United or Eastern?
That decision only sounds like a throwback to the 1980s. Instead, it will be the choice for New Yorkers looking for nonstop flights to Los Cabos, Mexico, this winter.
Eastern Airlines plans to enter the market later this year, adding two nonstop flights a week connecting New York JFK to the beach resort on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
Eastern’s website says flights are scheduled to begin Aug. 29, though its booking engine doesn’t list any flights for sale on the route until Nov. 14. Whenever the flights begin — assuming they do — the carrier plans one flight each Wednesday and Sunday on Boeing 767 aircraft.
Eastern would go up against one of New York’s biggest carriers on the route: United. The Star Alliance carrier is scheduled to begin seasonal nonstop service to Los Cabos (SJD) on Oct. 3, operating up to two flights on Saturdays and an additional one on Sundays. United will use Boeing 737-800 aircraft for the flights, according to its current schedule.
As for Eastern, its name harkens back to an iconic brand that was once one of America’s biggest carriers. But that company went bust in 1991, abruptly halting flights after several years of labor rancor and rising discount competition.
The new Eastern is “Eastern” in name only, and it’s not even the first reboot. That came in 2015 with an outfit that bought the rights to the name and launched charter operations and a logo that mimicked the original. That carrier halted flying in 2017.
The latest began flying in 2020 after charter outfit Dynamic Airways became the latest to acquire the naming rights as part of its effort to grow its regularly scheduled commercial schedule. But little about the latest outfit mirrors the original or the reboot. For starters, it’s “Eastern Airlines” – not “Eastern Air Lines.”
And the iconic blue color scheme and logo is out in favor of multi-hued blue and yellow palette.
TPG reporter Victoria Walker flew on one of the carrier’s first flights – from New York JFK to Guyana – writing a review that warned readers: “If you’re expecting to read a nostalgic story, waxing poetic about the new and improved Eastern Airlines, you won’t find that in this piece.”
The fledgling airline has so far served out-of-the-way international destinations that offer little competition. From New York JFK, its pre-pandemic schedule included service to Georgetown, Guyana; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Port-au-Prince in Haiti.
Now, Los Cabos would become Eastern’s first destination in Mexico.
Eastern’s website touts fares as low as $199 round trip, though fares appear to shoot up to more than $600 for travel from late December and into early 2021.
United’s fares begin at about $500 in the fall for basic economy and increase to about $650 – also in basic economy – in January. Tickets in first class – something customers won’t find on Eastern – run from about $1,000 and up.
For United frequent flyers, United’s website showed one-way award tickets from 17,500 miles in economy or 68,500 miles in business for mid-January.