Monday, October 19, 2009

Boston - Baltimore: Low Cost Carrier Battle Royale!

The Boston to Baltimore air market is starting to look like the Boston to New York bus market with fares almost at the same level of the Fung Wah bus! Of particular interest, BOS-BWI is one of the few markets where all three of the nation's largest low-cost carriers compete head to head - and that will make it fun to watch.

Just last week, Southwest announced an increase in flights (to 7) in the Boston-BWI market starting in March. As you may recall, Southwest recently entered the Boston-proper market with 5 daily flights to BWI as well as several other cities.

Fellow low-cost carrier AirTran has served the Boston-BWI market for some time and now operates, count 'em, nine daily flights in the market.

Not to be out done, JetBlue also began operating four daily flights in September on the same route. And today, JetBlue announced a further increase in service next year by adding an additional round trip for a total of five daily flights. JetBlue's press release takes a funny swipe at Southwest: "Customers in Baltimore have discovered what those in Boston have known for years: JetBlue offers more than just an unassigned seat and a handful of peanuts to their destination"

This makes a somewhat incredible 21 daily flights in the Boston-BWI market. Unreal.

And these are not rinky-dink regional jets. Those have already been driven from the market with the exit of Delta and American over the last few years as AirTran in particular has ramped up service.

Translation of all this: get ready for a blood-bath. Fares, even without a sale, are often $39. We've seen them as low as $29 or even $19 during a sale. And JetBlue has offered a one-day sale with fares starting at $9 one way. AirTran is offering free wi-fi on all flights in the market. And Southwest is offering all the peanuts you can eat....

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