United seems to be targeting JetBlue preventively with this new route announcement …
United Airlines’ new route from Boston to London
United Airlines has announced that it will launch daily non-stop flights between Boston and London in 2021. This is the airline’s 19th daily flight to London Heathrow. The exact start date for the service has not yet been announced as it is based on the rebound in demand and travel restrictions. However, it is said that the flight will go on sale in the coming weeks.
United’s new Boston to London flight will operate on the following schedule:
Boston to London Heathrow Departure 10:00 PM Arrival 9:35 AM (+1 day)
London Heathrow to Boston departure 5:00 p.m. arrival 7:30 p.m.
United will fly between Boston and London
Personally, I dig these flight plans both ways, though I realize that some don’t like the timing of the flight going west.
United Airlines will use a premium Boeing 767-300 with only 167 seats for this new service as follows:
- 46 Polaris Business Class seats
- 22 Premium Plus Premium Economy seats
- 47 Economy Plus Economy seats with extra legroom
- 52 Economy Class seats
United will use a Premium 767 for the Boston to London route
Here is an overview of the United 767-300 used for this route.
This is a preemptive attack on JetBlue
Of the three major US airlines, United has the smallest presence in Boston. The airline has only flown from its hubs to Boston in the past and is also currently operating some seasonal point-to-point flights to Florida (which almost all US airlines currently offer).
It’s pretty clear that this announcement is addressed to JetBlue:
JetBlue’s new Mint Studio
I’d guess United is serious about starting this Boston to London flight (despite the lack of a start date), though I’m not entirely sure I understand the strategy here:
- It’s not that JetBlue will rethink launching flights from Boston to London, as the airline has specially ordered aircraft for such routes
- JetBlue will undercut other airlines in terms of premium pricing and restrictions, as it did with the introduction of Mint in Transcon markets years ago
- United cannot compete with the two large joint ventures that dominate this market, which include Allianz Delta and Virgin Atlantic and Allianz American and British Airways
- I assume United has significant corporate traffic in general. However, if there is sufficient demand for this route, one would think the airline would have started this route before the pandemic, as it will be years before business markets between the US and London recover from before the pandemic. 2020 levels
Boston to London is already very well served
United Airlines will offer daily non-stop flights between Boston and London from 2021. It seems pretty obvious that this is targeting JetBlue as JetBlue plans to launch transatlantic flights in that market later this year, and JetBlue continues to expand Newark.
I’m still not entirely sure I get the strategy though – a once-a-day flight can’t compete with the two mega joint ventures in the market, and JetBlue obviously has no qualms about entering transatlantic markets already very busy, as the first two transatlantic routes will be Boston and New York to London. Similarly, the airline had no problem entering crowded Transcon markets years ago, and it actually worked out quite successfully for the airline.
What do you think of United’s new Boston to London flight, and do you think it will actually take off (and last)?