LOT Polish Shifts Budapest Flights, Cuts Chicago, Boosts New York

Filed Under: LOT

LOT Polish is an airline that has come a long way over the past few years, in particular with their all-787 long haul fleet (which sure represents an improvement over the 767s they used to fly).

While the airline has been expanding nicely out of Warsaw, perhaps most interesting has been their expansion out of Budapest. With Hungary’s national airline, MALEV, having gone out of business many years ago, LOT Polish has stepped in to add routes out of Budapest in the past couple of years.

The airline flies year-round from Budapest to New York, they just started a year-round Budapest to Seoul Incheon flight, and they’ve flown seasonally from Budapest to Chicago.

Well, it looks like the airline is adjusting their US network a bit.

LOT Polish Cuts Budapest To Chicago Flight

In May 2018, LOT Polish launched 2x weekly flights between Budapest and Chicago. The flight was initially year-round, but quickly shifted to being seasonal, as they found demand to be highly seasonal.

The airline did successfully operate the route through this past summer, but has now decided not to bring back this route in the summer of 2020.

Interestingly this comes at the same time that American is launching a seasonal Chicago to Budapest flight, as American will fly 4x weekly between Chicago and Budapest with a 787-8 in the summer of 2020.

I’m guessing the route was marginal to begin with, and that was the nail in the coffin for them.

LOT Polish Boosting Budapest To New York Flight

With the reduction to Chicago flying, LOT Polish plans to operate 7x weekly flights between Budapest and New York as of April 30, 2020. That’s quite a bold move.

The flight won’t operate one day per week in each direction, but then on another day there will be 2x daily flights. This is due to how they “swap” planes in New York with the Poland flights:

  • There is no westbound flight on Sundays and no eastbound flight on Wednesdays
  • There are two westbound flights on Saturdays and two eastbound flights on Thursdays

Since the flight operates out of New York JFK, they have very little connecting traffic there. LOT Polish is in the Star Alliance, and United only flies to Newark.

So it seems like the route will be entirely dependent on O&D traffic, both between New York and Budapest, as well as between New York and the few destinations LOT flies to beyond Budapest.

Bottom Line

LOT Polish’s Budapest strategy is an interesting one, and overall it seems to be working out well for them. I guess it’s not surprising to see their decision to drop their Chicago route and instead increase New York service.

I’m guessing this was largely motivated by American’s decision to add seasonal Chicago to Budapest flights next summer.

I’m still skeptical about the viability of 7x weekly New York to Budapest flights, though.

What do you make of LOT’s Budapest route shift?

  1. This past weekend I checked our April roundtrip flights from ORD to BUD, and we got rescheduled through WAW both ways. Now I know why…… No notification, nothing. I used UA miles to get the tickets.
    Could have switched to the JFK-BUD-JFK flight, but UA doesn’t fly to JFK from BNA, only to EWR, so the connection between JFK-EWR would have been very troublesome. Oh well…….

  2. Hi Lucky,

    Do you have any idea why LO choose to operate to/from JFK?

    It sounds very illogical as LO being *A member.

  3. @Tamas

    LOT – unlike Lufthansa, Swiss, and Austrian – does not have a joint venture with United. Hence this route is for O&D traffic. JFK is more convenient for many travelers in the area, including Polish communities in Brooklyn and Queens. It would not make sense to have the Budapest flights from EWR and the Warsaw flights from JFK,

  4. I just flew BUD > JFK in Business Class on LOT Polish last week. Service was very much hit or miss (more on the miss) – a few examples: no knife for the salad/soup/bread course then they take your butter dish, serve you a main course and then offer you more bread or during dessert service they ran out of fruit – though the biz cabin was barely half full. My wife went to use the restroom after meal service and the flight attendants were eating their meals and they had fruit, and there was fruit served at breakfast – so why be told they ran out of fruit during dessert service? The seats themselves were ok but I am fairly sure my seat (2c) was going to break any moment as the motor was super quiet and slow compared to my wifes seat motor. They also told me their coffee machine was broken so they couldn’t make a latte or cappuccino – which I found funny as I read 1-2 reviews online and people said the same thing – how is the coffee machine always broken on fairly new planes. So I had that same “experience” of the “broken coffee machine”. Also no amenity kit was given out in the entire cabin for no known reason.

    I used transferable points to Krisflyer to book it so I got a good value, was a direct flight home on the date I wanted to fly, etc. Its not that I would avoid them but I certainly would not go out of my way to fly them and if given other options at a similar price/point level I’d likely pick someone else.

  5. @Tamas

    In case you don’t realize it yet. EWR is trash for international travellers, including Lufthansa who has more flights out of JFK.

    EWR is better for people in NJ and eastern PA and worse for NY.

    What’s illogical is why airlines move out of JFK. And don’t get me wrong, JFK is also a mess but a nicer and closer mess.

  6. This is very interesting and I look forward to flying the JFK-BUD route.

    I’ve wanted to check it out in the past but the ~5:30 pm departure time is rough for me. It looks like theyre moving back to 7pm so i need to use an extra half day from work.

    Thanks LOT!

  7. This is great news!

    Budapest is a hidden gem with much to explore. I wonder though why thye do not shift over to EWR to provide connections via United?

  8. “LOT Polish plans to operate 7x weekly flights between Budapest and New York as of April 30, 2019”

    Presumably, 2020?

  9. @DanielB The connection between JFK and EWR is easy and cheap. JFK tram (monorail) from any terminal to Long Island RR station to Penn Station NYC to NJ Transit train to EWR. Maybe $25. total senior fare. Great for me with a carry-on, but wouldn’t recommend with family and luggage.

  10. Given LO’s on-time performance, they might very well end up with operating westbound flights on Wednesdays and eastbound flights on Sundays anyway. 😀

    Nevertheless, no one really seems to understand LO. They have huge expansion plans, but keep on being very unreliable and staff remains very rude. I still have to find someone there who can actually smile. I had to fly them several times, especially on domestic flights, as I had quite some business in Poland. About 20 legs last year, many more in previous years. A lot of those flights got cancelled at the last second, delayed for undisclosed reasons, usually without giving any information to customers about the prognosis, or without having a staffed transfer desk available. One of the things I noticed when I was at Chopin Airport, waiting for what might happen (or not) was how their Dreamliner to New York always was late. And not just 5 minutes, but usually hours.

    So yeah, good luck with your increased JFK routes. No one knows why JFK instead of EWR (*A transfers not needed to fill the bird?), but then again, no one at LO seems to be knowing what they’re doing anyway. 😀

  11. LO really should leave star alliance and become a skyteam member.
    It would solve most of their problems. Nor UA or LH helps them with connecting traffic, they are competing with them in every possible ways. Like QF and QR.

  12. Out of Warsaw LOT flies to both, JFK and EWR. LOT doesnt have too much business from UA codeshare out of EWR anyway, so it doesnt really matter which airport they fly to, with JFK being considered more „important and premium”. Many airlines are cutting their services to EWR anyways, choosing JFK instead. LOT feeds it’s Warsaw flights with transits from all over Europe, and with opening its new feeder flights to/from Budapest next March, they wanna do the same with BUD connection.

  13. LOT interest in Hungury is purely political but there might be some business sprinkled on it.

  14. LOT is a state own airline and Polish ruling party praises how strong is Polish-Hungarian friendship.

  15. @SD Ron: when we go home to visit family members, we take tons of presents, so we do travel with the maximum number of suitcases (2 per person when flying business). So that is why the EWR-JFK transit is not ideal for us :-)))

    @Tomasz Skrzypczak: it is not just the current ruling parties. Hungary and Poland had lots of strong connections in the past centuries including a common king in the 16th century. Hungarians always considered Polish people friends.

  16. @EricZ

    I’ve found the onboard espresso machines on many airlines (BA, Korean, LOT) to be “broken” more of than not. A flight attendant friend basically told me that they’re terrified of the idea of making each of the F/J customers their “triple tall split-shot extra hot soy mocha valencias with three splendas and light whip” so they just say it’s broken.

    What I’ve taken to do doing is going to the back and quietly asking an FA directly if they could make me a plain espresso and i walk it back to my seat. The machine never seems to be broken when I do that, but YMMV

  17. Fly all transatlantic 3-5 times times every year to Budapest, mostly star alliance partners Swiss , Lufthansa , SAS via their Hubs . Recent first time fly LOT from Los Angeles via Warsaw, noticed very poor performance in C/J class compare rest of other airlines. Flight attentions are unpleasant and poor appreciation to these PAX, this is typical Polish attitude. Made addressing and complaint no reply from LOT. Sadly to say I would not recommend to do business with LOT in J/C class. Switch 5 star airlines like Swiss, SAS, Qatar Airways !

  18. Please let me know, if I need service in Los Angeles. Could you tell me where is your Los Angeles office? Who will I can Contact ?

  19. Like many said LOT needs to sort out the crew service ASAP, they’re very stingy and unpleasant on lot of their flights. Their expansion seems very rapid and are in the process of either selecting more 787’s or going for A350’s. They still have trent 1000 issues and are outsourcing aircrafts and crew this doesn’t reflect well for frequent fliers. It came back to bite norwegian in the A**. As long as they will maintain their 787 presence at BUD instead of the awful euroatlantic 767 they should establish them selves at BUD as a hub carrier, but BUD airport needs to step up and expand immediately and get ready for transfer flights otherwise that’ll be another unpleasant situation and perhaps avoidance from connecting passangers. Intercontinental flights are on the rise and the airport is already operating beyond its capacity at peak times.

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