Flying transcontinental with a low-cost carrier can be a surprisingly comfortable and enjoyable experience. Breeze Airways is a relatively new airline building out its route network with many services that connect smaller regional airports such as Providence, Hartford and Norfolk with major airports out west like Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Las Vegas (LAS).
When I heard the airline would launch a Raleigh-Durham (RDU)-to-LAX route, I booked a seat onboard the inaugural flight to see how Breeze’s transcontinental experience compares to flying with a legacy carrier. You can snap up one of Breeze’s Nicest fares (complete with the Breeze Ascent domestic-first-class-equivalent seat) from just $285 on this route from Raleigh to LAX. The price includes two checked bags, a carry-on and priority boarding.
In markets where Breeze is the only airline operating—such as between Norfolk and LAX—it is fliers’ only nonstop option. However, American Airlines and Delta also operate nonstop services on the RDU-to-LAX route I flew.
The cheapest premium-cabin equivalent with one of the legacy carriers comes in at around $526—almost double that of Breeze. Neither American Airlines nor Delta offers lie-flat seats on this route, but Breeze’s recline is 39”, at least one inch more than the premium cabins of the 737s the legacy carriers operate.
So, given that Breeze’s Ascent seat is arguably superior, is it worth paying upwards of $241 for lounge access and a basic meal with a legacy carrier? Let’s take a look.
Boarding and Cabin
The gate area was crowded as we waited for the jet to arrive from Hartford, as Breeze Ascent passengers don’t receive lounge access included with their tickets. (RDU doesn’t have a Priority Pass—or equivalent—lounge either.)
The cabin of this less-than-a-year-old Airbus A220 was light, bright and more spacious than I had imagined this narrow-body would be. Some may prefer to fly wide-body jets on cross-country routes for extra space, but I didn’t feel cramped or uncomfortable on this aircraft. The jet had three rows of Breeze Ascent seats in a 2-2 configuration, which preceded the rest of the cabin’s economy seats in the A220’s unique 3-2 setup.
Overhead bins were large enough to place carry-on wheel cases on their sides, which meant optimum space. Regrettably, no complimentary pre-departure beverage was provided to accompany the first-class seating.
Flight MX540 is one of Breeze’s Breeze-Thru routes, which makes a brief stop to pick up passengers on longer journeys such as this service to LAX, which started in Hartford. A slight technical issue meant we took off 50 minutes later than scheduled. Despite this, we touched down through the gray skies of Los Angeles just five minutes later than planned.
Some of Breeze’s jets, including the one I flew on, are equipped with high-speed Viasat Wi-Fi. The plan is to install this on all its aircraft by the end of 2024.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi was not functional during my flight, which ruined my plan of completing a full day of work. Without access to Wi-Fi, this four-hour-and-53-minute flight felt tedious at times. When it is possible to access Wi-Fi, passengers can enjoy Breeze’s free OnBoard entertainment system, which includes a modest selection of television shows, films and games.
Food and Beverage
When I booked, I knew I wouldn’t be wined and dined. However, as a Breeze Ascent passenger, I was entitled to unlimited snacks from a basket. There were M&M’s, blueberry and pomegranate granola bars, Gardetto’s snack mix and Zapp’s potato chips. Alternatively, I could have paid $9 for a meat and cheese plate or $10 for a slightly more substantial snack box.
All drinks, including premium High Noons and sparkling wine, were included as a Breeze Ascent passenger. Crew member Sabrina ensured those seated up front were well fed and hydrated.
I was most impressed by the size, comfort and all-around high quality of the Safran Z600 seat, which measures 20.5 inches wide with a pitch of 39 inches. Granted, it wasn’t quite a Delta One lie-flat, but it was leagues above the seat you’d find on most intra-European flights.
The seat could easily be reclined, and the leg rest extended at the push of a button. Happily, the headrest was well-padded and provided excellent neck support while I napped.
I would say this was the biggest tray table I’ve ever had on a narrow-body jet—even a 15-inch or larger laptop would have fitted comfortably.
The tray table was also home to a nifty little device stand, which came in handy as Breeze has no IFE screens on its aircraft. The cherry on the cake was the multiple charging options, including a USB-C port.
If I lived in a city where the only option to fly nonstop cross-country was with Breeze, I would pay extra for the Breeze Ascent experience. It offers nonstop connectivity where travelers would otherwise have to fly with a legacy carrier and connect through a hub airport.
When traveling from Raleigh-Durham to LAX, I could fly with American Airlines to enjoy the benefits of my Oneworld Emerald status, such as lounge access and other perks at the airport and onboard. However, I wouldn’t pay cash for a transcon ticket with a legacy carrier. Instead, I would opt for Breeze, which costs $285 and earns BreezePoints for future flights. If you prefer bringing your own entertainment and snacks instead of a hot meal and lounges, Breeze Airways’ competitive Breeze Ascent fares are worth considering for your next trans-continental flight.