The U.S. Is Launching a New Regional Airline — Here's What to Know About 'Aha!'

The new venture is part of ExpressJet Airlines and calls itself the company's "'air-hotel-adventure' leisure brand." (Hence the name, Aha!)

A new regional airline is launching this month from Reno, Nev., and it's kicking off with 8 west coast routes.

aha! Plane in flight
Background: shunli zhao/Getty Images; Plane: Courtesy of aha!

The new airline, aha!, will fly from Reno-Tahoe International Airport starting Oct. 24, according to the carrier, offering direct service to cities like Bakersfield, Calif., and Eugene/Springfield, Ore. to start.

The new venture is part of ExpressJet Airlines and calls itself the company's "'air-hotel-adventure' leisure brand." (Hence the name, Aha!)

aha! Initial Launch Map
Courtesy of aha!

"The Reno-Tahoe region offers travelers a wide range of fun and unique experiences," Tim Sieber, the head of ExpressJet's aha! business unit, said in a statement. "With the time savings of nonstop flights and packages with great deals at a curated collection of the best hotels and gaming resorts in the region coming soon, we're giving travelers everything they need to customize their own great, short vacation."

To start, aha! will fly each route three times per week using 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 regional jets. The carrier plans to expand to more than 20 cities in the coming months.

Customers will each get one complimentary personal item, but must pay $30 for a carry-on bag, or $30 for their first checked bag, according to the airline. A second checked bag will cost $50, and additional baggage will cost $100 each.

"As ExpressJet began developing post-COVID flying opportunities that fit our history of serving smaller communities with regional aircraft, we realized that the old adage of 'getting there is half the fun' has become 'just getting there burns up half the vacation'," ExpressJet's CEO Subodh Karnik said in the statement. "With so many under-served communities and the allure of Reno-Tahoe, the aha! Brand model practically leapt at us."

These are the cities aha! plans to fly to and when service will begin:

Oct. 24: Pasco/Tri-Cities, Wash.

Oct. 25: Bakersfield, Calif.

Oct. 31: Medford/Ashland, Ore.

Nov. 1: Eugene/Springfield, Ore.

Nov. 5: Redmond/Bend, Ore.

Nov. 9: Eureka/Arcata, Calif.

Nov. 10: Fresno/Yosemite, Calif.

Nov. 4: Ontario, Calif.

This is not the first airline to launch in the United States in the pandemic era. In April, Avelo Airlines became the first new mainline carrier to launch in the U.S. in 15 years with its first flight from Hollywood Burbank Airport in Los Angeles to Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County in Santa Rosa.

And another new airline, Breeze Airways — from the founder of JetBlue — is promising to get customers to their destinations "quicker with a nonstop flight and we're going to do it with a smile."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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