One of the biggest trends in the travel industry to emerge from the pandemic is that airlines are significantly switching up their usual flight routes and schedules. Most of the major airlines stopped flying, at least with mass frequency, to popular business cities, where they could count on big dollars from business travelers who were willing to pay the high prices of last-minute tickets and comfort. That’s because much business travel came to an abrupt halt and it’s only now just starting to slowly return. But with summer coming, you can bet things won’t go back to the way they used to be until September … and that’s only if we’re really fortunate to avoid surges caused by new variants of concern. So it’s a big “if.”
For now, workers are either holding meetings and conventions virtually or on a much smaller scale. So the airlines are catering to leisure travelers, which is why you’re seeing so many flights to all parts of Florida, Hawaii, Montana and Myrtle Beach, etc.
Internationally, airlines are flying to destinations that are outdoors and open to Americans like Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. Now that more Americans are getting vaccinated and our COVID positivity rates are low, the airlines are starting to announce they’re going to be flying to places that are opening up to vaccinated travelers like Iceland, Croatia and Greece. United is leading the way with today’s big announcement:
“United is adding three new flights to its international network, giving travelers more options for summer travel by flying direct to countries that are starting to reopen to vaccinated visitors. Starting in July, United will offer new direct flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Dubrovnik, Croatia, from Washington Dulles International Airport to Athens, Greece and from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Reykjavik, Iceland, all subject to government approval.”
“As countries around the world begin the process of reopening, leisure travelers are eager to take a long-awaited getaway to new international destinations,” said Patrick Quayle, vice president of international network and alliances. “These three new routes unlock the natural beauty of the outdoors for our guests. They are also the latest example of how United is remaining nimble in rebuilding our network.”
Here are the details:
United plans to add the only nonstop service between the U.S. and Croatia on July 8, with service to Dubrovnik on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. The airline will operate three weekly flights between Newark and Dubrovnik through October 3 on a Boeing 767-300ER with 30 United Polaris business class seats. Flights will operate Monday, Thursday, and Saturday from Newark and on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday from Dubrovnik and will be timed to connect in Newark to over 65 cities in North America.
United will expand its service to Athens with daily flights from Washington Dulles beginning July 1 and operating through October 3. This new route marks the first time daily nonstop flights have been available between Washington D.C. and Athens. The schedule is timed for connections in Washington Dulles to over 95 cities in North America and will be operated by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner with all-aisle-access Polaris business and United Premium Plus seats. This builds on United’s existing daily summer service to Athens from Newark Liberty International Airport, which resumes on June 3.
United is expanding its service to Iceland with the first U.S. carrier service from Chicago to Reykjavik, beginning July 1 and running daily through October 3. The schedule is timed for connections in Chicago O’Hare to over 100 cities in North America and will be operated by a Boeing 757-200 with 16 lie flat business class seats in the Polaris cabin. This new service builds upon United’s existing service to Reykjavik from Newark, with daily flights resuming June 3 and operating through October 29.
Keep in mind, vaccinated travelers may still be subject to local country restrictions related to quarantines, testing, curfews and other requirements. Travelers should check with their destination and be prepared to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test on return to the USA (here are the details).
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