Deep Dive: Inside United’s Boeing 767 Operations

United’s history with the Boeing 767-200 is one of two halves. The launch customer of the non-Extended Range (ER) variant, it operated 19 of its own aircraft for 23 years from 1982 until 2005. It must have assumed that this would be the end of the type in its fleet, but this was not so.

United B767-200ER
United had its own B767-200s until 2005, and then it used ex-Continental examples until 2013. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia.

After a gap of seven years, the ‘new’ United inherited 10 former Continental B767-200ERs (code: 762) following the pair’s full integration in 2012. This was the first year that they appeared with United’s code.

They remained until May 2013, longer than they would have done had there been no delay in the delivery of Boeing 787-8s. United had a total of 29 762s, just one short of the number of B747s that Virgin Atlantic operated.

United Airlines Boeing 767-200
United launched the non-ER 762 in 1982. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia.

The ‘original’ United 762s

Looking back to 2004 and 2005, the non-ER B767-200 had 168 seats. If the whole flight schedule is combined, they had approximately 1,013,000 round-trip seats, according to data experts Cirium.

The type was primarily used on important transcontinental services from New York JFK to Los Angeles and San Francisco, with these two routes accounting for a whopping 94% of all capacity. Other routes were operated by the aircraft, such as Los Angeles and Seattle to Washington Dulles and Los Angeles to Boston.

However, these were relatively few and far between. Seattle to Dulles, for example, operated on just 35 occasions from February and March 2005. Indeed, United’s original 762s had a limited role, just as they did with American Airlines before being retired in 2014.

United B767-200
This aircraft was N606UA, which was delivered to United in August 1982. It remained in service for 22 years. Photo: InSapphoWeTrust via Wikimedia.

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Ex-Continental aircraft

The same limited role cannot be said for United’s ex-Continental aircraft, however, reflecting that former carrier’s broader geographic use of the machines. Between 2012 and 2013, the 174-seat aircraft were primarily put to work from Houston Intercontinental and Newark.

Some domestic routes operated, notably hub-to-hub Newark-Houston, Houston-Los Angeles, and Chicago-Houston. Hub-to-hub widebody service was alive and well then as it is now. However, the 762 was principally used internationally, Cirium shows, with two-thirds of the seat capacity deployed abroad.

United's B767-200 network
Here, yellow shows the ‘original’ United 762 routes between 2004 and 2005, while pink denotes the routes of ex-Continental aircraft from 2012 until 2013, the year they were withdrawn. Image: GCMap

Houston to Buenos Aires

At 5,062 miles, the longest B767-200ER service was Houston to Buenos Aires. All being well, United is set to resume from this route this coming August using the B787-9.

The (second) end came quickly. The last scheduled 762 flight occurred on May 27th, 2013, from Munich to Newark. It was operated by N68159, which ch-aviation.com indicates was delivered directly to Continental in 2001 and is now in the fleet of Omni Air International.

United B767-200ER
N68159 operated United’s last scheduled 762 flight. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia.

On this day in 2004 and 2012

This article is being written on July 19th. Looking back to this day in both 2004 and 2012, the (combined) schedule is shown below. There were 25 flights in all, with the vast majority in 2004.

On July 19th in…FromToDeparture timeArrival time
2004Los AngelesNew York JFK07:0015:14
2004New York JFKSan Francisco07:0010:05
2012HoustonNewark07:5012:34
2004San FranciscoNew York JFK08:0016:29
2004New York JFKLos Angeles08:5511:41
2012MunichNewark09:2012:35
2004San FranciscoNew York JFK11:1019:42
2004New York JFKSan Francisco11:3014:23
2004New York JFKLos Angeles11:5014:26
2004Los AngelesNew York JFK13:0021:27
2004New York JFKSan Francisco14:0016:56
2004New York JFKLos Angeles14:1516:52
2004Los AngelesNew York JFK15:5500:08 (next day)
2004San FranciscoNew York JFK16:2000:43 (next day)
2012NewarkHouston16:3019:19
2004New York JFKLos Angeles16:3519:23
2004New York JFKSan Francisco17:5021:00
2004New York JFKLos Angeles20:5023:34
2012HoustonBuenos Aire21:0009:25 (next day)
2012HoustonSao Paulo21:0009:00 (next day)
2012Sao PauloHouston21:0005:15 (next day)
2004Los AngelesNew York JFK21:1005:21 (next day)
2012Buenos AiresHouston21:3006:15 (next day)
2004Los AngelesNew York JFK22:1006:21 (next day)
2004San FranciscoNew York JFK22:2006:40 (next day)

JFK had 18 of these 25 flights, showing how significant the airport used to be for the smallest 767 variant. United ceased serving from JFK – with any aircraft – in 2015, before relaunching it in 2021. Now, the classic destinations of Los Angeles and San Francisco are again served, just using the -200ER’s bigger brother.

What are your memories of the 762? Let us know in the comments.

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