Spirit Airlines today announced plans to add three new routes from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, although there is one route that particularly intrigues me.
LaGuardia Transcon flight operated by Spirit Airlines
Starting June 12, 2021, Spirit Airlines will offer a Saturday-only service between New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Los Angeles (LAX)..
The schedule for this 2,469 mile flight has not yet been announced. I would expect it to fly west in the morning and east in the afternoon, but I could also be completely wrong.
LaGuardia’s perimeter rule
You might be thinking, “Why on earth are you talking about a Transcon flight once a week with Spirit Airlines?” I find this route so interesting because it was last operated by an airline 15 years ago, in 2006.
This is all related to LaGuardia’s perimeter rule. This means that airlines are prohibited from operating non-stop flights to points that are more than 1,500 miles from the airport. Why is there the perimeter rule? Well, it was set up by the Port Authority to ultimately protect New York JFK and Newark airports.
There are two exceptions to the perimeter rule – flights to Denver and flights on Saturdays. For anyone wondering about the Denver Exemption, this one exists because when the rule was introduced in 1984 it was the only route over 1,500 miles, so an exception was made.
The perimeter rule does not apply on Saturdays as LaGuardia is largely a business airport and therefore the airport is much quieter. This is exactly what Spirit Airlines uses here. Of course, there’s a bit of irony here – a long-term LGA to LAX would be an absolute main business route, but now we’re seeing an ultra-low-cost airline operating that route over the weekend.
Why aren’t more airlines operating this route?
It’s possible I’m missing something obvious here. In that case, please let me know. But why hasn’t any other airline operated a Saturday flight from LGA to LAX in the last 15 years?
Airlines typically have a little more room in their LGA flight schedule on weekends, and presumably Americans could route at least some of their A321Ts from LAX to LGA instead of JFK on Saturdays. Why don’t airlines do this? I can find a few answers, but I think I might be missing something:
- Is this because balancing slots at JFK and LGA is too complicated? Before the coronavirus, there were restrictions on the use or loss of slots. Would transferring flights from JFK to LGA on Saturdays bring airlines below the minimum slot requirements?
- Or is it ultimately about managing expectations? These routes are largely based on business travelers. So you don’t want to get people excited about flying between LGA and LAX only to realize that only a small percentage of flights can be done this way.
Starting this summer, Spirit Airlines will offer a Saturday-only service between LGA and LAX. Spirit Airlines is the first airline to operate this route in around 15 years.
The reason this route is largely not served is because of LaGaurdia’s perimeter rule that most flights over 1,500 miles from the New York area must be operated from EEA or JFK.
How do you see Spirit’s unique flight from LGA to LAX? Ingenious, kind of pointless or meh?