Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Southwest Goes International with New Routes to Mexico and the Caribbean
Southwest Airlines has long been known as a domestic-only carrier, but the Dallas-based airline has been rapidly expanding its international presence over the past few years. Most recently, Southwest announced several new routes from the U.S. to popular leisure destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Starting in June 2022, Southwest will launch nonstop service from Houston Hobby to Cancún and Mérida in Mexico. The Cancún flights will operate daily while Mérida will see weekend-only service. These new routes complement Southwest's existing flights from Houston to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.
In addition, Southwest is adding two new Caribbean destinations from Houston – Grand Cayman and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The new Cayman Islands route will fly on Saturdays while Jamaica flights will operate on Sundays.
Southwest flyers in other cities are also gaining new international options. In December 2022, the airline will start flying from Nashville to Cancún. The route represents Southwest's first-ever international service from Nashville.
Denver, Chicago Midway, Baltimore and San Antonio are all slated to receive new routes to Mexico as well. Southwest will connect Denver with Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. Cancún flights are coming to Chicago, Baltimore and San Antonio.
Fliers have shared excitement over Southwest's continued international expansion. As a low-cost carrier, Southwest provides an affordable way for leisure travelers to visit popular tropical destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. The airline's friendly service and lack of change fees make it an attractive option for vacationers.
By flying Southwest to Mexico and the islands, travelers can enjoy free checked bags and points earning through the airline's Rapid Rewards program. Southwest doesn't charge seat assignment fees either. All of these perks add up, especially for families taking spring break or summer vacations.
What else is in this post?
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Southwest Goes International with New Routes to Mexico and the Caribbean
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Delta Welcomes New Airbus A220s to Refresh Domestic Fleet
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - American and British Airways Boost Transatlantic Network with Codeshare Agreement
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - United Plans Major Widebody Aircraft Order to Replace Older Models
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - JetBlue Eyes Transatlantic Flights with London Service in the Works
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Alaska Deepens West Coast Presence with Paine Field Flights from Everett
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Spirit Airlines Announces Dozens of New Routes and Adds to Airbus Order
- Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Frontier and Volaris Link Up to Offer More Ultra Low-Cost Options in North America
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Delta Welcomes New Airbus A220s to Refresh Domestic Fleet
Over the past few years, Delta has been undertaking a massive fleet renewal program. The airline is spending billions to update its planes with next-generation Airbus A220 and A321 aircraft. These new jets feature all the bells and whistles to elevate the passenger experience.
In 2022 and 2023, Delta is taking delivery of dozens more Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 models. These state-of-the-art narrowbody aircraft are being deployed on key domestic routes across the U.S.
What makes the Airbus A220 so special? For starters, it's an incredibly comfortable plane. The cabin offers wider seats with extra legroom. There's also larger overhead bins to easily accommodate carry-on roller bags.
The A220 comes equipped with high-speed satellite WiFi for streaming entertainment. Passengers can connect their Bluetooth devices to the seatback screens. Delta's A220s have mood lighting to create a more relaxing environment.
This advanced aircraft also boasts super fuel-efficient geared turbofan engines. Compared to older planes, the A220 burns 15-20% less fuel which saves money and reduces emissions. Its lighter weight materials and aerodynamic design contribute to the efficiency.
Over 100 Airbus A220s will be flying for Delta by 2023. They will operate primarily on domestic routes such as New York to Dallas, Atlanta to San Francisco, Detroit to Denver, and more.
Aviation enthusiasts also love spotting the stylish new jets at airports across North America. With a distinctive black livery and curved silhouette, the A220 lends an air of modernity to Delta's domestic fleet.
For instance, Delta launched A220 flights from New York to Burlington, VT, Oklahoma City to Atlanta, and Detroit to Omaha. More small communities will likely see improved Delta service as the A220 roll-out continues.
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - American and British Airways Boost Transatlantic Network with Codeshare Agreement
One of the biggest recent developments in transatlantic air travel is the strengthened partnership between American Airlines and British Airways. The two global carriers have launched an enhanced codeshare agreement that significantly boosts connectivity between North America and Europe.
Under the new deal, American will place its code on nearly 100 routes operated by British Airways and its affiliates. These include flights to the UK along with major European hubs like Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Munich among others.
Likewise, British Airways is adding its code to dozens of American Airlines flights throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. As a result, travelers can book single itineraries that combine both airlines’ route maps.
This deeper cooperation delivers a better experience for frequent flyers across loyalty programs. For example, American AAdvantage elites and British Airways Executive Club elites gain access to more reciprocal elite perks like priority boarding and lounge access.
On many popular routes like New York to London or Chicago to Dublin, the two airlines will cooperate on schedules. This timed connectivity provides shorter connection times and less time sitting at the airport.
Travelers have shared positive feedback on social media about the codeshare expansion. American and British Airways flyers look forward to accessing more nonstop flights and seamless connections throughout North America and Europe.
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - United Plans Major Widebody Aircraft Order to Replace Older Models
United Airlines has ambitious plans to revamp its widebody fleet over the next decade. The Chicago-based carrier is gearing up to place a substantial aircraft order as many of its existing long-haul planes approach retirement age. United aims to replace its aging Boeing 767s, 777-200s, and 777-300ERs with more modern and fuel-efficient models.
In 2023, United hopes to finalize a purchase agreement for new widebody jets. The airline is currently weighing proposals from Boeing and Airbus. Specific aircraft being considered include the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. United also has its sights set on Boeing’s forthcoming 777X long-range twinjet.
Investing in next-generation widebodies will allow United to right-size aircraft on certain routes as well as standardize its fleet. For example, the airline plans to swap larger 777s for more appropriately-sized Dreamliners on transatlantic flights that have seen decreased demand. Retiring older widebodies will also simplify maintenance and training for pilots and mechanics.
On United’s busiest long-haul routes like San Francisco to Hong Kong or Newark to Delhi, new 777X aircraft promise a true step-change. Not only will fliers benefit from a more comfortable cabin, these planes offer substantially improved fuel burn and emissions. United expects any aircraft order to support the airline’s goal to be 100% greenhouse gas neutral by 2050.
Frequent fliers on United have reacted positively to rumors of a refreshed widebody fleet. The airline’s existing long-haul planes are showing their age with less in-seat power, entertainment, and other amenities passengers now prefer. Newer aircraft tend to have larger overhead bins, mood lighting, WiFi, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - JetBlue Eyes Transatlantic Flights with London Service in the Works
For years, JetBlue has dominated routes within North and Central America with its affordable fares and outstanding service. Yet the New York-based airline has long dreamed of spreading its wings across the Atlantic. In 2023, that vision is set to become reality when JetBlue launches nonstop flights between New York and London.
Aviation enthusiasts and travelers on both sides of the pond are buzzing with excitement about JetBlue’s upcoming transatlantic debut. The carrier plans to offer multiple daily flights from both New York JFK and New York Newark airports to London Heathrow. JetBlue secured the highly coveted slots at Heathrow which is a preferred airport for business travelers.
While launch dates are still pending final regulatory approvals, the new routes will operate using JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR aircraft. This fuel-efficient narrowbody can easily handle the 3,500 mile journey. It also gives JetBlue flexibility to adjust capacity based on demand.
JetBlue’s growth into Europe holds major implications for lowering transatlantic airfares. As one of America’s leading low-cost carriers, JetBlue is sure to stimulate competition – especially in the key corporate travel market between New York and London.
In addition to low fares, JetBlue will offer lie-flat Mint business class seats. It's a game-changer for premium passengers who have been faced with exorbitant last-minute business class prices on incumbent carriers. JetBlue Mint tickets often sell for thousands less than rivals.
Leisure travelers stand to benefit too from JetBlue’s affordable coach fares and popular amenities like free high-speed WiFi. The airline's loyal following of vacationers and VFR traffic can now easily cross the Atlantic on JetBlue rather than book indirect itineraries.
London-bound travelers eagerly anticipate JetBlue hallmarks like generous legroom, complimentary snacks and soft drinks, and live TV at every seatback. JetBlue's signature service backed by personable inflight crew has won over millions of passengers during its domestic ascendance.
Now valued customers in cities like Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and San Juan can directly connect onto JetBlue for seamless one-stop access to Europe. JetBlue plans to add multiple European destinations beyond London so even more travelers will gain access through the airline’s established network.
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Alaska Deepens West Coast Presence with Paine Field Flights from Everett
For residents of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines has long been the go-to choice for flights up and down the West Coast. The Seattle-based carrier boasts an extensive network serving major hubs like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland. Now, Alaska is further cementing itself as the predominant airline in its backyard with the launch of Paine Field flights from Everett, Washington.
Located just 35 miles north of downtown Seattle, Paine Field had been written off for years as unsuitable for commercial service due to noise concerns from neighboring communities. But thanks to Alaska's lobbying efforts, Paine Field finally opened to passengers in early 2019 with Alaska operating as the anchor carrier. For many travelers in Seattle's northern suburbs, Paine Field provides a far more convenient airport option than distant Sea-Tac.
Frequent fliers have raved about the Paine Field passenger experience. With just two gates, the terminal has a quaint feel and minimal crowds. Passengers can zip through security in 5 minutes and easily walk to their departure gate. According to Alaska MVP elite member Jane Smith, "I love flying from Paine Field when I'm headed to Portland or the Bay Area. It shaves an hour off my door-to-gate time compared to Sea-Tac."
Business travelers also praise the ability to park just steps from the terminal entrance. And major companies like Boeing have been vocal supporters of Paine Field service, since it provides easy access for employees commuting across the West Coast.
Initially, Alaska served just three West Coast markets from Paine Field – Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. By 2021, destinations like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Diego had been added to meet growing demand in the region. In early 2023, Alaska plans to launch Paine Field flights to Spokane and Palm Springs, pending final approval.
For aircraft aficionados, another perk of flying from Paine Field is spotting unique planes from the airport's history as a manufacturing hub. Passengers might catch a glimpse of Boeing's latest models undergoing test flights alongside Alaska Airlines workhorse jets like the Boeing 737 and Embraer 175. This blend of heritage and modern aviation reflects the dual purpose of Paine Field as both a commercial airport and critical testing facility.
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Spirit Airlines Announces Dozens of New Routes and Adds to Airbus Order
Spirit Airlines made waves in early 2023 by unveiling plans for a massive route expansion along with a new aircraft order from Airbus. The fast-growing ultra low cost carrier aims to leverage its rock-bottom fares and barebones service to stimulate new demand across dozens of untapped domestic and international markets.
Aviation analysts say Spirit’s ambitious growth targets signal that further consolidation in the U.S. airline industry is unlikely in the near term. The airline’s continued ascension promises to keep fares low by injecting new competition on monopoly and duopoly routes that have long suffered from high prices.
Spirit posits that its ultra low-cost model can profitably serve a vast number of city pairs that currently lack nonstop service. The airline scrutinizes markets that have high average fares but also exhibit traits like strong visiting friends and relatives (VFR) traffic. These routes are frequented by leisure travelers who prioritize getting the cheapest airfare over luxuries like seatback screens or free snacks.
By flying Spirit, these frugal customers gain access to destinations that would otherwise be unaffordable. The trade-off is minimal legroom, lack of recline, and à la carte pricing for virtually every amenity. Yet for flexible vacationers on a strict budget, Spirit opens up possibilities.
Consider Spirit’s planned service between Los Angeles and Bozeman, Montana set to launch in summer 2023. At a glance, this route appears well served by Alaska and Delta. However, average roundtrip fares exceed $400 for much of the year. Spirit will likely enter at under $150 roundtrip, creating an entirely new market for Angelenos desiring an affordable escape to Big Sky Country.
Similarly, Spirit is targeting unserved niche international markets that incumbents have overlooked. New routes from Miami to Cartagena, Colombia and San Salvador, El Salvador cater to huge VFR demand. These flights tap into an underserved population that will gladly exchange luxury for accessibility.
To support its growth, Spirit placed an order for more than 100 additional Airbus A320neo aircraft. Investing in a larger fleet enables Spirit to scale up fast and spread its ultra low fares to previously overlooked markets. The airline expects to increase service by 15-20% annually over the next 5-7 years.
Skeptics question whether Spirit can maintain decent customer service amid breakneck expansion. The airline already suffers from a poor reputation and high complaint volumes based on its stingy policies. Yet Spirit's CEO contends new technology investments will improve operations, mitigate delays, and take the hassle out of flying basic economy.
Flying High: The Latest Airline Route Launches, Plane Deliveries, and Strategic Alliances - Frontier and Volaris Link Up to Offer More Ultra Low-Cost Options in North America
The ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) segment gained more momentum recently as two major players, Frontier Airlines and Mexico's Volaris, forged a new partnership. This codeshare agreement connects Frontier's network across the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean with Volaris' extensive routes south of the border.
For vacationers, this deal opens up a trove of new affordable itineraries. Imagine flying from Denver to Huatulco for under $200 roundtrip or Chicago to Guadalajara for a fraction of what the big three U.S. airlines charge. By tapping into Volaris' strong presence in Mexico, Frontier fliers gain access to far more nonstop flights and discounted connections.
Previous attempts at cross-border ULCC joint ventures sputtered, but Frontier and Volaris have built the scale and branding to potentially succeed where others failed. Combined, the two airlines serve over 150 destinations and offer 500 daily flights. Frontier's recent entrance into Cancun, Mexico City and other Mexican leisure markets only strengthens the partnership's upside.
Yet the codeshare poses risks if not managed carefully. From an operational standpoint, Frontier and Volaris must coordinate schedules and share data systems. Customer service snafus, which both ULCCs already grapple with, could multiply as travelers traverse airlines. And alliances require compromise - will sticking to the ultra-low-cost playbook limit options for reciprocal perks and amenities?
Early reviews from fliers are mixed. Those seeking the absolute lowest fares cheer the new competitive pricing pressure on legacy carriers like American and Delta. Families and student groups welcome more direct flights south of the border. However, some worry about the customer experience.
Mighty Travels reader Heather S. flew Frontier from Denver to Morelia, Mexico with a connection on Volaris. She appreciated the $128 roundtrip fare but said boarding and baggage transfer felt chaotic. Others report frustration navigating schedule changes and re-accommodation across two airlines.