Airlines Cut, Add Flights: Which Passengers Win, Which Passengers Lose

Grim news out of Cleveland: United Airlines is reportedly beginning a massive downsizing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and will slash flights out of the unprofitable hub by 60 percent. But this isn’t the only airline making big changes, and not all of these changes are bad. Here’s a rundown.

Listen: Airfare expert Rick Seaney on what this means for passengers.

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Losers: Cleveland Passengers

Reductions out of this one-time hub for Continental (which merged with United in 2010) will begin incrementally now through June leaving Cleveland with just 72 “peak-day flights” from the city, according to news reports. As of now, Cleveland offers 165 daily departures on United. Most are described as regional departures and those travelers will be hit hard, as will many of the employees at Cleveland.

Losers: Other Smaller City Passengers

Travel analyst and FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney says loss of service for those living in smaller cities (and some not-so-small) has been an ongoing and ominous trend for some time now as airlines scale back less-profitable routes in an effort to increase revenue. “I call the new airline business model ‘Fill Every Seat’ and it’s not going to change anytime soon,” said Seaney.

Tip: Those affected should compare airfare prices from your hometown airport with prices from the next biggest airport to see if a longer drive to a more distant airport is worth the trip (it just might be).

Winners: Southwest’s Dallas Passengers

The win here is a direct result of the lifting of the Wright Amendment which will happen in October of this year and Southwest has already announced a list of 15 new non-stops out of Dallas Love Field including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

Winners: Washington, D.C. Passengers

As a result of American’s agreement to divest itself of some take-off and landing slots at Washington, D.C.’s convenient Reagan airport, JetBlue and Southwest have taken them over which will mean more non-stops to more cities.


Published: February 3, 2014