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United Prepares For Summer Travel Amid Border Reopenings

A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 taxiing out for a flight at West Palm Beach Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked political, social and economic havoc on the world, and the aviation industry faced substantial challenges as countries implemented strict travel restrictions and closed borders. As a result, air travel demand plummeted, causing flight operations to become stagnant, resulting in major airlines grounding countless aircraft. However, over a year later, the ongoing global vaccine rollout is seen as the most plausible method of slowing the spread of the virus, instilling confidence to begin reopening borders. Thus, several airlines have reinstated notable former routes and announced plans to inaugurate new services. 

United is one of those several airlines who decided to restart a number of its transatlantic routes while strategically announcing new routes as Europe begins to gradually reopen. The prominent Star Alliance carrier will schedule over 30 daily flights to 16 cities on the continent to accommodate the flight resumptions and rise in travel demand for the summer. 

“The EU Council’s recommendation represents the turning of the page in the pandemic for our customers, employees and residents of the EU, and brings us all closer to reuniting the world,” said United Vice President of International Network and Alliances Patrick Quayle. “In addition to offering service to more destinations in Europe than any other U.S. carrier, only United allows customers to easily upload vaccine records and testing results to our app making international travel much easier.”

The airline’s summer flight schedule will include service resumption from Newark, New Jersey – one of the airline’s main hubs on the east coast – to Barcelona and Madrid in July, as Spain officially announced its decision to reopen its borders on June 7 to vaccinated travelers. Furthermore, as Italy joins Spain in reopening borders, the carrier plans to add more flights to Rome and Milan, operating daily, starting in July.

Airline’s Summer Travel Preparations

Summer – usually when travel demand is at its highest – is fast approaching, and United is not only focusing on resuming and expanding flight operations to Europe. While the carrier will soon fly to Dubrovnik, Croatia; Reykjavik, Iceland and Athens, Greece, the airline’s pursuit of rebuilding and expanding its route network ushered the return of flights to Accra, Ghana, one of West Africa’s vibrant, essential and bustling port cities. 

In preparation for the active summer schedule filled with new long-haul flights, earlier this month, United announced a collaboration with Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 home-testing kits for travelers to self-administer before returning to the United States. 

“We want to give our customers greater peace of mind that when they travel internationally, they’ll be able to return to the U.S quickly and safely,” said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer at United. “The Abbott BinaxNOW Home Test meets CDC requirements and, along with our partners at Abbott, United is doubling down on our commitment to make international travel as safe and convenient as possible by offering an easy testing option when customers are ready to return to the United States,” a notion portrayed by the airline’s decision to resume flights in a timely manner and accommodate the growth in seasonal holiday travel demand.

Of course, United has reason to celebrate as borders reopen, and the airline is able to put its long-haul aircraft back into service for its ambitious plans, featuring brand new routes. But as summer is approaching and with more travelers eager to travel abroad, there’s an appropriate sense of necessity for attentiveness, as the airline contributes to restoring normalcy to long-haul air travel.

Benjamin Pham


  • Benjamin Pham

    Benjamin has had a love for aviation since a young age, growing up in Tampa with a strong interest in airplane models and playing with them. When he moved to the Washington, D.C. area, Benjamin took part in aviation photography for a couple of years at Gravelly Point and Dulles Airport, before dedicating planespotting to only when he traveled to the other airports. He is an avid, world traveler, having been able to reach 32 countries, yearning to explore and understand more cultures soon. Currently, Benjamin is an Air Transporation Management student at Arizona State University. He hopes to enter the airline industry to improve the passenger experience and loyalty programs while keeping up to how technology is being integrated into airports.

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