Rumors Confirmed: United Re-Launches Cross-Country JFK Flights

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The internal rumblings from United Airlines are true: starting in February 2021, the carrier will re-launch cross-country service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and two of their West Coast hubs. The service will be operated on the airline’s Boeing 767-300ER, featuring the United Polaris business class cabin.

Since September 2020, United Airlines has reportedly considered returning to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York – the only airport in the city where they do not operate. The rumors have turned out to be true: the Chicago-based carrier announced they would re-launch service from the Queens airport to their two hubs on the West Coast: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Cross-Country Service to Feature Polaris Cabin in Business Class

“I have been waiting a long time to say this – United Airlines is back at JFK,” United chief executive Scott Kirby said in a press release. “Come early next year, we will be serving all three major New York City area airports with a best-in-class product to provide our customers unmatched transcontinental service from New York City and the west coast.”

The new flights will begin on Monday, February 1, 2021, with twice-daily service to both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Heading to SFO, United Flight 521 will depart from JFK at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time, while United Flight 523 will depart at 5:10 p.m. Eastern Time. To LAX, United Flight 515 will depart at 9:00 a.m., and United Flight 517 will depart at 7:00 p.m.

The daily service will also be reciprocal. Outbound from San Francisco United Flight 520 leave at 9:10 a.m. Pacific Time, and United Flight 522 departing at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time. United Flight 514 will depart from Los Angeles at 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time, while United Flight 516 will leave at 2:30 p.m.

The flights will be operated on United’s reconfigured Boeing 767-300ER airframes, featuring the United Polaris business class product, with flat-bed seats on all flights. The aircraft will feature 46 Polaris seats, 22 United Premium Plus seats, 47 Economy Plus seats and 52 economy seats.

The layout of the United Airlines Boeing 767-300ER, planned for service between John F. Kennedy International Airport and two California cities. Image courtesy: United Airlines

While United will continue to offer a flat-bed business cabin on flights to the West Coast from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), the Polaris flights will compete head-to-head with American Airlines’ three-cabin Airbus A321-T operations. The aircraft, featuring American’s Flagship First product, flies daily from JFK and the two California airports.

Relaunch of JFK Service Comes as United Increases COVID-19 Testing

The announcement of renewed United service between JFK and the West Coast comes as the airline is ramping up their COVID-19 testing. The airline is offering on-site COVID-19 tests for those bound for Hawaii from San Francisco, allowing passengers to bypass quarantine requirements upon arrival.

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