Despite lingering concerns over the impact of COVID-19 on international travel, United Airlines is embarking on a major global expansion for next year’s peak summer season, with eight new routes, including some less conventional additions to its international service map—such as Jordan, Norway, the Azores archipelago of Portugal, and Spain’s Canary Islands.
The ambitious new schedule, which starts rolling out in spring of 2022, includes routes where United has little or no competition from other U.S. carriers, according to Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances. At a press briefing attended by AFAR, he acknowledged that United’s new timetable includes some “new and unexpected places,” adding that “we want to return travel to being fun.”
In addition to increasing unique leisure destinations, United will boost flights from U.S. gateways to European cities that include Berlin, Dublin, Rome, Munich, and Milan. It will also revive plans for seven new international routes that were suspended when the pandemic hit.
The emphasis on leisure locales is in part a reflection of the fact that business travel is still lagging well behind prepandemic levels, but Quayle also noted that some of the countries where it’s expanding also have a strong “VFR” (visiting friends and relatives) market, such as Portugal. Quayle noted that next year, United “will have the most flights between the U.S. and Portugal of all North American carriers.”
United’s new international flight schedule
- Amman, Jordan: Service between Washington, D.C. and Amman starts May 5 with three flights a week (Petra, anyone?).
- Ponta Delgada in Portugal’s Azores: Daily flights from Newark start May 13, making it much easier to get to this up-and-coming island destination.
- Bergen, Norway: Thrice-weekly service starts May 20 from Newark to this popular jumping off point for Norway’s fjords.
- Palma de Mallorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean: Head to the beautiful beaches of Mallorca with three times a week service from Newark starting June 2.
- Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands: The volcanic islands off the coast of Africa are now within reach with three times a week service from Newark starting June 9.
- Berlin, Germany: New daily service from Washington, D.C. to this German arts and culture hub kicks off next spring.
- Munich, Germany: Hello, Bavarian food, music, and landscapes—new daily flights from Denver start April 23.
- Milan, Italy: New daily service from Chicago next spring will be the only direct flight between the two cities, delivering Midwest fliers straight to Italy’s fashion center.
In addition to these new routes, United will revive several routes that were interrupted by the pandemic:
- Tokyo, Japan: Daily flights start March 26 from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Newark to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
- Frankfurt, Germany: A second daily flight from Newark to the German hub begins April 23.
- Zurich, Switzerland: Daily flights between Chicago begin April 23.
- Nice, France: Daily flights from Newark start April 29.
- Bangalore, India: Daily flights from San Francisco begin May 26.
United is also adding another daily flight from Newark to Dublin and from Newark to Rome to its 2022 flight schedule.
All of United’s new, expanded, and renewed flights are now available to book at United.com, with the exception of Amman, which is expected to become available for bookings in the coming weeks.
While United says the expansion reflects its “big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer,” some of its previous destinations across the pond didn’t make the cut. The carrier has eliminated a few routes, such as Newark-Glasgow, where demand didn’t live up to expectations. Will the destinations it chose to invest in resonate? Time (and travelers) will tell.
Travelers inspired by United’s new routes should be aware that international travel requirements and restrictions continue to evolve throughout the pandemic. Check the U.S. State Department’s detailed COVID-19 travel information and country-specific advisories, which are updated regularly. We often cross-check these references with entry requirements that are published by each individual country’s foreign or public health affairs office for the latest.
Additionally, all international passengers age two and older flying into the U.S. (including returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test procured within three days before boarding their flight to the United States.
The CDC also has detailed recommendations for travel during the pandemic, both for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
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