United Airlines ramps up domestic schedule to the most flights since the pandemic began, expecting a surge in holiday travel


United Airlines first new livery Boeing 737-800 sits at a gate after arriving at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 5, 2019.

Kamil Krzaczynski Reuters

United Airlines is planning to ramp up its December schedule to 3,500 domestic flights a day, the most it’s flown in the U.S. since the pandemic began, expecting a surge in holiday travel.

The Chicago-based airline’s schedule includes more capacity to ski and beach destinations, including as many as 195 daily flights to 12 Florida airports, its most ever. United first announced its expansion of Florida service last year, part of carriers’ push to serve destinations that give travelers the ability to physically distance during the pandemic and also avoid other cities’ limits on travel and other activities.

International travel remains hampered by ever-changing travel restrictions. The Biden administration, however, has said it plans to lift Covid-era rules barring many international visitors in early November, replacing them with vaccine and other requirements.

Airline executives say carriers’ recovery is closely tied to a drop in case rates. United in September said it trimmed its third-quarter schedule following the surge in Covid cases and a decline in bookings in late summer.

United said flight searches on its website and app for holiday travel are up 16% compared with 2019.



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