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Hope to escape to Florida for the holidays? United is betting on it with nonstop flights from several new cities


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Hope to escape to Florida for the holidays? United is betting on it with nonstop flights from several new cities

Dawn Gilbertson USA TODAYPublished 5:55 PM EDT Aug 12, 2020Airlines searching for passengers and much-needed financial stability are switching things up during the coronavirus pandemic to offset the plunge in business travel.The latest example: United Airlines is beefing up its service to and from Florida this winter with the launch of 13 new nonstop routes…

Hope to escape to Florida for the holidays? United is betting on it with nonstop flights from several new cities

Dawn Gilbertson
USA TODAY

Published 5:55 PM EDT Aug 12, 2020

Airlines searching for passengers and much-needed financial stability are switching things up during the coronavirus pandemic to offset the plunge in business travel.

The latest example: United Airlines is beefing up its service to and from Florida this winter with the launch of 13 new nonstop routes from cities it usually doesn’t serve nonstop. 

The new cities: Boston; New York LaGuardia (United’s big East Coast hub is in Newark, New Jersey); Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Milwaukee. Flights between Cleveland and four Florida cities are resuming, in some cases with additional flights.

The airline called the move its largest expansion of nonstop service outside of its hubs.

It will face competition from several airlines with a bigger presence in Florida.

Why Florida? 

Before the recent COVID-19 spike, United’s research showed strong interest in both searches and bookings to Florida.

Travelers have had a “strong preference toward sunshine states in particular, and Florida is definitely top of that list,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning.

Florida is always popular, of course, given its weather and tourist attractions, with three of the top 25 domestic airline routes in the country flights to Florida, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Unlike many tourist destinations in California, some major Florida attractions, including Disney World, have reopened. 

Gupta said United will keep a close eye on COVID-19 cases and travel sentiment and will adjust its plans if needed. Tickets are currently on sale only for travel into early January, which covers the usually busy holiday travel season.

“As the COVID sentiment in Florida gets better, then I think this will definitely be a fantastic exercise for us,” he said.

If things turn negative, he said, the airline will cut capacity to Florida.

“We’re going to be super nimble about this,” he said. “We don’t know where the next surge will be. That’s where we want to be very realistic and data driven about this.”

United will face plenty of competition on the new routes from several airlines with a bigger presence in Florida, including major carriers like Delta Air Lines and, on some routes, discount carriers Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air. That’s good news for travelers shopping for tickets.

United’s new nonstop routes to and from Florida

Some flights begin in November, others in December. Check United’s website.

Boston-Fort Lauderdale

Boston-Orlando

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Boston-Fort Myers 

Boston-Tampa

New York LaGuardia- Fort Lauderdale

New York LaGuardia-Orlando

New York LaGuardia-Fort Myers

New York LaGuardia-Tampa

Milwaukee-Tampa

Milwaukee-Fort Myers

Columbus, Ohio-Fort Myers

Indianapolis-Fort Myers

Pittsburgh-Fort Myers

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