United has been the most aggressive out of the gate contracting into survival mode. That’s not just about cancelling flights, but also about cancelling spending. Don’t expect new Polaris lounge openings, for instance, the question is which existing ones remain open.
In light of the U.S. government’s limits on travel by non-U.S. citizens that have been to Europe within the past 14 days, in addition to reduction in travel broadly in reaction to the novel coronavirus, United has announced that it will only fly it’s current schedule through Thursday, March 19. That gives people time to get home, and to bring employees home.
Beyond March 19th they currently “expect to”:
- Fly daily to Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Machnester and Edinburgh
- Maintain ‘multiple flights’ to Frankfurt and Munich
- Operate 18 flights a day to London (the U.K. is not covered by the current travel restriction)
- Operate 3 flights a day to Dublin (Ireland is not part of the Schengen area and thus not covered by the current restriction)
- Offer ‘less than daily’ service to Lisbon
The notion that this is what’s expected suggests it is a best case, subject to forward demand. Note that multiple flights to Frankfurt and Munich, hubs for their transatlantic joint venture partner Lufthansa and airports where they send a good deal of connecting traffic beyond Europe, doesn’t mean multiple flights at each hub. It means there will be more than one flight a day to each city in total, across all of United’s hubs.
That’s aggressive cutting, but good to know with a week’s notice what to expect. And when a customer’s flights are cancelled, United has to provide a refund, even if they’ve become difficult to get refunds from when they merely change a customer’s itinerary to something substantially different than what they purchased.