Sensing that a travel boom will likely continue into 2022, United Airlines is adding nearly 150 flights to warm-weather cities to its schedule for the upcoming winter season.
The airline is adding flight service to American destinations in California, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and Nevada, as well as warmer sites in Mexico and beaches dotting the Caribbean. All told, United will offer 137 more flights than it did before the pandemic in 2019 starting this November through next March.
In its announcement, United said it’s prepared for the return of air travel for more than a year and says that it’s back to full speed. The airline seems confident that things will continue in its favor. Just last month, the company ordered 270 new planes and rolled out plans to hire 25,000 workers.
"Celebrating the holidays with family and loved ones in 2020 was a challenge, and we know our customers are already eager to plan winter vacations and gatherings in person this year to make up for time that they lost," said Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning at United. "As pandemic restrictions ease, people are becoming more confident in planning travel further in advance, so we want to make sure to offer our customers as much choice as possible."
The warm weather add-ons
Out of the 150 additional flights that United will add come November, the highlighted routes include:
Up to 25 additional daily flights from New York/Newark to cities including Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, and Savannah;
Up to 14 additional daily flights from Denver to cities including Charleston, Ft. Lauderdale, and Savannah;
Up to 12 additional daily flights from Chicago to cities including Key West, Las Vegas, and San Diego;
Up to 11 additional daily flights from Washington D.C. to cities including Charleston, New Orleans, and Phoenix;
Up to seven additional daily flights from Houston to Florida including Miami, Orlando, and Palm Beach;
Up to four additional daily flights from Los Angeles to Orlando, Tampa, and Ft. Myers;
Up to four additional daily flights from Cleveland to Orlando, Tampa, and Ft. Myers; and
Up to three additional daily flights from San Francisco to Orlando and Ft. Myers.
In addition, United is launching 12 new routes from Denver, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. to destinations like Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; Liberia, Costa Rica; and Nassau, Bahamas.
Going in September vs. going in February
When ConsumerAffairs ran a quick check on Google Flights to sample United fares on two of its routes, we found that flying from New York City to Ft. Myers, Florida, or Chicago to Las Vegas in September versus February offered a slightly better fare ($50-$75).
But anxious travelers should remember three tips when booking flights: 1) fares change frequently; 2) they change as the flights start to fill up with travelers; and, 3) buying the cheapest fare often means travelers won’t get the same service. This might mean having to pay baggage fees or not being able to select your seat.
Travelers should also keep in mind that the airline industry is still operating differently than it was before the pandemic. There are changes to in-flight services, an ongoing requirement to mask-up, and a firmer, no-nonsense approach to traveler behavior.