United Airlines Will Operate 40% Of Its October Schedule Next Month

a large white airplane parked on a tarmac

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United Airlines has just announced its planned schedules for September and October and the airline has confirmed that when its routes are taken as a whole (i.e. international + domestic routes together), it is expecting to operate 34% of its full schedule in September and 40% of its full schedule in October. These figures are in comparison to the routes operated in the same months last year.

What United Has Planned


United says that it will fly 38% of last year’s September schedule this month and 46% of last October’s schedule next month but there’s a caveat to those figures as part of United’s plan involves restarting routes to Hawaii and those route restarts are wholly dependent on on the pending approval of the state’s “pre-arrival COVID testing program”.

Here’s how United has summarised it’s domestic plans:

  • The airline will “resuming or start” new services on nearly 50 routes, including 37 routes from United’s Chicago, Denver, and Houston hubs (this assumes the restarting of routes to Hawaii).
  • United will resume its additional services to Florida including:
    • Washington-Dulles to Sarasota
    • Miami to Fort Myers
    • Denver to Fort Myers
  • United intends to resume services from Los Angeles to:
    • Eugene, Oregon
    • Medford, Oregon
    • Redmond/Bend, Oregon

Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of Domestic Network Planning is quoted as saying:

“We continue to be data-driven and realistic in our approach to rebuilding our network. Because October is typically a slower month for leisure travel, we’re adjusting our schedules to reflect these seasonal changes in customer demand while resuming service or adding capacity on routes where we’re seeing increased customer demand for travel.”

As part of the seasonal changes mentioned by Ankit Gupta, in October, United plans to add more flights on days popular with leisure travelers “looking to get a head start on long weekend getaways” and will schedule fewer flights on days where demand is traditionally lower.


Unsurprisingly, the percentage of routes that United plans to operate internationally is less than the percentage it plans to operate domestically as there’s still so much uncertainty surrounding international travel. This month, the airline expects to operate 29% of the international schedule it operated in September 2019 while next month United says it will operate 33% of October 2019’s schedule.

Leisure travel is the primary driver for any increases that we’re seeing in United’s international routes right now (increases compared to the past few months) with the airline confirming that it’s the demand for flights to cities in Mexico, Central America and South America that’s leading the way.

Here’s how United has summarised it’s international plans:

  • In September/October, United plans to resume service to 14 international destinations including:
    • Bogota, Colombia
    • Buenos Aires, Argentina
    • Lima, Peru
    • Panama City, Panama
  • Services between New York/Newark and Tel Aviv will be increasing to 2x/day and the airline’s 3x/week service between Washington D.C. and Tel Aviv will resume from 25 October.
  • The airline says that it will be “resuming or increasing” services to Cancun, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico from its hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York/Newark, and Washington, D.C.

The airline has not made any mention of changes to services to Asia or to Europe

Bottom Line

United continues to be the more cautious of the “Big 3” US airlines when it comes to route planning in the time of Covid-19 (you just have to look at what Delta announced a couple of weeks ago to see the difference in attitude) but, having seen how the pandemic is developing, it’s hard not to think that United’s approach is the more realistic. I think it’s safe to say that most of us would love to see the travel world back on its feet and heading back to normality but United’s numbers go to show that we’re still a way off that happening.

34% and 40% of last year’s schedules is considerably better than where we were in March, April, and May but it’s still a long way from where the airline would like to be.