United Airlines just announced 8 new leisure routes in another shift away from business travel following heavy losses – here's the full list

Thomas Pallini
·4 min read
United Airlines 777
A United Airlines Boeing 777. Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty
  • United Airlines is growing its leisure route network as executives expect business travel to remain low until 2024.

  • Latin American and Caribbean countries with limited or no restrictions for entry by US citizens are the main focus of the expansion.

  • The new routes boost United's presence in Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras.

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United Airlines is further expanding its leisure route map this winter with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean as demand shifts south of the border to the few countries welcoming Americans. The new leisure-focused routes make sense as the company's CEO has said he doesn't expect business travel to recover until 2024. 

The new routes boost United's presence in Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras with expanded service from the airline's hubs across the US from coast to coast. Both regions have been taking the lead in accepting American tourists in recent months as more flyers take to the skies.

Costa Rica, for example, is opening its borders to all Americans starting November 1 – after previously restricting entry for residents of high-risk states – with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, according to the US Embassy in San Jose. Belize and Honduras have recently begun allowing all US citizens to enter but are similarly requiring negative tests to be presented for entry. 

Mexico has remained open to Americans arriving via air throughout the summer and has not used negative tests as a requirement for entry. The Dominican Republic also does not require a negative test for entry.

The new routes allow for quicker journeys and allow for more non-stop itineraries for those seeking to head south for the winter. United is also increasing flights on existing routes to Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Here's where United Airlines is flying this winter.

Between Cleveland, Ohio, and Cancun, Mexico

Cancun, Mexico
Cancun, Mexico. Shutterstock.com

United will begin flying between Cleveland, Ohio, and Cancun, Mexico on December 19 with year-round, Saturday-only service after having left the route in August 2019, according to Cirium route data. Competing with United on the route will be ultra-low-cost carriers Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

A former United hub that was re-acquired by the airline after a merger with Continental Airlines, Cleveland has seen reductions in service from United in recent years, with few routes beyond those to its other hubs. Once the route resumes, it will be United's only international route from Cleveland. 

Between Washington, DC and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Roldys Jorge/Shutterstock.com

United will begin flying between Washington, DC, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on December 17 with daily service until March 27, according to Cirium route data. No other airlines currently serve this route. 

Between Denver and San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica. Shutterstock.com

United will begin flying between Denver and San Jose, Costa Rica on December 19 with Saturday-only service until March 27, according to Cirium route data. No other airline currently serves the route.

Between Denver and Belize City, Belize 

Belize City Belize
Belize City, Belize. Shutterstock.com

United will begin flying between Denver and Belize City, Belize on December 19 with Saturday-only service until March 27, according to Cirium route data. No other airline currently serves the route.

Between Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica. Mihai Bogdan Lazar : Shutterstock.com

United will begin flying between Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica on December 19 with Saturday-only service, eventually becoming daily service on January 5. Competing with United on the route will be Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Delta Air Lines. 

Between Los Angeles and San Pedro Sula, Honduras

San Pedro Sula Honduras
San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Shutterstock.com

United will begin flying between Los Angeles and San Pedro Sula, Honduras on December 17 with three-times-weekly service until March 27, according to Cirium route data. Flights will operate on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays with United having no competition on the route. 

Between San Francisco and Liberia, Costa Rica 

Laguna del Hule in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica. Kryssia Campos/Getty

United will begin flying between San Francisco and Liberia, Costa Rica on January 9, 2021, with Saturday-only service. An end date for the route or on which days of the week it will operate has not yet been announced but United will have no competition on the route. 

Between Los Angeles and Liberia, Costa Rica 

Costa Rica
Liberia, Costa Rica. Shutterstock.com

United will begin flying between Los Angeles and Liberia, Costa Rica on January 8, 2021, with three-times-weekly service. An end date for the route or which days of the week it will operate has not yet been announced but United will compete with JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Alaska Airlines.

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