Delta Names Raleigh-Durham Their Next Focus City (Mini-Hub)

Austin’s airport is adding 37% more gates next year, and Delta is preparing to make it a focus city complete with SkyClub with outdoor deck.

Focus city status isn’t official for Austin yet, but as of Friday it is for Raleigh-Durham which serves the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, where Delta is already the largest airline (carrying one-third of passengers, with 10% connecting connecting traffic). Delta’s other focus cities are Cincinnati and Boston (of course Cincinnati used to be a hub).

Delta flies from Raleigh to Paris, a route they’ve already upgauged. 70% of Paris passengers connect onward in Europe, providing significant competition to American’s London Heathrow flight. American operated a money-losing hub in Raleigh in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including operating a Paris flight themselves.

Credit: Raleigh-Durham International Airport

American’s hub was replaced by one for Midway Airlines after that carrier failed at Chicago Midway. They failed in Raleigh, too. They filed for bankruptcy in August 2011, but since federal airline subsidies after 9/11 were based on pre-existing traffic Midway received $12.5 million. They restarted operations in December 2001, lasting until mid-July 2002. (They briefly operated half a dozen regional jets under the US Airways Express banner in 2003.)

Delta plans to add three Chicago O’Hare flights in April of next year. At an event announcing focus city status Delta shared they’re more focused on Raleigh – Seattle and Salt Lake City before Portland.

I haven’t been to Raleigh since heading to Duke law school three years ago to talk mistake fares and found a busy Admirals Club there.

Naming Raleigh a focus city really just codifies what’s already the case, this move doesn’t come with immediate new flights. Delta has been growing in Raleigh, and is likely to continue to do so.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Nice to see ones hometown airport get some love for a change. Let’s hope Delta can make it work this time.
    Sky club isn’t bad but they will need more space if this is really going to be a “mini hub”
    Admirals is already an overcrowded bar fly infested mess needing a refurb badly.
    I don’t think many passengers connect through RDU. People don’t come here to play so there must be lots of RTP business travelers coming to work.

  2. What is the practical meaning of being a mini-hub?
    I doubt many passengers connect in RDU given that ATL is only 1h flight away.

  3. Probably worth noting that Southwest competes heavily at RDU, owning the entire second terminal. I would expect a response from them on some of Delta’s routes. Flying to Chicago should also be a deal out of RDU now, since all of the big 4 fly there.

  4. Part 1: Personal thoughts and reflections on RDU as a city close to our hearts – and visited often for more than a decade

    I have family in Raleigh, so it’s a destination close to my heart, and one that I visit regularly and have 12+ years of experience and knowledge booking flights, and of course flights of every kind on every airline in every cabin that served/serves this route from/to NYC, be it for holiday travel or trips made at other times of the year!

    American is out owing to the debacle in 2014 when the counter agent at check in lied for a flight departing JFK Airport discussed a few times elsewhere; I knew the agent lied; but by the time it was all sorted out with their supervisor, we were forced to race, and I do mean race, from JFK over the LaGuardia to catch the last, and mercifully, a little late, departure instead (in the early evening no less).

    It was an awful experience. And it marked the end of us ever considering AA for any flights!

    So, that leaves just three remaining options to the three NYC Airports (JFK, LGA, EWR), plus we actually took Southwest to Islip/MacArthur via BWI last November, after my partners mom passed away in mid-October, and his dad and sisters, asked us to be with the family for Thanksgiving long after airfares for under $300 each for regular economy in 30” pitch seats were long gone.

    Since he had Polio as a young child, and one of his legs was greatly impacted by that insidious disease, and apart from offering him reduced mobility, has often resulted in some of the severest pain flare ups after flying, 30” pitch seats are best avoided.

    So, we took Southwest to ISP instead where along the way in BWI had an epic fail when they left my partner, and several other reduced mobility passengers completely in the lurch – saved only after the Captain herself intervened to round up wheelchairs, and then rolled my partner off her 737 and into the terminal where I took over to bring is from our arriving gate at the far end of the C concourse to our connecting flight’s gate on the B concourse. (Not sure what happened to the other reduced mobility passengers who were traveling without a companion to assist them once they were in the terminal).

    Anyhow, our “choices” to/from RDU are basically three airlines: Delta, JetBlue and United – plus Southwest when those three’s fares for a (not so cheap) cheap seat in a 30” pitch row is, in a word: ridiculous (or preposterous).

    And by far, Delta is the carrier of choice for our flights to/from RDU.

    In fact, already booked (months ago) on Delta to RDU in October for the one year memorial service for his mom’s passing in Comfort+, and will be narrowing down our selection for the return flight any day now (return flights late Sunday afternoons and evening seem to be afflicted by severe case of high fare-itis ($250 or so each one-way even for Comfort+ is REEE-DIC-U-LOUS; been flying this route for 12+ years now, and that’s just CRAAAAAAYYYY-ZEEEEE town).

    But, usually, Delta is our go-to carrier as my partner makes somewhat frequent transcon trips to/from SFO in recent years, and is a bit of a Delta freak (flights on airlines NOT Delta are usually greeted with a stank eye, and a need to “justify” why other imposters were chosen! 😉 hehehe)

    [Sidebar/Note/Memo to Delta: trip reports from my partner and the EVP of the company he works at for the last roundtrip transcons taken in late June JFK-SFO-JFK in Comfort+ in both directions were NOT up to the standards they had come to expect of Delta, and in fact, won his allegiance from United from/to Newark for these trips, that don’t come with the nasty 90 mins to 2 hours stuck in traffic getting from JFK to the far west side of Manhattan when he returns from SFO. That, plus late flights both ways, terrible food, especially the taking away of the frozen yogurt popsicles, and to his colleague [a Delta Medallion Gold Elite I might add], the elimination of pillows and blankets did NOT go unnoticed on their most recent trip. They have an upcoming trip in the works, and I will be eager to hear their respective trip reports! Oh, and btw, the EVP was so pissed, they said they were “thisclose” to sending a complaint – until I promised them I’d note it in a future post! But, suffice to say, cuts to transcons since Virgin America’s disappearance, and Alaska’s warm embrace of the airline industry’s shameful cartel “Screw You – You have to fly one of us anyway” let’s all “Race to the Bottom – Together” in near lockstep business model (aka Oligopoly) that is lowering the bar on transcons for everyone, has NOT gone unnoticed! Just sayin’…]

  5. Part 2: brief description of the term “Focus City” (quick & dirty, as it were!)

    A “Focus City” is a city too small (usually, but Boston, for Delta or JetBlue is clearly an exception) to sustain the economics required to make profitable a wide array of destinations served, and for some select routes such as RDU-NYC, the types of frequencies offered by airlines at their big interior hubs such as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, etc., or the coastal hub/gateways such as JFK, EWR, LAX, SFO, SEA, IAD, etc.) needed that when combining an high enough volume of high yielding Origin & Destination nonstop traffic cities like these can support deriving from their population sizes and diverse economic bases as international or regional centers for businesses and/or other industries (e.g., banking, advertising, media, television/film, high tech in NYC; film/tv in LAX; oil and petrochemicals in either Dallas or Houston; banking and tourism in Miami, etc.) along with a vast network of small and medium sized spoke cities and the travelers that need to connect between them collected into/funneled through the network via a connecting point centered on an economic center such as ATL, NYC, etc…

    …but at the same time are strategically placed cities “too big” (in the carriers’ eyes) for reasons highlighted below to simply offer the typical pattern of just offering nonstop hub and spoke flights timed to connect with the 8-10 directional banks operated for onward connections to key cities such as Delta believes it can now achieve in places like Austin, RDU and elsewehere (especially with new Airbus A220s – nee Bombardier C-Series CS100s entering its mainline fleet early next year).

    Of course, one major hub city that breaks the mold, and indeed is a bit of a unicorn in the airline universe, is Charlotte. That city has nowhere near the type of O&D traffic that traditional hubs have, and yet despite that, is among the busiest, and for American, profitable hubs in the world owing to some very smart management at predecessor airlines in the AA family tree dating back to Piedmont Airlines, and then later, US Airways before America West under Dougie P, took over a faltering US Airways, and then again with his repeat/encore performance at US Airways more recently that brings us to the AA of today.

    Be that as it may, CLT, under the combined efforts of the successive airline mangements dating back to Piedmont, along with a city hungry to have big league airline service otherwise far beyond its reach, along with a recently retired and legendary airport director, Jerry Orr (IIRC), all teamed up to create one of the world’s premier hubs in a city that otherwise likely would’ve been more like Cincinnati (CVG), Cleveland or RDU once consolidation over the past decade eliminated airlines that had hubs in places like Memphis, CVG, RDU, PIT, that were all “second tier” hubs for airlines unable to take on their competitors back in an era when the industry was actually competitive, in regions where they needed a presence of some kind where they were too weak to take on airlines that were stronger then them, but required to offer service to maintain enough of a national presence to retain strength in regions where they were stronger to avoid losing important corporate contracts.

    That’s a bit of an over simplification, but hopefully helps illustrate the difference in nomenclature, since that difference is critical.

  6. Part 3A: Analysis of Delta’s Announcement naming RDU as a “Focus City”

    Now, getting back to RDU, and Delta’s announcement that it’s official it has been annointed special status in Delta’s universe as a “Focus City”, for us, when Delta’s robust schedule of nonstops between NYC and there are suffering from a severe case of high fare-itis (we need to check at least one bag owing to reducing clutter that makes airports, which are already very challenging for reduced mobility passengers, that much harder to negotiate when bogged down/schlepping baggage) plus the additional $50 roundtrip for one checked bag when he does not fly with the EVP [whose status affords him SkyPriority and a free checked bag]), our remaining two options are JetBlue and United, each coming with their own “baggage” plus some positives that make them viable “Plan B’s” (while AA as noted above, is NEVER an option and is not even fare/flight searched – EVER)

    1.) For United: when it’s not suffering from an even worse case of high fare-itis, as in ~$175+ each (plus checked bag fee for at least one of us) each way for a 30” pitch seat (seriously…cue massive eye rolls), the pros are: mainline jets (of which a pair taken last year had the awesome DirecTV we both love, while the other pair taken last year were full on 737 dogs featuring no seatback IFE, one an ancient 737-700 [but perhaps was the cleanest plane taken in years even at 8:30pm], with the other a near new -900ER with the cement seats, and my first encounter with the impossibly small, despicable lavs I couldn’t turn around in and a sink barely the size of an iphone 6s+); ease of getting to/from Newark from/to the far west side of Manhattan [Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen]; plus keeping both of our MileagePlus accounts active.

    In fact, when fares are reasonable, and by that I mean we really don’t expect the $160-240 each roundtrips that were found even for flights taken at major holidays until 2015 or so when they suddenly tripled to $500-650 each for main cabin seats PLUS an additional $25 each way for a required checked bag for holiday travel to/from RDU, but clearly something NOT $500-650 roundtrip (we actually passed on two trips due to fares when they’re obscenely high like that for a 30” pitch economy seat AND a checked bag), or their equivalent halves for one-way trips (I long ago began one way itinerary bookings – well before the word was out that this can be an efficient method to reduce travel expenses vs roundtrip bookings where one flight may be at a reasonable fare, while the other flight gouges out both eyeballs…), United has been an excellent alternative – especially over the past 15 or so months after they began treating reduced mobility passengers with dignity and respect again in the aftermath of the Dr. Dao dragging incident (United was progressively flat-out awful during the Smisek/early Oscar era)

    Anyhow, when NOT seeking ~$175 (or more) each way for a knee gnashing/smashing 30” pitch seat, United’s big jets (for some flights, that is), and the way easier to get to/from EWR (for us) makes that airline an excellent Plan ‘B’ on the RDU-NYC sector!

    [Additional sidebar: not to be funny, but demanding that elderly, disabled/reduced mobility passengers to pay an additional $25 to check a bag they clearly cannot schlep through an airport is sketchy; since he switched to Delta mid year, last year, after two too many flights about United’s dreadful ten abreast 777s to and from SFO [he hated those, even in E+] he didn’t qualify for any status allowing him to have the checked bag fee waived on Delta this year; next year, with at least two more SFO transcons, the upcoming RDU trip, and a flight to/from Asia already booked plus several flights already taken hither and yon, he’ll have status on Delta next year allowing him to check a bag without the $25 fee]

    2.) The other “Plan B” is JetBlue, also taken late last year – December to be exact! Check-in was good, once the agent dropped his ‘tude, that is; plus the gate agent and flight attendants were awesome. But the flight itself was horrifically late, and the dismal pair of snack basket offerings were just sad, given how much better the airline was for all of our prior flights to/from RDU, CLT, PBI or MCO in years past, and before the giant wrecking ball to “You Above All” or “Bringing Humanity Back to Flying” before that has since come around in the post-Neeleman/Barger era.

    JetBlue’s other “con” vis a vis Delta or United is its limited schedule of flights between NYC and RDU, which has been mostly just two nonstops per day, although recent schedules checked have seen the frequency increased to three nonstops per day, which helps make that airline more of an option than it used to be.

    Of course, JetBlue’s signature live satellite TV, for “free” no less, and it’s 32”-34” row pitch for core seats are still big plusses.

    But, yowsa, has JetBlue’s pricing model become “Exhibit ‘A’” in sleaze and sketchiness, especially when considering that it’s oh so easy to book more than one person in the Blue Plus tier to include the one checked bag planned for the trip, and end up paying extra for anyone else in the booking who does not end up checking a bag. That, plus Blue Plus fares sometimes being way more expensive than the difference between the plain old Blue that requires paying the checked bag fee separately makes for bigly downsides for JetBlue, where, when it comes to booking flight/purchasing fares, “caveat emptor” most definitely applies.

    Now, that’s a summary of RDU-related stuff for those who fly between there and NYC as we know it to be (sans AA since we won’t fly that crappy airline).

    But, as it applies to Delta elevating that city to “Focus City” status in its network, by my most recent count, there’s 17-18 nonstops per day each way, and they fly to/from all three of the major NYC airports – which hands down gives Delta an edge over everyone else in the market (we had hoped Southwest would’ve used some of the LGA slots it picked up from Alaska in April…but guess not 🙁 )

    However, and this is actually symptomatic of a broader problem encountered when booking others’ trips, which is something done regularly, too: ALL of those flights are on the smaller “Connection” carriers, and of course, the smaller jets they use.

    So, while this allows for greater frequencies as seen in the NYC market, and a wealth of hub bypassing nonstops, to cities like Boston, Orlando, Chicago or elsewhere that other airlines don’t offer, never has a family friendly, discounted airfare been found in my many fare/flight searches – even for non-holiday travel – for those nonstops. And as such, while these ”Focus City” nonstops seen to date on “Connection” carriers may come in handy for corporate/business/academic/government travellers located in, or heading to/from, the famed “Research Triangle”, that nifty collection of more nonstop destinations than other airlines at RDU tends to favor a limited audience, with leisure travelers still more often than not choosing between Southwest’s robust schedule at RDU, or connections via the Big 3 Oligopolists’ hubs.

    Perhaps this will all change as Delta’s Airbus A220s enter the fleet in coming years that will allow the airline to upgauge many of its flights now operated by the regional affiliates to mainline service, be it for the improved economics the A220s offers that then makes nonstops to the cities now operated exclusively with regional jets viable, or the aircraft’s long legs allowing for nonstopsmto cities beyond the reach of the small jets the regional affiliates use, but to date, while the Focus City status is a boon to RDU and the higher yielding flyers who can avail themselves of this valuable time saving option, this is the critical difference between being a full-on hub, where mainline jets, and their higher capacities and frequencies, brings the convenience of nonstops to many destinations to nearly everyone.

  7. Part 3B: Analysis of Delta’s Announcement naming RDU as a “Focus City” (cont’d)

    And now, other notes regarding Delta’s now official RDU “Focus City” status:

    3.) It’s a great airport! In fact, it’s one of my favorites in the USA, and when there I’m always thinking “if only EVERY airport could be as beautiful and passenger friendly as RDU’s Terminal 2 is”.

    4.) As I wrote a few months ago in a separate space oriented towards investors and the financial community, Delta’s recent moves to elevate cities such as Austin and RDU to “Focus Cities” is a very clever and astute move to fill-in holes in the Big 3 Oligopolists’ networks for cities that have diverse economic bases, very large and prominent research and academic communities, plus, of course, both cities are the respective capitals of Texas and North Carolina – two states, and especially cities that are seeing a huge influx of corporations and population growth in an era of cartelization/oligopoly.

    Both Austin and RDU are affluent cities in high growth mode, with Austin already the de facto HQ2 for Apple, and RDU reportedly on the final shortlist (as in the sub-top ten previously announced) for Amazon’s highly sought HQ2.

    In fact, if recent published reports are correct whereby Amazon’s HQ2 is down to just two final contenders, Atlanta and RDU, then Delta’s strategic focus on high tech centers such as AUS, BOS, RDU, SEA and my hometown, NYC (yes, N-Y-C has a booming tech economy that’s only going to get bigger and stronger as the new Cornell-Technion campus on Roosevelt Island that just opened expands in the coming years, and Alphabet’s (google) own defacto HQ2 in Chelsea and the soon-to-be-completed Hudson River Pier expansion nearly doubling its already gargantuan offices here opens), surely positions that airline to gobble up a great many lucrative corporate contracts that has that airline with a unique network of old school deregulation hubs, complemented by a network of strategically placed “Focus Cities” in high tech meccas allowing it to offer a range on nonstops unmatched by others in scale and scope regardless of which if these two reported, likely finalists wins Amazon’s “beauty contest” for its future HQ2!

    5.) So, whereas unimaginative American is doubling down on bulking up its hubs, while United still after all these years (and decades) trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, Delta’s nimble move into a hybrid structure of super hubs completmented by “Focus Cities” that seem to have in common: affluent, multinational corporate bases (CVG, BOS, AUS, RDU); state capitals (AUS, BOS, RDU); prominent academic institutions (AUS, BOS, RDU); existing/emerging high-tech sectors and the legions of affluent professionals they bring with them (AUS, BOS, RDU), combined with a soon to arrive fleet of game changing small capacity mainline aircraft that matches the comfort, operating economics/unit costs of larger mainline planes for routes that otherwise lack demand to operate mainline aircraft available to date, and therefore are hobbled by the range limits of regional affiliates’ small jets and/or the unit costs that makes mainline ops uneconomical and forces the reliance on the far less desirable product/experience available on affiliates’ flights, is surely an astute move to gain an edge over its lazy, unimaginative laggards in the Big 3 Oligopolists’ club who lack the vision, imagination, and of course, in the not too distant future, aircraft, to conquer the up and coming cities like AUS and RDU anywhere near as efficiently as Delta is planning to do!

    Lastly, and btw, AUS, BOS and RDU joins Delta’s list of cites where its the dominant, or strong rival (BOS), carrier in a state capital seeing how its hub cities of ATL, MSP and SLC are also state capitals, with ATL and MSP having all of the other characteristics Delta favors for its hub, and now its emerging group of strategic “Focus Cities” cities.

    Whatever the future brings, be it a deepening and “normalizing” of the current (and despicable) cozy cartel Oligopolists’ Club (something we should do everything possible to prevent/avoid); the emergence of new entrants to inject desperately needed competition into an industry way too vital to our nation’s economy to be held hostage by a narrow group of aligned interests with either direct, or such closely aligned needs and interests it’s as if nothing more than nominally different legal entities on paper who collectively tend to act as if one anyway (something akin to the Trusts Teddy Roosevelt viewed as a toxic burden on our nation’s economy when a more sensible approach to the machinations of cartels was viewed with the necessary and appropriate wariness and skepticism missing in recent years; or some sort of eventual policy/regulatory changes that will otherwise be necessary to mitigate the most egregious abuses and excesses already seen emerging in the airline sector over the past four or so years, Delta’s potent combination of a super hub in Atlanta, other traditional hubs elsewhere, its dominance in NYC, and now its identification of key “Focus Cities” overlooked by others in an era of limited competition, and all combined with a never before available single aisle mainline aircraft that is the Airbus A220, makes for a very, very formidable airline second only to an airline in size, but in every other way, light years ahead of everyone else in the current (and very small) sandbox our too few remaining airlines play in together!

    For sure, a boon to business travelers, and perhaps others once the A220s take to the skies, in RDU, AUS – and elsewhere that Delta annoints as its future “Focus City”…

    …and a brilliant, forward thinking strategic move to adapt its network and business model to the current era of very limited “competition” by an airline that’s clearly not standing still, or worse, looking in the rearview mirror as most (of the too few remaining) others are…

    Bravo, and very well done, Delta – VERY well done!


  8. Howard, I have three questions:
    Are you part of a Russian disinformation campaign?
    Are you a bot?
    Do you come in caplet form so I can cut back on Ambien?

  9. Holy crap – someone put a sock in Howard’s mouth. Good Lord….someone thinks we care what he thinks. Lost interest in middle of 1st paragraph. Feel for ya if you had to read his whole life experience.

  10. Nope! Nope! – and Nope!

    “Nope’s” across the board! 😉

    Delta’s effort to introduce a network of “Focus Cities” in places like AUS and RDU, along with a return to cities such as BOS and CVG, where it once was very strong or had a huge hub, respectively, marks a significant change in its business model that is every bit as significant now, as some of its earlier industry related paradigm shifting moves, that later became commonplace.

    For example, what many people may not be old enough to recall (yeah, stone age person here!) is that even well before the airline industry was deregulated in 1978, which paved the way to the widespread deployment of the hub and spoke model at airlines around the world, Delta’s hub in Atlanta stood apart from most others’ major connecting points in that a large proportion of its traffic remained on-line versus the interline connections between most of what were then called “Trunk Airlines”.

    To be sure, Chicago O’Hare was at one time the world’s busiest airport (Atlanta now is, and has been for some time), but during regulation, it was not uncommon to not just change planes in Chicago, but also airlines, whereas for Delta (and later, and to a lesser extent, Eastern), much of its connections over Atlanta, and through was then known as the burgeoning “Sun Belt” states, especially in the southeast, the expression often heard was “Even God has to change planes in Atlanta” (or something close to that).

    Next was Delta’s then revolutionary introduction of Bombardier’s first generation regional jets, the 50-passenger CRJ100/200 series, that brought “big jet” speed and convenience, if not quite comfort to cities that in an era of deregulation could NOT support mainline jet operations, and instead lost most, if not all jet service once had prior to deregulation, that was replaced by noisy, slower, and less liked propellor powered flights.

    So, when in the late 1980s, Delta’s then truly innovative RJ hub and spoke model allowed it to open up a hub at Cincinatti (CVG), a city too small to sustain big city hub operations as done by its now merged with airline, Northwest, at Detroit, or of course, American and United at Chicago/O’Hare in order to offer east-west connectivity it otherwise lacked versus its then competitors (when the industry actually WAS competitive).

    Although the significance of this RJ-predominant hub model may not loom large today, the fact is, without that, Delta would’ve been at a huge disadvantage, and who knows what would’ve happened to Delta had it not taken the risk of setting up a hub at a “second tier” city, and introducing what indeed became, a game changing type of aircraft to make it all work given the otherwise “poor hand” it was dealt when it came to lacking a northern, east-west hub.

    This cannot be overlooked, especially since perimeter rules at both LaGuardia Airport in NYC and Reagan National in Washington (which, btw, back then did NOT have any “beyond perimeter” slot exemptions like it has now) meant that without its then hub in Cincy, chances are Delta would’ve been unable to mount nearly as successful of a competitive challenge to Northwest in Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul, or American and United in Chicago, all of whom could operate nonstop flights to these two critical, slot restricted AND perimeter rule restricted airports in our nation’s finacial and media capital, and the nation’s capital itself.

    Make no mistake: Delta’s implementation of a new, hybrid business model that combines its traditional strength as a hub and spoke carrier, along with a ”sprinkling” of new, strategically placed in emerging/existing centers of high tech, academia, etc., discussed above such as AUS and RDU, plus its introduction (yet again) of an innovative, game changing smaller capacity mainline, and long rang aircraft (that has operating economics others’ exisiting and near term fleets cannot match), the Airbus A220, is likely going to be every bit as paradigm shifting as its long ago hub at Atlanta was even before deregulation happened, or especially its then unheard of creation of a major hub in an otherwise too small city, that was predicated on using small guage jet aircraft that had never been used before in order to match the frequencies and destinations it much larger rivals could offer from their “big city” hubs.

    Only time will tell if this “experiment” by Delta to launch “Focus Cities” outside of the traditional hub and spoke model that has served the largest network carriers so well is even half as successful as its “necessity is the mother of all invention” hub at CVG launched two decades ago was?

    But, it’s a bold, first mover, move, and to me, it has all the makings of being as paradigm shifting going forward, as its earlier industry leading, once in a generation, transformational business models at Atlanta, and later at CVG were…

    …and after so many depressing years as an industry observer and reporter chronicling the race in opposite directions of ultra luxe service for the fortunate few featuring virtual “McMansions” on widebodies, that now gobble up half of the available floor space on single decked narrow bodies, but otherwise nearly always yet another seat/row/bathroom shrinkage plus, of course the never ending proliferation of fees, fees and even more fees with each passing year in an era of cartelization and industry oligopoly, this move by Delta has me excited for the industry and for passengers – probably for the first time in years!

    And that alone, is well worth spilling a lot of ink…er zeros and ones (!) over!!! 🙂 & 😉

  11. That’s McMansions that gobble half the available floor space on single decked WIDEBODIES (not “narrow bodies” as written).

    With apologies for that editing error.

  12. Wish they would make either MIA or FLL a mini hub as am really tired of having to go via ATL most of the time!!!

  13. Delta’s trying to pick up the tech industry and Millennials; SEA, RDU, AUS — all they need is BOS and SJC.

  14. Um, those who prefer breezy, twitter length posts, nobody is stopping you from simply swiping up/down on your screens to find and read what you’re looking for!

    Just sayin’… (all with the best of intentions) 😉

    Meanwhile, for those who enjoy additional “color commentary” regarding the airline industry that for many years was featured in a publication that cost ~$200 per year when wrote for it, that has been around for 20 years and still going strong (unlike countless digital publications, free or subscription based, that have come and gone) it’s all there, for THEIR enjoyment, too! 🙂

  15. @Ian – FLL is an unspoken mini-hub for Delta . . . they have more flights than any of the other “Big 3” by a wide margin and are in the process of upgrading their SkyClub there . . .
    Spirit HQ is in the area, so they will be a dominant airline
    SW has a de-facto hub there, along with JetBlue (if not official, definitely by volume)

  16. Howard, AUS is not a focus city for Delta. There are some fanboys on the anet nerd forum talking their wishes and hopes up for Delta to make AUS a focus city, but AUS is not. All it has is a delta club, the last airline to put one in. And a linked in job posting for a sales position that the fanboys got hard over. And a reporter who retracted their comment in a recent article about RDU that misstated the status of RDU.

    the “not-even-searching AA” nonsense is kind of petty

    Does howard run this blog or just posting with way too much time on his hands?

  17. Strategic move to adapt its network and business model to the current era of very limited “competition” by an airline that’s clearly not standing still, or worse, looking in the rearview mirror as most.

  18. GEEZ Howard made me just scroll on past all his essay. I’d say it’s safe to guess he’s retired with WAYYYYYY too much time on his hands. Hope you made it thru COVID ok, buddy. This is several years after your multiple thousand word posts.

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