United Is Cutting Flights to 5 Major Cities, Starting in December

The carrier will be reducing departures as it shuffles around its schedule.

The airline industry is no stranger to change. Carriers of all sizes try to attract customers with new perks or make operational changes to become more efficient on an ongoing basis. Of course, some of the most significant cost-saving measures can come down to which destinations they service and how often they fly there. And now, United has announced that it will be cutting flights to five major cities. Read on to see if your travel plans will be affected later this year.

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United is cutting back flights to five cities later this year.

A United Airlines 767 jet taxiing on the runway
Shutterstock / Matheus Obst

If you have plans to take a vacation next winter, you might want to take note of some upcoming departure changes. According to data posted to flight scheduling website Cirium, United is cutting back flights in the coming months in a move that will affect five destinations, Simple Flying reports.

In December 2023, the carrier will make significant cuts to Hawaiian destinations, including 18 dropped flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Kahului Airport (OGG) on Maui; 13 to Honolulu (HNL); 13 to Kona (KOA) on the "Big Island" of Hawai'i; and five to Lihue (LIH) on the island of Kauai. In addition, San Francisco (SFO) will also reduce its departures for the month, cutting 13 flights each to Kona and Lihue, Simple Flying reports.

Some return flights will also be affected. Data shows that United is dropping 44 departures from Kahului Airport to San Francisco for the month.

The airline appears to be bulking up its flight schedule elsewhere.

UNITED AIRLINES STAR ALLIANCE sign at check in location RDU International Airport
Shutterstock

Despite the changes, it won't be harder to get to the popular Hawaiian destinations from all cities. Data posted to Cirium also shows that United is adding flights to its schedule as well.

Honolulu will see an additional 15 flights from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), 20 more from Denver International Airport, and an additional 46 from San Francisco, Simple Flying reports. And Denver will increase departures to Kahului Airport with five additional flights to Maui.

Best Life reached out to United Airlines for comment on the schedule changes, but has yet to hear back.

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United recently announced the addition of new international routes.

United Airlines (Star Alliance) aircraft - Denver International Airport
iStock

Even as United shuffles the schedule for some of its popular domestic destinations, the company also appears to be increasing its focus on some other international markets. On April 18, the carrier announced that it would increase flights from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand by 40 percent, Condé Nast Traveler reported. This includes a new non-stop flight from San Francisco to Christchurch, New Zealand departing three times weekly beginning on Dec. 1

Los Angeles will also see an increase, with three times weekly service to Brisbane, Australia kicking off as of Nov. 29 and the addition of four weekly flights to Auckland, New Zealand. San Francisco will also beef up its capacity to Brisbane and Sydney with larger aircraft on the route starting Oct. 28, per CN Traveler.

"This past winter, United enhanced our network and became the largest carrier to the South Pacific region," Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of global network planning and alliances for United Airlines, said in a release. "This upcoming winter, we will expand even further."

United will still be scaling back operations at some major airports over the summer.

united airlines customers
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The latest moves for the airline's schedule also come weeks after some of the largest carriers in the U.S. announced significant service changes. Earlier this month, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines all confirmed that they would be reducing flights from the New York City area this summer, Best Life previously reported. The decision would affect four major air transportation hubs at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA); New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport (EWR); and Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C., Airline Weekly reported.

The carriers made the decision to help reduce traffic at the busy airports amid ongoing staffing shortages affecting air traffic control operations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the airlines special waivers to keep their coveted runway slots despite the downtime. Carriers are typically stripped of these slots if they don't use them at least 80 percent of the time.

As a result of the changes, United will be cutting flights from Newark from 438 to 408 daily departures. In an email to Best Life, the airline confirmed it would reduce daily flights from the New Jersey hub to Ronald Reagan National Airport and from LaGuardia to Washington Dulles International Airport, as of May 15. Flight data posted to Cirium also showed that Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia will have reduced daily departures beginning in June that continue to drop through the summer, Simple Flying reported.

However, the carrier said it would make it up for reduced departures by using larger aircraft on the routes to prevent capacity drops. "Even taking into account the small reductions, United will fly 5 percent more seats out of these airports than we did in summer 2019," a spokesperson for the airline wrote in an email to Best Life. "These small reductions will affect less than 2 percent of our customers at these airports—most of whom will still reach their destinations within two hours of their planned arrival time."

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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