Update, 6/3/21: United will fly their inaugural Newark-Johannesburg flight tonight on a Polaris 787-9, marking the first nonstop flight between the US and South Africa since the beginning of the pandemic. Delta plans to restart Atlanta-Johannesburg with 3 flights per week in August, but they will need to make a stop in Cape Town for the return flight as they no longer have any aircraft that can fly nonstop from Johannesburg to Atlanta. South African Airways is still in hibernation mode and isn’t selling any flights to the US.
United hasn’t flown to Cape Town since March 2020, but plans to return their seasonal Newark-Cape Town service with 3 weekly 787-9 flights running from 10/31/21-3/25/22.
United also flew their inaugural flights with a premium heavy Polaris 767-300ER from Newark to Maui today and a Polaris 787-8 from Chicago to Kona today. The Newark-Maui flight went with empty Polaris seats and the return flight tonight will also have empty Polaris seats. Sounds like a route tailor made for a Plan B award!
Update, 9/27/20: United is now selling seats on their new Hawaiian routes for travel starting on 6/3/21. The new Hawaii flights operate on Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
- Award availability is coach is wide open for 22.5K United miles each way. You can transfer Chase or Marriott points to United.
- You can theoretically book these routes for just 7.5K Turkish miles each way, but it’s difficult to get an agent that can book United’s long-haul Hawaii flights with Turkish miles and you can’t redeem for them online. You can transfer Citi, Capital One, or Marriott points to Turkish.
- You can also use 17.5K Singapore miles each way, and those are bookable online. You can transfer AMEX, Capital One, Chase, Citi, or Marriott points to Singapore.
Originally posted on 9/9/20:
- Newark to Maui was my most confident guess and sure enough, United will launch the route with 4 weekly 767-300ER flights starting in summer 2021. It will be the longest route that any airline has to Maui. This comes in addition to daily Newark-Honolulu service. That also means that the United 767 fleet won’t be retired.
- Another awesome Hawaii route launch is Chicago-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island with 4 weekly flights starting in summer 2021. Best of all, that route will be served by a 787-8, which should feature all Polaris seating! United already serves Chicago to Honolulu and Maui.
- South Africa seemed like a sure bet, and it will be Newark-Johannesburg that gets the new service with daily 787-9 flights starting in spring 2021.
- Nigeria was also a giveaway, and indeed, Washington DC-Lagos, Nigeria will see 3 weekly 787-8 flights starting in spring 2021.
- Washington DC-Accra, Ghana will also see 3 weekly 787-8 flights starting in spring 2021.
- United will launch daily 787-9 service between Chicago-Delhi starting this winter!
- United will launch daily 787-9 service between San Francisco-Bangalore starting spring 2021, this may set a record for the longest United flight time.
Sadly, there’s no new Bangkok, Vienna, or South America service, but these are still some great new routes and I loved how United teased them out!
Several months ago I asked if United would pull off nonstops to both Cape Town and Johannesburg, which would be a huge win over Delta. Delta can no longer fly from Johannesburg to Atlanta nonstop due to their imminent 777 fleet retirement and their lack of 787s, so they are switching to an inconvenient triangle route from Atlanta to Johannesburg to Cape Town to Atlanta.
Sure enough, United will do just that with nonstop service from Newark to South Africa’s largest 2 cities. They will leapfrog from having no South Africa presence just 1 year ago, to having the biggest US carrier South Africa presence in 2021, which is pretty incredible!
Which of these new routes will you fly?