United Drops 4 U.S. Cities, Cuts 12 Routes in Latest Shakeup

Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the hubs that will see the most service cuts.

Fliers in smaller markets are about to have less options.

Many of the affected cities are in smaller markets.

Photo by Shutterstock

In a sign that airlines aren’t yet done with scaling back on service as they continue to adjust to changing demand, United Airlines is restructuring its flight map, an airline spokesperson told AFAR this week. In the coming months, the carrier will eliminate 12 routes, predominantly to smaller hubs, including:

  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to Edmonton International Airport in Alberta, Canada (YEG)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
  • LAX to Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin (MSN)
  • LAX to Oregon’s Eugene Airport (EUG)
  • LAX to Rogue Valley International–Medford Airport in Oregon (MFR)
  • New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA)
  • Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to EUG
  • ORD to Santa Barbara Airport in California (SBA)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to MSN
  • SFO to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
  • SFO to St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)
  • SFO to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma (OKC)

Most of the rolled-back routes had previously been temporarily suspended during the pandemic (except for the Los Angeles flights to Colorado Springs Airport, Eugene Airport, and Rogue Valley International–Medford Airport, which will end in January). The airline doesn’t yet know if or when they’ll be brought back.

“We regularly adjust our schedule for a variety of reasons, including demand and the broader needs of our network,” the airline’s spokesperson said.

United to cut service to these 4 cities

While the above markets will continue to be accessible through connecting hubs (Colorado Springs will be reachable with a layover in Denver, for example), the same cannot be said for others. United confirmed that it will be pulling out of the following four cities entirely this year:

  • Lewisburg, West Virginia (service ends October 31)
  • Weyers Cave, Virginia (ends October 31)
  • Clarksburg, West Virginia (ends November 30)
  • West Paducah, Kentucky (ends December 6)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, United (as well as its “big three” rivals American and Delta) has had to cut a number of routes, many of which go to smaller, regional markets. Beyond fluctuating demand, another reason for the pull-back is a continued shortage of pilots, caused in part by slow recruitment and early retirement or buyout packages offered to older pilots during the early days of COVID-19 to cut costs, among other things.

The news comes weeks after United announced last month that it had struck a code-share deal with Emirates. So while United customers will soon have fewer options when it comes to some U.S. markets, international flight options are expanding with the ability to connect to more than 100 cities in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East courtesy of the Emirates pact.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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