United Exits JFK, Consolidates Its Power at Newark

JFK - New York/JFK, United

I think many of us were surprised this week when United announced it would shutter its New York/JFK operation, bring its transcon p.s. service to Newark, and swap slots with Delta at those airports. We’ll see if all pieces of this deal are allowed to go through, but I think we can all agree that it’s about time p.s. made its way to Newark. That being said, it’s a sad but predictable end to decades of United service at JFK.

United ps Newark

United has been slowly whittling away at its JFK operation for years. Back at the turn of the millennium, United operated flights to far-flung places like London, Tokyo, and even Hong Kong. (That last one was a terrible idea.) Back in 2006, the last of the international flying disappeared when United sold its London authority to Delta and switched its Tokyo flight to Dulles. After years of trying, United simply wasn’t going to be a player in New York at all.

Despite all these cuts, there was one bright spot. The transcon routes to LA and San Francisco hadn’t done well, but in 2004 United tried something radical. It switched from 767s to smaller 757s. It put a more international-style First and Business Class cabin onboard and had just a few all-Economy Plus seats in coach. This upgraded service was called p.s. for “premium service” and it was an instant hit.

In the JFK to LA market, United’s average fare climbed more than 12 percent comparing 2005 to 2003. Thanks to the smaller coach cabin, the average coach fare climbed 30 percent. That may sound impressive on its own, but consider this. American’s average fare dropped nearly 23 percent during that same period. Delta’s average fare dropped 20 percent. For United, this was an unqualified success, but others took notice and United’s stellar product advantage eroded.

Virgin America launched in 2007 with lower fares and a better onboard experience. JetBlue entered the market in 2009, albeit with an all-coach product. Delta began getting serious and put a more international-style BusinessElite product onboard.

Then came United’s merger with Continental. Continental, of course, had stumbled into the old People Express Newark hub and turned it into the only true hub in the New York City area. Newark was a rock star, and there was no question that the new United would continue its focus west of the Hudson.

While LaGuardia continued to have service from most of United’s hubs, primarily to make sure United’s loyalists elsewhere could conveniently get to either side of New York City, the perimeter rule meant that neither LA nor San Francisco flights could operate there. The presumption was that to properly serve the transcon market, you had to be at JFK. And other airlines began fighting even harder.

American announced it would replace its old 767s with the new A321T. It was like the original p.s. on steroids with flat beds in Business and First as well as a nicer, smaller coach cabin. Delta eventually decided it would go fully-flat on its transcon flights as well. Last June, JetBlue upped its game with its own flat beds in Mint.

United, however, had chiseled away at the “p” in p.s., slowly eroding what made it unique. Coach lost free meals early on, and the all-Economy Plus cabin gave way to a more standard mixed offering as well. Then First Class was eliminated, but Business Class was upgraded with the standard international flat beds United had on the rest of its pre-merger Continental fleet. It effectively became just the implementation of United’s international product on a couple domestic routes. That product was competitive with other airlines, but the lead United had versus other carriers had disappeared. At the same time, primarily in LA, American had decided to increase frequencies dramatically, putting United at a further schedule disadvantage as well.

Meanwhile, United had other issues across the Hudson. In April 2013, Virgin America finally worked its way into Newark. United responded by flooding the Newark to LA and San Francisco market with nearly hourly flights. With so many flight options in Newark, United’s more paltry presence at JFK became even less attractive… except for the product. Most of the Newark flights still had a more traditional domestic product which wasn’t competitive at all with the options at JFK.

Meanwhile, on October 25 of last year, United ended its last non-p.s. flights from JFK, the Dulles route. How long would the status quo continue?

By this point, those who preferred JFK and LaGuardia were likely not United loyalists. Delta and JetBlue had built up strong hubs with big followings. And American had far more service than United as well. United couldn’t even come close to being competitive over there. But at Newark, its loyalty grew even stronger as the hub continued to grow. For those in New York who preferred United, the only reason to fly from JFK was because the onboard product was better than in Newark, and that seemed crazy.

So it should be no surprise that one year after the Dulles flights ended, United will now end all service at JFK. It will take those p.s. aircraft and relocate them to Newark. Then it will add a bunch of internationally-configured 757s (not much different than p.s airplanes, just fewer premium cabin seats) and put those on the LA and San Francisco routes as well, replacing the mix of aircraft already flying.

This will also allow United to more efficiently route these aircraft, and it will provide people in LA and San Francisco connecting to Europe in Newark a more consistent experience on all flights. In the end, United will now have a formidable presence with up to 15 flights to LA and 17 flights to San Francisco each day. And all will have p.s. service.

All of this makes perfect sense. In fact, it makes you wonder how p.s didn’t come to Newark earlier. That being said, did JFK have to disappear? For New Yorkers, it probably doesn’t matter. But what about those United loyalists in the LA and San Francisco hubs? Many of those people may prefer JFK and now they won’t have that option. In San Francisco it may not matter since United is the biggest game in town. People will go where United takes them. But in LA, it’s shakier since both Delta and American have bulked up there while United has cut back. This could push more important travelers in LA to choose someone else. But maybe that’s not enough to matter.

The last part of this deal is the slot swap. United no longer needs those coveted slots at JFK, so it’s giving them to Delta. In exchange, Delta will give United some slots at Newark. Both get stronger where they’re already strong. I’m not convinced, however, that the feds will like this one. Any other transaction that has involved getting stronger at New York airports has come with a price. The government may want some other airlines to have a shot at these. Knowing the feds, they’ll probably just want to give everything to their beloved Southwest.

That last part remains to be seen, but overall, this change plays to United’s strengths. While I think it’s probably a smart move, I do wonder how those in LA and San Francisco will take it. This could cost United some business on the West Coast, but having p.s. in Newark is going to be far more important for the airline in the end.

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81 comments on “United Exits JFK, Consolidates Its Power at Newark

  1. I’m from NY, and I lived in SF when p.s. launched. I loved it. Mostly in Business, sometimes in First. They were also good with upgrades, if memory serves.

    But having moved back to NY, I switched to Delta. They flew to more places that I needed to go, and although Skymiles isn’t awesome (understatement alert), the horror stories I hear about ops at United makes me happy I switched.

    Also, and I think a lot of non-NY/NJ people don’t get this nuance…NYC airport of preference is dependent on a lot of things. There is not great public transportation to all 3 airports – some will tell you the train to EWR is awesome, some can deal with the subway to JFK, and some don’t mind the bus to LGA. Then there’s time of day. If I’m taking an early flight, I can get to LGA and EWR in about 15-20 minutes by Uber. During the day, can take an hour or more. I work on the East side of Manhattan, so EWR is a nightmare. For people on the Westside, it’s preferred. And JFK from the city is a pain just about always. Do you work in the city but live on Long Island? Northern NJ? CT?

    It’s not as simple here as ORD is in one place and everyone trains or drives over to it. Or DEN – admittedly in the middle of nowhere – and seemingly inconvenient for all.

    Point is, in the last 24 hours on several blogs, all kinds of people are calling this the best and the worst thing ever. And they’re all probably right.

    1. Agree that in the NYC area your preferred airport has everything to do with where you are located or heading to. Sometimes it makes more sense for me to take a connection and fly into Newark than go direct into JFK and deal with traveling across the city. Ideally all the major players would have options into each of the 3 major airports in the area, but I totally get how United would want to “own” their piece of the NYC pie.

      1. A – Of course if it’s bad enough that you would take a connection over a nonstop, then you can still connect into LaGuardia on United.

    2. Neil-this is definitely a win for people who live in NJ. I frequently make the trip to the west coast and work in midtown but live in hoboken, with that being said I generally took the afternoon p.s. flights out of JFK and fly back into EWR. As you mentioned the NJ transit to EWR is equivalent to taking the subway or LIRR to JFK.

      FYI – the UA schedule is fully updated already. Plenty of award options out there right now as well for 50K RT in BizFirst. Just snagged a couple.

      1. I don’t see how allowing United to tighten its grip on Newark is a win for people who prefer Newark. I suppose if you prefer Newark and fly business class to the west coast frequently this is a win. Otherwise, all you are doing is limiting competition which is already almost non existent in Newark

        1. if you are loyal to one airline and that airline is in your backyard then why do you care about competition?

          the difference in cost in traveling to LGA/JFK and having to either pay for an upgrade or E+ rather than getting it for free ends up evening out for me…

          1. Prices, mostly. UA has only one competitor — VX — with an inferior product and only a few flights a day.

            Whereas at JFK, there’s a lot of competition, between DL, B6, AA, and VX. Given the announcements of AA and B6 flight increases to SFO/LAX, it’ll be interesting to see how prices out of JFK vs. EWR changes once UA leaves.

    3. You’re right in that everyone’s going to have different opinions. ;-) As a (former) Westsider, I infinitely prefer JFK; I can take the E train and it’s a simple one-seat ride to JFK AirTrain, and service is reliable even at late hours of the night.

  2. Not a big deal. I’ve flown the p.s. to LAX and SFO every January for 4 years from JFK, having flown in a few days earlier into EWR. Getting to and from Newark, from Manhattan, has rarely been any easier or any more painful, than JFK. It makes sense to consolidate the network, and I look forward to trying it next year:)

  3. United wasn’t positioned to do well with its JFK flights anymore, but I suspect they’ll ultimately regret giving up those JFK slots in the future. They’re dominating a portion of the New York market and ceding the balance to Delta. That makes sense short-term for them, But giving up a scarce resource in New York is a high price to pay long-term.

    1. I agree – this move will hit United hard in the future, but it’s understandable at the present time.

      One thing not mentioned here involves the Port Authorities desire to renovate or close terminal 7 at JFK where both United & British Airways fly. BA may end up moving to T8 with it’s partner American in a few years & if that be the case, there won’t be a need for that terminal. In addition, since there’s a gate cap at JFK the 12 gates at T7 could be transferred to other terminals either in whole or in part as both Delta & JetBlue expand there foothold there. American is doing the same, but at a smaller scale.

      1. SEAN – I don’t think there’s room for BA in Terminal 8, so you’d need to find a way to expand it for that to happen. Maybe it would mean putting something on top of the access road and connecting it up to T8. I’m not sure. But T7 is BA’s building, so it likely gets to make the decision on what it wants to do.

          1. Cranky – you are right that T7 belongs to BA, but I do remember reading somewhere within the last few years that BA wants to move to T8 so one world partner airlines are in the same terminal.

            Can you verify that info? Thanks.

            1. It’s a common point of discussion among aviation enthusiasts. So even if the airline has said nothing about it (and I’m not sure if they have or not), you probably have heard chatter about it.

            2. tharanga – There are a lot of points of discussion among aviation enthusiasts that have no basis in reality. I haven’t heard anything about this from a credible source. Then again, maybe I’m just not paying attention.

    2. But if they have to use it or lose it, then there is a huge cost to running an unprofitable spoke city to serve non-core customers + opportunity cost of the (proposed) deal. I think I read that UA said JFK has been unprofitable for 7 years.

      I’m not convinced that a few JFK slots are all that strategic with the only real pending change on the horizon is the competitve strengthening of LGA (new terminals, potential perimter lifting). PANYNJ moves so slow anyway, that a chance would take 10+ years. That is a lot of losses to hold onto for an uncertain gain in the future, particularly one that can have just a few flights, not like a big operation. So each year of losses needs at least a year of gains to offset it + missing out on the opportunity of EWR strengthening.

      1. I’m not sure I buy the accounting that P.S. was unprofitable for that long. Perhaps it was carrying far too much of the JFK terminal cost given that UA cut back so much?

    3. Gary Leff – I don’t know about that. I mean, it still has its slots at LaGuardia so it’s not like it has no representation on that side. Once there’s a new terminal at LGA, then we might see things shift to make it even more desirable (re: perimeter rule). Of course, it’s hard to say now if United might want those JFK slots 10 years in the future. But you have to fly them to keep them, so is it worth keeping that going as Noah mentions?

    4. The JFK transcon market was a no-win for UA. All of their competitors had some level of feed on both ends, but UA had nothing on the JFK side, so they relied entirely on local traffic. Even though they offered a very good business class product, the Hollywood folks that really drive the revenue in the market preferred premium cabin seating that offered more privacy so they didn’t have to deal with annoying conversations for 6 hours. Once AA, DL, and B6 were all offering that type of configuration, the celebs left and took their money with them. The capital cost for UA to reconfigure a sub-fleet of aircraft just so they could be “one of four” I’m sure didn’t make good business sense. They have huge international operations from EWR, SFO, and LAX. It certainly makes sense to move the existing aircraft to their points of strength so they can offer a consistent international business class experience end-to-end. Having domestically configured aircraft on these routes has been one of their glaring shortcomings. My only surprise is that they didn’t use the JFK slots to flight to IAH where they could have captured some Long Island traffic connecting to Latin America.

  4. Flying from San Francisco, this hurts. The product isn’t nearly as special as it used to be with fewer economy plus seats, and while having more flights might be nice, I will miss being able to get easy access to Long Island. Newark makes that a real pain. But then, aren’t we used to that with United? If I weren’t as frequent or loyal of a traveler I would look elsewhere. But United has a hook in me.

  5. Especially enjoyed your comment on the Fed love affair (no pun intended) with Southwest. What they have been permitted to get away with at DAL is shocking. I doubt they have an interest in JFK, but if they do, the UA slots will head their way.

    1. I wonder if this will end up entwined with the DAL situation developing now that the city of Dallas has asked the Federal government what to do.

      Will there be a big, multi-airport, multi-airline agreement on both?

      1. Noah – I can’t imagine that this will be all tied up together. They just need to get that DAL one answered right away since July 6 is drop dead date.

  6. I note that United’s press release notes that selling Delta the JFK slots and buying the EWR slots from Delta are separate transactions. That must be carefully-chosen language for regulatory purposes, right? Cranky, any idea what it means?

    I assume particularly that if the DOT doesn’t approve of the EWR transaction, United will go ahead with this anyway and just take the slots from other flights. It wouldn’t surprise me much if the DOT says the JFK slots have to at least go up for auction if they don’t outright say the slots have to go to a DOT-preferred carrier (VX, B6, or WN).

    1. Alex Hill – I assume it’s just the way it’s required to be structured. You can’t trade them but you can buy and sell them independently. That’s my assumption.

    2. It seems very likely the slot swap will get held up by regulators, but considering that UA’s proposed p.s. Newark operation is not much (if anything) of a frequency increase, just a gauge increase on existing frequencies, presumably UA will go ahead with the p.s. move even if the slot swap is blocked.

      The odd thing about the separation of the transactions is that while UA presumably wants to get out of JFK no matter what, presumably Delta only wants to give up EWR slots if they get the JFK slots. But, if the feds start putting constraints on the transaction, I’d imagine Delta can just call “no deal” and continue EWR as usual. Then there would just be a handful of JFK slots for someone to grab — WN or VX, most likely, since if Delta is barred from taking the JFK slots, there is an equally good argument that B6 shouldn’t get them.

      1. If the feds want to interfere, I imagine they would be more concerned about UA getting more slots at EWR (which they already dominate) than anything at JFK, which is reasonably competitive.

  7. I’m a somewhat frequent traveler to NYC and hate all three airports equally so can’t really comment on the pros/cons of this move. What amazes me, however, is that the UA and DL can agree to swap gates at two slot-constricted airports (or at least 1, JFK) without providing an opportunity for other airlines to at least bid for these. While I miss the old days of Northwest and Continental, having such a fragmented industry wasn’t necessarily healthy. But, that being said, there are a some scrappy airlines out there that would surely love to have some slots at either of these airports.

    1. I doubt that the “subject to regulatory” approval bit of this is just a formality. The DOT may well say no or require them to put the slots up for auction to a less dominant carrier.

  8. What’s funny/interesting to me is when you hear JFK which is three letters known around the world, you think global-magic-New York-fame-fast paced-hip, and when you hear Newark you think Newark…yuck. I know people will comment on that part, but still in that part of the country, people want to go to New York so they think JFK not Newark. It’s like here in the Bay Area, international carriers who have flown to Oakland sell it as San Francisco’s Oakland Airport. So yes UA will loose business for people who want to go to New York and think JFK, but in the long run EWR only flights will be used more to connect in EWR and not just get to/from NYC which will help UA’s bottom line.

    At least UA is seeing things beyond just having it’s name at JFK and loosing money. It’s thinking to build up its position at EWR to compete better with DL/B6 at JFK.

    1. There’s a good reason Continental/United sell it as “New York/Newark”. That particular branding obviously hasn’t permeated most customers’ consciousness, though.

  9. The p.s. service was clearly not a winner for United, so I have to wonder if it is a winner for anybody. Some might point to the strength of JetBlue and Delta’s hubs at JFK as a reason for their success over United, but you have to consider that United did provide unique connecting opportunities in both SFO and LAX and still couldn’t make p.s. work. I believe the competition on these routes is more of a prestige thing, or perhaps driven by a need to protect market share. But, my gut says that for even the strongest carrier, this service is only marginally profitable at best.

    1. Jamzz – I think there’s an arms race going on right now that means there’s going to be pressure on profits there. But it’s hard to imagine that United has been losing money on this for 7 years since it was doing quite well before that. Apparently the oil spike killed it? It all sounds a little fishy.

      The reality is that JFK-LA and JFK-SF are the two markets in the US that have any real premium cabin traffic demand. United is hoping that can be transferred over to Newark as well. But these are important markets with a lot of big money.

      1. A comparison of fares on the p.s. flights vs a 757-200 flight to Europe might be helpful here since the aircraft are roughly the same configuration and they are similar in distance. If you assume Europe flights are somewhat profitable, a decrease in revenue for p.s. could put it in the red. This comparison, of course, is impacted by all sorts of factors including revenue allocation for connecting traffic and the use of miles for upgrades. But, it might be interesting.

        Domestically, United has 182 seats on a domestic 757-200 and 142 on a p.s. aircraft – a 22% reduction. Are fares between JFK and SFO/LAX more than 22% higher than other domestic 757-200 routes to offset the reduction in capacity? With all the competition in the market, I don’t know.

        Perhaps the most comical thing about all of this is United finished its refresh of the p.s. fleet in December 2013. Knowing it was unprofitable, they still threw millions of dollars at refreshing the aircraft only to cancel it a year an a half later.

        1. Correction, I suppose p.s. hasn’t been canceled, but it is definitely will have a different value to customers from EWR.

        2. I wouldn’t compare the 757 domestics to the 757 p.s. or the 757 intercontinental (former CO) planes.

          All 757 domestics are due to exit the fleet in 2015/16. only about 14 flying and i think 10 are due to exit by the end of the year.

          I would compare the 737-8s or 737-9s. The 737-9s have between 167-179 seats.

        3. Jamzz – These flights aren’t operated by domestic 757s now anyway so that’s not the best comparison metric. There are a lot of 737-800s/-900s in the market. But still, the answer is yes, fares are that much higher. It’s not that people are willing to pay more for coach. It’s just that there is so much high dollar premium traffic in the transcon market that it makes sense. The reason the p.s airplanes have less density is because they have a much bigger premium cabin. The demand is there, at least from/to JFK.
          We’ll see if it migrates to Newark now.

    2. Each airline has different interests in serving the market. Having flown these flights a few times on Delta, for example, there are tons of people connecting onward to Europe at JFK onboard (especially to smaller European cities that have no direct West Coast service), and also some connections at LAX. Similar with AA. For United, when the route was based at JFK, they could carry some connections from NY to Asia via California, but the big Asian cities have more convenient nonstop service from NY anyway, so that was not a strong value proposition. Now at Newark, they will have onward connections at both ends, so it should be a much stronger service.

  10. “Knowing the feds, they’ll probably just want to give everything to their beloved Southwest.”

    Amen. Every slot arrangement made in the last ten years seems to involve Southwest getting something for basically nothing. Get ready for more flights to Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando. Hardly something NYC needs more of.

  11. I am a Delta Plat / AA Plat who just moved to NJ. I am not happy with losing any Delta flights out of EWR – once in a blue moon you could get lucky and there would be a Delta flight out of EWR that fit the bill – AA also would suffice. I would even take coach on JetBlue than fly United…but now my choice is more limited as its just too tough to go to JFK except for International Flights – then it is worth it…..

    If only United would become a real airline….

    1. What are you talking about? Newark has…

      Air Canada to Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver
      Air India to Mumbai, Ahmedabad
      Austrian to Vienna
      Ludthansa to Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf
      SAS to Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm
      Swiss to Zurich
      TAP to Lisbon, Porto

    2. Putting aside the abundance of Star connections in EWR, United only offered connectivity in JFK to LAX and SFO, cities that already have nonstop service to Europe and plenty of one stop options through UA/AC hubs in North America and LH/LX hubs in Europe.

  12. As an SFO flyer…this stings. I flew PS in 2009 and liked it. I like flying to JFK. Newark may be closer to Manhattan but…it’s Newark. Looks like the next time I’m going to NYC from SFO…it’ll be on VX.

  13. Allot of the internal animosity at sUA is ” I remember when” tripe. Queue Randy Travis as we reminisce about whales fling to NRT, LHR, EZE, etc. Unfortunately sentiment does not deliver ROI. P.S. was unique in its day but one of several now. Plus there isn’t much unique connectivity over SFO/LAX.

    As much as it pains me to say this I think UA made the right call. If LGA opens beyond perimeter slots things will get interesting but that is a pipe dream based on today’s reality.

    1. exactly! It’s a shame from a competitive / nostalgia point, but UA made a good business decision. You don’t sit on unprofitable whole cities which offered only a niche market (as connections and NYC can all flow over other routings) for the potential of changing your mind no less than 10 years away…

  14. Yada, yada. So some people prefer jfk or ewr. Ua is part of star alliance. So what do people who fly to JFK do when they need to fly on to another city?

  15. I fly from SFO to NY about 6 times a year. Prior to 2015, that was always on United. I find it hard to believe that PS was not making money, as every time I took PS it was always full and ticket prices were always high. Even with status, I often ended up in middle seats. Occasionally I would fly through EWR because of cheaper prices, availability of aisle seats and chance of the complimentary premier upgrade (upgrades on PS require miles), though not every flight into EWR has wifi, which is a real concern when I’m traveling for work. I generally don’t mind flying into EWR, but it can be one hellish place for afternoon departures. Even with Pre-Check, I’ve encountered the worst security lines I’ve ever seen. Once I literally had to call United from the security line to get re-booked on a later flight because the line was so long. It will be interesting to see if United requires miles to upgrade on PS from EWR.

    I gave up United entirely in 2015 and it’s been very liberating. I recently flew JetBlue Mint to JFK, which was second only to Singapore First Class in terms of the best in-flight experience I’ve ever had.

  16. A big change for United in the NYC market to ostensibly better serve its customers and base. Everyone talking about this is mostly discussing the impacts of those customers in NYC, but almost seemingly forget there’s a lot of traffic coming from northern NJ. By moving a P.S. product to EWR and away from JFK, United stands to gain passengers and business contracts for those who JFK and LGA are just not convenient. Also, by being the only premium transcon product out of EWR, competition for those dollars that don’t want to cross the Hudson will be less. I think this is a fantastic strategic move for United.

    My curiosity, though, goes towards the hub at IAD and what might happen there in terms of product, schedule, and conditions (of the terminals, lounges, etc).

    1. IAD? Perhaps United will sell their whole operation there to Delta, but DL won’t take it over until they’ve rebuilt the terminals themselves.

      1. Ha. IAD is a mess. The best thing to do is to raze the C & D terminals and build anew. Kind of surprised United’s let IAD become and remain the mess that it is. I don’t think transcon PS service from SFO/LAX-IAD will solve any problems though, but it does make for some interesting connections that are not easily reachable direct from SFO or LAX: DBX, IST (though TK is doing that route now), other places in the Middle East and Africa, Greece …

  17. I’ve been flying LAX-BOS/MHT since I moved to LA in 1982. Pre-merger, I used to connect through ORD or IAD, and occasionally through SFO. I’ve grown to like connecting through EWR.

    Brett, with all LAX-EWR flights shifting to p.s., do you think this will affect prices on connecting flights? Even if not directly, indirectly through fewer seats per plane in the p.s. configuration?

    1. Hsano – Yeah, I’d actually say this would be good for connecting fares.
      There are going to be more seats flying from LA and SF to Newark now, so that means United will have to fill them. And I wouldn’t expect local fares to be discounted, so that means connecting fares would be likely to have more opportunities. This, of course, has a big caveat. If every person who used to fly out of JFK migrates to Newark, then there will be more demand increase than there was capacity increase.

  18. Of course nothing is said about the 200 UAL airport employees or the 71 mechanics that are employed at JFK. I’m sure employees that live on Long Island or in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Westchester will be fine with the two hour drive to EWR every day and then back another two hours if Can’tinental can even accommodate a fraction of them. Hmmmm, 4 hours of driving, gas, high tolls and car wear and tear will be soooo welcome. Furthermore, I doubt that Can’tinental doing business as United can offer any jobs at LGA as well, “no vacancy”. They don’t care about their employees, they don’t care about the passengers.

    1. Once again JoEllen your comments are self serving. Companies need to adjust and make changes if they want to survive. Would you rather United not adjust their strategy or business plan and end up once again in Bankruptcy. The world changes. You would have probable complained about changes if you worked at a manufacturing plant making rotary phones.

  19. Why does Can’tinental call it their “New York” destination when their planes are flying into a different state– New Jersey??? For those unfamiliar with geography, New Jersey IS NOT New York. The fact that Newark airport is convenient ONLY for the West Side of Manhattan is ridiculous. There is more to New York than the west side of New York City. There’s Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Westchester County, Long Island and western/southern Connecticut…….Millions of people that now will obviously fly Jet Blue, DL and AA from JFK. United was lucrative in these markets (flights are always full) and could have kept it going by simply meeting the competition instead of dumbing down to CO standards.

      1. Also “typical” pre-merger United employee – as, seemingly, everything is an argument requiring name-calling.

    1. Good lord. Newark is a reasonably convenient airport for much of New York and is definitely in the New York area. It’s only the *most* convenient airport for the west side of Manhattan as well as the Jersey suburbs (which are just as much part of the New York City area as Westchester), but it’s a reasonable option for a much larger area. It’s not like JFK or LGA are highly convenient for much of New York except maybe LGA at no-traffic times (which is when exactly?) if you’re driving or taking a cab. And as for the airport being in a different state, that’s just an accident of geography. CVG isn’t in Ohio, but I don’t hear anyone saying that it’s absurd to call that airport Cincinnati.

      Closing a station is certainly hard on the employees who work there. Unfortunately, it happens. Keeping a station open for the employees’ sake isn’t good business. How United handles new job offers or layoff payouts is of course the real test of how they treat their employees. (Not that I’m terribly optimistic there.)

    2. @JoEllen. yes, New Jersey is not “New York.” But to say that its not part of NYC area is personally just bull. I am from central NJ and I can name many people who commute to manhattan every day. In fact, the whole northern and central part of my state is a considered a suburb of the city. Just because there is a river in the way does not make us any less part of NYC like the white plains area or even more north of that, or long island. It all depends on what suburb or side of the city you are from. It would take me almost 2 hours to get to JFK or Laguardia with traffic, so I’ll stick to Newark thank you. It flies to everywhere I’ve ever needed to go. To each his own. Do what’s more convenient for you. But don’t discredit all those people in NJ who are part of your precious city.

  20. @JoEllen – oh, please, not the tired old “Newark is in New Jersey so it can’t be a New York City airport” crap again. Seriously, metropolitan areas spill across state lines all the time: Cincinnati’s airport is in Kentucky, one of DC’s airports is in Virginia, etc.

    By any standard measure of metropolitan areas (Metropolitan Statistical Area, Area of Dominant Influence, etc.), Newark is part of the New York City market.

    And your assertion that “The fact that Newark airport is convenient ONLY for the West Side of Manhattan is ridiculous” is, in fact, ridiculous. EWR is just as convenient as JFK for Staten Island (using the College of Staten Island as a reference, it’s 16 miles to EWR, 24.6 to JFK.) EWR isn’t that much further than JFK for Westchester: about 30 miles from central White Plains to JFK, about 45 to EWR…but because of more convenient roads, it’s only 8 minutes more to get to EWR.

    Even other parts of Manhattan aren’t any less convenient to EWR than to JFK (by time, at least) – yes, driving across Manhattan to a Hudson crossing sucks, but have you ever tried to go from Midtown to JFK in the late afternoon or early evening? There isn’t a whole lot of difference between taking the Lincoln Tunnel to the Turnpike and taking the Midtown Tunnel to the World’s Largest Parking Lot (a/k/a the Long Island Expressway.)

    Now from Queens, Brooklyn, or Long Island, yes, JFK is obviously better. But from Hoboken (the “sixth borough”), the Fort Lee area, or the rest of northeastern New Jersey (every bit as much a part of the New York metro area as Long Island), EWR is much easier to get to.

    And as for the “Can’tintental” (and, by the way, that saying got tired the first time you used it) employees, yes, it sucks. But full flights aren’t necessarily profitable flights, and once UA and CO merged and it was obvious with the EWR hub that nothing would be added to JFK, there just wasn’t enough volume to spread the fixed station costs across, especially when DL, AA, and B6 all rolled out new products and put downward pressure on p.s. pricing. Sad, but sometimes a business just doesn’t work out.

        1. Thanks for the correction on DCA. As for BWI, I guess it depends on which metro area definitions you use – the feds define a Baltimore MSA and a Baltimore-Washington Combined Statistical Area. If you go by media market (ADI), Baltimore is considered a separate market.

          But any way you slice it, Newark is considered part of the New York City market.

    1. I agree – the problem is EWR is far TOO convenient an airport (location-wise) to be dominated by the worst airline product around. So the loss of even a few Delta flights out of EWR is a big deal. So one is often faded with the decision of “do I travel the extra 30-45 minutes for a better flight experience” question. And the answer, longer flights, is yes, just to get away from UA.

  21. @ CraigTPA,
    “But from Hoboken (the “sixth borough”), the Fort Lee area, or the rest of northeastern New Jersey (every bit as much a part of the New York metro area as Long Island), EWR is much easier to get to.”
    No kidding, really ?….(talk about stating the obvious)…..do you know anything about driving in the New York Metropolitan area ? Your comparison of distance and driving time between White Plains and EWR and White Plains and JFK is certainly not just “eight minutes more to EWR”. I don’t know what time of day or roads you’re driving but it’s a far cry from 8 minutes more. Did you mean 80 minutes more ? Again, anybody that lives on Long Island, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and most of Westchester and Southern and Western Connecticut would be out of their minds to drive to Newark Airport. By the way Newark is one of the worst if not THE worst airport for ATC delays nationwide. So all the time and convenience that you tout would be wasted waiting to land or takeoff at Newark. I’ll stick with JFK only I will be flying B6, AA or DL. To each his own.

  22. @JoEllen – nah, I don’t know nothin’ about travel in the New York City area…I only lived there for fifteen years. (Don’t let the “TPA” in my posting name throw you, I just picked up that habit to differentiate myself from another Craig on another blog I post comments to.)

    The mileage and time comparison for While Plains for JFK vs. EWR was from Google Maps using the center of White Plains as the starting point, so if in your infinite wisdom and absolute knowledge of all aspects of travel in New York you disagree with their estimate, please take it up with them.

    My personal experiences driving from lower-west Manhattan (Stuyvesant Town, to be precise) or taking a car service from the office (6th & 50th) was generally a dead heat between JFK and EWR in the afternoon/evening peak. EWR was, however, more predictable – it sucked fairly consistently, while JFK would sometimes be faster than you’d expect, but when it went wrong, it went REALLY wrong.

    As for “stating the obvious”, you bring up travel to JFK from Queens or Brooklyn, which is EXACTLY the same thing as my point on Hudson or Essex Counties to EWR. Why is it a valid point when you bring it up, but something to be disparaged when I mention the New Jersey counterparts? (I have this feeling that you’re just one of those people that hears “New Jersey” and reacts with an instinctive “ewwwwww!” rather than rational thought.)

    Now as for flight delays, a quick Google search yielded some figures from statistic geek extraordinaire Nate Silver (on his fivethirtyeight.com site) for the first half of 2015, showing delays from JFK averaged 46 minutes on a round-trip flight, while EWR averaged…42 minutes. (In case anyone’s curious, LGA clocked in at 56 minutes.) Now CBS had a study ranking EWR #1 for delays, but JFK was #8 in the same study, so it’s not like JFK is some superefficient nirvana. (BTW, these results were for all delays, not just ATC as you mention. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s heinie whether a delay is ATC, weather, or whatever.)

    And as for “Again, anybody that lives on…”, didn’t I say “Now from Queens, Brooklyn, or Long Island, yes, JFK is obviously better”? Yes, yes I did! (I didn’t mention Long Island because it’s kind of bloody obvious to even the most cartographically challenged.)

    If I still lived in Manhattan again I’d probably be flying DL or B6 out of JFK too – I flew out of EWR a lot back in the day because I liked CO and got a lot of benefit out of OnePass. But this was pre-merger, and pre-Smisek – UA was my last choice then, and (short of Spirit) still is. But your “Newark isn’t a New York airport…” statement is just irrational (right up there with a Donald Trump speech).

    1. Yes, I’ll take it up with Google. maybe I’ll be lucky enough to contact someone who has actually DRIVEN all the routes and the 8 minute saving roads you mention around the NY metro area. Could it be that I’ve just been unlucky driving the Hutchinson River, Bronx River Parkways, Cross Bronx Express, BQE, LIE, Grand Central PArkway, NJ Turnpike, Routes 1 & 9 in NJ, GW Bridge, Lincoln and Holland tunnels, Queens midtown tunnel and hit one too many traffic jams and bottlenecks to realistically believe that Google data can help me deny that every one of these roads are a nightmare to drive except at 03:30 a.m. If there is no construction? Thank you for your support of EWR airport, now I get it……I’ll encourage my NY friends to Google and then take that stress free drive to Newark.

  23. I wonder how this impacts the plans to use domestically configured 777s for some hub-to-hub flying. I’ve seen a lot of people speculating EWR-LAX/SFO as prime targets for that sub-fleet. It will be interesting to see where those planes end up.

  24. For the flyer that is transiting EWR, for example from the Middle-East or India, and onwards to SFO/LAX or vica versa, then the change makes great sense. You now have flat bed all the way through, which is a big change, and would actually make me consider United on those routes.

    And Newark is _far_ better to transit through than JFK for International travellers.

  25. Having flown Jfk/Sfo for 15+ years on UA this hurts. Doesn’t pay to switch airlines die to loyalty programs. Newark is not an option, just a headache. At this point we have done the connection through LGA, which is a shame. They should not have pulled out of JFK

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