Alaska Pulls The Plug On New York JFK To Los Angeles Route

Alaska Airlines is pulling the plug on its JFK – LAX flights, one of the nation’s most competitive domestic routes. The airline will drop the route from its schedule from October 6th and “focus resources” on other transcontinental routes.

Alaska Airlines 737-990
Alaska Airlines has dropped JFK – LAX from its fall schedule. Photo: Getty Images

Alaska Airlines abandons JFK – LAX

From October 6th, Alaska Airlines will no longer operate between New York JFK and Los Angeles. The airline, which planned to cut flights between the two airports down to just a single daily flight by the fall, will instead pull out entirely.

The airline said in a statement,

“In the wake of the pandemic and our recovery from it, Alaska Airlines has reassessed our network strategy. We’re focusing our resources on where we can best compete and provide the most consistent, superior service to our guests.”

Alaska Getty
The airline will still fly to LAX out of nearby Newark International Airport. Photo: Getty Images

Alaska didn’t fly between JFK – LAX until its merger with Virgin America was completed in April 2018. At its peak, the carrier operated five daily flights alongside its EWR – LAX service from nearby Newark International Airport. However, with air travel demand still recovering due to the pandemic, the airline currently operates just two daily flights on the route.

Alaska will not give up any of its slots at JFK and instead focus on other West Coast destinations, including San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. The airline will also keep its lounge in Terminal 7 at JFK. Customers who have purchased JFK – LAX fares with Alaska Airlines after October 6th will be contacted by the airline.

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Why has Alaska pulled out?

The JFK – LAX route, one of the most competitive in the U.S, is also served by American, Delta, JetBlue, and United, all of which offer a superior premium service compared to Alaska. Alaska Airlines is the only carrier that doesn’t offer lie-flat seats on this route, with premium-paying travelers more likely to opt for a rival carrier.

Despite compensating for its below-par premium product by offering cheaper fares, other services, such as JetBlue’s Mint cabin, are simply too good to compete with.

Alaska First Class
Alaska was the only airline not to offer lie-flat seats on the route. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Alaska, defended the airline’s premium product, saying,

“We are very thankful that we maintained a non-lie-flat position. We think our first-class seats are spot-on for the demand environment.”

Reorganizing its transcontinental strategy

Alaska has reorganized its transcontinental routes in light of its exit from JFK – LAX. The airline plans to offer 25 daily flights between JFK (12 flights) and Newark (13 flights) and cities along the West Coast.

The airline believes its resources can be better applied to other transcontinental routes that are less competitive than JFK – LAX.

  • Seattle-JFK, 4 daily nonstops
  • San Francisco—JFK, 4 daily nonstops
  • Portland-JFK, 2 daily nonstops
  • San Diego-JFK, 2 daily nonstops
  • Seattle—Newark, 4 daily nonstops
  • Los Angeles-Newark, 4 daily nonstops
  • San Francisco-Newark, 3 daily nonstops
  • Portland-Newark, 1 daily nonstop
  • San Diego-Newark, 1 daily nonstop
Alaska Boeing 737-900
The airline will still offer regular flights to the West Coast out of JFK. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The airline added in a statement,

“Our biggest strength is our core markets on the West Coast, including Seattle, San Francisco, Portland and San Diego.”

What do you think of Alaska’s decision to abandon its JFK – LAX flights? Let us know your insights in the comments.