United Airlines is ending nonstop service between Los Angeles and Singapore just a year after it begin, but adding a second daily nonstop between San Francisco and Singapore.
I’m going to come right out and play armchair CEO here. I don’t blame United one bit for this move. I don’t see how United could make money on this flight when walk-up tickets were $500 round-trip in economy class and upgrades were among the easiest in the system. If you recall, I flew on the inaugural flight of this new service and recently flew it again. I booked my most recent trip less than 24 hours in advance for under $500 one-way in an upgradable fare class and instantly confirmed an upgrade to business class. That doesn’t sound profitable to me.
United’s strategy is to offer a morning and evening service from San Francisco instead, a route that has performed far better than Los Angeles. The new route will leave SFO in the morning and return from SIN late in the evening:
UA029 San Francisco (SFO) to Singapore (SIN) departing 10:55AM arriving 8:15PM+1
UA028 Singapore (SIN) to San Francisco (SFO) departing 10:20PM arriving 8:55PM
Currently, the single flight leaves SFO late at night and retunes from SIN in the morning:
UA001 San Francisco (SFO) to Singapore (SIN) departing 10:40PM arriving 8:00AM+2
UA002 Singapore (SIN) to San Francisco (SFO) departing 10:00AM arriving 8:35AM
The new service begins on October 27, 2018, the same day LAX-SIN will end.
What United is Telling Employees
In a note to employees headlined “Customer choice drives LAX-SIN flight shift to SFO,” United affirms its commitment to Singapore and argues it will open up several new one-stop options to Singapore for United customers:
To better serve customers who asked for alternative departure and arrival times to and from SIN (Singapore), we plan to shift our LAX-SIN flight to a second SFO-SIN frequency starting October 27, 2018.
Singapore is an important business and leisure destination for United and we remain committed to serving the Singapore market. With the new schedule change, United now offers customers a morning departure from SFO and an evening arrival into SIN as well as an evening departure from SIN and evening arrival into SFO.
“Customers have asked us for a flight getting into Singapore in the evening,” said International Network VP Patrick Quayle. “With this change, we are pleased to offer them this second time channel into Singapore, in addition to improved connectivity across the United network.”
The new frequency will enable United to offer nearly 20 new one-stop connections to Singapore from destinations throughout North America by capturing customer traffic from the large morning bank at SFO. Customers inbound from Singapore will have access to nearly 80 cities throughout the United States, including major business markets like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas.
Here Comes Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines will start flying nonstop from Los Angeles to Singapore by early next year. If United could not profit on this route now, it is unlikely it can do so once service is doubled.
I’ll add here that the notion that United is so far inferior to Singapore is a mystery to me, at least based upon my own experience. But the Singapore business class seats are undoubtedly roomier (1-2-1 versus 2-2-2). Singapore also offers many extra amenities in economy class that most carriers, including United, do not.
> Read More: HORRIBLE Service on My 16.5hr Singapore Airlines Flight
> Read More: Singapore Airlines Economy Class is Tremendous!
I hate to lose a United longhaul route from Los Angeles and loved the option of flying nonstop to Singapore and departing late at night. But I can hardly blame United for cutting this route: based upon how often and how cheaply I booked this flight for myself or Award Expert clients, I can only imagine that yields were poor.