Another Major Airline Just Said It's Cutting Flights for the Next 2 Months
Despite increased demand, this carrier is dropping flights to and from several cities.
Vaccine mandates and mask requirements have made air travel a safer option for people this year, even amid the continued spread of COVID. But while passengers may have the comfort of safety while flying, it's getting on those flights that is proving to be a massive headache. In early October, Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 2,000 flights, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at airports across the country. Later that month, Alaska Airlines announced that it was cutting some of its flights between two cities in November and December. Now, another major airline has just announced that it's dropping flight service to and from several cities over the next two months. Read on to find out if any of your upcoming trips are in jeopardy.
United Airlines is dropping flights to and from three cities over the next two months.
United Airlines will permanently remove its planes from three small U.S. cities, starting this month. According to The Points Guy, United will no longer provide service to and from Twin Falls' airport in Idaho starting Nov. 30, making it the first casualty of these cuts. Then on Jan. 3, the airline will drop its service for two South Dakota towns: Pierre and Watertown.
These two South Dakota airports are Essential Air Service (EAS) markets, which guarantees air service to small communities by providing subsidies to chosen airlines. SkyWest Airlines, which partners with United Express and operates under United in these two cities, had previously been awarded these subsidies, but their contract ended in April 2021. United has continued to provide service to Pierre and Watertown after the expiration but has now decided to pull out after losing a re-bid on the EAS contacts to Denver Air Connection in October. This new airline's contract is set through May 31, 2023.
"SkyWest flights, operating as United Express in Watertown and Pierre, South Dakota, will end in early January following the Department of Transportation's (DOT's) recent decision to not re-bid under the Essential Air Service (EAS) program," Skywest said in a statement, per The Points Guy.
SkyWest is also trimming United's service to another city.
United Express is also terminating one route to and from Joplin, Missouri, according to The Points Guy. While an official date has not been confirmed, the airline will no longer service flights from this city to its hub in Houston, Texas, at some point later this month. This is despite service from Joplin to Houston just starting earlier this year on June 1, per The Joplin Globe. According to SkyWest, a lack of demand has contributed to these cuts.
"SkyWest will discontinue … Joplin, Missouri service to Houston later this month. SkyWest-operated United Express service from Joplin to Chicago O'Hare and Denver will continue. We are continually working with our partners to evaluate demand and service levels across our network; customers who are booked beyond these service dates will be contacted for rebooking options," Skywest explained in a statement to The Points Guy.
And United is pulling flights from a major college town airport.
The cuts don't stop with SkyWest-based United flights, however. On Nov. 3, Texas A&M University System confirmed in an email press release that United Airlines would be ending flights to Easterwood Airport on Jan. 3, as reported by The Battalion, the university's student newspaper. Easterwood Airport is located just minutes away from the university's campus in College Station, Texas, and is owned by the Texas A&M University System.
United currently runs two separate flights from Easterwood to Houston each day, and once they pull out, Easterwood will only have three flights a day to Dallas-Forth Worth, according to The Battalion. John W. Clanton, president of Easterwood Airport Management, said in the press release that the decision was unexpected, as the airport had seen a significant increase in boarding passengers every month following a decline in travel during the height of the COVID pandemic.
System Chancellor John Sharp said the airline's decision was "devastating" to the university. "We're doing everything we can to get them to change their mind," Sharp said in a statement.
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United says it's still planning thousands of flights for the month of December.
On Oct. 7, United Airlines said that it will still offer 3,500 daily flights within the U.S. in December of this year, as reported the New York Times. The airline plans to offer 91 percent as many domestic flights in this month as it did in the same month in 2019. According to the news outlet, this is the most flights in any month since the pandemic began.
"We're seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow," Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning and scheduling at United, told the New York Times. The airline said it expects the following days to be the busiest over the next two months: Nov. 24, Nov. 28, Dec. 23, and Jan. 2.