Want to get from Amazon’s HQ1 city to all three of the new cities revealed by the tech giant on Tuesday in the fastest way possible? You have two airline choices: Alaska and Delta.
While several air carriers serve the various airports in the New York City and Washington, D.C. areas nonstop from Seattle, only Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines fly to Nashville, Tenn. from Seattle without connecting along the way.
According to Google Flights, there are currently more than a dozen regular nonstops between Seattle and all three New York City area airports — LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark — with five airlines flying them: Alaska, Delta, United, American and JetBlue. That’s a number of options to get to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, where Amazon plans to plant one of two 25,000 job HQ2 flags, though LaGuardia is physically the nearest airport, a bit more than five miles away.
The schedule is lighter between Seattle and the Washington, D.C. area, where Amazon is placing the other 25,000 staff HQ2 in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. Nine nonstops to Reagan National, Dulles, and Baltimore Washington head from Seattle to the nation’s capital region today routinely, operated by Alaska, Delta, United and Southwest. And clearly, Reagan National is the closest air destination, just one Metro train stop from the airport on the Blue and Yellow lines.
“We welcome Amazon to the East Coast and look forward to serving them as New York’s largest airline with two hubs in their new Queens backyard and operations at Reagan and Dulles airports in D.C.,” a Delta spokesperson told GeekWire when asked for its reaction, adding that Amazon and Delta are great partners in Seattle.
Alaska Airlines, too, touts its current relationship with Amazon. Not only does it point to having the only nonstops between Seattle and Reagan National, the D.C. airport nearest Crystal City, but a spokesperson notes, “Alaska offers a special check-in line for Amazon employees.”
Then there’s Nashville. That’s where Amazon has announced it’ll put a 5,000 person “Operations Center of Excellence.”
Only two airlines fly nonstop routinely from The Emerald City to Music City, U.S.A., Alaska and Delta. And both have begun service relatively recently: Alaska in 2015, and Delta just last year. Each has only one flight in each direction each day, year-round. Alaska adds a second seasonal roundtrip flight between the two cities in April, and Southwest Airlines plans to resume seasonal weekend nonstops.
“At BNA we already have significant air travel to and from the Seattle area, but we can anticipate considerably more passenger activity in that direction in the years to come,” Tom Jurkovich of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority told GeekWire. “We would expect the airlines that service the Northwest to track that market demand and respond accordingly. We’ll be ready at BNA for any such increases in air service and will work to encourage more flights as needed.”
Airlines have been known to modify their flight frequency as demand fluctuates, with routine schedule changes occuring quarterly (if not more often). Delta said it wouldn’t discuss future flight schedules, though it did say it has a solid presence in D.C. and Nashville, generally, and has more than 500 daily flights from LaGuardia and JFK. Alaska Airlines, for its part, said it has no new service to announce at this time, but that, “we are always looking at the network and will keep a close eye on it and make adjustments as needed.”
But Delta and Alaska have been extremely competitive in Seattle. It’s Alaska Airlines’ headquarters city. And after a code-sharing and frequent-flier program relationship split with Alaska last year, Delta has dramatically ramped up operations to where Seattle has effectively become an important hub for the Atlanta-based carrier.
And only Delta and Alaska serve all three cities named in Tuesday’s announcement by Amazon with nonstop flights.
While it may be too soon to say when, of if, any of the major airlines will respond to a need for more airline seats between Seattle and any of Amazon’s chosen cities, one thing’s for sure: If anyone doing business at or with Amazon doesn’t yet have a Delta or Alaska airlines frequent flier number, it’s probably time to get one.
[UPDATED Nov. 15 to reflect Southwest Airlines’ announcement that it plans to resume seasonal weekend nonstop service between Seattle and Nashville.]