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United adds new route from Washington, DC, to Palm Springs


United Airlines is going long from its Dulles International Airport (IAD) hub near Washington, D.C.

This week, the carrier unveiled new nonstop flights from IAD to Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) in California. United will operate one daily flight on this new 2,188-mile route starting Dec. 19. This new seasonal winter service will run through April 30, 2025.

This will be United’s longest flight to Palm Springs, joining existing service from five other U.S. cities, including Chicago, Denver, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In fact, the options will become the first-ever nonstop route between the D.C. metro area and Palm Springs. United says this new transcontinental route will be supported by both origin and destination demand and one-stop connections for travelers looking to explore destinations beyond Dulles.

“This service will be the first-ever connection between Washington, D.C., and Palm Springs and create unparalleled access to Palm Springs from the East Coast and Europe through one of United’s fastest-growing hubs. We pride ourselves in offering unique, world-class destinations and are excited to offer our customers more service to beautiful Greater Palm Springs,” said Patrick Quayle, United’s senior vice president of global network planning and alliances, in a statement.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The new flight will depart Dulles at 9 a.m. EST and arrive on the West Coast at 11:40 a.m. PST. It’ll turn around at 1 p.m. PST and land back at Dulles at 8:45 p.m. EST. United will deploy a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft on this new route, featuring the carrier’s new signature interior, as well as 16 first-class recliners, 54 Economy Plus extra-legroom seats and 96 standard economy seats.

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United will enjoy a monopoly on this new nonstop route. It remains to be seen how this new seasonal service will fare, especially considering that there were just 16 daily passengers on average flying between IAD and PSP during 2023, Department of Transportation data analyzed by Cirium shows.

Meanwhile, there were, on average, 34 daily passengers flying from D.C.’s more convenient Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to PSP in 2023, so perhaps United thinks it can convince all the flyers headed to and from the D.C. metro area to choose this new nonstop flight. Most flights from DCA are limited in length by a perimeter rule.

(Of course, every itinerary from D.C. to Palm Springs last year involved a connection, so by pulling out all the stops, United may be able to stimulate some additional demand. Plus, some travelers may have opted for nonstop flights to Los Angeles and then drove about four hours to Palm Springs.)

From its midcentury modern architecture to its thriving cultural and dining scenes, Palm Springs has proven to be a popular destination in winter. And now, there’s a never-before-operated way to get there.

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