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United Is Cutting Flights to 8 Major Cities, Starting in October

The airline just released a revised schedule that scales back plans for recently announced routes.

The summer travel season may be winding down, but there's no denying that it's been memorable. After beginning with weather-related cancellations during a busy holiday weekend, there were changes to the security line and controversial policy shifts by major airlines amid record-high numbers of passengers finally returning to the skies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as with any other time of year, there have also been a few notable changes to airlines' schedules. And in the latest example, United is cutting flights to eight major cities. See which destinations will be affected when the new schedule takes effect in October.

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United is cutting flights between more than half a dozen cities on its schedule.

A United Airlines flight taking off from an airport
iStock / Robert Buchel

Travelers booking flights on United for fall and winter travel might notice a difference in available tickets. According to data posted to airline schedule website Cirium, the carrier is cutting flights between a handful of cities in the U.S. and China in the coming months, Simple Flying reports.

Several routes that were planned to kick off in October will now be delayed for months. They include Newark to Beijing and Shanghai; Chicago to Beijing and Shanghai; Los Angeles to Shanghai; Washington Dulles to Beijing; and San Francisco to Chengdu.

Overall, the changes will see a total of 60 flights cut from the schedule in October before increasing to 465 dropped departures in November and 460 in December.

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The changes will significantly delay the airline's recently announced routes to China.

side of united airlines plane
EQRoy / Shutterstock

United's significant schedule changes come just weeks after the airline announced plans to beef up its service to several cities in Asia, citing new service to the Philipines, India, Japan, and Hong Kong. But now, many of the planned routes to China won't kick back off until the new year, Simple Flying reports.

According to flight data, the routes between Newark and Beijing and Shanghai; Los Angeles and Shanghai; and Washington Dulles and Beijing won't launch until Jan. 9. Flights from Chicago to Beijing will only start the following day on Jan. 10 before kicking off service from the Windy City to Beijing the next day. San Francisco will have to wait even longer for its planned service to Chengdu, which now starts on March 31.

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Officials recently announced a plan to increase passenger flights between the U.S. and China.

Person Walking Through Airport

Besides backtracking on its plans, news of the canceled flights and delayed routes also comes just weeks after a major announcement about travel between the U.S. and China. On Aug. 11, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) said it had approved plans to double the number of passenger flights between the two countries, Reuters reported.

Officials said that the changes would see departures operated by Chinese airlines increase from 12 weekly round trips to 18 as of Sept. 1 before jumping to 24 per week beginning on Oct. 29. The move also came as China announced it would be winding down some of its COVID-19-related restrictions for foreign visitors, per Reuters.

At the time, United announced it would also add flights as part of the changes.

"We are grateful for this positive step forward in U.S.–China passenger air services, and we thank the many officials from both countries who partnered to make this reinstatement of air service possible," Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances for United Airlines, said in a statement, per Simple Flying. "This announcement is good news for United customers because we believe that a daily flight to Beijing and a daily flight to Shanghai from San Francisco is consistent with the demand we see in the market right now—especially since our ability to serve China nonstop from our mid-continent hubs or the East Coast is severely limited by Russian overflight restrictions."

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This isn't the only time recently United has decided to pare back its schedule.

travler looking at united airlines flight schedule
Sorbis / Shutterstock

The dropped flights between the U.S. and China are just the latest in a series of recent schedule changes for United. Perhaps most notably, the airline announced in July that it would be scaling back departures from its hub in Newark to help ease operational strains and logistical issues. The carrier dropped more than 700 flights through November, primarily affecting connecting service from the New Jersey airport to its other hubs.

Last week, the airline also announced it would be dropping flights to Maui through most of October as the Hawaiian island recovers from devastating wildfires, Simple Flying reported. The move saw departures from Denver International Airport and Chicago O'Hare Airport cut entirely while scaling back flights from Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.

United also cut flights to London Heathrow Airport it had initially scheduled for the fall and winter. It reduced departures from Newark Liberty International Airport from seven daily flights to six while also scrapping departures to the British destination from Chicago, Washington Dulles, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Simple Flying reported.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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