United Flight 119 jets off from Edinburgh non-stop to Chicago
Edinburgh Airport, Friday 23rd May, 2014: 9:00 – there is quite a party at the United Airlines Departure Gate as a group of VIP guests and media mingle with the first passengers who are arriving to board the inaugural flight from Edinburgh to Chicago O’Hare.
Jake Cefolia, United‟s Vice President Atlantic and Pacific Sales was joined by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Scotland‟s Deputy First Minister, and Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new route.
United has operated a direct flight from Edinburgh to New York for the past fifteen years, so this now extends the USA-Scotland connection with this first scheduled non-stop service to and from Chicago. The first season will operate from May 23 to Oct. 6, 2014.
It was a lively occasion with musical entertainment from the Blues Brothers and fine American hospitality – Bucks Fizz, giant beef sarnies, pretzels, potato chips, coffee and cupcakes. In his introduction, Mr Cefolia described Chicago as the “most American of US cities” – the architecture, Blues and Jazz and famous deep pan pizza. By all accounts it’s a cosmopolitan, cultural city, rich in history, heritage and Arts Festivals.
I met a young couple, Caroline and Dougie from East Linton, enjoying the party atmosphere before the 10.25 am flight. But Chicago was not where they had planned to travel today!. They were intending to fly via London to Washington. But earlier that morning the Heathrow flight was cancelled thus missing the onward connection. Quick change of itinerary and seats were booked on this flight to Chicago. From a disappointing start to their American holiday, it all worked out very well indeed, with a transfer from O’Hare to Washington.
Another traveller in the Departure lounge is Benjamin a first year Biology student at Edinburgh University. His home town is San Francisco so that this flight via Chicago is fast and convenient, a route he plans to take again when he returns in August for the Festival before next term.
Gordon Dewar said: ” This new service will give Scottish passengers the opportunity to visit one of America’s most exciting and vibrant cities. We’ve a phenomenal summer ahead with the Ryder Cup and our world-famous Festivals just a few months away. We’re excited to share our wonderful city with our American passengers and give them the very best experience when they arrive in Edinburgh.”
The launch of this direct flight is certainly vital to entice international visitors to Scotland. “2014 is a massive year for Scotland. Huge global events – the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and Homecoming Scotland – represent a great opportunity for tourism businesses.” Mike Cantlay, Visit Scotland.
United will operate a Boeing 757-200 aircraft with 169 seats – 16 flat beds in United BusinessFirst and 153 in United Economy and Economy Plus. Chicago /O’Hare airport is a major US hub with onward connections to more than 125 destinations across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The United flight 119 left bang on time, 10.25am, slowly taxiing out to the runway to receive the special water cannon salute to celebrate the inaugural flight from Edinburgh nonstop to Chicago.