United Is Cutting Flights From 3 Major Cities, Starting Next Month
The carrier is walking back its schedule amid the busy summer travel season.
There's nothing like booking a flight to get out of town for a little bit—especially during the summer. And whether you're after a relaxing beach vacation, looking to explore a new city, or just want to spend some time with friends or loved ones, it's good to know you have plenty of available choices when making travel arrangements. But unfortunately, travelers who prefer United Airlines might have fewer options after the carrier announced it would be cutting flights from three major cities starting next month. Read on to see if your plans could be affected by the changes.
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United announced it would scale back some flights due to "constraints" at one of its hubs.
Even as summer travel numbers continue to soar, United has been struggling with performance issues. Problems came to a head earlier this month when a string of thunderstorms led to a wave of flight cancellations along the East Coast during the busy 4th of July holiday weekend. The extreme weather significantly affected the airline's hub at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, grounding more of its flights than any other carrier for five days in a row, the Associated Press reported.
After initially expressing frustration with officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told employees in an email that the "limited operating environment" at its New York-area hub put the carrier in a tight situation, explaining that the only option might be to scale back the number of departures.
"Airlines, including United, simply aren't designed to have their largest hub have its capacity severely limited for four straight days and still operate successfully," he explained in an email to staff sent on July 1, obtained by travel news website One Mile at a Time. "We are going to have to further change/reduce our schedule to give ourselves even more spare gates and buffer—especially during thunderstorm season."
The carrier made its first changes last week when it announced it was cutting more than 700 flights from its schedule beginning in November, as well as dropping a few planned international routes.
The airline is scaling back flights even further starting next month.
Now, United appears to be making other schedule alterations even sooner. During an earnings call on July 20, Kirby announced the airline will be dropping the number of daily departures from its Newark hub beginning in August, cutting back the already reduced 410 daily flights to just 390, Simple Flying reports.
"We're now doing more than ever to mitigate the impact of weather, congestion, and other infrastructure constraints at Newark, frankly," Kirby said during the call. "So, the schedule at Newark is more manageable through the frequency of weather events and the very real operating constraints that exist there, even on blue sky days."
United Airlines president Brett Hart also joined the call to explain that the company had other plans to improve performance at Newark, including adding gates in other terminals, moving some of its scheduled takeoff slots to off-peak hours, and adding resources for crew scheduling, The Points Guy reports.
And despite the reduced number of flights, the airline hopes to keep up the number of travelers it can serve by bringing in bigger planes for its shorter-haul routes with its "United Next" strategy.
"United Next always contemplated that the only way to grow in Newark was upgrading from regional to mainline flying," Andrew Nocella, chief commercial officer for United Airlines, said during the call. "While we need to cut departures more than planned, we don't believe these changes will impact our long-term capacity at Newark due to the use of larger aircraft."
Recent schedule cuts will also affect two other major cities.
But Newark isn't the only city affected by the airline's recent changes. According to posted flight data, United is also scrapping its route from Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to Tokyo Narita International Airport, Simple Flying reports.
Until last week, the carrier had scheduled twice-daily service between the Hawaiian and Japanese destinations, slated to restart on October 28. The airline originally suspended the service in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic before quickly relaunching it in Dec. 2021 for just over a month before it was again grounded.
Best Life reached out to United Airlines about the Newark flight reductions and Honolulu-Tokyo changes, but has yet to hear back.
The airline is building out its schedule with one added international route.
While United is cutting back flights in some significant areas, it's still building up its schedule in others. The airline recently announced it will begin service from Denver International Airport to Sangster Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Travel Pulse reports. The new flights are slated to start on Nov. 4.
Earlier this month, the airline also announced a significant expansion into Asia with a handful of new routes. On Oct. 28, United will launch twice-daily service from Newark to New Delhi and relaunch its service from Los Angeles International Airport to Tokyo Narita International Airport, The Points Guy reports. It will also introduce flights from San Francisco to Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines the following day.