United Airlines Reveals London Heathrow Expansion

United Airlines Reveals London Heathrow Expansion

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A couple of weeks ago, United Airlines announced a bunch of new international routes. Well, the airline is back today with even more new international flights. This includes one new route, and additional frequencies on three existing routes.

United adds flights to London

United Airlines has announced five additional frequencies to London as of the spring of 2022, meaning that the airline will operate a total of 22 daily flights to London. Here are the new frequencies that we can expect, all as of March 26, 2022:

  • United will launch a daily Boston to London route, using the Boeing 767-300ER
  • United will add a sixth and seventh daily Newark to London frequency, using the Boeing 767-300ER
  • United will add a second daily Denver to London frequency, using the Boeing 787-9
  • United will add a third daily San Francisco to London frequency, using the Boeing 787-9
United is adding five new London frequencies

When all is said and done, next summer United will offer the following frequencies to London:

  • 1x daily out of Boston (BOS)
  • 3x daily out of Chicago (ORD)
  • 2x daily out of Denver (DEN)
  • 2x daily out of Houston (IAH)
  • 1x daily out of Los Angeles (LAX)
  • 7x daily out of Newark (EWR)
  • 3x daily out of San Francisco (SFO)
  • 3x daily out of Washington Dulles (IAD)
United will operate 22 daily frequencies to London next summer

My take on United’s London expansion

United is usually incredibly creative with international expansion, operating routes that other major airlines wouldn’t even consider. Today’s announcement is definitely a bit more “traditional.” We’re now seeing travel between the United States and United Kingdom open up in both directions for vaccinated travelers, so transatlantic demand will definitely start to come back.

Still, it’s anyone’s guess if business travel — which is how airlines make money on these routes — will return in 2022 the way that United is anticipating. I suspect that United has sufficient Heathrow slots that need to be used, so in that sense these added frequencies aren’t a surprise.

It’s cool to see United finally put its Boston to London route on sale. This flight was first announce in February 2021, and was clearly a response to JetBlue’s plans to launch transatlantic flights to London.

United will be facing significant competition in that market — American & British Airways have a joint venture, as do Delta & Virgin Atlantic, both with multiple daily frequencies. On top of that, you have JetBlue. It’ll be interesting to see the extent to which United can compete with one daily frequency, without disruptive pricing.

United’s 767-300ER business class

Bottom line

United Airlines has announced five additional daily frequencies to London as of March 2022, including the introduction of a new Boston to London route. United is betting big on a transatlantic recovery, as the airline will have 22 daily frequencies to London next summer.

What do you make of United Airlines’ London expansion?

Conversations (38)
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  1. Mark Guest

    Where did the LHR slots for the extra flights come from? Other Star Alliance carriers? Has the overall decreased flight activity added flexibility to add flights at slot-controlled airports?

  2. warren trout Guest

    Just flew Polaris ORD LHR. The flight was wonderful. I arrived fully rested. Coach would have been miserable

  3. Bobby L Guest

    BOS-LHR sounds unusual, Reminds me of premerger United flying JFK-CDG or something like that before United had EWR as hub by merger.

  4. Weymar Osborne Gold

    I'm a little surprised that with UA's recent round of route expansions, they haven't added DEN to CDG. I'm sure they could pretty easily fill it with all the connection opportunities in the Mountain West region and I would imagine they'd want to defend their market from Air France.

  5. Brown C Guest

    Ok. Can we just say United is a leader and not a follower. Award people may want to look at buying a ticket for the cabin they want to fly. United wants to make money and pax flying awards is just not a priority. United has the fleet to make a statement unlike the others that grounded good aircraft. Go United ✈️

  6. Ryan R Guest

    Looking forward to getting back on United's morning flight from EWR to London! Daytime flights are by far the best way to cross the Atlantic.

    Also, isn't Houston airport "IAH", not "HOU" as they show in the image?

  7. TheArtsTraveler New Member

    There is something really whacky happening right now with some of these flights. Check out IAD-LHR. The Saver column says Business (mixed cabin) and the everyday just says Business. It also appears that the saver rate has gone up from 60K to 75K. Some of the flights the saver rate and the everyday rates are the same at 122.9K. Really strange.

    1. Spamboy Guest

      The categories have changed, and the pricing appears to have become dynamic :(

      https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/united-airlines-mileageplus/2056971-ua-kills-business-saver-award-column-heading-now-business-mixed-cabin-business.html

  8. Jim Guest

    My brother in law, who is a chemical engineer based here in the East, recently resumed regular business trips to London, so the business market is slowly coming back.

  9. Francois Guest

    United is pricing awards at 93,800 for biz one way. I thought it was 80k? I guess ya know what happens when they pull their award chart.

  10. Luke Guest

    I find the additional Denver flight very interesting given that as of a month ago when I was traveling from the UK back to Colorado neither UA nor BA were flying the LHR-DEN route. Of course things have changed since then with travel restrictions being loosened and whatnot, but I really don’t see Denver having enough demand (even with connecting traffic) to justify two United flights plus BA.

  11. david Guest

    United knows how to get good publicity. It is free for them to announce future routes now. When the time gets closer and if demand doesn't match, ooops, flights get cancelled, retimed, and consolidated, seating gets downgraded, and your nice true-window Polaris seat is no longer available.

    I know this from experience with United and I just don't trust them.

    I will also add that I am soon going on a business trip to...

    United knows how to get good publicity. It is free for them to announce future routes now. When the time gets closer and if demand doesn't match, ooops, flights get cancelled, retimed, and consolidated, seating gets downgraded, and your nice true-window Polaris seat is no longer available.

    I know this from experience with United and I just don't trust them.

    I will also add that I am soon going on a business trip to London and spending nearly $10k in cash on a paid J ticket. I will be flying Virgin.

    1. mdande7 Gold

      My friend just had round trip to LHR on Virgin, both legs canceled within a couple of days of flight. No offer to rebook with Delta. Ended up having to pay to fly himself to LAX (from SEA) to get a flight from there. All the airlines play these games.

    2. DCS Guest

      Oops! You badly burst @David's bubble, which was nothing more than the usual mindless bitching b.s. that goes on these boards, despite claims of "being based on personal experience"...

  12. AT Guest

    Wow, this is a lot! - 7 daily frequencies from Newark!

    Do all the 767s that fly the route have the oversized Business class cabins? And all are Polaris I assume.

  13. Doug Guest

    When all of the covid dust settles, I'm sure we'll see UA drawback some of this capacity/BOS.

  14. Tim Dunn Gold

    This is just the latest announcement to confirm that United has far too many widebody aircraft in its fleet including its grounded Pratt and Whitney powered 777s - which the FAA has not approved to return to service - and so they are dumping international capacity into every longhaul market they can think of.
    The real target here is American/British Airways; the incessant cut-throat rivalry between American and United is why the two cannot...

    This is just the latest announcement to confirm that United has far too many widebody aircraft in its fleet including its grounded Pratt and Whitney powered 777s - which the FAA has not approved to return to service - and so they are dumping international capacity into every longhaul market they can think of.
    The real target here is American/British Airways; the incessant cut-throat rivalry between American and United is why the two cannot break out of their financial underperformance relative to most other U.S. airlines.

  15. Jan Guest

    Maybe someone can explain it to me: So UA will be operating 22 daily flights out of LHR between Europe and the USA. Isn't that more than what LH and UA are operating out of Frankfurt?
    What I do not understand: LHR is not a Star Alliance hub. So the passengers will mainly stay in London? Or is there a significant amount of UA passengers connecting? In theory connections would be possible to Singapore...

    Maybe someone can explain it to me: So UA will be operating 22 daily flights out of LHR between Europe and the USA. Isn't that more than what LH and UA are operating out of Frankfurt?
    What I do not understand: LHR is not a Star Alliance hub. So the passengers will mainly stay in London? Or is there a significant amount of UA passengers connecting? In theory connections would be possible to Singapore with SQ, Zurich or Geneva wit LX, Vienna with OS, Athens with A3, Istanbul with TK, Hamburg or Dusseldorf with EW, Beijing with AC, Addis with ET, Lisbon with TP, Copenhagen with SK etc. - but are these combinations bookable?

    I would've thought that UA transatlantic flights would mainly be between Star Alliance Hubs with a few exceptions (like Amsterdam, London, Paris, Venice, Madrid etc.). I cannot imagine American Airlines offering 20+ flights between Amsterdam and USA daily. Or Delta offering 20+ flights between Frankfurt and the USA daily.

    1. Jason Guest

      In case you havent heard, London is a LARGE CITY with a lot of demand. People go to London. A lot. It drives, traditionally, tons of paid business travel normally, and a ton of tourist and vfr/ family traffic. United isnt flying this to transfer people, United is flying it because of the demand for travel to/ from London.

      Your analogies are off. American would never fly 20 times a day to Amsterdam just...

      In case you havent heard, London is a LARGE CITY with a lot of demand. People go to London. A lot. It drives, traditionally, tons of paid business travel normally, and a ton of tourist and vfr/ family traffic. United isnt flying this to transfer people, United is flying it because of the demand for travel to/ from London.

      Your analogies are off. American would never fly 20 times a day to Amsterdam just as Delta would never fly that many times a day to Frankfurt. Neither of those cities is as large as London nor has the combination of cultural/ business/ political ties to the US that London has.

    2. Bobby J Guest

      London is a shadow Star Alliance hub. All but two of Star Alliance's airlines fly there, and they have a dedicated terminal. What's more, many of those Star Alliance airlines fly multiple frequencies, which makes LHR a pretty interesting and unexpected connecting point for Star Alliance. Speaking for myself, I'd much rather take United's same-day nonstop to LHR from IAD, overnight and get rested in London (I've lost the day traveling anyway, and I can't...

      London is a shadow Star Alliance hub. All but two of Star Alliance's airlines fly there, and they have a dedicated terminal. What's more, many of those Star Alliance airlines fly multiple frequencies, which makes LHR a pretty interesting and unexpected connecting point for Star Alliance. Speaking for myself, I'd much rather take United's same-day nonstop to LHR from IAD, overnight and get rested in London (I've lost the day traveling anyway, and I can't sleep on planes), and then take my pick of flights onward to Europe.

      And then of course, the other comments are also correct. London is a very large city with a massive business community and an even larger pull as a tourism magnet. The demand is there from all sectors.

    3. sharon Guest

      London is a massive air market to itself. People from all around the UK flock to London's Heathrow to access US air service.

      Not only that but London is among the wealthiest cities in the world, has strong connections to the US and robust business activity between the two, hence why United is providing so many Polaris suites between the nations.

      Remember, many UK visitors will use United's expansive domestic service to access...

      London is a massive air market to itself. People from all around the UK flock to London's Heathrow to access US air service.

      Not only that but London is among the wealthiest cities in the world, has strong connections to the US and robust business activity between the two, hence why United is providing so many Polaris suites between the nations.

      Remember, many UK visitors will use United's expansive domestic service to access markets such as the national parks, the Caribbean and Orlando especially!!

      If any airline has had int'l route planning success, it is United

    4. John T Guest

      London is one of the biggest destination cities in Europe for both business and leisure travellers. Plenty of people from around the world want to visit without needing to connect on to anywhere.

      Same with Paris - that's not a Star hub city either but does just fine as a destination.

      Frankfurt is not a leisure destination.

    5. Weymar Osborne Gold

      In addition to what other commenters have said about London as an O&D market, anecdotally I've found that fairly frequently my *A award searches have given LHR as a transfer point. Most of the time when I'm searching Southeast and Central Asia to the US. From BKK on TG or CCU on AI for a few examples, and then onwards on UA usually.

  16. Steven Allen Guest

    With this new DEN-LHR and the recent DEN-MUC flight, can DEN maybe get a Polaris lounge now?? That's at least 6 international flights (with CDG and FRA) I believe?

    1. Towelie196 New Member

      There will be 7 qualifying flights, once Tokyo resumes. There are no *A flights to CDG from Den.

    2. Steven Allen Guest

      Ok thanks for clarifying.

    3. Matt Guest

      I believe TK is also launching a DEN-IST flight and would certainly use the Polaris lounge for their business passangers.

    4. Towelie196 New Member

      I forgot about them... 8 isn't bad but seems we would need significantly more... likely double.

  17. Towelie196 New Member

    Definitely interested to see how things will look at Denver in a few years. They are now one of the 5 busiest airports in the world, wonder how long that trend will continue and how it will look in a few years once the pandemic settles.

    1. Rob Guest

      Agreed. And it also seems like UA continues to scale back their transatlantic flights from Houston.

  18. John T Guest

    There will be, what 10 daily flights between London and Boston by next summer across the different carriers?

    Is there really that much demand?

    1. Mike Guest

      Star is the only alliance not in the market. There’s likely Star Alliance loyalists will fly Star over other alliances on this route.

    2. mdande7 Gold

      This thing happened in SEA a couple years back. 14 BA, 10 VX, 7 DL and 7 Norwegian (weekly numbers). Then AA announced a daily flight. It just doesn't make sense to have that level of capacity.

  19. sharon Guest

    all other airlines take notice, and look at the massive expansion is doing at Denver, very significant

    Delta just dropped SLC to London and here comes united with an extra denver london service...interesting

  20. Jason Guest

    I really find 2 times from Denver to London to be interesting. That's a big jump. I wonder how that will impact BA on the route. Though, in theory, BA serves a slightly different market due to its hub at LHR. Will be interesting to see how it works.

    United has flown from Boston to London before, so this is a resumption. Granted, it's been 20 years (they flew from 1999-2001 with a 763) and...

    I really find 2 times from Denver to London to be interesting. That's a big jump. I wonder how that will impact BA on the route. Though, in theory, BA serves a slightly different market due to its hub at LHR. Will be interesting to see how it works.

    United has flown from Boston to London before, so this is a resumption. Granted, it's been 20 years (they flew from 1999-2001 with a 763) and it's a totally different market, but they did fly the route before. So it's not really new.

    I could have sworn that at some point UA did fly 6 flights from EWR to LHR. 7 is big!

    It'll be interesting to see, as you rightly point out, how/ if business travel resumes, and to what extent, given Brexit.

  21. Carl Guest

    Maybe United is counting on the fact that the Polaris hard product is superior to that of DL/Virgin and AA/BA. Maybe not better than B6, but better than those others and that there are enough travelers who aren't tied to the other loyalty programs. Or they have some corporate contracts. I do find the Polaris seating pod comfortable and private.

    1. Jason Guest

      JetBlue hasnt announced a Boston-London route. They arent flying it. They are flying from New York to London. But as of now they do not fly from Boston.

    2. david Guest

      True - that and the Polaris lounges coming back on line. But they would do well to return on board service levels to pre-pandemic too.

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TheArtsTraveler New Member

There is something really whacky happening right now with some of these flights. Check out IAD-LHR. The Saver column says Business (mixed cabin) and the everyday just says Business. It also appears that the saver rate has gone up from 60K to 75K. Some of the flights the saver rate and the everyday rates are the same at 122.9K. Really strange.

1
david Guest

United knows how to get good publicity. It is free for them to announce future routes now. When the time gets closer and if demand doesn't match, ooops, flights get cancelled, retimed, and consolidated, seating gets downgraded, and your nice true-window Polaris seat is no longer available. I know this from experience with United and I just don't trust them. I will also add that I am soon going on a business trip to London and spending nearly $10k in cash on a paid J ticket. I will be flying Virgin.

1
Mark Guest

Where did the LHR slots for the extra flights come from? Other Star Alliance carriers? Has the overall decreased flight activity added flexibility to add flights at slot-controlled airports?

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