United announcing new routes
United Airlines dropped a hint on social media today about new routes that are going to be announced tomorrow (Wednesday, September 9, 2020) at 10AM CT.
The airline has uploaded a 52-second video that it claims has over 30 clues that point to where the airline will be announcing service to. We don’t know how many new routes will be announced, though the airline has clarified that these are new routes altogether, and not resumptions of old routes.
We’ve seen airlines announce dozens of new routes lately, but they’ve almost entirely been for service to Florida and Mexico, so we haven’t really seen much long haul expansion. It looks like that’s about to change.
What clues are in United’s video?
I think the clues in the video raise more questions than anything else. A few observations:
- The new routes will be “far from home,” and the whiteboard shows that they’re calculating range and payload, suggesting there could be at least one new ultra long haul route
- Passports are pictured, so there will be some new international routes
- There are references to Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, suggesting we may see service out of all of those airports
- The video shows maps of Africa, Europe, and South America
- References are made to both the 787-9 and 767-300
- Someone types the letter “B” into their iPhone to bring up destinations starting with that letter
Suffice to say that I’m stumped, and there are a lot of potential options here. I should mention that:
- I have the utmost respect for Patrick Quayle, United’s VP of International Network (he’s pictured in the video), and he has been the guy behind some incredibly creative routes
- United is by far the most adventurous of the “big three” US carriers when it comes to launching ultra long haul flights, like Houston to Sydney, San Francisco to Singapore, and Newark to Cape Town
- That being said, with current travel restrictions I can’t fully wrap my head around an airline using this time to launch some really “out there” routes
I have a few general thoughts, though let me start with the letter “B” being typed into an iPhone that displays a list of destinations, because I think this is the one where we can have the most educated guess:
- Bangalore seems like the obvious destination to me, since American plans on launching Seattle to Bangalore flights, and United has already historically flown to both Delhi and Mumbai
- Some might guess a San Francisco to Bangkok route, since that has been requested for a long time, but I just don’t see how the economics of that could work
- The one other thought is that maybe a Brisbane route could be in the cards, given that Virgin Australia was based in Brisbane, and is discontinuing long haul flights
- Or who knows, maybe United will start flying to Baghdad 😉
As far as the other clues go:
- Since Africa is pictured, could we see a route to Accra or Johannesburg, or a return to Lagos? With South African Airways’ struggles, maybe this is United’s opportunity to expand in South Africa?
- For South America, I’m guessing we’d likely see new routes to existing destinations, rather than new destinations altogether, so maybe something like Newark to Santiago or San Francisco to Sao Paulo?
- Since ultra long haul is a theme that’s really pushed here, is that maybe in reference to South Africa, or could we see new routes to Asia as well?
It sure sounds like United Airlines has a big announcement tomorrow for new international routes. I’m really excited to see what the airline comes up with, though can’t help but feel like it’s a bizarre time to announce “creative” routes, especially with the number of travel restrictions that exist.
My guess is that at least some of these announcements will be for routes launching way in the future, so I wouldn’t expect much new service in the coming months.
If you want to play along in the comments section, I’d love to hear what you guys observe, and what routes you think United will launch!
Thanks for entertaining us, United, because I sure do get amusement out of this!