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United Is Cutting Flights to 5 Major Cities This Fall

The airline is reconfiguring its schedule after a recent travel meltdown.

Making air travel plans can sometimes become unexpectedly complicated. Whether it's getting bogged down at the airport while trying to get to your plane on time or suffering through a wave of canceled flights during a busy holiday, it can sometimes feel like the odds are stacked against you making it to your destination. But things can get even more complicated if it becomes harder to make a reservation due to schedule changes. And now, United has announced that it's cutting flights to at least five major cities this fall. Read on to see if the decrease in departures will affect your home airport.

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United's CEO recently warned of flight cuts after the airline suffered "an awfully difficult week."

A young woman sitting at the airport with her head in her hands and a tired look on her face
iStock / martin-dm

A significant uptick in summer travel has given many airlines a reason to be optimistic as they continue recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Delta announced its highest-ever quarterly earnings as demand for flights continues to soar alongside steep ticket prices, The Points Guy reported.

But the banner travel season hasn't been good news for all carriers, thanks partly to a distressingly familiar combination of extreme weather and logistical issues plaguing the industry.

A string of thunderstorms grounded tens of thousands of flights leading up to the busy 4th of July holiday travel weekend, stranding passengers at major airports throughout the Midwest and Northeast.

However, United suffered particularly badly after the weather snarled its schedule at its hub at New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport, canceling more flights than any other airline for five consecutive days, the Associated Press reported.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby was quick to take aim at officials for the mishap, telling staff in a June 26 email that he was "frustrated that the FAA frankly failed us this weekend," per CBS News. But days later, he told staff that the "limited operating environment" at one of its busiest airports put the carrier in a sensitive place—and that changes would likely be made soon.

"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 will be cutting back on flights between its hubs in some major cities.

A United Airlines airplane taxiing on a runway at an airport
Shutterstock / Soos Jozsef

Now, United appears to be following through on its suggested plan. Recent data shows the airline will be cutting more than 700 flights from its schedule, decreasing the number of departures to and from its Newark hub in November to 24,238 from 24,953 the previous month, Simple Flying reports.

While there are reductions to airports throughout the carrier's coverage network, flights between Newark and its hubs in major cities are particularly affected by the changes. This includes Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., which will see a 7 percent drop in connecting service with New Jersey; Boston Logan International Airport, which will see a 9 percent reduction to and from Newark; and Dallas Forth Worth International Airport, which will lose 13 percent of its service with the East Coast hub.

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United is also dropping all flights to an international destination.

United Airlines (Star Alliance) aircraft - Denver International Airport

And it's not just domestic destinations that are seeing changes to the airline's schedule. Last week, the carrier also announced that it would be dropping its route from San Francisco to Bangalore, India, the company confirmed to The Points Guy.

The change marks the end of the route that was first announced in Sept. 2020 and scheduled to launch in the spring of the following year, with bookable reservations available to travelers, Simple Flying reported. However, multiple postponements kept the long-awaited service from ever taking off years after it was originally offered.

Best Life reached out to United Airlines for comment on both the impending Newark schedule changes and Bangalore service cuts, but has yet to hear back.

The carrier is filling out its schedule in other areas despite the notable cuts.

united airlines check in area
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Despite the latest cuts, United is still adding some departures to its schedule in the coming months. Notably, the airline is adding new flights to India, apparently shifting its planned service between San Francisco and Bangalore to twice-daily flights from Newark to New Delhi, The Points Guy reports. The changes will go into effect as of Oct. 28.

The carrier is also adding flights to other destinations in Asia. The airline is relaunching its service from Los Angeles International Airport to Tokyo Narita International Airport on Oct. 28 after previously shifting flights to Tokyo Haneda Airport. United will also launch a new service from Los Angeles to Hong Kong International Airport on the same day, according to The Points Guy. And on Oct. 29, it will kick off service from San Francisco to Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines.

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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