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United Airlines plans 26 more international routes in September, extends change fee waiver

July 31, 2020
4 min read
United Airlines
United Airlines plans 26 more international routes in September, extends change fee waiver
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United Airlines continues to gradually ramp back up its globe-spanning international route network, with eight long-haul routes set to begin or resume in September.

The Star Alliance carrier is moving forward with plans to connect its Chicago O'Hare (ORD) base with both Hong Kong (HKG) and Tel Aviv (TLV), while also resuming a number of European and Indian routes from Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH), Newark Liberty (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) airports. Flights between Los Angeles (LAX) and Sydney (SYD) are also due to resume in September.

Other international additions include 20 routes to Latin America, including to popular beach destinations such as Los Cabos (SJD) and Puerto Vallarta (PVR) in Mexico from Denver (DEN).

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At the same time, United has extended its change fee waiver through Aug. 31. Travelers can change their flights without an added charge or have award redemptions redeposited into their accounts without a fee.

United's international additions come despite numerous travel restrictions around the globe that limit international passenger travel. However, the airline has seen the amount of freight it carries rise markedly, supporting many flights even when there are few flyers aboard.

“We continue to be realistic in our approach to building back our international and domestic schedules by closely monitoring customer demand and flying where people want to go,” said Patrick Quayle, vice president of international network and alliances at United, in a statement. The planned additions target holidaygoers or those visiting friends and relatives.

Related: United Airlines worries travel recovery will stall until there’s a COVID vaccine

All told, United plans to fly systemwide about 37% of what it flew last year in September. This is about three percentage points more than its plans in August and shows the airline's conservative approach to resuming flights.

Every U.S. carrier faces the looming likelihood of what J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker has called an "autumn of discontent." Historically, leisure travelers -- who have supported the recovery so far -- fly less after Labor Day with business flyers taking their place but this year most corporate travelers remain grounded.

United executives have said they plan to pause resuming flights through the end of the year, while other carriers are paring back plans to fly more flights. International travel is the hardest hit as many borders remain closed to all but essential travel.

Related: Global air travel unlikely to recover until 2024 as COVID remains ‘issue’ in US, elsewhere

But the outlook for global air travel does not look good. Trade group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) does not expect the number of flyers to return to 2019 levels until 2024, or a year later than it previously forecast.

As a result, U.S. carriers are warning of massive furloughs once employment protections under the federal coronavirus aid package, or CARES Act, expire on Sept. 30. United has sent notices of possible furloughs to 36,000 staff and recently told pilots that an additional 1,650 crews may not be needed.

Below are the international routes United plans to resume or begin in September.

Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Chicago O'Hare

  • New service to Hong Kong and Tel Aviv
  • Resuming service to Amsterdam (AMS) and Puerto Vallarta

Denver

  • Resuming service to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta

Guam

  • Resuming service to Manila (MNL)

Houston Intercontinental

  • Resuming service to Aguascalientes (AGU), Amsterdam, Bogota (BOG), Frankfurt (FRA), Liberia (LIR), Managua (MGA), San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO), San Salvador (SAL), Tampico (TAM) and Veracruz (VER)

Los Angeles

  • Resuming service to Puerto Vallarta, San Salvador and Sydney

Newark

  • Resuming service to Liberia, Mumbai (BOM), San Salvador and San Jose

San Francisco

  • Resuming service to Munich (MUC)

Washington Dulles (IAD)

  • Resuming service to San Salvador
Featured image by NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases