United Airlines Leaving 11 Major Cities: Community Members React to ‘Disappointing’ News

by John Jamison

Airlines have been playing a whole new ballgame since the pandemic broke out more than a year and a half ago. United recently announced that it would halt routes to and from 11 smaller-market cities around the United States. It may be good for business, but it’s terrible news for many living in and around these less-populated areas.

The stoppages appear to be local to the central United States and come as a result of shrinking demand. For a list of all 11 cities, check out our article here.

Despite an overall decrease in air travelers, many people in these smaller markets are still willing and/or need to fly. The cutbacks in service are devastating to a select few. Take Ligia Pineda of Wausau, Wisconsin, for example. She is Guatemalan-American and regularly flies back to Guatemala to see her family.

According to ABC News 9 Wausau, Pineda has made multiple trips a year for more than 25 years. What’s more? She’s flown United every single time. The problem for Ligia is that her commute is already extremely long, coming in anywhere from 10-15 hours one way. Now, without a local United route that can take her to Chicago, she has to add another 5 hours of driving time to her trips.

Ligia Pineda talked to the outlet about how the airline cutbacks affect her. Keep in mind, driving through Wisconsin in the winter is a much better idea in theory than it is in practice.

“That’s kind of sad. I don’t know what I’m going to do now, especially in the winter,” said Ligia Pineda. 

The city of Wausau isn’t tiny by any means, boasting more than 130,000 people. Plenty of others in Wausau and the other 10 towns likely find themselves in a similar position.

United is Far From the Only Airline Cutting Back on the Number of Flights and Locations

Just because people are increasingly willing to fly these days doesn’t mean airlines are out of the woods yet. It takes a considerable workforce to operate any airline, let alone a major one. From maintenance and operations to the attendants and pilots themselves, it takes a village.

The effects of the pandemic have been far-reaching and haven’t spared many industries. Airlines saw their workforce reduce drastically by way of furlough and reduced budgets. Now, as people return to the sky, the labor shortage has only gotten worse. Even with the money, airlines are struggling to keep up with staffing.

American Airlines alone canceled 1,700 flights over Halloween weekend. Of course, some of that had to do with the weather. But according to the Daily Mail, the airline cited staffing shortages as a significant contributor. Airlines like United, American, and Delta are scrambling to find solutions with the holiday season fast approaching.