United’s Adding Tons of Mountain Flights This Ski Season

Aug 8, 2017

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Feels a bit odd to be thinking about ski season when temperatures throughout the US are climbing well above 100 degrees on a consistent basis. But especially if you’re planning to head to a popular ski resort during peak periods (such as Christmas or New Year’s), now’s the time to start looking at flights. And this year United’s making it a bit easier to get where you’re going without a mid-trip stop.

The airline just announced a slew of increased frequencies and a couple new routes (highlighted in bold font below). I’m especially excited about the daily flight between Newark and Jackson Hole, Wyoming — one of my favorite ski resorts (that’s consistently a bit challenging and expensive to reach from the East Coast).

So, here’s what to expect from United’s hubs this ski season:

Denver (DEN)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) will maintain 5 flights for the majority of the season, up from four last year
  • Multiple Eagle/Vail (EGE) flights will be transferred to mainline equipment
  • Glacier/Whitefish (FCA) will increase by one daily flight throughout the season with a peak of four daily flights, up from three last year
  • Steamboat Springs (HDN) will increase by one daily frequency after the New Year’s holiday, peaking at four daily flights, up from three last year
  • Montrose/Telluride (MTJ) flights will increase to five daily flights during the holiday period
  • Reno/Lake Tahoe (RNO) will fly three times daily for the entire season, up from two in the period after the New Year’s holiday last year

Chicago (ORD)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) will increase to three daily flights during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from two last year
  • Eagle/Vail (EGE) increases to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year
  • Glacier/Whitefish (FCA) will now fly daily during the holiday period, up from weekends only last year
  • Steamboat Springs (HDN) will fly daily for the entire season, an increase from weekend only for periods last year
  • Reno/Lake Tahoe (RNO) service is new this year, will operate Saturday throughout the season and most Sundays
  • Sun Valley (SUN) service is new this year, will operate most Saturdays throughout the season

Houston (IAH)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) increases to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year
  • Reno/Lake Tahoe (RNO) will increase to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year

Los Angeles (LAX)

  • Aspen (ASE) will now operate four daily flights for the entire season
  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) will fly daily for the season, an increase from weekend only for some periods last year

San Francisco (SFO)

  • Aspen (ASE) will now operate a minimum of two daily flights throughout the season, up from one flight at times last year
  • Eagle/Vail (EGE) service is new this year, will operate Saturday throughout the season and most Sundays

Newark/New York (EWR)

  • Bozeman/Big Sky (BZN) increases to daily service during the Presidents Day and spring break periods, up from weekends only last year
  • Jackson Hole (JAC) will fly daily for the season, an increase from weekend only for periods last year

Bottom Line

Hopefully more capacity will translate to more award seats and lower fares, but that’s not what I’m seeing just yet. For example, with that Newark-Jackson Hole route I mentioned, round-trip fares start around $600, and they only go up from there. And if you’re flying from EWR to JAC over New Year’s, expect to pay as much as $2,175 round-trip — in economy. Jackson fares from United’s other hubs are similarly expensive.

There are some economy award seats, however — primarily in the “XN” fare class, which is available exclusively to customers with United elite status or a co-branded credit card, such as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase.

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Of course these new flights and frequencies aren’t just limited to folks departing from those airports — with six of the airline’s major US hubs covered, there are plenty of connecting options from the East Coast, West Coast and everywhere in between. Though regardless of where you’re traveling from and to, during peak periods these flights won’t come cheap.

Featured image courtesy of Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images.

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