Travel hasn’t been easy lately, to say the very least. If you had flights booked over the summer, you likely faced delays and cancellations—unless you were one of the lucky few who didn’t run into any trouble. Airlines have been working to correct these mishaps, with many carriers deciding to cut flights and scale back operations, including United Airlines. But now, the airline has surprised travelers by announcing it will be adding 120 additional flights, starting in September. Read on to find out where United will soon be flying, and why you might want to book your tickets now.
READ THIS NEXT: American Is Cutting Flights to These 8 Major Cities, Starting Nov. 3.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby spoke about the carirer’s fluctuating flight schedules, and when travelers should expect to see them return to “normal.” During a July 21 interview with CNBC, Kirby said that likely won’t be until 2023.
“We’re not going to get back to normal utilization and normal staffing levels until next summer,” he said. “We’re going to gradually improve—it’s going to take until next summer to get there.”
Kirby spoke with CNBC after the airline’s first profitable quarter since the COVID-19 pandemic began, noting that even with the airline’s efforts to hire additional staff and pilots, the “infrastructure challenges around aviation” are the driving force behind United’s need to “be a smaller airline. “
But despite these comments, the airline is amping up service from September through November, and a certain group of travelers will be in luck when the fall weather arrives—especially if they’re looking to root for their favorite team.
On July 26, United Airlines announced that it would be adding 120 new flights to its schedule this fall, primarily to serve college football fans.
According to a press release from the airline, connections will allow passengers to travel to over 45 away games, including at the University of Alabama, University of Oklahoma, Penn State University, Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, and University of Michigan.
“College football fans love following their team on the road and this year we’re making it easier than ever,” Michael Weeksmanaging director of domestic schedule development and publication at United, said in the press release.
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Flights begin on the weekend of Sept. 9, where two round trip flights will be offered between Birmingham, Alabama, and Austin, Texas, for the University of Alabama game at University of Texas Austin on Saturday, Sept. 10. That same weekend, a direct, round-trip flight will also be added between Spokane, Washington, and Madison, Wisconsin, for the Washington State University game at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Over the following seven weeks, flights are offered on key football weekends, connecting different universities. Flights are added through the weekend of Nov. 25, when you can get a direct, round-trip flight between South Bend, Indiana, and Los Angeles, California to catch the matchup between University of Notre Dame and University of Southern California on Saturday, Nov. 26.
“We’re flying nonstop to some of the most historic football towns in the country, including South Bend, Columbus, and Baton Rouge, and also significantly expanding our service on the West Coast to help more Pac-12 fans travel to cheer on their teams, “Weeks said of the flight schedule, specifically noting the Pacific-12 athletic conference, which operates in the western US
According to the airline’s press release, new flights were added after a survey of United loyalty customers showed that over 80 percent of “avid college football fans” would fly to see a game this season. So, if you’re one of those fans looking to get in on the action and cheer on your alma mater, you can now book through the United app or online at United.com.
A spokesperson for the airline confirmed that these flights are not permanent additions to the airline’s schedule, but they do help football fans get to and from big games. However, as several of the key games only have one direct, round-trip flight listed, per the press release, you might want to act fast to ensure you have a seat on the plane, as well as in the stands.
While the addition of new routes is exciting, the airline is also cutting flights this fall, including 200 daily flights at Newark Airport in September. “We’ve made the difficult decision to suspend service to three cities this fall—Flagstaff, Santa Rosa and Texarkana—and are working with customers on alternate plans,” the airline said in a statement to Best Life about flight cuts in Arizona, California, and Texas.