United Airlines Adds New Orange County To Aspen Route

This winter, United Airlines will be adding a new point-to-point route out of John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County, California, to Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) in Colorado. The seasonal route will connect the airport with a nonstop route to a top ski destination in the United States and augment United’s position out of SNA, which serves as an alternate airport to the larger Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for travelers in the Los Angeles area.

United CRJ700
United Airlines is going to launch a new flight this winter from Orange County to Aspen. Photo: Getty Images

United adds new SNA-ASE route

United Airlines has loaded a new route from Orange County to Aspen. The flight will run once per day. Flights will depart Orange County at 16:00. After a blocked flying time of two hours and eight minutes, the plane is set to arrive in Aspen at 19:08. The return flight departs ASE at 14:00. The return flight is blocked at two hours and 24 minutes, with an arrival time in SNA at 15:24.

United Airlines will run the flight in conjunction with its regional partner SkyWest. SkyWest will operate the flight under the United Express banner. Flights are scheduled to run on a 70-seat CRJ700, offering room for six passengers in first class and 64 in economy.

United’s new SNA-ASE route will take roughly two hours eastbound and two and a half hours westbound. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

Aspen is a top ski destination

Colorado is home to many top ski destinations. This includes places like Vail and Telluride, in addition to Aspen. During the winter, many of the airports in the area see their peak in terms of aircraft size and daily flights as airlines redirect planes from summer leisure destinations to cater to increased ski demand.

This winter, Aspen will see plenty of services from airlines, according to a report from Aspen Daily News. The airport expects to see up to 37 daily flights.

United Airlines has filed plans to fly up to eight daily flights from Aspen to Denver International Airport (DEN), up to five daily flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), up to four daily to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and two daily flights to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). With the new SNA flight, this brings United’s Aspen services to 24 daily flights.

American Airlines is plotting up to 11 daily flights. This includes up to five daily flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), two daily flights to ORD and LAX, and a daily flight to Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). New this winter will be daily services to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). Austin service flew once-weekly this summer.

Lastly, Delta Air Lines is plotting two daily flights from Aspen this winter. This includes one daily flight each to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and LAX.

Note that these schedules may change depending on demand. Some routes may get a boost in services if tourism demand is high enough, while others may be trimmed.

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United in Orange County

Orange County is not a large hub airport for United Airlines. That distinction goes to LAX, which is under 40 miles away from SNA as the crow flies. However, that has not stopped United from adding point-to-point services out of the airport.

Earlier this summer, United Airlines brought back a flight from SNA to Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Hawaii. A route formerly flown by Continental, United added this to tap into demand for travel from Southern California to Hawaii. Honolulu service will continue through the winter. Aside from Aspen, United only plans to service its hubs out of Orange County.

UA 737
United also brought back an SNA-HNL flight after nearly ten years. This route flies onboard a Boeing 737-700. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

SNA is a more convenient airport for many in Orange County compared to LAX. United is targeting more point-to-point travelers with this service from the Los Angeles area. As far as routes go, this one is a little riskier for United, given that it does not have any hub feed to tap into.

Nevertheless, a CRJ700 could be just the right aircraft for this route. Given that the aircraft is relatively small and does not have a large premium footprint, this aircraft allows United to serve the route without adding too many seats, where it would lose some pricing power due to overcapacity.

Are you going to fly United from Orange County to Aspen? Let us know in the comments!