Boston, Chicago and Florida — all popular destinations from New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA). Salt Lake City … not so much.
However, Delta Air Lines is about to launch service from LGA to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) beginning July 8, as first spotted by TPG in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.
The new route will operate during the peak summer period through Sept. 2 aboard a 109-seat Airbus A220-100. Delta operates a hub at both airports, and it can funnel connections through Salt Lake City to cities along the West Coast and beyond.
What really makes this route interesting is that it’ll become the longest from LaGuardia.
At 1,982 miles, the nonstop route to Salt Lake City will be just 21 miles longer than American Airlines’ flight from LaGuardia to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA), which was previously the airport’s longest.
While the new route might make for splashy headlines, there’s a big twist: Delta only plans to operate a total of 10 flights in each direction, exclusively on Saturdays.
Though Delta may certainly prefer much more frequent service, it simply doesn’t have a choice. If it wants to fly from LaGuardia to Salt Lake City, it can legally only fly on Saturdays.
That’s because of the airport’s “perimeter rule,” which restricts airlines from flying to airports that are farther than 1,500 miles away with just two exceptions — flights to Denver and any route operated on Saturdays.
So, as Delta plans its route to Salt Lake City, it’s taking advantage of this exception to the perimeter rule.
(LaGuardia is also slot-constrained, meaning that airlines need special takeoff and landing permissions to operate flights there, but slots are not needed for flights on Saturdays.)
Saturday-only service isn’t typically all that lucrative, especially for domestic routes. Saturdays are usually the quietest day of the week to fly, and with nearly no business travel demand, airlines must compete for their share of the leisure market traveling during the weekend — a segment that isn’t usually all that profitable for airlines. (For what it’s worth, introductory fares on the new Delta route start at $209.)
Though the airline also operates a hub at the other airport in Queens — John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) — Delta likely reasons that there are some travelers who would much prefer flying from the closest airport to Manhattan.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Delta has tried to connect LaGuardia with Salt Lake City. The airline flew the route most recently on Saturdays between December 2005 and September 2010, as seen in Cirium schedules. The airline seemingly wasn’t happy with its performance because the flight hasn’t returned in 12 years.
Over the years, several other airlines have tried to take advantage of the Saturday exception to the perimeter rule, but none have performed well enough to operate on a consistent basis.
During the pandemic, Spirit Airlines launched what was then LaGuardia’s longest flight — a 2,469-mile transcontinental to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) — but that service has since been cut. Delta also tried flights from LGA to Los Angeles in 2006, but that short-lived experiment was slashed after just six months, Cirium schedules show.
Over the past 20 years, now-defunct ATA Airlines holds the title for having flown the longest route from LaGuardia. The low-cost airline operated a 2,579-mile route between LGA and San Francisco on Saturdays from January 2004 to September 2004, but that service (along with the airline) is now history.
10 longest routes from LaGuardia Airport
Here are the 10 current longest routes from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, according to Cirium schedules.
|Salt Lake City.||1,982 miles.||Delta.|
|Montrose, Colorado.||1,810 miles.||American.|
|Denver.||1,619 miles.||Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United.|
|Houston.||1,416 miles.||American, Delta, Spirit and United.|
|Dallas.||1,389 miles.||American, Delta, Frontier and Spirit.|
|Oklahoma City.||1,341 miles.||American and Delta.|
|Tulsa, Oklahoma.||1,231 miles.||American.|