United Airlines expects the week of November 23 will be its busiest since March as customers travel to visit friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, United is anticipating approximately 50% of United customers flying for Thanksgiving are booking travel less than 30 days prior to departure compared to last year when around 40% of Thanksgiving travelers booked less than 30 days before departure. To help customers reconnect with loved ones this holiday season, United is adding more than 1,400 domestic flights during the week of Thanksgiving and is monitoring bookings in real-time to swap in larger aircraft when needed to accommodate last-minute demand.
“We know that for many customers, this holiday season may be their first time back on a plane since the start of the pandemic, and we’re committed to helping provide flexibility and a safer, clean, travel experience,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of Network Planning and Scheduling. “While this holiday travel season looks quite different than recent years, we’re continuing to follow the same playbook we have all year long – watching the data and adding more flights, adjusting schedules and leveraging larger aircraft to give customers more ways to reunite with family or reach their destinations.”
In December, the airline expects to see a similar travel pattern with customers booking holiday vacations closer to departure opting for warmer weather and ski destinations in the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico. Popular destinations include cities in Florida, Hawaii, Colorado, Montana, Costa Rica, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. United expects to fly 48% of its overall schedule in December compared to 2019, adding more than 140 daily flights and increasing capacity on more than 350 routes.
December Domestic Schedule Highlights
In December, United intends to fly 52% of its domestic schedule compared to December 2019, which is a 3-point increase compared to November 2020.
One of the biggest changes holiday travelers may notice this year are additional flights on peak travel days from United’s Chicago, Denver, Houston and Washington Dulles gateways. The airline is adding more departures to provide customers with more options to get to their destination this holiday season. With these changes, United expects to operate more than 200 additional departures on peak days during the holiday period. Highlights of United’s December schedule include:
- Additional service to popular warm-weather destinations in Florida and Hawaii, including: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers, Tampa, Miami and Palm Beach in Florida and Honolulu, Maui, Kona and Lihue in Hawaii.
- In Hawaii, United will reintroduce service between Los Angeles and Hilo, Chicago and Maui, as well as between New York/Newark and Honolulu for the holiday period. United will also increase service on 13 Hawaii routes beginning December 17.
- United will also begin six new routes between Fort Myers, Florida and Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, between New York/LaGuardia and Palm Beach, and between Milwaukee and Tampa beginning December 17.
- United will increase service to popular ski destinations, including Aspen, Jackson Hole, Steamboat Springs and Vail, with over 580 weekly roundtrips beginning December 17.
December International Schedule Highlights
In December, United intends to fly 43% of its international schedule compared to December 2019, which is a 4-point increase compared to November 2020. The airline is seeing an increase in demand to beach destinations internationally as well, specifically to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. December international schedule highlights include:
- Operating 40 additional daily international roundtrips compared to November.
- Launching 36 new and returning routes including eight new destinations in Latin America.
- Increasing service on 84 additional routes to 33 destinations in Latin America including Liberia, Cancun, Aruba, Nassau and Punta Cana.
- Growing service to India, with new nonstop service between Chicago and New Delhi starting December 10 and increasing service between San Francisco and New Delhi to daily.
- Increasing service between San Francisco and Taipei; Los Angeles and Sydney; and New York/Newark and Brussels, Belgium.
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use. The latest research demonstrates that United’s aircraft are among the safest of public indoor environments. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) revealed the risk of COVID-19 exposure on board aircraft is almost zero due to United’s advanced air filtration systems, required mask-wearing and the airline’s diligent cleaning protocols.
Since the start of the pandemic, United has been a leader in enacting new policies and innovations designed to keep employees and passengers safer when traveling. It was the first U.S. airline to mandate masks for flight attendants, quickly following with customers and employees. United was also among the first U.S. carriers to announce it will not permit customers who refuse to comply with the airline’s mandatory mask policy to fly with them while the face mask policy is in place. United was also the first U.S. airline to roll out touchless check-in for customers with bags, and the first to require passengers take an online health assessment before traveling. The airline also recently announced it plans to apply Zoono Microbe Shield, an EPA-registered antimicrobial coating that forms a long-lasting bond with surfaces and inhibits the growth of microbes, to its entire mainline and express fleet before the end of the year. For more details on all the ways United is helping keep customers safe during their journey, please visit united.com/cleanplus.