United has been aggressively expanding not just domestically, where they’ve upgauged many flights from regional jet to mainline in business markets, but also internationally where they’ve added Europe and Asia flying and even some unexpected moves into the South Pacific — such as San Francisco – Melbourne and Tahiti.
United Airlines Newark
This morning United announced new international routes and additional flights on existing routes involving four of their hubs, with the greatest expansion coming at Newark.
- Curacao seasonal Saturday service starting December 7 operated by a Boeing 737-700
- Newark – Nice daily seasonal service starting May 2 using a premium-heavy 46 business class seat Boeing 767-300ER. It’s interesting to see United throw a premium-heavy aircraft onto a leisure route albeit a premium leisure route.
- Newark – Palermo daily seasonal service starting May 20, the only U.S. flight to Palermo (will be interesting to see if this works better than American’s attempt at Philadelphia – Bologna).
- Adding a second daily Newark – Frankfurt flight March 20 using a premium-heavy Boeing 767-300ER
- Adding a second summer seasonal Newark – Amsterdam flight March 20 operating in late evening with a standard Boeing 767-300ER
- Adding year-round Chicago – Zurich starting March 28, using a premium-heavy Boeing 767-300ER.
This is the 7th year-round Europe for United in Chicago.
United Airlines Terminal Chicago O’Hare
- Denver – London Heathrow goes year-round effective November 1, using a Boeing 787-8. (Their Frankfurt and Tokyo Narita flights are already year-round.)
- San Francisco – Delhi will be year-round service instead of the originally-planned seasonal. It was just in December United announced a bunch of new international flying from San Francisco including seasonal Delhi service.
United insists these new routes do not come with any cancellations in flights or destinations. It’s great to see the airline deploying their new premium-heavy 46 business class seat 767s aggressively, and not just out of Newark or even on pure business routes.
The new Polaris business class seat is a competitive advantage not because it’s better than what Delta, American, or Air France offer – or what British Airways or Virgin Atlantic will offer – it isn’t. It generally lags all of those. However they’re able to offer fully flat direct aisle access business class seats, attractively designed, using less cabin space. That allows them to fit more seats into the same footprint, or add seats without taking out as many from a lesser cabin.
United Boeing 777-300ER Polaris Business Class Cabin
Frustratingly, United’s Vice President of International Network Patrick Quayle acknowledges this morning that the airline has only coverted one-third of the widebody aircraft that were in the fleet when Polaris was announced over three years ago.