Airlines have doubled and tripled down with new routes to Europe as transatlantic travel demand has exploded over the last few years. United Airlines is heading back to the table for more in 2024.
On Thursday, United unveiled its plans to make summer 2024 the “airline's largest transatlantic schedule in its history.” That means it'll continue flying nonstop to the off-the-beaten-path European cities like Dubrovnik (DBV), the Spanish isles of Tenerife (TFS), Palma de Mallorca (PMI), and countless more. But United is also adding some additional pins to its map next year, bringing back old favorite routes, and expanding existing services, including:
- Summer flights from Newark (EWR) to Faro (FAO), the first nonstop service to the Algarve coast of Portugal
- Bringing back summer service between Newark (EWR) and Reykjavik (KEF)
- Adding a second daily flight between Newark (EWR) and Brussels (BRU) through the summer
- And a second daily flight from Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) to Rome (FCO) through the summer, too
- Flights between Newark (EWR) and Malaga (AGP) on the coast of Spain that began this past summer will ramp up to daily service in 2024, up from three times a week.
It may not be the most exciting slate of new (and returning) routes compared to previous years when the airline made a big splash with a half-dozen more new routes. Only one destination is brand-new for United in this go-around. Of course, United will also continue flying relentlessly to major hubs like London-Heathrow (LHR), Frankfurt (FRA), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), and others.
But the bigger news is that United is betting travelers are anxious to head to Europe earlier than ever – maybe as early as February 2024. So the airline is also resuming many of its “summer” seasonal routes earlier, like:
- Seasonal flights from Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) to Rome (FCO), Barcelona (BCN), and Lisbon (LIS) all commence Feb. 15, 2024
- Service from Newark (EWR) to Nice (NCE) in the French Riviera will restart on March 30
- Chicago-O'Hare (ORD)'s flights to both Rome (FCO) and Milan (MXP) will also restart on March 30
- Shortly afterward, the Newark (EWR) route to Naples (NAP) kicks off on April 5
- Flights between Newark (EWR) and Malaga (AGP) will resume on May 2
- San Francisco (SFO) to Rome (FCO) will kick off May 2, too
Those are weeks – if not months – earlier than airlines typically restart their summer seasonal routes. It's evidence of just how hungry Americans still are to get over to Europe – and to get a better deal by traveling over the shoulder season rather than the pricier peak summer. United said it flew 33% more passengers to Europe last spring compared to 2022.
“United has the most flights to the most destinations across the Atlantic and we're now giving our customers even more flexibility and choice when planning their trips abroad,” Patrick Quayle, United's senior vice president of global network planning and alliances, said in a statement. “Whether customers are looking to travel during peak season or shoulder season, visit the most popular tourism destinations or discover a hidden gem, the scope and scale of our network makes United the easy choice for transatlantic travel.”
United is not alone in expanding overseas. Delta and American have both added a slew of new routes for next year, like Delta's first-ever nonstop service to Naples (NAP) and a long-awaited route from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Dublin (DUB). American is targeting a slew of new cities in Italy and France next year, while foreign carriers like Lufthansa are expanding to more U.S. gateways.
But United has done more to shake things up, helping travelers reach fun (and at times puzzling) destinations with convenient nonstop flights, flying to more transatlantic cities than its competitors.
Case in point: Faro will be United's fourth Portuguese destination, along with Lisbon, Porto (OPO), and Ponta Delgada (PDL) on the Azores islands. Delta and American fly to just one: the capital city of Lisbon.
By the looks of it, next year will be a banner year for travel to Europe. United is making sure of it.
The airline is adding or resuming a handful of overseas for next summer, headlined by brand-new (and first-ever) nonstop service to Faro (FAO) in Portugal. But United will also resume some of its other summer routes as soon as mid-February, a telling sign of Americans' willingness to head across the pond.