Skip to content

Flip-flop: United re-adds service on LAX’s 2nd-shortest route

Aug. 22, 2022
4 min read
plane on tarmac
Flip-flop: United re-adds service on LAX’s 2nd-shortest route
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

United Airlines is reinstating one of its shortest routes.

The Chicago-based carrier filed plans over the weekend to continue serving the 109-mile shuttle between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Diego International Airport (SAN), as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the carrier.

United will commence twice-daily operations between the two airports on Oct. 30. (Until then, the airline is currently flying the route on a once-daily basis.)

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free biweekly Aviation newsletter.

Service between LA and San Diego has operated consistently for at least the past 40 years, so when United revealed plans in early July to drop the route effective Oct. 30, some locals were disappointed.

Travelers use this short route to connect to the airline's hub at LAX, giving flyers plenty of easy, one-stop connectivity to hundreds of destinations across the country and around the world. (At just 89 miles, the shortest route from LAX is to Santa Barbara.)

Without the LA flight, San Diego-based flyers would need to connect in either San Francisco, Houston or Denver for transpacific flights. Or, they would have to fly to hubs farther east to get to cities across the Atlantic.

(Map courtesy of Cirium)

Of course, these travelers could always drive to LAX, but that's subject to traffic, parking fees and other possible disruptions. Alternatively, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner train connects the two cities with plenty of daily round trips.

United didn't share too many details about the flip-flop, citing a review of internal data as the reason for re-adding the service.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

"After re-reviewing internal data, United is no longer planning on suspending service between LA and San Diego. And on Oct. 30, we plan to add a second daily flight to help customers travel to/from and make connections from San Diego," spokesperson Maddie King told TPG in a statement.

United declined to share further details about its change of heart.

United Express partner Skywest will continue to operate the route using a mix of 70- and 76-seat Embraer 175 regional aircraft, all of which feature a 12-seat first-class cabin.

Interestingly, at the outset of the pandemic, American Airlines scrapped its flights between LA and San Diego, leaving United and Delta Air Lines as the sole two carriers operating in the market, Cirium schedules show.

When United announced its intention to stop serving the route, it was poised to leave Delta with a monopoly in the market. That likely would've given the Atlanta-based carrier a big leg up with the local market.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Shorter total travel times are usually displayed higher in online travel searches, and those itineraries that Delta offered via its LAX hub were likely getting more search volume than United's offerings via San Francisco or Houston.

We don't know the exact data that was used to sway United's decision. However, the about-face comes just a few weeks after an organizational realignment in the top brass of the carrier's network planning team.

Ankit Gupta, who formerly led the domestic network, now oversees flight operations, while Patrick Quayle, who was in charge of the international network, now oversees global network planning.

Interestingly, when United announced it was cutting the route, Gupta was in charge of the domestic network, while the decision to re-add the route now falls under Quayle.

Either way, the big winners are those based in San Diego, who'll once again be able to connect to United's hub at LAX with a short, 55-minute flight.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

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
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
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

60,000 bonus points
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.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

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
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