Alaska’s feed for both Delta and American.

    What these mega-mergers have done (aka DL-NW, and CO-UA) is to create huge scale such that Delta can have departures every 20 min out of LA to wherever you want to go in the US because they have 8-9 hubs to flow you through. I don’t know what more presence that someone would need in LA. Yes there are certain nonstops they don’t have but get over it. Pick your favorite hub to connect in and move on.

    Would rather be too flexible than too conservative in network planning (*cough* AA)

  6. Sure it does! They’re even planning to announce a new LAX to Luanda flight anytime now. (Or not).

  7. Two reasons. One, LAX is the second biggest market in the country, and it’s all kinds of fragmented. Lots of opportunity to grow share. Two, that LAX-SYD service and the rest of the Pacific flights need traffic. Feeding local O&Ds into LAX makes sense.

    And do you *really* want to stand in the line for WN at Terminal 1 if you can avoid it?

  8. Personally, in order for DELTA to over come short comings in the location of its major hub in Atlanta where bad weather – both winter and summer – play hell with travelers, the below standard of customer service, AND one of the worse FF programs of major airlines they would have to at least fix the last two issues. They are certainly well aware of customer discontent with the FF program. Definitely with their customer service.

    I would like to see a Delta Regional service in OXR. That would be a key move in an available market.

    1. Which means you prefer to fly over nice big uncongested airports such as CVG, PIT, STL, MEM, DTW, CLE. Notice a trend here? All are midwest rust belt airports. With the exception of DTW, the rest have shrunk over the last decade cause there’s declining local traffic in those cities. So if you don’t like Atlanta (and you’re not alone). Delta has plenty of options from LAX via CVG, DTW, MEM, MSP, and SLC. But in the winter, with a foot of snow on the ground in the midwest, I would take Atlanta anyday.

      Skymiles sucks for passengers but its good for Delta. Enough said.

      1. Because of the delays/cancellations/backups Atlanta is NOT the place to be. Too much air traffic in bad weather spells disaster for travlers.

        You can pick Atlanta during a bad storm and we will probably see you sleeping on the floor or trying to find someone at Delta to talk on the 6 o’clock news.

        The other airports you list are probably a better pick over all since they do not have the overwhelming air traffic to deal with in bad weather (except, perhaps, diverted flights from Atlanta).

  9. It will be interesting to watch what the new CO/UA does with LAX, too. There’s not much overlap (except Hawaii) right now, so I would expect Delta’s mini-expansion so far to be just an annoyance at the moment, but good for airfares.

  10. To compete with CO/DL on nationwide corporate contracts they are going to have to build up their LA presence to seal those deals. Hopefully they will persuade the TSA to add more security checkpoints as well, because their terminal is a three ring circus at in the very early morning hours. The lines can be horrible.

  11. If Delta was really serious about taking on LAX it should look at boosting its overseas flights to match the offerings of American and United/Continental. Currently Delta’s overseas non-seasonal routes include just Tokyo/Narita/Haneda and Sydney. Both United and American do London and San Jose Del Cabo, and they are starting Shanghai shortly. United does Sydney and Melbourne, Mexico City, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta. American does Toronto, San Salvador, and San Juan.

    Without the international gateway pedigree of United and American, Delta will just be competing with Southwest and Virgin America. Both United and American will be safe in the knowledge that they can continue to feed travelers internationally into and out of LAX and on to the US without having to worry about Delta. Incredibly Delta’s SFO international gateway is even more meager. Basically, if you’re looking for direct international flights out of either, you aren’t looking at Delta.

    Delta’s lack of international ramp up at LAX is interesting considering all the moves its made in Asia. I guess they expect west coast travelers to go through Tokyo to get anywhere. Some no doubt will…I had to go through Honolulu to get to Guam and on to Palau on Continental (would love to see a direct SFO-Guam route on the new United). But if I find a better more direct option, I’ll take it (Continental has a near monopoly in Micronesia though Delta is poking around a bit in Guam and just recently Palau).

  12. The best thing Delta could do is improve their Passenger Service. If I handled passengers the way they do now they would have fired me on the spot!

  13. They’re just looking for more feed for the international routes. Same thing with the increase of service to BOS and MIA. Feeding the LHR flights. I’m also sure they have the reverse effect of all the codeshare/partners feeding Delta’s flights in LHR. China Airlines (future SkyTeam member) codeshares only out of LAX on Delta. SU, AM, AF, AS, AZ, CI, MU, CZ, KL, KE, and VA are all either codeshare or SkyTeam partners that fly out of LAX.

  14. I don’t think that these new flights to Sacramento and San Francisco mean that Delta is looking to build up a hub. They are probably just trying to add feeder traffic to their flights to Tokyo, Sydney, Guatemala, Hawaii, etc.

    LA is the largest aviation market in the western US, and probably has largest concentration of Asians in the country. No airline can be successful flying to Asia without LAX. That is why both AA and UA announced LAX-Shanghai service, despite there already being an airline on that route. Flights to Asia are one of the few growth opportunities for US-based airlines these days. Where else is Delta going to fly to Asia from… Salt Lake City???

  15. I would like to see Delta serve secondary markets from LAX, such as Providence (PVD) and Norfolk (ORF). Any chance of that?

  16. I agree that they need to improve the facilities (both people and physical) at LAX before they can expect to attract and retain more customers. The new SkyClub is an example of them knowing this and hopefully more upgrades are in the works.

    I’d like to see DL selling more nonstops to Europe, the AZ, KL and AF nonstop flights don’t always show on delta.dumb.

    In terms of routes: BOS & LHR seem to be big holes from my perspective

  17. ditto the others who said the DL growth is for intl feeder traffic. they’ve had most, if not all, of these “new” flights before. hard for DL to be anything but a distant 4th at LAX after UA, AA and WN. since T5 has some customs capabilities (i believe), i often thought they should co-locate some star carriers in T5 to make for better connecting opportunities at LAX. i know they used to run a lot of aeromexico flights through T5, not sure if that is the case now.

    1. I remember Delta’s last abortive experiment at LAX, when first Atlantic Southeast then ExpressJet (weird coincidence) were used for 50-seat feeds to small Mexican markets like LTO, HMO, ZLO, MZT, LAP, etc. T5 does indeed have Customs capabilities, which is a big advantage. In addition to Mexico, there was a lot of domestic west coast flying, as well as the occasional trip through SLC or (weirdly) MFE to get aircraft back and forth to EV and XE maintenance bases.

      I think Delta would have more staying power in LAX if they’d just, well, stay there. Pulling in and out of the market so much does little to build up a loyal customer base IMO.

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