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Earlier this month, United announced that it was leaving JFK airport and moving all of its p.s. Premium Service flights to Newark instead. Depending on where you live (or where you’re headed) in NYC, this may be good or bad news, but as of October 25, you won’t have a choice — all of the airline’s transcontinental flights will depart from EWR.
Of course, with a change this significant, United needs to offer alternatives, since Newark may be inconvenient to many JFK customers. If you had a JFK p.s. flight booked, you’ll notice that EWR is now listed as the destination — in many cases, departure and arrival times are very close to those originally booked, since on most days United is offering flights to both LAX and SFO every hour.
If you haven’t already booked a ticket, there is currently fantastic award availability between EWR and Los Angeles and San Francisco in both economy and the difficult-to-score BusinessFirst cabin. There’s also excellent upgrade availability (United Platinum and 1K members can use Regional Premier Upgrades to move from economy to BusinessFirst). With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can earn enough points for a round-trip economy flight or a one-way BusinessFirst flight.
The airline is proactively calling passengers with flights booked on October 25 and beyond, offering a new flight or a full refund. The good news is that you should have tremendous flexibility when selecting a new flight. If you want to change the date or time, for example, United should be able to accommodate you without an additional charge, and if you had applied an upgrade to your JFK flight, you’ll likely be able to be rebooked in the BusinessFirst cabin, even if there isn’t currently upgrade availability on your new flight.
If you previously had a JFK p.s. flight that’s been reassigned to Newark and you haven’t received a call, you can give United a ring at a special phone number the airline has set up. Agents at 1-888-445-7581 should be very familiar with the situation and rebooking policies, and even if you have an elite line to call, you’ll probably want to try the number above first.
Remember, you should be able to change your flight time, date and even routing (though not your origin or destination), or you can request a full refund, instead. Be sure to identify the flight you’d like to book instead before you make the call. If United gives you a ring, you can request to call back once you’ve found an alternative that works for you.