A Day In The Life Of United Airlines’ Second Largest Hub

With 961 round-trip flights on the day this article is written, Denver is United’s second-largest hub. Some 98% of flights have returned, the highest recovery of all its hubs to date. As we explore a day in the life of United at its Colorado hub, we see that it has 164 routes today, with 50-seat regional jets still dominant.

United at Denver
United has 164 routes from Denver on August 16th, 2021. Some 23 destinations have been added in comparison to the same day in 2019. Photo: Denver International Airport.

Denver is United’s second-largest hub today

United has 961 round-trip flights at Denver on August 16th, making the hub its second-largest after Chicago O’Hare. That’s the verdict based on analyzing the latest available schedules information uploaded to OAG on the very day being examined.

  1. Chicago O’Hare: United has 1,005 total flights; 81% of the flights on this day in 2019
  2. Denver: 961; 98%
  3. Houston Intercontinental: 952; 93%
  4. Newark: 499; 58%
  5. Washington Dulles: 475; 90%
  6. San Francisco: 336; 49%

United has virtually recovered the number of Denver flights it had on this summer day in 2019. Some 98% of flights are scheduled, outpacing all other hubs, especially San Francisco, which is yet to reach half the number it had previously. In May, we showed how badly San Francisco had been affected by coronavirus.

United's Denver hub on August 16th, 2021
This is how United has scheduled its Denver flights on this August day. The busiest wave is between 12:00 and 13:59, where a wave comprises one bank of arrivals and one of departures. Image: OAG

164 routes from Denver

This day sees United serve 164 routes from Denver. Some 23 destinations have been introduced versus the same day in 2019, including a raft of leisure-orientated places, both domestically and internationally.

These include Cozumel, Destin Fort Walton Beach, Fort Myers, Los Cabos, Miami, Pensacola, Panama City (Florida), Portland (Maine), San Jose (Costa Rica), and Sarasota. Of course, offsetting these additions are (mainly temporary) cuts, especially internationally to Canada, the UK, and Japan. In all, United’s Denver network has risen by a net of eight destinations.

United B787-9
The B787-9 (seen here) is used on only one route on this day: to Frankfurt. Meanwhile, the B777-200ER goes to O’Hare, Newark, Honolulu, Houston, and Kahului, and the B767-300ER to Newark, Honolulu, Houston, Kahului, Kona, Lihue. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

California has the most flights

California, Colorado, Texas, Montana, and Wyoming have the most United service from Denver today. The order is the same as in 2019, although flights have risen by 6%.

The drive for outdoor activity has pushed Montana and Wyoming service up by 33% and 42% respectively, offsetting declines to the other three. Unlike on August 16th, 2019, Riverton and Sheridan, Wyoming, are now served, likewise West Yellowstone in Montana.

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California remains the most-served state despite a 27% reduction in flights, with the desert resort of Palm Springs predictably one of the few destinations with the same volume of flights as previously. It has three daily services, with two flights upgauged from CRJ-200s to the CRJ-700 and Embraer 175. Palm Springs’s seat capacity has therefore risen by 27%.

United's Denver routes on August 16th, 2021
United has 164 Denver routes on this summer day. For greater map clarity, Frankfurt isn’t shown, but United has a once-daily operation, likewise fellow Star Alliance member Lufthansa. Image: OAG Mapper.

Houston and Chicago see the most flights

Hub-to-hub flying always features heavily, and so it proves on this August day per the following list of destinations with seven+ departures from Denver. The lack of San Francisco stands out. In 2019 it had 12 daily flights and was the number-one destination.

Now San Francisco has half as many frequencies, while seats have reduced even further (-62%) from smaller equipment being used. Indeed, seats per flight have fallen from 214 to 165. In contrast, flights to Billings and Bozeman have nearly doubled, pushing them up the list.

  • Houston: 9 United departures on August 16th
  • Chicago O’Hare: 9
  • Aspen: 8
  • Colorado Springs: 7
  • Newark: 7
  • Los Angeles: 7
  • Salt Lake City: 7
  • Billings: 7
  • Bozeman: 7
Embraer 145
50-seaters, including the Embraer 145, as shown here, operate 27% of United’s Denver flights.
Photo: Denver International Airport.

50-seaters still rule at Denver

With 27% of United’s Denver flights on this day, the 50-seat CRJ-200 and Embraer 145 still rule. The CRJ is the most-used aircraft, with 67 destinations seeing it as far away as Eugene, 996 miles distant. Earlier today we saw how Delta’s B717s helped to reduce the use of 50-seaters.

Meanwhile, widebody flights have grown marginally, likewise use of the B757-300. The main changes, though, see huge growth by the Embraer 175 (117% more flights), partly offsetting cuts to CRJ-700 flying, along with the use of the B737 MAX 9.

Have you flown United to/from its Colorado hub? Let us know your experiences in the comments.

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