by Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY
American Airlines is expanding its East Coast “Shuttle” service to include Chicago O’Hare.
That will come April 4, when American will begin hourly service between New York LaGuardia and Chicago O’Hare. The route will become the fourth to join the company’s Shuttle network, with American converting its existing 15 LaGuardia-O’Hare weekday round-trips into Shuttle-branded service. The flights are operated on Boeing 737-800 jets.
By designating the flights as part of the American Airlines Shuttle schedule, customers flying between the cities will be offered the same service and flexibility as on American’s other Shuttle routes.
Airline “shuttle” service has long been popular with business customers on the East Coast, where Delta and American each offer hourly or near-hourly weekday service on routes connecting New York LaGuardia to Washington Reagan National and Boston. American also offers Shuttle service between Washington National and Boston.
Delta added New York LaGuardia-Chicago O’Hare to its East Coast Shuttle schedule in 2010. Now, American is set to go head-to-head against Delta on that city-pair.
The Shuttle frequencies are marketed toward business fliers, who can easily make same-day return trips or catch earlier or later flights if their schedules change. Shuttle fliers get separate check-in areas, where they can check in as little as 20 minutes before a scheduled departure.
Many of the regulars on the airlines’ Shuttle routes are top-tier frequent-fliers that rank among the most lucrative customers in the industry.
“When you fly frequently for work, anything that can make the regular commute more comfortable is important,” Alison Taylor, American’s senior vice president, Global Sales and Distribution, said in a statement announcing the company’s Shuttle expansion. “That’s why we’re pleased to offer valuable time-saving opportunities with our Shuttle, including a convenient and consistent schedule and extended check-in times for you and your bag.”
In 2016, Delta tried expanding its Shuttle-style service to the West Coast for customers flying between the Pacific Coast’s three biggest business centers: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. While Delta still continues to offer nonstop service between those cities, it abandoned its Shuttle approach to those flights earlier this month.