Breeze Airways Review – Budget Flights Return to Pittsburgh

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on November 3, 2023.

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As frequent travelers, we're always on the lookout for a great deal and an easy route flying out of Pittsburgh International Airport.

Whenever a new budget carrier comes to the airport, we find ourselves getting quite excited at the prospects as reaching new destinations for a far cheaper price-point.

So when Breeze Airways announced routes and subsequent expansions into the Pittsburgh market to cities that haven't been serviced in quite some time, we knew we had to fly on them as soon as possible. As it turns out, one such route was one we wanted to travel on and we booked our flight right away.

Breeze Offers Direct Flights to New Cities

Breeze Airways

One of the true joys of having Breeze Airways operate out of Pittsburgh is that they simply offer direct flights to cities that are not typically serviced by other airlines.

At the time of publishing this article, Breeze operated flights (year-round and seasonally) to Hartford, CT; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Orange County, CA; NY Islip, NY; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Norfolk, VA; Portland, ME; Provo/Salt Lake City, UT; Raleigh, NC; Providence, RI; Fort Myers, FL; and Tampa, FL.

Although the demand for destinations like Portland or Norfolk may be low compared to other destinations, if one of these cities is on your list for whatever purpose, a direct flight from Pittsburgh is such a relief to have.

As we were planning a trip to Maine right when the direct flight to Portland was announced, we knew we had to jump on the flight and snagged roundtrip tickets with the “Nicer” bundle for about $240 each after tax (we had hesitated on a promotional price for a bit, and as such the ticket value went up a bit more than the starting price, including the base “Nice” ticket being sold out).

Breeze Airways

Compared to larger carriers that wanted $400+ for the same dates, with a less-than-ideal layover, this ticket was a steal despite being on the higher side by Breeze's standards.

But before you go off and buy the base ticket to save a ton of money, it is also worth noting that Breeze is an airline that sells almost everything extra a la carte. Their base ticket, “Nice”, only includes a personal item and no other perks. If you want to take a proper carry-on or a checked bag, you're looking at a modest fee for each which rises if you purchase at the airport the day of your flight. The mid-tier “Nicer” ticket included items like a seat assignment, cancelation credit, carry-on bag, a checked bag, and seats with more legroom. The highest tier, “Nicest” includes all of Nicer plus an additional checked bag and better seating when available.

Breeze Airways

As we likely would have paid for a checked bag, carry-on, and seat assignment anyway, the bundle option coming with a better seat was at a close enough price difference to be an easy upsell. Forgetting one of these items and then paying an increased fee at the airport is never a good experience!

Our flight to and from Portland was about as straightforward as they come, with sparse amenities offered in the A to B shuttle. While we did have some delays (which we will speak about more in a moment), the true highlight here was simply how much legroom we got within our Nicer ticket selection. The spaciousness here felt as much if not perhaps more than other airline's premium economy sections, and was a treat that we were surprised to experience.

Although our flight itself was rather uneventful all things considered, there are some things you may want to keep in mind before booking a ticket. Despite the lower prices, budget carriers come with a few risks.

A Few Concerns of Note with Breeze Airways

Breeze Airways

It should go without saying, but there are always some concerns worth noting regarding budget carriers. After flying on Breeze to Portland, Maine, I can safely say that this airline is no different, and as such has a few important details to note. 

First up, it is worth noting that Breeze is not on an alliance and operates limited routes. If something happens to your flight and it is canceled or delayed, your ability to hop on another plane, fly via a different city, and make your final destination in an appreciable time drops considerably. 

Throw on the fact that routes are often only a couple of days a week, and the risks go up. What will you do if your flight gets canceled and the next one isn't for three or four days (not hours)? Had this happened to us going, we probably would've just canceled our trip entirely. On the way home, however, getting stuck in another city is not the end of the world due to being able to work remotely.

But for others, if you are flying home from a trip on a Sunday and absolutely have to be in the office on a Monday, well, a delayed or canceled flight with no partnered airlines to get you home could be a possible issue in an extreme scenario. I would be lying if I didn't say I already had a return route planned out in my head that involved taking a train down to Boston and flying from there, but thankfully we had no issues on this end.

Second, limited routes also mean delays could potentially compound more. The Portland, Maine, flight we were on flew more or less on a set cycle between Pittsburgh, Portland, and Norfolk throughout the day, and seemingly no other planes within Breeze did this exact route. As such, as delays invariably develop, most outside of the airline's control, the impact is felt more and more as the day goes on.

This issue is something all carriers face, but with limited options, making adjustments to account for these issues (say, swapping planes) seems less and less likely.

Acadia National Park
Thanks to Breeze we made it to Acadia National Park with ease.

Finally, airport resources are also limited as an extension. 

On our return trip, we got stuck in the sky due to a thunderstorm over the city and were delayed landing by well over an hour. By the time we landed in Pittsburgh, our gate was given away to the only other Breeze flight heading out around our arrival time, and we had to sit on the tarmac for another 40 or so minutes until that flight departed and the gate became available. Had we flown on a larger carrier, the odds are good that we simply would've been allocated to another of the airline's dozen-plus gates, had to wait a few minutes for gate agents to arrive, and that would be that.

In baggage claim, an earlier flight (which was seemingly delayed several hours) had many exasperated passengers waiting for their bags to arrive. It is never a good thing when people shout “finally!” with joy when their bags arrive, but this was indeed the case. Thankfully, our bags came out just a few minutes later without a noticeable delay.

Once again, fewer employees and fewer airport resources available is a potential cause for concern, too.

That said, despite these common risks that you have on budget carriers, I quite liked our Breeze experience. Yes, we had some delays we likely would not have experienced on a major carrier. But we also got to fly directly to our destination for a fraction of the price a major airline would've charged us. For that, those risks were 100% worth it. 

We look forward to what routes this one will be adding on next!

To check out routes and prices on Breeze, click here.

Looking for some posts published from our trip in Maine? Our sister blog Living the Dream has some great ones like the best lobster rolls in Maine, lighthouses in Maine, and how many days you need in Acadia National Park to name a few!

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