United Airlines passengers wait in the boarding area for their flights at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado.
Robert Alexander | Getty Images
United Airlines’ newest ski resorts are accessible by bus.
Starting March 11, the Chicago-based airline will be offering three daily bus connections from its hub at Denver International Airport to Breckenridge, Colorado, and four times daily to Fort Collins. Checked luggage – and skis – is transferred directly to the bus provided by the landline network, which departs from a gate at the airport. According to the fixed network, seating capacity will be limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Travelers can book tickets direct to these destinations and transfer to Denver bus service after their flights.
Travelers “don’t just go to Denver,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of network and scheduling. “They actually want to ski and go to all of these tourist destinations.”
Denver was a relative bright spot for airlines during the pandemic, as there are plenty of outdoor activities that travelers can physically distance themselves from, though Gupta said the airline has been debating the bus connection for more than a year. United’s Denver service has recovered to about 80% of 2019 traffic, most of the airline’s hubs.
Gupta said the idea is to capture demand for travelers visiting areas within about 100 miles of Denver and remove the stress of driving from the airport.
“We thought it would be a great testbed market,” he told CNBC. “We think it’s a very low risk experiment.”
If successful, United could expand service to other outdoor destinations outside Denver or to connections to the San Francisco and Newark hubs.