- Breeze Airways flew its Airbus A220 jet for the first time in May, officially launching its transcontinental network.
- The aircraft is brand new to Breeze’s fleet and offers both economy and first class — a rarity for budget airlines.
- Insider flew in economy from Las Vegas to Charleston and found the product is much better than Spirit or Frontier.
Breeze Airways is a US low-cost carrier born during the pandemic, operating its maiden flight on May 27, 2021.
The company, which was founded by airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, started with all-economy Embraer 190/195 jets.
Neeleman’s business plan is to fly between medium-sized markets that do not currently have nonstop service but have enough demand to be profitable, like Huntsville, Alabama, to Charleston.
The CEO has coined “We can get you there twice as fast for half the price” as the airline’s slogan.
Since its inaugural flight, Breeze has expanded its network with new routes, hubs, and planes.
The carrier recently added Hartford, Connecticut, as a base, which joins Norfolk, New Orleans, Tampa, and Charleston, and took delivery of an all-new aircraft type — the Airbus A220.
The A220 flew its inaugural flight on May 25 from Tampa to Richmond, Virginia. The plane then flew from Richmond to San Francisco, which was the first of 18 transcontinental routes the company will operate this year.
I was on the long-haul journey in first class and loved the experience, but was eager to test the jet’s economy product.
So, I booked a flight from Las Vegas to Charleston on Breeze’s A220 to see how the economy cabin compared to other low-cost carriers, but it was nothing like Spirit or Frontier.
My journey started at Las Vegas airport at 11 a.m. for my 12:10 p.m. departure. Breeze flies out of Terminal 3 and has its own check-in area.
The flight was headed to Charleston via Syracuse, New York, which is what the company calls a “BreezeThru.” This is a layover where continuing passengers do not have to deplane before taking off for the final destination.
Unfortunately, at the airport, I found out the flight was delayed five hours due to staffing issues on the inbound leg from Syracuse. Breeze owned the delay without making excuses and remained transparent with passengers throughout the entire wait.
At the gate, customers were told they could get reimbursed up to $20 for food by submitting the receipt to Breeze online. The agent said this was to make sure people could eat where they wanted instead of at a specific restaurant.
I was frustrated with the delay but appreciated Breeze’s response. The carrier comped meals and was constantly updating us on the status of the flight.
Finally, after hours of waiting, the plane arrived in Las Vegas. However, the ramp was so hot that mechanics could not fix a maintenance issue that occurred on the inbound flight, so they had to wait until evening when it was cooler.
This tacked on another two-hour delay, and, at this point, I was pretty upset. But, I knew flying during the busy summer season would be hectic and decided to just roll with the punches.
We boarded the flight around 8 p.m. — eight hours after our original departure time. I made my way through the cabin and got settled in my standard-economy seat.
Standard economy, or “Nice,” is Breeze’s most basic seat, offering 30 inches of pitch, which is more than Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant, which only offer 28-29 inches.
The company also has extra legroom seats, known as “Nicer,” that offer 32+ inches of pitch.
“Nicest” is the company’s first-class section. Both cabins have plenty of overhead bin space.
While I wish I’d had the leg rest and deep recline offered in first class so I could more easily sleep on the long red-eye, my economy seat was pretty comfortable.
I’m 5’3″ and on the smaller side, so the legroom was not an issue for me. I felt I had plenty of space, but taller passengers may want to upgrade to the extra-legroom seats.
The seat also came with several other amenities not seen on competing budget airlines, like USB ports…
…a large tray table…
…adequate padding, though the seat was still slim compared with some mainline carriers…
…big seat-back pockets…
…and a stand on the seat back for smartphones or tables so passengers can stream movies or TV shows.
Breeze’s A220 does not yet have complimentary inflight entertainment like its Embraers, but Neeleman said the service is planned for the future.
I booked a regular “Nice” fare for my flight, which does not come with complimentary food or beverages.
However, due to the long delay, the flight attendants served us free drinks and snacks. I enjoyed Pringles and orange juice.
Breeze’s two other fare classes each come with different amenities, like snacks, a reserved seat, or a carry-on bag.
Nice is the most restrictive fare class, but customers who book the fare can pay extra to upgrade to an extra-legroom (Nicer) or first-class (Nicest) seat without adding other amenities.
The a la carte model means passengers can prioritize what they want to pay more for.
For example, I typically only travel with a carry-on and bring my own snacks, so I could book a Nice fare and pay for a seat upgrade without being forced to purchase a more-expensive bundle that has things I don’t need.
After a five-hour journey, we landed in Syracuse. I did not have to deplane and simply waited for everyone else to leave and for the new passengers to board.
Overall, I was very happy with Breeze’s economy product, despite the long delay in Las Vegas. It felt more like flying on a mainline carrier than a bare-bones low-cost airline, which is perfect for budget travelers who want a little extra space and comfort.
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