United upgrades 4 more Hawaii routes with Boeing 767 widebodies

Mar 30, 2021

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United Airlines is going all-in on Hawaii this summer.

Over the weekend, the Chicago-based carrier made a notable schedule update on four Hawaii routes, increasing capacity and giving business-class passengers a nice surprise as well.

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Specifically, select flights from Denver (DEN) to Honolulu (HNL) and Maui (OGG), as well as the daily DEN to Kona (KOA) and Lihue (LIH) route, got upgauged from a 169-seat Boeing 757-200 to a 214-seat Boeing 767-300ER. The changes start between June 3 to June 5 and run through Oct. 30, per Cirium schedules and confirmed by the carrier.

This nearly 30% boost in capacity underscores that United seems to believes that there’s no shortage of demand for Hawaii flights.

It’s also a big upgrade for those seated in the front, since those flyers will likely enjoy United’s latest Polaris product. Only six of United’s 38 Boeing 767-300ERs have yet to receive the new Polaris cabins. Four of those jets are currently in storage or undergoing maintenance, leaving just two tails flying around with the legacy cabins.

United’s new Polaris cabins on the Boeing 767-300ER (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

That means the odds of scoring the “new” seats are quite high, nearly 86% to be exact. However, United usually makes aircraft assignments a few days before departure, so you’ll want to keep an eye on the seat map to confirm what configuration will ultimately operate your flight. (Note that United isn’t flying the “high-J”, 46-biz-seat configuration on these routes.)

Related: Want to make sure you’re flying real United Polaris? Ask ExpertFlyer

The upgauge isn’t just good news for the 30 business-class passengers. Coach flyers will likely prefer the 767’s 2-3-2 configuration, compared to the 3-3 arrangement on the 757. Plus, wide-body jets usually feel more spacious and roomier than single-aisle ones.

The capacity increase could also spell good news for those looking to snag award or upgrade space. For now, coach and biz awards start at 45,000 miles and 95,000 miles, respectively, but it’s possible that United releases saver space if seats remain unsold. Plus, with a higher proportion of business-class seats on the 767, upgrades could become easier to confirm.

The latest Hawaii upgrade follows similar moves made by United in recent weeks.

Last week, the carrier boosted four Hawaii routes, including the two new flagships, from Newark (EWR) to Maui and Chicago (ORD) to Kona. Each route will receive additional frequencies during the summer.

The other two that were boosted — Denver to Honolulu (HNL) and Maui (OGG) — received a second daily flight during the summer. The original plan was to fly the 757-200 on the second daily frequency, but as mentioned above, it’ll now be operated by a 767-300ER.

United also recently announced its early summer schedule, and it promised to bring Premium Plus to select Hawaii routes beginning in May, including:

  • Newark-Maui: The “high J” Boeing 767-300 starting June 3.
  • Chicago-Honolulu: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners starting May 6.
  • Chicago-Maui: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners starting May 6.
  • Chicago-Kona: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners starting June 3.
  • Houston-Honolulu: Boeing 777-200ER starting June 3.
  • Denver-Honolulu: Boeing 777-200ER starting May 6 (one daily frequency).
  • Denver-Maui: Boeing 777-200ER starting May 6 (one daily frequency).

All United jets equipped with Premium Plus also feature the carrier’s latest Polaris business-class seats, so flyers on the aforementioned routes will enjoy United’s top inflight offering.

More Hawaii: Fair warning, Hawaii is packed again with tourists

United’s confidence in Hawaii flying is seemingly at a pandemic-era high. With an accelerated vaccine rollout, UA likely is betting that pandemic-weary travelers are gearing up for a summer of adventure. Hawaii has been open to tourists sans quarantine since late 2020, and demand to travel to the Aloha State only appears to be growing.

Additionally, the island of Kauai is slated to rejoin the state’s Safe Travels program on April 5, exempting travelers from Hawaii’s mandatory 10-day quarantine by testing before departure. It will also spell the end of the island’s mandatory “resort bubble,” which required visitors to effectively quarantine for three days, pending a negative COVID-19 test result taken 72 hours after arrival.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

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