The American Airlines Shuttle was the descendent of the Eastern Shuttle, which was sold to Donald Trump in 1989 (“Trump Shuttle”). The product was often known for hourly flights between New York, Boston and Washington DC, with flexible ticketing policies and open seating – and at one point a guarantee of transportation where Eastern would even bring out a new aircraft to accommodate overflow passengers.
Eventually banks, led by Citigroup, took the Trump Shuttle back and sold 40% of it to US Airways along with a 10-year operating agreement starting in 1992. They purchased the remaining stake in 1997.
After America West management took over US Airways they stopped operating the Shuttle as an airline-within-an-airline. They stopped operating an all-coach subfleet of aircraft with its own livery. And when US Airways management took over American, the shuttle became an American Airlines product.
American is replacing the ‘Shuttle’ product in a couple of ways. Starting this summer:
- They’re ending New York LaGuardia – Boston service. This route will be operated entirely by their partner JetBlue.
- They’re introducing traditional Shuttle-like fares in a number of markets: New York LaGuardia – Washington National, Boston – Washington National, New York LaGuardia – Chicago, Dallas – Chicago, and Dallas – Los Angeles. These “Main Select” fares will be refundable, bundling priority boarding and check-in, free seat assignments for any coach seat (including extra legroom) and free same-day confirmed changes.
As American explained to employees in an internal communication this morning,
American’s shuttle flights no longer came with the same flexibility that shuttle flights used to offer, though there were dedicated airport desks. These fares of course won’t come with reduced check-in times, and gone with this change are reduced bag check-in cutoffs. And both New York LaGuardia and Washington National have renovated to be longer walks from curb through security and onto the gate.
Let’s take a moment for the shuttle product which began 60 years ago, in April 1961. The competing Delta shuttle originated with Frank Lorenzo’s New York Air which was sold to Pan Am. (Lorenzo sold New York Air as a condition of Department of Justice approval of his acquisition of Eastern Airlines.)