Which Airline Is Best For Flying Between New York And Los Angeles?

Advertisement:

One of the most premium domestic routes is between New York and Los Angeles. After looking at London to New York, now we turn our attention to this lucrative route.

With plenty of daily flights, passengers have a variety of options when it comes to selecting an airline. However, with a lot of choice can come a lot of chaos. Let’s take a look at which airline is the best to fly between the two cities.

Aircraft
Which airline will come out on top? Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

The methodology

Simple Flying is using the following methodology to rank these airlines. Each airline will be scored out of 10 possible points in the following criteria:

Advertisement:
  • Schedule
  • Aircraft
  • Onboard product
  • Pricing

The scale will be from one to ten, with ten being best and one the worst. With that, let’s take a look at each airline in alphabetical order. For the purpose of the schedule, we will examine both the summer and winter operations. Roundtrip prices are examined based on options across multiple dates and represents pricing across the next few months.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines, with their main hub in Seattle, does operate routes between New York and Los Angeles. Some of these routes were inherited from their merger with Virgin America.

Alaska
Alaska Airlines also flies between New York and Los Angeles. Photo: Alaska Airlines
Schedule

Alaska Airlines operates the following schedule of summer departures:

Advertisement:
  • 7:35AM from EWR
  • 7:40AM from JFK
  • 11:30AM from JFK
  • 1:25PM from JFK
  • 4:00PM from EWR
  • 4:55PM from JFK
  • 7:25PM from EWR
  • 8:05PM from JFK

And, in winter:

  • 7:30AM after JFK
  • 7:45AM from EWR
  • 11:30AM from JFK
  • 1:05PM from JFK
  • 3:55PM from EWR
  • 4:55PM from JFK
  • 7:05PM from EWR
  • 8:15PM from JFK

These departure times are quite in-line with each other. And, since Alaska does not decrease their frequencies in winter, this gives them a leg up. Furthermore, Alaska Airlines also operates from multiple New York-area airports. That is a fantastic opportunity for passengers. However, Alaska is a little lax when it comes to mid-morning departures. This gives Alaska a 9/10 for schedule.

Aircraft

Alaska operates a mix of Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft. In terms of narrowbodies, these are a bit similar as they are newer. Also, Alaska Airlines is in the midst of a bit of a cabin refresh. However, these aircraft are narrowbodies which detracts a bit from overall passenger comfort. Alaska gets a 9/10 in this category.

Advertisement:
Onboard product

Alaska’s aircraft feature recliner-style First Class and economy class seating. These aircraft are configured for regular domestic use and, as such, do not offer anything particularly special.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska’s aircraft are in a standard domestic configuration. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Unfortunately, this loses a few points for Alaska since other carriers offer lie-flat seats in premium cabins.

Alaska gets a 7/10 for this section.

Pricing

Here are roundtrip prices in the following cabins from New York to Los Angeles:

  • Business: $1,000-$2,000
  • Economy: $250-$450

Alaska’s economy pricing is on par with competitors. However, their business class offering is just not up to scratch compared with lie-flat seats on other carriers. Alaska gets an 8/10 for pricing.

Overall

Alaska’s overall score is 33/40.

American Airlines

American Airlines is the largest of U.S. carriers by fleet size. With over 900 aircraft in mainline service, there are plenty of options on American Airlines from New York to Los Angeles. Let’s take a look.

American Airlines
American Airlines operates several daily flights between New York and Los Angeles. Photo: American Airlines
Schedule

On August 30th, American Airlines operates 10 daily flights between New York and Los Angeles. Departure times include the following:

  • 6:00AM
  • 8:00AM
  • 9:00AM
  • 11:00AM
  • 12:29PM
  • 5:00PM
  • 6:30PM
  • 8:00PM
  • 8:45PM
  • 9:00PM

American concentrates their departures in the morning and later evening. With 10 available times, passengers have multiple options. However, the absence of a mid-afternoon departure loses American one point.

The schedule changes when it comes to winter. With a peak of 12 daily departures, here is the schedule of departures:

  • 6:00AM
  • 7:00AM
  • 8:00AM
  • 10:00AM
  • 11:00AM
  • 12:00PM
  • 2:30PM
  • 3:30PM
  • 5:00PM
  • 6:00PM
  • 8:15PM
  • 9:15PM

American’s winter schedule is fantastic. There are upwards of 12 daily departures across multiple portions of the day. American, however, loses another point for only operating out of New York-JFK, reducing options for passengers. 

This gives American a score of 8/10 for schedule.

Aircraft

All of these flights are operated with Airbus A321 aircraft. For most travelers, this would mean a two-class configuration with recliner first seatings. However, this is untrue for American’s A321; more on that in the next section.

The A321s are new, modern aircraft that are quieter and burn less fuel. And, they work well for this transcontinental route. Although, they are not widebodies and thus, they lose a point when it comes to comfort. American gets a 9/10 for this section.

Onboard product

American’s A321Ts fly this route. These are three-class aircraft containing first, business, and economy. The first class is in a 1-1 configuration. There are 10 lie-flat reverse herringbone seats in this cabin.

First Class
American Airlines First Class on an A321T. Photo: American Airlines

Next up, business class also consists of lie-flat seats. Although, this is in an angled 2-2 configuration.

American Business Class
A321T business class. Photo: American

Economy class is in a standard 3-3 configuration. But, this comes with in-seat power and seatback entertainment.

American’s onboard product is solid for this route and better than some of their other mainline aircraft. Obviously, American is trying to win premium passengers. With multiple options to choose from, passengers can tailor their flight more specifically on American. This gives American a score of 10/10 for this section.

Pricing

Here are roundtrip prices in the following cabins from New York to Los Angeles:

  • First: $1,700-$2,500
  • Business: $1,100-$2,000
  • Economy: $250-$500

This is a fairly good range of prices on this route. Although, some of American’s competitors match these prices with a slightly better hard and soft product. American gets a 9/10 for pricing.

Overall

This brings American to a final score of 36/40.

Delta Air Lines

Delta is building up its presence in New York. And, this route, in particular, is one where Delta can make a fair sum of money, although not as much as other lucrative routes. Let’s take a look at what Delta has to offer.

Delta aircraft
Delta does fly widebodies between New York and Los Angeles. Photo: Delta Air Lines
Schedule

Here is Delta’s summer schedule:

  • 7:00AM
  • 8:30AM
  • 9:59AM
  • 11:45AM
  • 1:50PM
  • 3:30PM
  • 4:50PM
  • 6:15PM
  • 7:15PM
  • 9:30PM

And here is their winter schedule:

  • 7:00AM
  • 8:05AM
  • 9:50AM
  • 11:40AM
  • 1:40PM
  • 3:29PM
  • 4:55PM
  • 6:15PM
  • 7:25PM
  • 9:29PM

Like Alaska, Delta’s schedule is fairly consistent and they do not reduce capacity in winter. That being said, Delta only flies out of JFK to LAX. So, their overall schedule score is 9/10.

Aircraft and onboard product

I’m going to combine these sections for Delta and break down individual scores for each section at the end.

Delta flies a mix of aircraft on this route. This includes Airbus A330 aircraft, aging Boeing 767 aircraft, and Boeing 757 aircraft which are, you guessed it, also aging. Your experience is likely to be best on the A330, since those are the newest, and feature reverse herringbone business class seats.

Delta One on an A330. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Then, the 767s have a more outdated product. Although, in economy, there is a comfortable 2-3-2 configuration.

Delta 767
A Delta Air Lines 767 at JFK. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Lastly, there is a narrowbody 757. While the 767 and A330 offer direct-aisle access business class, the 757 does not. And, the 757 is in a 3-3 configuration in economy. Ultimately, the 757 is a slightly inferior product compared to the 767 and A330.

Due to the aircraft inconsistency and the overwhelming age of the product, this gives Delta a score of 6/10 on aircraft.

When it comes to onboard product, Delta gets points for having lie-flats across all business class products. Sadly, due to the differentiation of products, Delta loses a couple of points and gets an 8/10 for the onboard product.

Pricing

Here are some prices for each cabin class:

  • Delta One: $1,200-$2,300
  • Economy: $240-460

These prices are similar to Delta’s competitors. For price, Delta gets a 9/10.

Overall

Delta’s overall score is 32/40

JetBlue

JetBlue is a big player in the New York market. And, they also offer some of their best service on the route between New York and Los Angeles.

JetBlue
JetBlue is another carrier serving the New York market. Photo: JetBlue
Schedule

JetBlue’s summer departures are:

  • 5:32AM
  • 7:04AM
  • 8:42AM
  • 9:47AM
  • 11:16AM
  • 1:59PM
  • 4:00PM
  • 5:25PM
  • 7:30PM
  • 9:29PM

And, in winter:

  • 5:40AM
  • 7:05AM
  • 8:25AM
  • 9:25AM
  • 10:26AM
  • 11:30AM
  • 2:15PM
  • 4:00PM
  • 5:25PM
  • 7:35PM
  • 9:29PM
  • 10:40PM

JetBlue offers a fantastic flight schedule. However, this does not really go above and beyond their competitors since JetBlue only flies out of JFK. For this section, JetBlue gets a 9/10.

Aircraft

JetBlue only flies Airbus A320 aircraft on this route. This adds consistency to their aircraft and product. Although, a widebody would add some comfort to a route like this. Nevertheless, JetBlue gets a 9/10 for this section.

Onboard product

JetBlue’s economy is pretty similar to the other carriers operating this route. However, it is their Mint that sets things apart.

JetBlue
JetBlue’s business class product is known as “Mint”. Photo: JetBlue

The best part about the lie-flat Mint product is the private suites that come from this configuration. JetBlue has a door on their premium suites. Although they’re not Qsuites, they’re still an amazing product.

For the added privacy of the few suites and consistency across products, JetBlue gets an outstanding 10/10 for this product.

Pricing

Like the others, JetBlue offers pretty similar pricing:

  • Mint: $1,200-$2,200
  • Economy: $250-$500 (Although, on some dates, it does go as high as $800-900, though not every often)

JetBlue’s pricing is pretty much in line with the other carriers. And, their product is competitive. For this section, JetBlue receives a 9/10.

Overall

JetBlue gets a score of 37/40.

United

And then, we have United Airlines. United is the largest carrier operating out of Newark airport. Let’s see how they stack up.

United 737 MAX
United also flies between New York and Los Angeles. Photo: United
Schedule

Here is United’s summer schedule:

  • 6:00AM
  • 7:00AM
  • 9:00AM
  • 10:00AM
  • 11:00AM
  • 1:00PM
  • 3:00PM
  • 4:00PM
  • 4:59PM
  • 6:00PM
  • 7:00PM
  • 8:00PM

In winter, if you want to fly United, you can catch this schedule:

  • 7:00AM
  • 8:30AM
  • 10:00AM
  • 11:00AM
  • 1:00PM
  • 3:00PM
  • 4:00PM
  • 5:00PM
  • 6:00PM
  • 7:00PM
  • 8:00PM

United’s robust schedule offers plenty of room for travelers who want a choice when it comes to departure time from New York. Although, because they only operate out of Newark, United receives a score of 9/10.

Aircraft

The most prevalent aircraft on this route is not the coveted Boeing 787-10. Rather, it is the Boeing 757 and the Boeing 777.

United 777
Some of United’s flights between New York and LA operate on Boeing 777 aircraft. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

Unfortunately, the variation of aircraft and prevalence of older 757s gives United a score of 8/10.

Onboard product

While the 787-10 will have the true Polaris, the 757 and 777s will not.

United’s 787-10s have true Polaris seats. Photo: United Airlines

The 777s that operate this route are usually in a tight 2-4-2 business class configuration. Yes, you read that right.

Then, there are the 2-2 757s. Although the 787s, 777s, and 757s feature lie-flat seats, there is a difference between the products. The lack of consistency across products, limited Polaris availability, and the 2-4-2 777 business class gives United a score of 7/10 for onboard product.

Price

Here is United’s pricing:

  • Polaris: $1,200-$2,400
  • Economy: $230-$400

United’s pricing is good. However, the lowest basic economy pricing does not even allow for a carry-on bag while other airlines do. For this, United loses a point. United gets an 8/10 for price.

Overall

United’s overall score is 32/40.

The winner

Here is the final ranking:

  1. JetBlue: 37/40
  2. American: 36/40
  3. Alaska Airlines: 33/40
  4. Delta: 32/40
  5. United: 32/40

At the end of the day, JetBlue does offer solid competition between New York and Los Angles. That being said, it is up to travelers to discern more important parts of the journey for them. For example, elite status can improve the experience on some airlines since it can lead to lucrative upgrades and additional perks compared to an outright purchase.

Which is your favorite carrier between New York and Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments!

Advertisement: