After bludgeoning the majority of MileagePlus members with a customer unfriendly move toward revenue-based award mileage earning earlier this week, United has thrown us a bone in introducing new service to three Latin American cities. Of special interest is the resumption of service to Santiago, Chile this winter; a destination United has not served for several years.
Here’s a note that went out to employees yesterday–
We will announce on Monday plans to launch nonstop Boeing 767-300 service to SCL (Santiago, Chile) from IAH beginning Dec. 7, 2014, subject to government approval. We also will launch service between IAH and PUJ (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic) and between ORD and BZE (Belize City, Belize) on Dec. 20, 2014.
Flight 847 will depart IAH daily at 9:05 p.m. and arrive at SCL at 9:40 a.m. the next day. Return Flight 846 will depart SCL daily at 10:45 p.m. and arrive at IAH at 5:40 a.m. the following day. This service expands our already substantial presence in Latin America. We timed the flights to provide convenient connections beyond IAH to 111 airports across the U.S. and more than 60 international destinations.
IAH-PUJ will operate year-round on Saturdays; we’ll also offer seasonal service on Sundays in the winter and spring during periods when we expect higher demand. ORD-BZE, subject to government approval, will offer seasonal Saturday service through May 2, 2015.
This winter, we also plan to expand our seasonal, nonstop IAH-AUA (Aruba) service. We currently offer Saturday IAH-AUA flights that are scheduled to continue through Aug. 16, 2014. On Dec. 20, we will resume Saturday service that will continue through early May 2015 and will begin seasonal winter and spring service on Sundays.
The good news is that service to Santiago will be daily and does not appear to be seasonal. Based on the 846/847 flight numbers (the old IAD-EZE-IAD flight numbers), the Chile route will be operated by a legacy United crew using a refurbished “ghetto bird” 767-300 with two cabins of service and “Continental’s” lie-flat BusinessFirst seat in a 2-1-2 configuration.
Remember that U.S. citizens no longer require visas to travel to Chile, so there is no more $160+ reciprocal visa fee upon landing in Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport.
The service to Punta Cana from Houston is a nice addition, but will only operate once per week. The Newark flight remains daily. The Chicago – Belize City flight will also only operate once per week and only for the winter months.
But United has also announced the elimination of some routes during the winter months–more on that tomorrow.