United upgrades 14 outdoor-focused routes for the summer
If outdoor-focused travel is on your radar, United Airlines likely has a flight for you.
Over the weekend, the Chicago-based carrier filed a significant schedule adjustment for 14 routes, primarily aimed at bringing vacationers to national parks and other outdoor destinations in the West. The full list of changes is below, per Cirium timetables, from June through August.
|Chicago (ORD)||Bozeman, Montana (BZN)||from 1x daily to 15x weekly|
|Chicago (ORD)||Cody-Yellowstone Regional, Wyoming (COD)||Saturday-only service resumes on July 3|
|Chicago (ORD)||Jackson Hole (JAC)||From 1x daily to 2x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||Aspen (ASE)||From 4x to 7x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||Vail/Eagle (EGE)||From 2x to 3x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||Bozeman, Montana (BZN)||From 4x to 6x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||Cody-Yellowstone Regional, Wyoming (COD)||from 2x to 4x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||Gunnison–Crested Butte, Colorado (GUC)||From 1x to 2x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||Jackson Hole (JAC)||From 3x to 5x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||Kalispell/Glacier National Park (FCA)||From 3x to 5x daily|
|Denver (DEN)||West Yellowstone, Montana (WYS)||From daily to 12x weekly|
|Houston (IAH)||Jackson Hole (JAC)||From 1x daily to 8x weekly|
|Houston (IAH)||Key West (EYW)||Daily service extended to Sept. 7, from June 30|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||Aspen (ASE)||From 1x to 2x daily|
The biggest winner is Yellowstone National Park, which is seeing service boosts to every major gateway airport, including Bozeman, Montana; Cody, Wyoming; and West Yellowstone, Montana. United is increasing the frequency of flights from its hubs in Chicago and Denver to these destinations, giving travelers around the U.S. more one-stop options to one of America's most popular national parks.
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Ski resorts that usually fare best in the winter are feeling the summer love. Flights to Aspen and Vail are getting big boosts from across the United network. Though the snow will have melted, those looking to hike, fish, golf or relax outdoors will find plenty of things to do in the Rocky Mountains.
Note that United has suspended its summer service to Vail from Chicago (ORD) and Houston (IAH), though American Airlines has swooped in, adding its own daily Chicago-Vail flight from June 3 to Sept. 7.
Though United is only adding two daily flights from Denver (DEN) to Kalispell, Montana (FCA), this northern Montana airport has become one of the most popular with the major U.S airlines. Both JetBlue and Sun Country are starting new service there this summer, while American, Alaska and Delta are all adding routes or increasing frequencies on existing ones.
Kalispell's appeal for most travelers is its proximity to Glacier National Park.
Related: TPG's guide to the best national parks in the United States
The renewed focus on outdoor-friendly destinations comes as leisure travel is rebounding. The vaccine rollout is well underway, and as more travelers get inoculated, many are returning to the skies. The TSA is screening over 1.5 million flyers each day, and analysts are predicting a meaningful uptick in travel this summer.
With business travel still largely suspended, airlines have plenty of spare planes to repurpose for leisure flying.
United is adding 26 new point-to-point routes from the Midwest and East Coast to a variety of leisure spots, like Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Portland, Maine, this summer. The airline is using its 50-seat CRJ-550, a plane originally retrofitted in a spacious configuration to appeal to business travelers, to support all the new flying.
Now, the CRJ-500, one of the most comfortable regional jets in the sky, will be primarily deployed on vacation routes, as the airline's short-term focus moves to the leisure segment.