Delta to begin hourly flights between LAX and SFO; fares could fall

Delta will begin an hourly shuttle between Los Angeles and San Francisco using E-175s operated by Compass Airlines.

Delta will begin an hourly shuttle between Los Angeles and San Francisco using E-175s operated by Compass Airlines. The planes are the roomiest of regional jets.

There’s a good old-fashioned airline battle going on in Los Angeles – and travelers could win, at least in the short term.

Continuing its build up at Los Angeles International Airport, Delta Air Lines announced Thursday it will begin hourly shuttle service to San Francisco International Airport beginning on Sept. 3.

Technically the route is not quite Delta, as it will be flown by Delta Connection partner Compass Airlines. But it will look and feel like Delta. Compass will be using the roomiest of regional jets – the E-175, with 12 seats in first class, 12 in premium economy and 52 in economy.

There will be 14 flights on most days in each direction. They will leave Los Angeles on the hour starting at 7 a.m. and continuing through 9 p.m. (Delta skips 8 p.m., however.) The San Francisco departure schedule is similar, with hourly service and the last flight at 8 p.m.

Delta already has a strong schedule between Los Angeles and San Francisco. On Thursday, for example, it and its partner SkyWest Airlines had 11 flights from LAX to SFO. But the fact that Delta is now advertising its San Francisco flights as a “shuttle” should trigger some sort of response from its competitors. You could see bargain fares.

The LAX to SFO route is among the most competitive in the world. In addition to Delta, Southwest, American, United and Virgin America fly the route. United, which has hubs at LAX and SFO, has 15 flights between the cities on most days.

Delta is modeling the new flights on its popular shuttle between New York La Guardia and Washington, D.C. Passengers will receive free snacks and beer, as well as complimentary newspapers. Given how competitive airlines are with each other, you might soon also see those perks on some of Delta’s competitors.

This, incidentally, is not the first time an airline has had a “shuttle” between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The most recent iteration was operated by United, which had “Shuttle by United” between 1994 and 2001.

What do you think of Delta’s move?

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