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Beginning October 25, all of United’s transcontinental flights to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) will move from JFK airport to Newark (EWR). The airline’s p.s. Premium Service flights offer flat-bed seats in BusinessFirst, better food and beverage options, additional Economy Plus seats, in-flight Wi-Fi, power outlets and on-demand entertainment. As part of the move, United will operate 15 daily flights each way between Newark and Los Angeles and a whopping 17 flights between Newark and San Francisco.
Of course, this increased capacity will require additional 757 planes configured for p.s. service — United plans to pull its internationally configured 757s off many European routes, and assign those to these additional domestic flights instead. The challenge there is that the international 757s are configured with far fewer BusinessFirst seats (just 16 compared to 28 on the current p.s. fleet), and Wi-Fi is provided by a different service, so passengers who end up on those former international aircraft won’t be able to use their Gogo subscriptions.
Also, while this seems like great news for frequent flyers on the surface, business-class award seats have been difficult to come by on United’s p.s. routes, and that trend may continue here. Additionally, while elite passengers can currently score free upgrades on flights from Newark to LAX and SFO, they must use miles and a cash co-pay or Regional Premier Upgrades (or Global Premier Upgrades) to move from coach to business on these flights.
Ultimately, this move makes a lot of sense. United is investing $2 billion to improve its Newark hub, and with hundreds of daily nonstop flights available to destinations around the world, EWR is a much more logical choice for anyone connecting onto another United flight. Finally, to accomplish the move, United is swapping its JFK landing slots for Delta’s slots at Newark, so we’ll likely see reduced Delta service at Newark as well.
Update: United is contacting customers booked on p.s. flights after the move to Newark. If you’re already booked on a p.s. flight after October 24, you should receive the following email:
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