United Airlines Adds New Services To Europe For 2018

a map of the world with red lines

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United Airlines has announced four new seasonal services to Europe for summer 2018. The new services will include routes to Porto (Portugal), Reykjavik (Iceland),  Zurich (Switzerland) and Edinburgh (Scotland). That’s two new destinations and two existing destinations for anyone who’s keeping track.

Here are the route details that United has released:

New York Newark – Porto

a city next to a riverImage – Wikicommons Media

This service will run between 4 May and 3 October 2017 and United will operate the route using its Boeing 757 aircraft.

The schedule is as follows:

UA144 EWR 21:45 – 09:50+1 day OPO (Daily)
UA145 OPO 12:35 – 13:35 EWR (Daily)

**This is a new route for United

New York Newark – Reykjavik

a city with many buildings and a body of waterImage – Wikicommons Media

This service will run between 23 May and 3 October 2017 and United will operate the route using its Boeing 757 aircraft.

The schedule is as follows:

UA144 EWR 22:30 – 08:10+1 day KEF (Daily)
UA145 KEF 11:55 – 14:05 EWR (Daily)

This is a new route for United and one has to wonder how much this new route has to do with the increasing number of flights we’re seeing between Reykjavik and the US from WOW Air – I’m going to guess that the growth of the European low-cost carrier has quite a bit to do with this.

San Francisco – Zurich

a city with a lake and mountains in the backgroundImage – Wikicommons Media

This service will run between 7 June and 26 October 2017 and will be operated by a United Airlines 787 Dreamliner.

The schedule is as follows:

UA144 SFO 14:10 – 10:10+1 day ZRH (Daily)
UA145 ZRH 09:50 – 12:40 SFO (Daily)

United already serves Zurich from Newark and Washington Dulles but the airline makes the point that the San Francisco flight is timed to help passengers connect to SWISS flights heading on to destinations like Delhi, Milan, Athens and Geneva.

Washington Dulles – Edinburgh

a city with a mountain in the backgroundImage – Wikicommons Media

This service will run between 23 May and 3 October 2017 and, once again, United will be operating this route using its Boeing 757 aircraft.

The schedule is as follows:

UA144 IAD 21:45 – 09:50+1 day EDI (Daily)
UA145 EDI 12:35 – 13:35 IAD (Daily)

This new service is set to compliment United existing summer service to Edinburgh from Chicago.

Other Summer Route News From United

Per the airline:

United is extending its 2018 trans-Atlantic summer route schedule from Chicago, San Francisco and Washington/Dullesby making flights available earlier and operating through late October 2018. Daily seasonal service between Chicago and Edinburgh and between San Francisco and Munich begins May 4 and ends Oct. 26, 2018 and Seasonal service between Chicago and Dublin and between Washington/Dulles and Lisbon, Portugal will start April 9, 2018 and end Oct.26, 2018.

This will see United’s summer season (on these routes) extend to between 6 and 7 months of the year.

The Aircraft – What You Need To Know

Firstly, if you see the mention of “Polaris Business Class” anywhere please don’t think that this refers to this:

a seat with a rolled up blanket on it

It doesn’t.

What you see in the image above is the Polaris Business Class seat currently being fitted (very slowly) to United’s 777-300ER aircraft and nowhere else.

United appears to be calling all of its international Business Class cabins “Polaris” nowadays despite the fact that in the overwhelming majority of cases this simply means that you’ll get some fancy bedding – the seats will still be antiquated.

So, what can you expect?

The United Airlines 757 that will be flying to Edinburgh, Reykjavik and Porto comes with the following seat combination:

  • 16 Business Class seats
  • 45 Economy Plus seats
  • 108 Regular Economy seats

a diagram of a flight schedule

On the positive side of things, the Business Class cabin offers true lie-flat seats and the Economy Plus seats offer a healthy 37″ of seat pitch but, on the negative side, both Economy Plus and Economy Class only offer seats marginally wider than 17″ and the regular Economy Class cabin offers just 31″ of legroom….and that’s tight.

a table with text and numbers

The longest of the four new routes (SFO-ZRH) will be operated by a 787-8 Dreamliner which, being a wide-body aircraft, you may expect to offer more space than the considerably smaller 757…but it doesn’t.

The Business Class seats are more or less the same as on the 757 and they still don’t provide all-aisle-access:

a row of seats in an airplane

The Economy Plus seats in the Dreamliner offer 2″ less legroom than you’ll find in comparable seats on the 757…..

a chart with text and numbers

…..although the legroom in Economy Class is 1″ better than in the 757. Importantly all the Economy Class seats still have the confining 17.3″ of seat width….which is going to be no fun at all on the nearly 12 hr flight westbound.

Bottom Line

I could focus on the old-fashioned Business Class seats or the incredibly tight Economy Class seats but I won’t…I’m going to try to find something positive to say.

It’s always good to have some new routes to play around with and I’m always happy to see yet more capacity being added to/from Europe – if nothing else it should help keep prices in check.


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