United Airlines starts offering bus service straight to Colorado ski slopes from Denver

Travel

United Airlines passengers wait in the boarding area for their flights at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado.

Robert Alexander | Getty Images

United Airlines‘ latest ski destinations will be accessible by bus.

The Chicago-based airline on March 11 will start offering three-times-a-day bus service from its Denver International Airport hub to Breckenridge, Colorado and four-times-a-day to Fort Collins on April 1. Checked bags — and skis — will be transferred directly to the bus, provided by Landline, which will depart from a gate at the airport. Landline says seating capacity will be limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Travelers can book tickets directly to those destinations and transfer to the bus service in Denver after their flights.

Travelers “don’t just go to Denver,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of network and schedule planning. “They actually want to ski and go to all these tourist destinations.”

Denver has been a relative bright spot for carriers during the pandemic as it has a lot of outdoor activities where travelers can physically distance, though Gupta said the airline has been discussing the bus service for more than a year. United’s Denver service has recovered to about 80% of 2019 traffic levels, the most of the airline’s hubs.

Gupta said the idea is to capture demand for travelers visiting areas within a roughly 100-mile radius 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 it’s successful, United could expand the service to other outdoor destinations outside of Denver or connections to its San Francisco and Newark hubs.

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