Midwest Airlines adds direct daily flights to Milwaukee: Service addition starts Sept. 16; check shows competitive fares

Jul. 12--Come September, air travelers will have another way to reach America's Dairyland, home of beer, cheese and the Green Bay Packers.

Midwest Airlines said Wednesday that it will start offering twice-daily nonstop flights between Milwaukee and Charlotte. Only US Airways flies that route now.

Midwest did not say how much its introductory fares would cost, and fares had not been loaded onto its Web site as of Wednesday evening. However, a search on Travelocity for a two-night weekend trip from Charlotte to Milwaukee in late September found a $312 fare on Midwest, compared with $424 on US Airways (including taxes and fees).

When service starts Sept. 16, Charlotte travelers also will be able to connect through Midwest's Milwaukee hub to other cities in the West and Midwest, including Kansas City; Omaha, Neb.; Minneapolis; Denver; Phoenix; Seattle; and San Francisco.

While some U.S. carriers experiment with charging extra for blankets and seat assignments, Midwest Airlines is known for its passenger-friendly service. Just this week, it won Travel + Leisure's "Best Domestic Airline" award, its eighth time winning the award in 11 years.

Its slogan is "The best care in the air," and it promises chocolate chip cookies baked aboard every flight, even aboard the Midwest Connect 50-seat CRJ-200 aircraft that will fly from Charlotte. The flight will be operated by SkyWest Airlines, a regional carrier.

"We treat our passengers as if they were a guest in our own home," said Midwest spokeswoman Carol Skornicka.

Charlotte airport director Jerry Orr, who said he first heard Midwest was coming Wednesday morning, said its arrival will be good news for Charlotte.

"The more airlines, the more competition we have," he said. "Competition drives service and price. Life doesn't get much better than that."

In a news release Wednesday, the airline said it selected Charlotte because of the city's status as "the nation's second-largest financial center and the hub of U.S. motorsports with its strong ties to NASCAR." It also said Charlotte and Austin -- which also will start Midwest service -- "are renowned for their historical pasts, natural outdoor beauty and rich and varied arts scene and culture."

Midwest flies to 53 cities and has recently been the object of a hostile takeover bid by AirTran Holdings, the parent of AirTran Airways. Midwest has a secondary hub in Kansas City and has codeshare agreements with Air Midwest and Northwest Airlines, which could open destinations for Charlotte travelers.

Midwest also distinguishes itself by offering two kinds of mainline flights with MD-80 series aircraft and Boeing 717s, a variant of the MD-80. Those planes usually have five-across coach seating, with two seats on one side of the aisle and three on the other.

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