Spirit Airlines is back with more network news.
On Tuesday, the Miramar, Florida-based carrier announced an expansion of its New York LaGuardia operations — both by adding new routes and by starting service from a second LGA terminal.
Spirit will add three new destinations from LGA, beginning with flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU), on April 17. Roughly three weeks later, on May 5, daily flights to Nashville (BNA) will take off. Finally, on June 12, the carrier will connect LGA and Los Angeles (LAX). Both SJU and LAX routes will operate on Saturdays only.
In addition to the new routes, the carrier will also boost its existing frequencies to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to five daily flights.
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To support this growth, Spirit needs more gates at LaGuardia. The carrier worked with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — the operator of LGA — to secure additional gates in the Marine Air Terminal (Terminal A). Starting on April 28, Spirit flights will depart from two terminals at the airport, as follows:
- Terminal A (Marine Air Terminal): All flights to Fort Lauderdale (five flights each day)
- Terminal C: Flights to all destinations other than Fort Lauderdale will depart from Terminal C
“Our Guests love the convenience LaGuardia Airport provides, and we’re excited about offering even more nonstop options now that we have the opportunity to use both Terminal C and the Marine Air Terminal,” John Kirby, Spirit’s vice president of network planning, said in a statement.
Of course, splitting operations from two terminals can lead to confusion for flyers. To allay those concerns, Spirit is working with the Port Authority to add signage and pre-departure communications to ensure travelers end up at the appropriate terminal. Spirit will use gates 3 and 4 at Terminal A, along with Gate C37 in Terminal C.
For those that mistakenly arrive at the incorrect terminal, Spirit will offer a landside shuttle bus between the two concourses that’ll operate every 15-20 minutes and will run from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Interestingly, Spirit’s move to the Marine Air Terminal comes as long-time tenant JetBlue cozies up with American Airlines in a new Northeast alliance. American currently flies from the new Terminal B, so it’s possible that JetBlue might be considering a move there for easier airside connections. For now, however, JetBlue will remain in Terminal A.
Related: LaGuardia’s new terminal is a major upgrade — see for yourself
The Marine Air Terminal is one of the most convenient at LGA. It’s accessed via a dedicated exit from the highway and doesn’t suffer from the same road congestion as LaGuardia’s other terminals. With just six gates, it almost feels like you’re flying private.
Many flyers will prefer the ease of flying from Terminal A, even though it lacks some basic conveniences, like a variety of concessions and dining options.
As for Spirit’s new routes, they largely focus on flying leisure-oriented passengers to warm-weather destinations that have plenty of built-in social distancing.
Florida flying has been especially popular during the pandemic, as the state’s favorable weather and limited coronavirus restrictions make it an appealing choice for pandemic-weary travelers looking for an escape. The same is true of Puerto Rico, though travelers will need a pre-flight negative COVID test to avoid quarantine.
Related: Where you can go if you’re vaccinated
As for Los Angeles, that’s more of a wild card. For one, Spirit is only legally allowed to fly the flight on Saturdays.
LaGuardia has a perimeter rule that prohibits any nonstop flights to points beyond 1,500 miles, except for flights on Saturdays and those to Denver.
At 2,469 miles, the LGA to LAX hop will be the airport’s longest route when it launches. With Saturday-only service, Spirit is likely banking on budget-conscious travelers looking to vacation or spend a week visiting friends and family in California.
Cirium schedules show that Delta last operated a Saturday-only LGA to LAX flights in December 2006, before scrapping the route.
Transcontinental travelers have a host of flight options from the New York City area to Los Angeles. Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue and United all fly from either JFK or Newark to Los Angeles, with over 20 daily flights even during the pandemic.
Featured photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines
The full timetable for the new LGA routes can be found below:
LGA-BNA 7:42 p.m. – 9:02 p.m.
BNA-LGA 3:42 p.m. – 6:52 p.m.
LGA – SJU 2 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.
SJU – LGA 9:20 a.m. – 1:01 p.m.
LGA – LAX 07:20 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
LAX – LGA 1:30 p.m. – 10:05 p.m.
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