Update: United is now selling tickets on these routes through April 5, 12, or end of scheduling as indicated below! That’s excellent news for passengers as fares on these routes have been rock-bottom!
Originally posted on 8/12:
In recent years United has moved to eliminate all flights that don’t begin or end in one of their hub airports of Chicago, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington/IAD. Other network carriers, like Delta, have been more willing to have flights that don’t operate to one of their hubs.
For example earlier this year United ended flights between Cleveland-LaGuardia and Washington/DCA.
But COVID-19 means a new playbook is in order and it’s one that will rely on leisure traffic over business traffic.
JetBlue launched 30 new routes, with a heavy focus on flights to Florida.
United will now add more Florida flights of their own. The new flights are already available for purchase starting for travel in November.
United says that the expansion is due to increased demand. Considering that flights from Newark to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, and Tampa can be had for just $13, that seems like a stretch to me.
What’s more likely is that United is retaliating against JetBlue for expanding their Newark operations.
It’s also likely a response to JetBlue joining up with American to expand their NYC presence.
Of course they can’t outright say that, but it’s certainly implicit based on the timing and routes chosen. United now has to compete against JetBlue on lucrative transcontinental flights. That has created a fare war for coach and business class tickets.
In turn, United will compete on JetBlue routes from airports like Boston, Cleveland, and LaGuardia to Florida to signal their displeasure. It may not be enough to get JetBlue to back down, but it will mean a costly battle between the airlines for the upper hand.
Here are the routes being launched or seeing increased service:
From November 6, United will add up to 2 daily nonstop flights through the end of scheduling on these routes:
- Fort Lauderdale to/from Cleveland
- Fort Myers to/from Cleveland
- Orlando to/from Cleveland
JetBlue is currently the only non ultra-low cost carrier to fly year-round between Cleveland and Fort Lauderdale and they just recently added year-round flights between Cleveland and Fort Myers.
From November 6-January 10, United will add up to 2 daily nonstop flights on these routes:
- Fort Lauderdale to/from Boston and LaGuardia. (Update: Flights now available through April 5)
- Fort Myers to/from Boston and LaGuardia. (Update: Flights now available through April 5)
- Orlando to/from Boston and LaGuardia. (Update: Flights now available through April 5)
- Tampa to/from Boston, Cleveland, and LaGuardia. (Update: Flights now available through April 5)
From December 17-January 10, they will run the following nonstop flights:
- Tampa to/from Milwaukee. (Update: Flights now available through April 12)
- Fort Myers to/from Columbus and Milwaukee. (Update: Flights now available through April 12)
- Fort Myers to/from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. (Update: Flights now available through April 5)
Do you think United keep some of these routes around for longer than planned? Will JetBlue pull back on their Newark expansion plans or will United add more flights in retaliation?