United Airlines’ long-haul network is growing once again.
This time, the airline is adding a new international route from its Chicago hub to Athens, Greece, for the busy summer season.
Beginning on May 23, United will offer daily nonstop flights to the Greek capital. The new service will operate through Aug. 12.
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The airline will operate a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on the new route. The jet features 28 Polaris business-class lie-flat pods, 21 Premium Plus recliners, 36 Economy Plus seats and 158 standard economy seats.
United filed the schedule for the new route on Wednesday, and tickets are already available for purchase via united.com.
With the addition of Chicago service, United will connect Athens with three hubs this summer, including Newark and Washington, D.C. In total, the airline will increase its flying to Athens by roughly 25% year over year.
United plans to resume its seasonal service from Newark to Athens earlier than usual (on March 30), followed by flights from Washington on April 24.
This summer, United will offer a whopping 15 nonstop European destinations from its Chicago hub at O’Hare International Airport (ORD).
American Airlines is United’s major competitor in Chicago, and until now, American has had a monopoly on the Chicago-to-Athens route, which began in 2019, according to Cirium schedules.
American’s seasonal service to Athens begins on May 6, and the airline has already had a head start on bookings by travelers who want to lock in their trips ahead of time.
With additional competition, it will be interesting to see how fares adjust to account for the new flight.
Interestingly, this is the second new route United has announced since it first unveiled its preliminary summer schedule for the upcoming season.
After a few back-to-back years of splashy press releases and cocktail parties, United’s hotly anticipated transatlantic network update was announced in October. It included only one new destination and three new flights — not nearly as exciting as the three new destinations and six new flights that were added last summer.
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But since the initial release in October, United has added a new route from San Francisco to Barcelona that will launch on May 23.
Now, the airline is back with a second new route, and it seems that United isn’t concerned about softening demand in the transatlantic market for the upcoming summer season.
“With nonstop service to destinations no other U.S. carriers serve, earlier starts to our most popular seasonal routes and even more transatlantic flights for our customers across the country, United is the clear choice for customers looking to travel to Europe this summer,” Patrick Quayle, United’s senior vice president of global network planning and alliances, said in a statement.