United Airlines is gearing up for what it’s calling “record-breaking demand for winter travel.”
The Chicago-based carrier announced on Wednesday a noteworthy increase in domestic connectivity this winter, focused on Florida and ski destinations.
For those chasing the sun this winter, United will offer its first-ever mainline service to Key West, Florida, starting on Nov. 28. The airline will fly the Boeing 737-700 to Key West International Airport (EYW) for the first time in the company’s history with nonstop routes from Newark, Washington Dulles, Houston and Chicago.
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In addition to expanded Key West service, United will increase the number of flights it operates on a few key routes, including Chicago to Fort Myers, Florida; Denver to Fort Lauderdale and Chicago to Miami.
It’ll also deploy the Boeing 777 from Chicago to Orlando, providing more than double the number of seats for those looking to visit “the happiest place on earth.”
Those based in Cleveland (which lost a United hub in 2014) will once again enjoy daily nonstop service this winter to Tampa, as well as a second daily flight to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Orlando.
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If you instead want to trade the sun for the snow, United says that it’s expanding its flights this winter from Newark to Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Vail, Steamboat Springs and Montrose/Telluride in Colorado and Bozeman, Montana. It didn’t provide any more details, and we’ll update this story if we hear more from the airline.
Much of the aforementioned growth is already loaded into United’s schedule, but it’s worth highlighting that the airline will grow its Florida capacity by 20%, offering the most flights to the Sunshine State than ever before.
Interestingly, some of United’s growth comes on the heels of Spirit, an ultra-low-cost competitor, pulling out of the Denver market. The Mile High City is a key domestic hub for United, and it’s one that’s been steadily growing for years.
Without Spirit competing on routes from Denver to Florida, United is seemingly responding by boosting its portfolio there, especially in the Denver to Fort Lauderdale market.
To explain all of this Florida growth, United says that Miami and Orlando are two of the top five most-searched domestic travel destinations this winter, according to new search and booking data from its website. The other three top-searched and booked spots include Honolulu, Cancun and Las Vegas.
In addition to expanding Florida service, United reaffirmed its commitment to flying its brand-new Airbus A321neo to the Sunshine State this winter. It said on Wednesday that the A321neo will be deployed on select routes to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Fort Myers, beginning in December.
This jibes with what the airline has filed in its schedule. (The first A321neo flights are planned for Dec. 14.)
“We know that November is when most people start their winter travel planning so we’re adding these flights to give customers more options than ever. We’ve already begun to see record-breaking demand for winter travel and whether customers are looking to unwind on the beach or hit the slopes, United is the clear choice for those planning their getaways,” said Mark Weithofer, United’s managing director of domestic network planning, in a statement.