Yesterday you probably saw a flurry of blog post across the web about United pulling out all of their operations from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in favor of their hub at Newark Liberty. Effective October 25, United will cease to operate any flight into or out of JFK.
United only operates two flights out of JFK – the Los Angeles and San Fransisco “p.s” transcontinental product with lie-flat seats. Come October, those flights will move to Newark.
While many agree that it makes sense for United to move these flights to Newark (and, I agree), on one hand, it makes no sense.
Connecting Onto a Star Alliance Carrier
By United vacating JFK, they’re leaving a huge gap for passengers connecting onward to another Star Alliance carrier. Now, you can fly from Los Angeles to New York on United’s p.s. service, then connect onward on LOT to Poland, for example. By moving operations to Newark, connecting passengers not departing directly out of there will need to somehow make their way to JFK, in what could be a two hour or more journey, depending on traffic. Something doesn’t make sense here, and I hope United has a plan to somehow ferry these passengers to JFK.
United also isn’t taking into account passengers that fly multiple separate alliance airlines. For example, I may want to fly from LAX to JFK on United, connecting onward to an American flight to London. By moving to Newark, it takes out this possibility, and while a limited sub-set of the market, there are passengers concerned by price and price only. Normally, cheaper fares to London and other European cities can be found out of JFK vs. Newark. I’m curious to see what will happen to codeshare flights that once operated to JFK.
Newark Isn’t New York
It’s been said many times, but Newark isn’t New York. Sure, while it’s convenient to the southern part of the city, those in northern New Jersey, or those that want to easily connect onward to Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, the simple fact that it isn’t New York, and doesn’t have the connecting capacity that JFK has is going to affect United in the long run, in my opinion. Personally, when I fly to JFK, it’s either to connect onward to another city, head into NYC itself, or to visit family on Long Island, which is extremely convenient. Newark just isn’t convenient for that, with the exception of heading into Penn Station, with trains being fairly frequent (and avoiding the pay-per-ride Air Train).
Newark, while it does have several Star Alliance international-based carriers, doesn’t have the breadth of capacity and schedule that JFK has. Where the move of p.s. service to Newark is better, though, is for United frequent flyers connecting onto another United operated flight. That, of course, makes sense.
I see several options here, none of which really make 100% sense in their own right:
- United to operate two premium service routes – one out of JFK, the other out of Newark. Of course, this ties up more planes they don’t have, and requires two separate, nearly identical operations.
- United to provide some type of connecting service between Newark and JFK for Star Alliance connecting passengers.
- Increase the partnership between Amtrak, and begin a new partnership with the Long Island Railroad for passengers coming in from Long Island, Penn Station, or, even from Jamaica and the Air Train from JFK. I think United is going to have to build some strong bridges here to encourage people to make their way to Newark.
Personally, I’m a bit confused by United’s decision, and while I can understand their focusing towards their Newark operation, I think it leaves several of their partners behind, and leave a few gaps for the traveler and their ease of getting from A to B.
Just my 2 cents.
What are your thoughts on United pulling out of JFK?
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