New York's iconic Empire State Building; less than eight hours by direct flight from Newcastle in 2015

New York’s iconic Empire State Building; less than eight hours by direct flight from Newcastle in 2015

In a move sure to be welcomed by both business and leisure travellers alike, United Airlines has today announced the start of a direct, Newcastle to New York service five times a week from May, 2015 to September.

Westbound flights begin on May 23rd through to September 7th, every day of the week except for Wednesday and Thursday. Eastbound flights run from May 22nd through September 6th, with no flights on Tuesday and Wednesday.

United will use a Boeing 757 for the flights, configured with sixteen business class seats, forty five economy plus seats, and one hundred and eight standard economy seats.

Leaving Newcastle International Airport at 0910, flights arrive at Newark International at noon. Return flights depart Newark at 1920, and arrive back into Newcastle at  0730 the next morning.

There are several obvious advantages to this service; first and most obvious is that it means passengers can avoid transiting through the disjointed hell hole that is Heathrow, saving hours in the process. Not to mention keeping your blood pressure somewhere near normal.

Secondly, those flight times are absolutely superb. No more getting up at four in the morning to check in for a domestic flight to London to connect with your transatlantic long haul flight.

Downsides? Some will baulk at crossing the Atlantic in a potentially crowded 757; hardware wise, these are not as up to date or as comfortable as the A330, the new Dreamliner, or even the Boeing 747.

That said, every passenger will have their own, on demand entertainment on a seat back screen, plus free in flight meals and soft drinks. Unlike every other transatlantic US carrier, United still charges for beer, wine and cocktails, unless of course you’re in Business Class. In which case your flight could well be champagne fuelled.

But these are pretty minor gripes in the real scheme of things. On first look, I would say that the potential benefits far, far outweigh any possible drawbacks.

For passengers from the north, this service literally saves hours on your transatlantic journey. It also means that you can connect to hundreds of other destinations in the USA via the United hub at Newark.

And, for ease of access into New York itself, it is well worth remembering that Newark International offers a far easier and more convenient entry point than JFK.

So this move by United is very much to be welcomed. Of course, the trick will be to keep the fares competitive but, on the whole, the future for this service looks bright.

Here’s wishing United Airlines much success for this welcome, long overdue service.


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