June 5, 2019.   Dlaczego nie Polska?

The Polish translation of my book was recently published. They sent me a copy, and as I was flipping through the pages, marveling at the Polish language’s impenetrable salad of consonants, something struck me: no American carrier flies to Poland. Nor has any American carrier flown to Poland since Delta in the 1990s, after Delta took over Pan Am’s European network — and I’m pretty sure they did it only from Frankfurt and Berlin, not as a direct flight from the States.


This isn’t a trick question. I don’t know the answer. But it seems odd. Not only are there millions of Polish-Americans, but the largest community of Polish-Americans lives in and around Chicago, a major hub for both American Airlines and United. Polish carrier LOT, meanwhile (one of the oldest airlines in the world, established in 1928), has flown to both O’Hare and JFK for decades. Is it a political thing? Is there simply not enough premium fare traffic to warrant such a route?

United and American have invested heavily in the Boeing 787 — a plane with exceptional efficiency and low seat-mile costs that make long, relatively thin routes profitable. Is it only a matter of time, maybe, before one or both of these airlines finally launches a Warsaw service from ORD? It seems more than overdue.

A LOT Boeing 787 at New York’s JFK Airport.

Related: the Israeli carrier El Al sometimes operates charters from JFK to the Polish city of Katowice. Can anybody explain this? My only guess is that these are remembrance tours of some kind, as the Auschwitz-Birkenau site is nearby to there.

While were at it, what other “missing routes” can you think of? Can you name another city-pair that seemingly should have airline service, but for whatever reasons does not?

Indeed, there are whole regions of the world currently untouched by American carriers. Take the Middle East, for example. With the exception of Israel, no U.S. major serves a single city in the region. As recently as six or seven years ago one could fly United, Delta or American into Egypt, Turkey, Dubai, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait. All of those destinations have since been canceled and code-shared out.


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