A few years ago when my travel first started to really pick up, I heard the phrase “The Southwest Effect,” referring to the decrease in airfare that happens when Southwest Airlines starts serving a particular airport/destination.
We lived in Massachusetts at the time and Delta was my primary carrier. I would fly to Baltimore for work and fares on Delta were generally about $250 round-trip. Shortly after I started that travel, Southwest began flying from Boston to Baltimore and they were offering fares as low as $39 one-way. Seeing competition from Southwest, Delta responded and lowered their fares. I remember once paying $105 round-trip on Delta; but the fares definitely came down. I could even route through Detroit to pick up a whole bunch of additional miles. In the end, my flying changed a little due to better schedules and I mixed my flights between Southwest and Delta. If the prices were similar across the board and I had time, I would likely take the Delta flight with the extra connection. Southwest forced Delta’s hand and the consumers won on lower prices and more flights.
Shortly after Southwest started serving Boston and Baltimore, JetBlue increased their flight schedule to compete and dropped their prices as well; consumers now had almost hourly flights between Boston and Baltimore across several carriers. Eventually Delta dropped their non-stop flights and conceded defeat to Southwest and JetBlue.
Fast forward a few years and we moved to Savannah, Georgia. A relatively small airport served by American, Delta, US Airways and United; the big legacy airline. Savannah was begging for a low cost carrier to service but couldn’t get a bite. Southwest and JetBlue added service to Charleston, South Carolina which only frustrated me. How come they get service??? We’re the better city, right???
After another year or so it was finally announced that JetBlue would start service from New York/JFK and Boston. Delta operated 2 or 3 flights a day to New York/LaGuardia, as did United to Newark, but nothing to Boston.
The non-stop flights to the New York/New Jersey area typically ranged from $250-$450 round-trip; flights to Boston were in a similar range, usually $40-$50 more expensive. JetBlue’s announcement came with twice daily flights from JFK to Savannah and Boston to Savannah operated by their E190 aircraft; a regional jet. Within the first month they upgraded service to their larger A320 aircraft, adding capacity for 50 more people per flight; the market demand is there.
My family now has one less excuse for not visiting and with prices dropping on average $100 round-trip, they’ll have more convenient flights at lower prices (and they can check a bag for free while they watch satellite TV). Just last week flights for $118 round-trip popped up; at those prices a single Barclaycard Arrival can get my brother, sister-in-law, and niece all to Savannah … and still have over $100 of free travel left in miles on the card.
I don’t think we’ll see the non-stop flight Delta previously offered between Boston and Savannah, but Delta has added three additional flights from New York (JFK) to Savannah (SAV) and are pricing them directly with JetBlue. We have a significant increase in capacity, two new non-stop destinations, and hopefully now some motivation for Southwest to start flying to Savannah!
What JetBlue has done for Savannah has a great impact for me when looking to get to Boston or New York, but we need to all realize the impact that JetBlue and Southwest can have on a destination you’re looking to visit. Perhaps you’re thinking of planning a trip and deciding between two destinations. You might very well find airfare to one location significantly less expensive if serviced by either JetBlue or Southwest.
There is a JetBlue credit card from American Express and several Southwest cards from Chase. JetBlue points can also be transferred in from American Express Membership Rewards and Southwest Rapid Rewards can come in from Chase Ultimate Rewards, which open up the flexibility of their programs as well.
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