United has operated 139 Boeing B757-200s in all, with its first (N501UA) delivered exactly 32 years ago the day this article is written: August 24th, 1989. The type, which the A321neo and larger MAX variants will replace, has been on a downward spiral for years. Next month, it has just 1.2% of United’s total flights across 33 routes.
According to ch-aviation.com, United’s remaining B757-200s – all of which were previously used by Continental – have an average age of 25 years. They all have winglets and use the IATA code of 75W.
This age makes the 75W the second oldest type in United’s fleet, with its B767-300ERs just six months older (on average). And the 75W is about six years younger than the middle-of-the-market B757-300, also inherited from Continental.
The writing has been on the wall for years
Before the pandemic, United retrofitted its 752s with new economy seats and a ‘refreshed’ business offering. They all have 16 (older) Polaris seats, 42-45 economic plus seats, and 108-118 seats in economy. With meager ownership costs, the carrier saw value retaining the type for longer and thinner routes, at least until A321LRs and Boeing 737 MAX 10s arrive.
Despite this investment, it is hardly surprising that the end is approaching for its 752s. Use has been declining almost yearly, although the small uptick in 2018 and 2019 (versus 2017/2016) following the retrofit is indicated in the figure below. But then COVID happened. In 2021, the 75W has approximately 16,600 flights or 1.2% of United’s total, down from 2.4% in 2019 and 8.2% in 2004.
The B757-200 has fewer flights than the -300
Looking at next month, OAG data indicates that the B757-200 has fewer United flights than the higher-density big brother, the -300, at approximately 1,511 against 1,392. This means that the smaller sibling has around 45 round-trips each day – not many.
Newark to Orlando is #1
The 75W revolves around Newark, with the airport having almost three-quarters of all of the type’s flights in September. No other hub comes close. We showed that Newark, increasingly more of a point-to-point airport for United, has the highest number of seats per flight of any of the airline’s top-six airports.
The aircraft helps with Newark’s seats per flight, with the airport featuring five times in the airline’s top-10 routes B757-200 routes. These include to Orlando, by far number-one, with up to five outbound departures a day (e.g., on September 5th).
- Newark-Los Angeles
- San Francisco-Kahului
- Newark-Chicago O’Hare
- Newark-San Francisco
- Chicago O’Hare-Keflavik
- Los Angeles-Lihue
- Chicago O’Hare-Los Angeles
What memories do you have of flying the B757-200? Let us know in the comments.