United unveils another big transatlantic expansion, 5 new flights to London

Oct 28, 2021

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If a visit to the U.K. is on the agenda, United Airlines will likely have a flight for you.

The Chicago-based carrier unveiled a big London-focused network expansion Thursday morning, with five new flights taking off by next spring.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that the airline is moving forward with its plans to launch a new nonstop from Boston to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). The airline first announced this route in February but didn’t have a launch date at the time.

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The new service will now commence on March 26, 2022, aboard one of United’s premium-heavy “high-J” Boeing 767-300ERs, outfitted with a 16-row, 46-seat Polaris business-class cabin, as well as 22 Premium Plus recliners and 99 economy seats.

In addition to the new Boston route, United will launch the following four new London flights on March 26, 2022:

  • A sixth and seventh daily flight from Newark (EWR) to LHR on the high-J Boeing 767-300ER.
  • A second daily frequency from Denver (DEN) aboard a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (with the first daily nonstop resuming on March 4, 2022).
  • A third daily flight from San Francisco (SFO) operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The airline will also resume daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to London on March 4.

All the new London flights touch one of United’s domestic hubs, except for Boston, where the airline will go head-to-head against American, British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

At the time when United first announced the new Boston route, there was little fanfare. United didn’t have a marketing push at the ready, and there was no mention of the new flight on the airline’s social media accounts.

A view of London (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

On the surface, it was a puzzling announcement from a network perspective: over the past two years, Cirium schedule data shows that the airline has exclusively served London from one of its hubs.

Just a day before the news went live, American Airlines and JetBlue announced a slew of new flights from the New York City area, including a handful from Newark Airport (EWR) — United’s home turf. Since then, the two carriers have continued to expand in the Northeast, despite the recent Department of Justice lawsuit alleging that the tie-up is anti-competitive.

Additionally, JetBlue recently launched its first-ever long-haul flights from New York-JFK to London this summer, with a new Boston route slated to take off next year.

Though United states that its motive to launch Boston to London service is strong demand, there’s a competitive undercurrent at play that’ll be interesting to follow in the coming months.

For its part, United says that London was the most-booked destination for its business customers in October, and the airline is confident that the trend will continue.

“London is an integral part of United’s network and we remain confident demand will continue to grow, particularly as international business travel returns in 2022,” Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances, said in a statement.

The U.K. is currently open to vaccinated Americans without a quarantine requirement, subject to completing a pre-departure passenger locator form and a negative COVID-19 test within the first two days of arrival.

The London expansion marks the second major international-focused network announcement from the carrier in a matter of weeks.

Two weeks ago to the day, United unveiled its largest-ever transatlantic expansion, with eight new long-haul routes for summer 2022, including five new destinations, like Amman, Jordan and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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