United’s 3 new long-haul routes are coming back for another season

Sep 20, 2021

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If you’re already dreaming about a trip next summer, United Airlines is ready to fuel your wanderlust.

Over the weekend, the Chicago-based carrier filed a notable schedule update for its international network, bringing back three of its newest long-haul routes for summer 2022, including:

  • Newark (EWR) — Dubrovnik (DBV), four times weekly from May 27, 2022
  • Washington/Dulles (IAD) — Athens (ATH), daily from June 3, 2022
  • Chicago (ORD) — Reykjavik (KEF), daily from May 26, 2022

All three of these routes were first announced in mid-April and commenced in July. At the time, Croatia, Greece and Iceland were among the first European countries to reopen to vaccinated Americans, and United quickly responded by launching nonstop routes there. The strategy was clear: “Giving travelers more options for summer travel by flying direct to countries that are starting to reopen to vaccinated visitors,” United wrote in its press release.

Of course, launching three new long-haul routes with little notice was a distinct pandemic-era play to capitalize on the pent-up demand for a transatlantic trip. Now, however, United’s network planning team seemingly hit a home run with its decision — the routes are all coming back for another season.

Regardless of the outcome of the pandemic, the airline likely looked at loads this summer, which, anecdotally, were quite high, and realized that it makes sense to give them a shot next summer as well. After all, travelers might continue to prefer outdoor-focused adventures instead of European city tours.

In a statement, United confirmed that these were some of its best-performing routes, saying that:

The new routes we began this summer to Greece, Croatia and Iceland were some of our customers’ favorite destinations this past summer and we look forward to bringing them all back in 2022.

United’s Croatia flight is operated by the 214-seat Boeing 767-300ER, outfitted with 30 Polaris biz pods, 49 extra-legroom Economy Plus and 135 coach seats. Note that this route won’t be operated by United’s premium-heavy “high-J” 767 variant, though it’s possible that the carrier could upgauge the route before next summer depending on how bookings look.

Flights to Iceland will be operated by the Boeing 757-200, outfitted with 16 lie-flat business-class pods arranged in a 2-2 configuration, as well as coach seats in a standard 3-3 pattern. The ORD flight joins United’s existing EWR service, which will resume on May 6, 2022.

Finally, flights to Greece are slated to operate on United’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, outfitted with 28 Polaris biz pods, 21 Premium Plus recliners, 36 extra-legroom Economy Plus and 158 coach seats.

Interestingly, Delta, one of United’s biggest competitors, also launched three new nonstops to all three countries this summer. Only one of the routes is currently scheduled to return next summer, but there’s still plenty of time for that to change.

Delta’s new pandemic-era long-haul routes:

  • Atlanta (ATL) — Athens (ATH), scheduled to resume of May 26, 2022.
  • Boston (BOS) — Reykjavik (KEF), not currently scheduled to return next summer.
  • New York-JFK — Dubrovnik (DBV), not currently scheduled to return next summer.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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