United Airlines Announces New Flights To Croatia, Iceland, & Greece

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United Airlines announced a new long-haul international expansion to Europe. The carrier will add new flights to Croatia, Iceland, and Greece in time for the summer. As three countries that either are or have stated they will open up for international travel, the airline is eagerly adding new flights and using its digital health passport to streamline international travel.

United Boeing 767-300ER
United is adding new flights to Europe for the summer. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

United adds new flights to Europe

Just in time for summer, United is adding three new routes. All three are long-haul leisure-oriented routes that will cater to Americans looking to go overseas for a summer vacation.

To Croatia, United will offer the only nonstop service currently from the US. Starting on July 8th, United will fly to Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) three times a week from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Running through October 3rd, United will fly the route using a Boeing 767-300ER featuring 30 Polaris business class seats. Flights to Croatia will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The return to the US will run on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

United Boeing 767-300ER
United’s new Croatia flight from Newark will be timed for connections to over 65 cities in North America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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To Greece, United will expand its service to Athens with daily flights starting up from Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD). This flight will start on July 1st and run through October 3rd and be the first daily nonstop flight between Washington D.C. and Athens International Airport (ATH).

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United will use a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. This will be one of the retrofitted aircraft featuring 28 seats in the new Polaris business class featuring lie-flat seats and direct aisle access for all passengers in the cabin. There will also be 21 premium economy seats branded as “Premium Plus.” United’s other flight to Athens, from Newark, will resume on June 3rd.

United Boeing 787-8
Another hub for United, the new Dulles to Athens service is timed for connections to over 85 cities in North America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Finally, United is adding new flights to Iceland. Starting July 1st and running daily through October 3rd, United will fly from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Reykjavik’s Keflavík International Airport (KEF). This flight will run with a Boeing 757-200 featuring 16 lie-flat business class seats. United will also run daily flights to Iceland from Newark starting on June 3rd.

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United Boeing 757
United’s Chicago to Iceland flights are timed for connections to over 100 cities in North America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

United’s European long-haul expansion

United Airlines’ Vice President of International Network and Alliances, Patrick Quayle, stated the following on the new routes:

“As countries around the world begin the process of reopening, leisure travelers are eager to take a long-awaited getaway to new international destinations. These three new routes unlock the natural beauty of the outdoors for our guests. They are also the latest example of how United is remaining nimble in rebuilding our network.”

The new routes are in response to customer demand. Searches on the airline’s websites for flights to Croatia, Greece, and Iceland are up 61%, according to United.

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United is betting that pent-up demand for international travel coupled with fewer travel restrictions will make these routes successful. Photo: Getty Images

United has a large international exposure, and it remains bullish on the outcomes. Along with these new routes, United expects to run new flights to Africa from Dulles to Ghana and Nigeria, and Johannesburg, South Africa, from Newark.

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Starting on May 27th, United will launch its highly anticipated new flights from San Francisco to Bangalore. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Israel is getting a boost as Chicago service thrice a week to Tel Aviv will resume on May 7th and San Francisco to Tel Aviv moves to daily from June 3rd. United will fly 24 weekly frequencies to Tel Aviv this summer.

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United is bringing back its impressive international long-haul route network. Photo: Getty Images

Other long-haul resumptions include Newark to Rome and Milan and Chicago to Munich, Amsterdam, and Tokyo-Haneda. All of those flights will resume in May. Meanwhile, in June, United will resume flights from San Francisco to Tahiti.

Vaccinated travelers prepare to fly

Vaccinated passengers have shown an interest in flying, and countries are starting to reopen their borders for tourists who can provide proof of immunization. United’s Travel-Ready Center enables customers to upload testing and vaccine documentation for verification ahead of check-in, so passengers can get their boarding passes sooner and streamline their experience at the airport. This can be done through the mobile app.

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United business class
Business class on United’s Boeing 757 and the 767-300ER slated to fly to Croatia are configured in 2-2 (757) and 2-2-2 (767-300ER) layout that means no direct aisle access for window seat passengers. Photo: United Airlines

Croatia, Greece, and Iceland are some of the earliest European countries to announce plans to welcome vaccinated tourists. These three countries rely on tourists and can be a summer vacation hotspot.

Croatia used to receive service from American Airlines, but the airline cut those flights due to the pandemic. The airline may come back if travel returns, but until then, United will be the only US carrier flying nonstop to Croatia.

Delta Air Lines beat out United in announcing new services to Iceland. While United and Delta will not compete directly, both airlines are resuming Iceland flights this summer from the New York area.

United Airlines 787-8 Dreamliner Getty
United has taken long-haul risks before, but these routes should do well assuming the carrier is correct about travel demand to Europe for the summer. Photo: Getty Images

Some bigger markets like France, the UK, and Germany remain closed for international leisure travel. So far, it appears that vaccinations will drive the reopening of countries, but surges in case counts and a slow rollout of vaccines is leading the continent to face another surge in cases that are bringing fresh lockdowns. Until those markets open up, Americans will need to visit countries like Croatia, Iceland, and Greece for summer tourism.

Are you going to fly any of these new United routes? What are your thoughts on the expansion? Let us know in the comments!

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