It is now official. United Airlines will be returning to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) from February 1st. The airline will be flying two roundtrip daily flights each to San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX) using its premium-heavy Boeing 767-300ERs.
United Airlines is coming back to New York-JFK
From February 1st, United will be flying from JFK to both SFO and LAX twice a day, for a total of four daily roundtrip flights between JFK and the West Coast. The schedule is as follows (all times local):
- UA515 departs at 09:00 and arrives at 12:29
- UA517 departs at 19:00 and arrives at 22:29
- UA514 departs at 07:30 and arrives at 15:50
- UA516 departs at 14:30 and arrives at 22:50
- UA521 departs at 08:00 and arrives at 11:37
- UA523 departs at 17:10 and arrives at 20:47
- UA520 departs at 09:10 and arrives at 17:40
- UA522 departs at 13:30 and arrives at 22:00
United Airlines will be flying out of JFK’s Terminal 7. This terminal is a bit of a hodgepodge of different airlines, with carriers including LOT, Ukraine International (UIA), Aerolineas Argentinas, All Nippon Airways (ANA), British Airways, Iberia, and Alaska Airlines, among others.
Ankit Gupta, United’s Vice President of Network Planning and Scheduling, added the following about the return to New York-JFK:
“We are very proud and really happy that we will be able to provide easy connectivity to our Star Alliance partners who are operating out of JFK. We hadn’t been in the airport for the past five years, and this really reflects our strong commitment to the New York City area as we serve Newark, our strong Newark hub, and our strong LaGuardia portfolio for our customers.”
This is not necessarily surprising. In the airline’s third-quarter earnings call, executives stated that transcontinental flights were the crux of United’s plan to return to New York-JFK.
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United Airlines is going big with reconfigured Boeing 767-300ERs operating all of these transcontinental routes. In particular, the airline is using its premium-heavy 767s that feature 46 lie-flat Polaris seats, 22 Premium Plus (premium economy) seats, 47 extra-legroom economy seats, and just 52 standard economy seats.
These services will complement the airline’s existing transcontinental flights out of Newark. The product onboard these 767-300ERs is similar to that of the 787-10s United flies between Newark and the West Coast. Note that United does also fly some Boeing 757s transcontinentally out of Newark. Compared to the 757s, the 767s have a better product, as every Polaris seat has direct aisle access, and passengers can choose to book in premium economy. The 757s lack direct aisle access in business class and a do not have a premium economy cabin.
The use of the 767-300ERs in this configuration shows that United is very bullish on the return of business demand on this route.
Competition will heat up
JFK to the West Coast is one of the most hotly contested markets in the United States. American, Delta, United, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines all fly the route, and each uses different aircraft and a different product.
United will be making a huge splash in this market, thanks to its competitive onboard product. Polaris will easily beat out Delta’s 767-300ER product and Alaska’s recliner-style domestic first class. It will also compete with American’s A321T, though the business class cabin on the A321Ts do not have direct aisle access. Meanwhile, JetBlue’s Mint is one of the best products flying this route.
United, however, will need to figure out a ground game. The airline confirmed to Simple Flying that there are no plans to open up a United Club at JFK, but it is working with its partners in the industry to provide lounge access for customers.
In Terminal 7, British Airways has a few lounges, including some more exclusive options like the Concorde Room. Then, there is also the Alaska Airlines lounge. United would have to come to an agreement with those airlines to allow for its customers to visit the lounges.
The slots and United’s plan
United Airlines worked with regulators to get slots at New York-JFK. The airline has received them through March for the winter season, and it hopes to continue to serve JFK in the summer season. The airline highlighted not just some schedule pull-backs now but also that the runway construction project has enabled an increase in capacity out of the airport.
United Airlines is hopeful that it will be able to add new flights out of JFK after these initial operations. Markets like Chicago, Denver, and Houston– all major United Hubs– are on the airline’s radar.
The airline is starting with two roundtrip flights, but it has the ability to go up to four roundtrips in each of these markets. The airline is working with regulators to access the slots for the summer season and to ensure continued connectivity out of JFK. However, like many things, it is not always a guarantee, but United is hopeful it will continue to serve the airport.
Are you going to fly United Airlines out of New York-JFK? Let us know in the comments!