And now it gets interesting. In the past, I’ve written about ultra-low cost carriers (ULCCs) and why they matter. ULCCs sell you a seat (unassigned), and that’s it. If you want anything else, you pay for it. For the backpacker who doesn’t care where they sit and keeps their luggage to a minimum, it’s a great deal.
Rolling Out Chicago-London
Norwegian had already announced nonstop flights between Chicago and London Gatwick but, according to the Chicago Business Journal, demand has been better than expectations, and the airline is going to daily service, instead of the five flights per week that it had originally planned. The flight heading east is a red-eye (overnight), which doesn’t arrive until 10:40 am London time, so you won’t be able to get a full day of work in, buy hopefully they get the off-peak gate space cheap. Heading from London to Chicago, your 4pm flight will get you in at 6:40 pm.
Chicago is an unusual market, in that it is a hub city for two airlines. Norwegian is not your typical business carrier, but fares are starting at $160 one-way, including all the taxes and mandatory fees. It’s sure to pick up at least a few passengers that would have gone to American or United.
Increased competition from ULCCs can only be a good thing for passengers, even if you never fly them. It’s unlikely that the majors will match the rock-bottom prices outside of their “basic economy” fares, but having more fares at the low end of the range will put pressure on the entire structure. I wish them luck.
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