Hooters Air, the two-year-old airline based in Myrtle Beach that promotes the Hooters restaurant chain, has revised its nonstop route from Myrtle Beach to Las Vegas.
Hooters added nonstop flights to Las Vegas on June 9 but has changed the route to connect through Rockford, Ill.
Hooters Air President Mark Peterson said the stop in Rockford is brief - passengers do not have to change planes - and the change was made in order to fill the Las Vegas-bound jets.
"We look at it in terms of, Can you fill up the airplanes out of Myrtle Beach or do you make a stop in the middle somewhere?" Peterson said. "We thought making a stop would make sense."
The Boeing 757 jets Hooters uses for the route carry 199 people.
Peterson said the airline was looking ahead to the fall season when it decided to add the connection in Rockford and that nonstop flights to Las Vegas from Myrtle Beach could be added again if there is demand.
"We'll continue to look at it and make a determination as we get over the winter months and traffic picks up," Peterson said. "If Myrtle Beach will support it, we'll put it on. That's just the way it works."
Ashley Jackson, manager of Thomas Hogan Travel in Myrtle Beach, said Las Vegas is one of the most popular U.S. travel destinations for her clients and that she has had many inquiries about Hooters' Las Vegas route. But passengers usually book on another airline, Jackson said, because Hooters' itinerary gets fliers into Las Vegas late Thursday afternoons and has them leaving early Sunday mornings.
"I think they should change their times," Jackson said. "The times just aren't conducive for travelers leaving this area. By the time you get to the airport in Vegas, get your luggage and get to your hotel, you've wasted a whole day."
The biggest negative on the Las Vegas Hooters flight, she said, is the 9 a.m. return.
"You've got to be at the airport at 7 a.m., that airport is so busy, and in Vegas, you're up late," she said.
By contrast, Jackson said she books lots of clients on Hooters' flights to Nassau, Bahamas.
Flights leave Myrtle Beach at 12:10 p.m. and arrive in Nassau at 1:40 p.m. Return flights leave Nassau at 3 p.m. and arrive in Myrtle Beach at 6:40 p.m.
"People want to hit the beach, and coming back, they're not rushed to get home," Jackson said.
While the young airline might not have as many schedule options as larger carriers, the travel agent said she thinks the airline is growing in a smart way and feedback from travelers has been positive.
"We've gotten very good comments about their service," Jackson said. "You get a nice biscuit in the morning and you get a nice lunch. On the other carriers, you don't get anything. We're all hoping they stay around."
Hooters Air launched its first flight from Myrtle Beach in March 2003 and serves 15 destinations, including Myrtle Beach. The airline has seven Boeing aircraft and was founded by Loris native Bob Brooks, chairman of the Hooters restaurant chain and founder of Atlanta-based Naturally Fresh Foods.
Hooters Air, the Myrtle Beach-based airline that brings chicken wings to mind and carries two Hooters waitresses on every flight, announced Friday it will begin nonstop flights from Myrtle Beach to...
The Myrtle Beach-Las Vegas route departs Thursdays and returns Sundays, with fares of $149 each way.
The airline says it will stop flights from Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Gary, Ind.; Pittsburgh; Nassau; and Las Vegas to Myrtle Beach.
Hooters Air plans to begin nonstop service from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg, Fla., beginning Oct. 28.