Southwest Airlines will soon no longer have any non-stop flights between Orlando and New York City.
None at all.
I was as surprised as anyone when I figured out this news. Yep, “figured it out” because there was no official announcement by Southwest – instead you had to put together the pieces from several different moves they’ve made over the past months.
I’ll go over the changes and then what are the remaining options.
The first news item was the announcement of Southwest closing up operations at Newark Airport. While not a New York airport, Newark is still considered one of the three major airports in the NY Tri-State area. At the time, Southwest said they were going to consolidate their New York flights at LaGuardia Airport.
With the current traffic situation at LaGuardia, I wouldn’t be too happy about that but at least there was an available option. That only lasted until the next news story.
During the announcement of Southwest’s schedule extension, they slipped in the news that to accommodate their Hawaii expansion (and due to their 737-MAX planes being grounded) they were eliminating 17 routes, including Orlando-LaGuardia.
Here are the flights Southwest offers from Orlando:
Note the loss of both major New York airports (highlighted in yellow). I did highlight (in green) the one airport where Southwest will continue service – Islip, NY. This airport, located in the middle of Long Island, is very popular with locals who don’t want to go through the trouble of getting to the city. However, it’s not a convenient option for those wanting to visit Manhattan.
If you want to fly Southwest to LaGuardia, you can. From Orlando, that would just mean taking a connecting flight. I don’t know how many people, in particular, families with children, would choose that over a non-stop flight from any of these carriers:
- American (LGA)
- Delta (JFK and LGA)
- JetBlue (EWR, JFK and LGA)
- Spirit (EWR and LGA)
- United (EWR)
If you really want to fly non-stop on Southwest to Florida from LaGuardia, there are other airports available, such as Tampa and West Palm Beach
Both of those airports are roughly 2-3 hour drives from the Central Florida attractions and you’d have to decide if the extra drive and cost is worth it.
Fortunately, Southwest isn’t implementing these schedule changes until after the end of the holiday season. Air traffic to Orlando slows down somewhat in January and February. It’s sad to see an airline leave a route because, even with four other airlines flying from MCO-LGA, more competition is always better for the customer. Better prices, more choices and everything else that comes with it.
It’s possible that not having control of pricing was part of Southwest’s decision. It’s also possible that they wanted to cut a flight to LaGuardia because of the constant flight delays at the airport. If the delays on a regular day aren’t bad enough, the delays only increase when winter snowstorms blow through the area.
I hope that when Southwest gets their fleet up to full capacity they’ll consider adding this route back to the schedule. Once people start planning Spring Break trips and summer vacations, demand for flights to Orlando will return and it just makes sense for them to be a part of that puzzle.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary