Before the Acela train and Amtrak Metroliner, the Eastern Air Shuttle was the way to travel quickly and efficiently in the Northeast. Beginning in 1961 the Eastern Shuttle provided hourly service between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Boston as well as Washington National. For a period of time flights from Newark to both Boston and Washington were part of the shuttle as well as flights from LaGuardia to Montreal’s Dorval Airport (Now Pierre Trudeau International).
Eastern was from 1974 on based in Miami and this product was their signature one. Hourly flights with no reservation needed and backup planes for overflow passengers made the shuttle the way to fly for business travelers. The service was popular and hassle-free.
In 1988 as Eastern was rapidly contracting and dealing with repeated labor disputes the shuttle was sold to Donald Trump. By the time Trump took control of the property in 1989, Eastern was bankrupt and its machinists has struck while the flight attendants and pilots also walked out on the job and joined the picket lines after voting to conduct a sympathy strike.
Trump’s shuttle ended up being a financial catastrophe. He immediately began retrofitting the planes with leather seats and other amenities befitting of a luxury carrier not an efficient one looking to merely “shuttle” passengers between major business centers. The Trump Shuttle did pioneer electronic check-in kiosk’s and the renting of laptop computers to passengers but the airline was a financial disaster.
Master Plans by Trump included linking the airline with West Palm Beach (completely illogical for an operation that relied on quick turnaround times) and of course Atlantic City which made zero sense other than to enhance Trump’s businesses. Trump did add small commuter service to Atlantic City but by 1991 the airline was a financial ruin and he was forced to sell to US Air. When the Arlington, VA based airline bought the Shuttle, they returned its service levels and ideals to its Eastern Airlines roots and its became once again a staple of the northeastern business travel.
The creation of the high-speed Acela trains by Amtrak and 9/11 conspired to make the shuttle operation which still exists today less relevant. But it almost didn’t survive the early 1990’s thanks to Donald Trump’s mismanagement.