United used to fly internationally from JFK. Even after they eliminated Asia flights like Hong Kong and Tokyo they continued to operate a first class lounge for their premium transcontinentals — New York JFK to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
When United introduced angled flat seats in three-cabin first onboard 757s in 2004 the seat was better but it coincided with a degradation of the soft product they had in first onboard Boeing 767-200s.
In 2013 United moved to Continental’s international business class 757 product.
Long gone are the days when the only economy seats flying New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco on United were economy plus extra legroom seats.
And after October 25 long gone will be United at JFK.
With a press release title, “United Airlines Strengthens New York/New Jersey Hub with Move of p.s. Transcontinental Service to Newark” talk about burying the lede!
- They’ll move p.s. service to Newark. Having had a mix of aircraft from international-style business seating to domestic first onboard 737s was weird, but no more so than when United ran Washington Dulles – Las Vegas onboard single cabin TED Airbus aircraft (and upcharged paid international first class transatlantic passengers without MileagePlus elite status wanting economy plus on that segment).
- United will increase frequency on the Newark – Los Angeles and San Francisco routes, moving 757s from international service off Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin and Hamburg and replacing those aircraft with 767s.
- :Perhaps a sign of the end at JFK was the elimination of New York JFK – Washington Dulles flights this past October, a signal that they weren’t looking to connect local JFK traffic to their transatlantic network and would focus only on Newark instead. (United pulling out of the airport entirely also means the final elimination of any domestic feed for their Star Alliance partners out of the airport.)
Newark isn’t New York — New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia once refused to get off a plane at Newark Airport, because his ticket promised he’d travel to New York. He was at the time pushing for construction of what became LaGuardia airport (the very first airport lounge was opened at LaGuardia converting the mayor’s private office there).
And United is certainly already capturing the New York market that prefers Newark over JFK. There’s also no inherent reason they can’t boost what’s already been a partial lie-flat schedule at Newark without shutting down the JFK operation.
Instead, they’re ceding the traditional premium New York cross country market to American and Delta (and really to Delta — American is an airline focused on bringing passengers to New York rather than operating an airline for New Yorkers lacking service from their JFK hub to key business destinations like Detroit, Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, and Houston).
Indeed, this doesn’t just eliminate JFK competition it strengthens Delta’s hand there:
Delta Air Lines plans to acquire United’s JFK slots, and United plans to acquire slots from Delta in Newark. Each transaction is subject to regulatory approval.
New York is the most important air travel market in the country, and the premium New York West Coast routes the most important as well. There was a time of course that an airline could be number one coast-to-coast out of Newark. Is that true today?