Disney Downside Possible with Latest Airline Merger

Attention Mickey fans: The latest airline merger could throw a wrench in your travel plans. Not so much for those heading to Disneyland outside of Los Angeles but to Disney World in Orlando. Same holds true for the adult playground of Las Vegas. Smaller-cities could see fewer flights. Here’s why.

Listen as airfare expert Rick Seaney explains the nuances to editor Anne McDermott:

Important things about the merger it pays to know

Merger May Reduce Flights to Cities like Orlando

Much has been made about the lack of overlap in hubs and non-stop routes for American Airlines and US Airways – which announced their merger on Valentine’s Day. Nevertheless, there is some overlap:

  • Overlapping hub regions: LA/Phoenix/Dallas and New York/Philadelphia
  • Potential solution: Phoenix and Philadelphia could see downsizing, fewer flights

At the same time, this is not great news for travelers since we will likely see fewer flight frequencies and less competition to places like Orlando which usually means more expensive flights (unless oil prices leap, or the economy takes another dive or similar dire situation).

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Don’t Count on Discounters

Some experts say, pressure for lower prices will be exerted by the so-called discount airlines, but my response is – have you really looked at their prices lately? Check out non-sale airfares on JetBlue or Southwest, to name just a couple, and you’ll see prices not unlike those of the traditionally more expensive legacy carriers.

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Two Silver Linings

One bright spot is Allegiant Airlines which services more than 40 cities to Orlando (as does Southwest). However, it should be noted that Allegiant doesn’t fly to Orlando International (MCO) but to Orlando’s Sanford Airport (SFB) which is further away from Mickey’s world (26 miles from Orlando vs. six from MCO), plus Allegiant’s flights only originate from smaller airports that typically have little or no competition.

Plus, travelers themselves an effective weapon at their disposal – the ability to shut their wallets if prices get too high. If this veto is exercised, watch airfare prices drop. We’ve seen it before.

More from Rick Seaney:

Merger Means Higher Airfare for Leisure Travelers


Published: February 21, 2013