United Pulling Out of JFK, Moving p.s. Service to Newark

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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 p.s. service change

United says they plan to fly up to 17 daily round trips NewarkSan Francisco and up to 15 daily round trips NewarkLos 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?


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  1. Ahhh I miss Continental! I used to be a Continental OnePass platinum elite (highest tier at the time) and always got the upgrade EWR-LAX and EWR-SFO. Are all transcon flights going to be ps? If so, that’ll suck that comp upgrades won’t be eligible anymore to elites. :/

  2. Yup, UA copying DL upgrade policy again on the premium class on transcon JFK/LAX & JFK/SFO. Unless you’re DM on DL, you’re not eligible to be placed on the free upgrade list. Maybe UA will lax the policy a bit and allow 1K folks to be on the upgrade list, copying DL.

  3. Arrgh. This west coast based 1K, frequent PS flyer thinks EWR is he-l on earth. The UA PS process (check-in, tsa, club, distance to the gate) at JFK really was pretty stress free compared to the mob scene at EWR. Don’t even get me started on the delays I’ve encountered at EWR vs. those at JFK.

  4. I am honestly surprised that it took UA this long to retrench in EWR after the merger. This move gives UA several benefits.

    1) UA can now have connecting traffic on all P.s. Flights. Previously the flights from/to JFK were limited to connections in the west cost cities only and those were mainly transpacific connections.
    2) More efficient use of aircraft. UA does not need a dedicated fleet of P.S. Aircraft. They could even turn some of the birds onto Europe an hour after one arrives from the west coast.

    Sure they will lose some fliers, but JFK is already saturated with airlines flying to the west coast. From what I understand UA has not turned a profit from JFK in a long time.

  5. This is a very interesting development. I didn’t realize that UA had already pared back its JFK offerings. Consolidating at EWR makes sense in light of this.

    I’ve been flying LAX-BOS to see family since 1982 when I moved to LA from Boton. It will be interesting to see how this impacts my flights as I frequently connect through EWR when flying to BOS or MHT. Will the fares increase due to the p.s. flights?

    After the merger, I got to really like connecting through EWR over my past favored connecting hubs- DEN, ORD, and IAD. (I have yet to try connecting through IAH, and connecting through SFO can have its weather issues.)

    Bummer on the p.s. upgrade policy. But then again, Complimentary Premier Upgrades have been rare the last year plus. Using miles to upgrade has also been iffy. And that’s as a lifetime Premier Gold/Million Miler.

  6. This is how I see the 3 major US airlines:
    Delta: the cool cousin In the family. Many times he brags about itself and is obnoxious but he knows he is the cool one.

    AA: wanted to be the cool one but knows it does not fit the profile. Thus, it follows the cool cousin when it can. It is ignored by the cool cousin most of the times but still follows him.

    United: it is that old and grumpy uncle that you only see once a year in family reunions. Nobody cares about him but he has to be invited since he is part of the family. He knows nobody cares about him but he still goes to the party so people can make fun of him. He is jot cool, he is outdated but feels he knows everything. Poor uncle!!!!

  7. This will have almost no effect on me because I don’t fly to/through nyc much. But last year when we flew out there, I found arriving in Newark to be a real pain. I felt like someone visiting from another country. What’s the deal with taxis not taking credit cards? I wouldn’t want to fly in/out of Newark next time we go to New York. So that makes it less likely that I’d fly on United.

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