Reagan Washington National (DCA) is the supreme powerport for America’s high and mighty. A scant four miles from downtown Washington, DC, Congress even has its own private parking lot at the airport. Lobbyists love the airport; powerbrokers revel in it.DCA’s undergoing a major shakeup in the wake of the new American Airlines’ divestiture of 104 valuable takeoff and landing slots at the airport. The move was part of the deal in which the government approved the American/US Airways merger.Those slots went to the highest bidder. Low-fare Southwest gets 54 slots, equating to 27 daily flights. Low-fare/high-touch JetBlue gets 24 slots, allowing it to field an additional dozen flights from DCA. Finally, similarly low-fare/high-frills Virgin America picked up eight slots, allowing it to loft four more daily departures.Ultra-low-fare, unprecedently “unbundled” Spirit Airlines came up short, failing to get any new Reagan National slots. In a conference call to talk about financial results Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza said, “We put in a bid that we thought could keep our target margin returns in place, and we did not win.”Spirit makes a profit by packing its Airbus twinjets with more seats than the competition and charging extra for virtually everything. Even water costs $3. It’s not what you’d call a “service-intensive” carrier.By contrast, JetBlue and Virgin America are precisely that, and Southwest is highly regarded. The captains of politics and commerce who frequent Reagan National are a lot more accustomed to the kind of service JetBlue, Virgin, and Southwest offer than they are Spirit’s.With one exception – the November 2 launch of nonstop DCA – Dallas Love Field flights – Southwest hasn’t announced its new routes from Reagan. JetBlue says it “plans to introduce nonstop service to cities it does not currently serve from DCA.” Similarly, no immediate word yet on what cities Virgin America will serve from the close-in airport.This much is all but assured: you won’t see Southwest, Virgin America and JetBlue re-tracing the small commuter jet routes American once operated from DCA. They’ll stick to larger cities, with more profit potential.The reshuffle of routes from Reagan very likely means Augusta, Georgia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Fort Walton Beach, Florida; Islip, New York; Jacksonville, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Nassau, Bahamas; Pensacola, Florida; San Diego, California; Savannah, Georgia; and Wilmington, North Carolina will be left twisting in the wind when it comes to nonstop flights to DCA.Bigger cities appear to be the big winners in the re-shuffle. The losers are flyers who have no problem in braving Sprit’s legroom- deficient seating and pay-for-extras policy in exchange for some of the lowest pure airfares on the planet.
The average team wins at home 63 percent of the time and on the road just 37 percent of the time. But the differential is much smaller for France and even smaller for Switzerland. In fact, France lost the past two finals it hosted, in 1999 and 2002.Andrew Flowers contributed to the analysis of data supplied by the International Tennis Federation. This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Nov. 24 The State of Football Issue. The farther Cup teams have to travel, the worse they perform (though traveling between 501 and 1,000 miles seems particularly tough). Luckily for Roger & Co.: Lille is just 325 miles from the Swiss capital of Bern, minimizing the French advantage. Roger Federer holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles, but there’s one trophy he’s still itching to lift: the Davis Cup. Starting Friday, he gets his best chance yet. In his first Davis Cup final, the 33-year-old ace and his Swiss teammates will battle the French in Lille, France.Yes, playing away from home significantly diminishes the win probability for the Swiss. And because Davis Cup rules dictate that the host country gets to choose the playing surface, Federer will be forced to compete on clay, his least favorite type of court — without much practice, after a back problem kept him sidelined until a short session Wednesday.But the good news for Federer is that Lille is a lot closer to home than Melbourne, where he lost to the Australians in 2003, the only other time he made a Cup semifinal. Plus, Switzerland is one of a handful of major teams to maintain a winning Cup road record since the modern era began in 1972.Of course, the second-ranked Federer is simply better most days than any of his Lille opponents. (France is led by No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.) And he’s so popular globally that he takes home-court advantage with him when he travels. Consider Roland Garros. “When he plays a French player,” says France’s Gilles Simon, “[the crowd] is 50-50, and I’m like, ‘Guys, what’s going on?’ ”The Swiss aren’t likely to feel that much love in Lille. But they still have plenty on their side to get the job done. Here’s a closer look at the factors in their favor. Federer’s 37–7 Davis Cup singles record is even more impressive when you consider that he’s been even better on the road than at home—especially in Europe, where he’s won his past 15 matches.