Labor Day Means Fall Flight Cuts are Coming

Last Updated Aug 28, 2008 11:09 AM EDT

Labor Day generally signals the unofficial end of the summer travel season, but this year it takes on a very ominous tone. All those massive flight cuts that have been announced over the last few months start to go into effect, and that means that airlines are going to be watching performance very carefully.

It's one thing to hear about cuts in the news, but it's another thing to actually experience them first hand. Some of these cuts are deep. For example, see if you can find a US Airways flight out of the entire LA area after 2p on a Saturday. Except for a couple redeyes, there aren't any. Not to Phoenix and not to Vegas. Heck, the last flight to Vegas the rest of the week is at the very early hour of 730p. Things are a lot different than they used to be.

With that in mind, the airlines are going to need to pay special attention to their bookings during this period. Those big cuts make sense on paper, but that lack of frequency might have further reaching effects. Does the fact that Southwest has three flights to Vegas after the 2 'o clock hour on Saturdays matter? What about their 930p or later flights to Vegas the rest of the week? It gives them a competitive advantage, for sure, but will that impact the flights that the other airlines haven't cut?

These cuts could very well hurt the airlines making them because frequencies and time flexibility go down a lot. It will be interesting to see how consumer behavior impacts their future schedule decisions. Did they go too deep this time around? That's something that the planning guys will have to feverishly review.