United Ramps Up Its Post-Covid Return to the Skies

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United Airlines UAL is ramping up its post-Covid-19 return to the skies, adding nearly 25,000 domestic and international flights to its calendar and tripling its August schedule.

The Chicago-based carrier said on Wednesday that it will add more than 600 daily flights to more than 200 airports across the U.S., including the resumption of 50 routes from July to August, which it says will bring it back to 48% of what its August 2019 flight schedule looked like.

It also plans to expand flights at 147 airports across the U.S., including boosting connections at its mid-continental hubs including Chicago, Denver and Houston and doubling the number of flights from New York/Newark.

While travel demand remains a fraction of what it was at the end of 2019, “customers are slowly returning to flying with a preference for leisure destinations, trips to reunite with friends and family, and getaways to places that encourage social distancing,” the airline said.

The plans also include adding more than 350 daily flights from its U.S. hubs in August, including doubling the number of flights from New York/Newark compared to July and adding more flights to mountain and national park destinations like Aspen, Colorado; Bangor, Maine; Bozeman, Montana; and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

To put patrons at ease, United said it has overhauled its cleaning and safety procedures and is giving customers more flexibility when booking by extending its waiver of change fees and award redeposit fees for reservations through July 31.

According to TSA, more than 600,000 passengers passed through airport security checkpoints on Monday, June 29, the first time since March 19 that those numbers exceeded 25% of pre-Covid levels.