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Back when I lived in Manhattan a little over a decade ago, and regularly flew home to Houston to visit friends and family, Continental Airlines had flights to/from their Houston hub into all three major NYC airports – LaGuardia, Newark, and JFK. I had my pick of which airport to fly out of based on price, schedule, and the ease of getting there based on what I was doing that day and the time of the flight. None of the NYC area airports are actually in Manhattan, so they all had pluses/minuses to getting there, and frankly none were super simple to get to outside of hopping in a cab…which at some times of the day was actually the very worst option.
Still, I had three options, and I regularly used all three airports for my Continental flights home to Houston. I’m not sure when Continental, now United, canceled that nonstop route to JFK-IAH route, but I know it has been a number of years. Then last year they canceled the flight from JFK to IAD (Washington Dulles), leaving only the Premium Service (p.s.) from JFK – San Francisco and Los Angeles.
However, via an announcement today, United will be pulling out of JFK entirely effective October 25th when they will begin running the p.s. flights from Newark – SFO/LAX. In doing so, United will move several Boeing 757-200 aircraft currently allocated to trans-Atlantic markets to p.s. flights out of Newark (namely planes that were operating flights to Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin and Hamburg). Those destinations will instead be moved to wide-body 767 service out of Newark, which having recently flown to Madrid on a 757, is a good thing.
United says they plan to fly up to 17 daily round trips Newark–San Francisco and up to 15 daily round trips Newark–Los Angeles. They also point out in the press release that they still operate 37 daily flights out of LaGuardia to domestic hubs, including Chicago, Denver, Houston and Washington Dulles…which hardly seems like very many flights to me. This whole change is pending regulatory approval for the swapping of slots from JFK to Newark with Delta.
If you aren’t familiar, United p.s. service features:
- flat-bed seats in the United BusinessFirst cabin;
- premium in-flight service;
- more extra-legroom Economy Plus seats than any other carrier; and
- modern interiors with in-flight Wi-Fi and personal on-demand entertainment with individual seatback monitors and power ports for customers in every row.
Outside of the press release type info, it should also be mentioned that p.s. flights are not eligible for complimentary upgrades for elites, so while the business class seats are certainly nicer on p.s. flights than on many other United operated flights, you have to pony up extra miles + copay, upgrade instruments, or cash to sit up front even if you are an elite traveler. It is also worth mentioning that historically the p.s. flights have had Gogo internet service, and I know many frequently flyers who have monthly Gogo subscriptions. However, some of the aircraft moving to p.s. service have had internet service that is not powered by Gogo, so I’m not sure how that will play out over the long term.
The schedule changes from JFK to Newark are scheduled to load this coming weekend and you can contact United after that time if the flight you are changed to doesn’t work for your schedule or preferences.
What are your thoughts on United pulling out of JFK all together and moving the p.s. flights to their Newark hub?