Cleveland to Pittsburgh is a 106 mile flight. You can drive it in 2 hours. But Alaska Airlines is going to fly this route, and they’ll sell you a ticket for $129. But they won’t fly you back.
As noticed by enilria (‘airline backwards’), this one way route will operate January 8 – February 14 as part of a larger trip from Seattle to Cleveland to Pittsburgh and back to Seattle.
- Currently Alaska Airlines serves both Cleveland and Pittsburgh non-stop
- During the winter months these routes are expected to perform especially poorly
- Rather than exit the market for a little over 5 weeks, Alaska is going to operate the two cities together.
During this period each city will have non-stop service in one direction. You can fly Seattle to Cleveland on Alaska, but on the return need to go through Pittsburgh. You can fly Pittsburgh to Seattle, but on the return need to go through Cleveland.
Basically this type of routing is done because both flights are very weak in this timeframe and this was the only option to not close one of the stations for a short period of time. It can also be done as a result of a lack of airplanes or pilots, but since the timeframe of this oddball routing is probably the weakest time of the whole year for the Seattle market you can be sure it is more about weak loads.
Last January “[b]oth airports had loads in the 60s.” No other airline flies non-stop on these routes, so customers booking roundtrip still do better to fly Alaska in at least one direction, and in the reverse they’re still a competitive one-stop. It’s an interesting decision for Alaska to fly this as a triangle route, rather than alternating days, but makes sense as a way to dedicate fewer resources during an especially poorly-performing season (and therefore reduce losses by lowering costs) rather than closing either or both stations for several weeks.
By updating the schedule for these routes more than four months out there will be very few passengers that have already made bookings and therefore are being moved from a non-stop to a one-stop. Anyone who’s already ticketed, of course, and gets a stop added to their itinerary is entitled to a refund.