Hello. I have been very interested in logistics and I will be majoring in Supply Chain Management starting this upcoming school year at the University of Kansas! I want to share what I have found in route and business strategy in the United States from the Big 3 but also the other guys like JetBlue, Spirit, Alaska/Virgin, Allegiant, Southwest and everybody's favorite Frontier (nobody on a.net has decided to qualitatively debacle F9's business/route strategy). I can spell out numbers but anyone can go to the FAA or DOT website and find those. I believe that numbers are important but a.net holds a place for qualitative discussion as well. Wendover Productions on YouTube has some good videos on the economics of airlines. I would highly recommend checking those out. I am going to make a thread for each mainline airline in the United States.
The big three are all heavily dependent on their hub and spoke network. But I would say that American and United are more hub and spoke than Delta is. I live in Chicago so I don’t see too many Delta operations.
I actually started writing about AA first but decided I needed to tackle Frontier first because I found weird routes that compete with AA on some routes. Frontier(F9)
Hubs - DEN
Focus Cities- AUS, ATL, ORD, CVG, CLE, LAS, MIA, MCO, PHL, RDU, TTN (ISP maybe?)
If someone could sort the focus cities by number of departures and available seat miles that would be cool.
Frontier started as regular airline, but once it went into bankruptcy they emerged as an ULCC. They have a hub in Denver they started before they became a ULCC. To me this looks like a combination of a point and spoke and a point to point model with a heavy focus on focus cities. I believe that they are trying to do something similar to Allegiant and flow people in from all over to vacation spots, sometimes using secondary airports. While the route map looks ugly and confusing as hell and while not all routes are sound business decisions I believe that the their unique model has a place in the industry. Southwest has the best point to point network in the country. They do a very good job at it. The problem with high aircraft utilization (using aircraft at all hours including in the middle of the night), many point to point routes, and non daily service makes for messy connections. I can often see 15+ hour connections on Frontier in DEN. Funny enough, it is still often cheaper than other nonstop flights. I saw some video on some flight attendant boot camp TV show with Frontier before they transformed into a ULCC. They had PTV's at every seat. I believe that one reason legacy type service did not work for F9 was that UA had a much better route network out of DEN and F9 could not compete on price.
If I could make a comparison I would say they are a Allegiant/Southwest/Delta hybrid.
Allegiant - Small cities with a decent population not far from highly populated areas to vacation spots using non daily service.
Southwest - A lot of point to point flying attracting families and vacationers between cities not served nonstop with high enough frequency by the big 3.
Delta - A huge (relative to the rest of the airlines operation) hub with a bunch of smaller focus cities. While Delta has multiple hubs their Atlanta hub has more than double the daily departures of the next biggest one.
For their hard and soft product I would say that they are most comparable to Spirit. I applaud the airline industry for lowering the barrier of entry for more people to fly. Ben Schlappig/Lucky on the One Mile at a Time blog speaks about his experience with two passengers on Spirit.
“Here’s the thing — I’m happy that Spirit Airlines makes flying more accessible, and that’s in everyone’s best interest. At the same time, the crowd on this flight reminded me a lot of the people you’d find sitting at slot machines in Las Vegas at 6AM on a Sunday morning smoking cigarettes and still drinking. It actually made me sort of sad.
During boarding the lady came running up to her husband and said “that [n-word] tried to move my bag in the overhead bin. I’m also sitting next to a [certain s-word].” I was floored.
A few minutes later I heard someone use the c-word, though I didn’t catch the context of that. Just wow…
My only issue with Spirit is the passengers. I’m happy that travel is made more accessible, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much racism or bad language as on this flight. And this was a Los Angeles to Seattle flight, which is pretty civilized as far as Spirit routes go. I can’t imagine what a Spirit redeye out of Las Vegas on a Sunday night is like.”
For the whole article https://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com ... at-review/
I will talk more about this and the Big Front Seat in my Spirit post. I have flown 3 legs on ULCC’s ORD-SEA, SEA-ORD (actually a TR I started that I need to finish) and BOS-ORD. The only problem I had with passengers was on the SEA-ORD red eye flight. The flight leaves at about midnight Seattle time and arrives into Chicago at about 5:40 the next morning. Because it is a red eye the flight attendants are quiet, announcements are kept to the minimum, and the lights are off. In front of me two people are having a loud conversation. Not yelling, but definitely not whispering, and maybe even a little louder than a “normal voice”. While this would be acceptable for a daytime flight it really bugged me for a nighttime flight. I told the flight attendant and he said that “they are not yelling, and it’s kinda like a public bus I can’t tell them they cannot speak”. He was eager to help me move my stuff and got me a quiet seat in the front of the plane. He definitely made up for that experience. If the flight was more full I do not know what I or the flight attendant would do.
Yes, the seats are very tight and do not recline, the routes are spotty, bags are very expensive, but you can often find prices (sometimes even with bags) for half as much as a big 3 airline. n general I think F9 is a little cheaper than Spirit (at least out of ORD) because they have sales more often. The best fare I have ever found was a 3 day 2 night trip from ORD - ISP for $54 round trip including all taxes and fees with just 1 personal item that can fit under your seat. A good deal to New York City area for me on any non ULCC would most likely be AA or UA to LGA which sometimes has $100ish round trips. If I am lucky that includes a carry on in addition to a personal item. Still twice as much as F9. While that was just a good find I am confident that most part of the year I can find ORD ISP round trips on Frontier for about $100.
Frontier recently moved their operations at ORD from the L concourse of T3 with the other non UA/DL/AA domestic carriers (with the exception of Alaska) to T5. I believe they are the only non international carrier at T5. I wonder if they are planning on expanding further from ORD.
As a whole I have never flown F9 but if they could get their act together like Spirit (which I have flown) has recently and start posting some industry standard on time arrivals I think they can attract more customers.
I would love to see Sam Chui fly a ULLC.
Please add your comments I am so excited to learn more about Frontier and all airlines and look forward to hearing more from you. Especially people in the industry. I am just an 18 year old most people on here know more about the aviation industry than me!