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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.

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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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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees