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United Introduces “Tag” Flights in Maintaining Minimum Service Levels

Date: April 29, 2020

The main condition of airlines being eligible to receive money from the federal government under the CARES Act is that they are required to maintain a minimum level of service to cities the carriers served before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

Airlines are taking very unusual approaches to this requirement, one such way is creating new or ‘tag’ routes that under normal circumstances the airline wouldn’t normally fly. United Airlines is the latest carrier to implement such routes, but they are the first major airline to do so.

Being such a large carrier with an expansive city listing, there are many routes that were added between smaller cities that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) denied the carrier an exemption. Around 35 cities are being affected by this change with more likely to follow in the future. The first group of ‘tag’ routes ranges from just under 270-miles to only 30.

It is unclear how often each flight will operate, but for the airline to be eligible for CARES Act funding United is required to operate at least five flights a week to each city.  For those of us who have become accustomed to commuting from some of these smaller communities, we should be aware of these upcoming changes in the company’s scheduling practices as work continues to find new and innovative ways to operate in meeting the minimum service levels in an environment of decline passenger volumes.  The following is a list of flights, served by United Express carriers:

Southeast

Key West, Fla. to Fort Myers, Fla. 

Savannah, Ga and Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Midwest

Cape Girardeau, Mo and Paducah, Ky. 

Decatur and Springfield, Ill.

Muskegon and Saginaw, Mich.

Hancock, Mich.; Eau Claire, Wis.. and Duluth, Minn. (The first groups of cities to be connected in a group of three (3).

Denver

Hays, Salina, and Dodge City, Kan.

Scottsbluff, Neb. And Pierre, S.D.

North Platte and Kearney, Neb.

Grand Junction and Montrose, Colo.

Moab and Vernal, Utah

Rock Springs and Riverton, Wyo.

Gillette and Sheridan, Wyo.

Great Falls and Helena, Mont.

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