United tweaks Hawaii network with added flights, different planes
United continues to tweak its Hawaii network.
The airline loaded several notable schedule updates for service to the Aloha State this weekend, including an extension for one of its new flagship routes, as well as aircraft swaps on two of its longest flights to the islands. These updates were first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the airline.
In June, United launched a new long-haul route from Chicago O'Hare (ORD) to Kona (KOA) aboard the 243-seat Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. When the route was originally unveiled back in September 2020, United was planning to fly a four-times-weekly seasonal summer service from June 3 until Aug. 15.
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Shortly thereafter, United extended the flight schedule through the Labor Day holiday weekend, and since then, the airline has started selling seats on the route for peak winter holiday periods: from Dec. 16, 2021, to Jan. 3, 2022, along with other select dates in February, March and April.
Now, the airline is giving Chicago-based flyers even more time to enjoy the 4,213-mile nonstop. United will now fly the route between May 7 and Oct. 29 once a week, departing on Saturdays, making United the only airline serving the Big Island from east of the Rockies.
While it's good news to see the service returning for another season, there are many fewer flights scheduled on the route in 2022 than in 2021. Of course, it's possible that the airline will increase the frequency in the coming months depending on the booking patterns and trajectory of the pandemic.
Interestingly, along with the new Chicago-to-Kona route, United also launched new service from Newark to Maui earlier this year. That route has seemingly outperformed expectations.
Since the unveiling, United upgraded the flight with its swanky, premium-heavy "high-J" Boeing 767-300, featuring a massive, 46-seat Polaris biz section, along with 22 Premium Plus recliners and 99 standard coach seats. In addition to the upgauge, United added more frequencies on the route and is even bringing it back for another season with up to five weekly flights.
Along with the Chicago-to-Kona route extension, United also filed a notable aircraft swap for two of its routes to Honolulu this weekend.
Service from Newark (EWR) and Washington Dulles (IAD) will revert back to being exclusively operated by the Boeing 767-400ER starting with next year's summer season.
United's Boeing 767-400ER is the airline's most outdated wide-body fleet in terms of the onboard experience. None of these jets feature the new Polaris business-class pods, and there are no plans to retrofit the fleet with the latest seats.
Related: United just gave flyers a very exciting Polaris retrofit update
The 39 Collins Diamond business-class pods are arranged in a unique 2-1-2 configuration, while the 201 coach seats are outfitted in a 2-3-2 configuration. Though the onboard product isn't as cutting edge as the -300 variant of the Boeing 767, the upgauge represents a net addition of nine business-class seats, so hopefully scoring an upgrade with PlusPoints or finding saver availability could become a bit easier.