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United plans 'aggressive' competition on transcons when it returns to New York JFK

Oct. 15, 2020
3 min read
United plans 'aggressive' competition on transcons when it returns to New York JFK
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United Airlines is moving forward with plans to return to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport next year, with plans to "compete aggressively" on transcontinental routes to the West Coast.

The Chicago-based carrier aims to connect JFK to the West Coast — likely its hubs in Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) — as well as to some of its other domestic hubs when flights resume in 2021, United CEO Scott Kirby said during a third quarter earnings call on Oct. 15.

By returning to JFK during the coronavirus pandemic, United stands to join some of its smaller peers like JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines in using the crisis to muscle into some of the more restrictive airports across the United States where slot restrictions or gate availability can hinder access. Historically low flight levels have opened the door to new services to airport like Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX) and Orange County (SNA).

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“We’ve been working very, very hard to use the pandemic as a way to get back into JFK," Kirby said. "I have reasonable confidence that we’ll be successful.”

He added that recent terminal works at the New York airport have added ground capacity for additional flights. This stands in contrast to most other large, congested airports that remain in early days of large-scale terminal expansion works or are restricted by slots that govern the number of takeoffs and landings.

United left JFK in October 2015 when it ended nonstop flights to LAX and San Francisco. Kirby has previously called the move made by the airline's previous management team the "wrong decision."

Related: United Airlines could return to New York’s JFK airport in 2021

The carrier faces steep competition when it returns to JFK. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways all consider the airport a hub, with each carrier offering its own posh premium products on high-profile routes to the West Coast.

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However, United is not a stranger to the premium transcon dog-fight. It has offered a competing near-shuttle service from its Newark Liberty (EWR) hub across the Hudson River from Manhattan in New Jersey.

United offered premium transcontinental flights on a combination of Boeing 757, 777 and 787 jets before the pandemic. In addition, it is studying a new lie-flat business product for some of the Boeing 737 MAX 10 jets it has on order.

Related: Airlines muscle into big airports as coronavirus creates new opportunities

Featured image by LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17: United Airlines Boeing 757 at Los Angeles International Airport on June 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023