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United Airlines has today announced that it will be expanding its global network with a new route to London Heathrow from later this year which, according to the airline, will make it the only US carrier to offer non-stop service between the nation’s top seven business markets and London Heathrow.
At some point in 2021, United Airlines will launch non-stop service between Boston and London Heathrow using its Boeing 767-300ER Aircraft. While United hasn’t been able to provide us with a launch date for the route (the airlines says that it is monitoring the demand recovery and travel restrictions as it finalizes a launch date), it has been kind enough to provide us with a proposed schedule which looks like this:
UAxx BOS 22:00 – 09:35+1 day LHR (Daily)*
UAxx LHR 17:00 – 19:30 BOS (Daily)*
*Flight numbers will be confirmed closer to the launch date
Unsurprisingly, United says that it plans to operate its new Boston – London route with its “premium heavy” 767 aircraft which features the following seating options:
- 46 United Polaris Business Class seats
- 22 United Premium Plus seats (Premium Economy)
- 47 Economy Plus seats (Extra legroom Economy Class)
- 52 standard Economy Class seats
This is the same aircraft that United operates between Newark and London Heathrow multiple times a day and which United introduced with its fleet refurbishment that started in 2019.
Most importantly, the “Polaris” Business Class seats on offer on this aircraft are the real Polaris Business Class seats (i.e. the newer, all-aisle-access seats) and not just the same old United Business Class seats with a new name (as are currently found in most of the airline’s Dreamliners).
Boston to London is hardly an inspiring route choice or one that’s likely to excite anyone other than United loyalists based in Boston.
A quick look a the summer schedules (as they currently stand) shows that American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic all already offer daily flights (or multiple daily flights) on the Boston – London route, and JetBlue is expected to launch flights between Boston and London (Gatwick) later this year too, so United’s new route appears to be more about patching a hole in the Star Alliance’s route network rather than about offering travelers anything genuinely new.
In fact, if you take a look at just how much AA/BA and DL/VS dominate the Boston – Heathrow route and if you consider how weak United is in Boston, it’s hard not to wonder how United plans to make this route a long-term success.
Still, I don’t want to be too negative about United’s news because the introduction of a new carrier (and new alliance) on this route may help to keep fares down to acceptable levels and, for those of us who love to redeem our hard-earned miles on premium cabin transatlantic awards, it’s always good to see more capacity being added to the schedules.
United Airlines says that it is committed to launching a new route between Boston and London Heathrow later this year but that the exact launch date will depend on how the demand for travel looks and how the current travel restrictions change (or not) in the coming weeks and months). How successful this route will be for United is open to debate but, for now, let’s just wait and see when the route actually starts to operate.