United Airlines' Time Traveling New Year's Eve Flight Did Not Go As Planned

Everyone knows that stepping back in time is impossible. Or is it? In late December 2023, United Airlines tweeted that their UA200 flight from Guam to Honolulu would depart on January 1st and land in Hawaii on December 31st, saying, "You only live once, but you can celebrate New Year's Eve twice." No, this is not magic or sorcery. Guam is west of the International Date Line and thus is 20 hours ahead of Honolulu.

United Airlines proudly publicized this flight, with a spokesperson telling Travel & Leisure, "There's something truly memorable about the camaraderie and excitement of celebrating New Year's Eve at 35,000 feet and the joy of getting individuals to their destination as they kick off their new year." Unfortunately, this did not pan out the way it should have. 

UA200 departed six hours late. The flight was supposed to leave Guam on January 1st at 7:35 a.m. and arrive in Honolulu at 6:50 p.m. on December 31st. However, the 7-hour flight ended up leaving Guam at 1:49 p.m. In other words, passengers arrived in Honolulu on January 1st, missing out entirely on the flight's so-called "time travel" aspect. Needless to say, passengers were incredibly displeased by this delay.

What caused United Airlines flight UA200's delay?

United Airlines was not the only airline with so-called "time travel" flights that departed on January 1, 2024, and landed on December 31, 2023. This included Cathay Pacific flight CX872 traveling from Hong Kong to San Francisco. But unlike United Airlines flight UA200, flight CX872 did effectively "time travel," per CNN. The publication states that the same can be said about All Nippons' flight NH106 from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

Ultimately, the delay of flight UA200 led disgruntled passengers to tweet their frustrations. One person replied to United Airlines's tweet advertising the now ill-fated flight, stating, "I booked this flight specifically so I could do this. I got a delay notification and we aren't scheduled to get in until 1/1. This Tweet is aging poorly now and I'm dissatisfied with how this was promoted but not being delivered."

Another person tweeted that they had based their vacation plans on the flight. United tweeted back apologizing to both users. However, questions about United Airlines remain, including why the flight left Guam six hours late in the first place.

One Mile at a Time reported that the plane scheduled for flight UA200 on January 1 suffered two delays on December 30. The first, in San Francisco, was due to maintenance. The second was in Honolulu for unclear reasons. As One Mile at a Time points out, this does not happen frequently on flight UA200, which has a 95% punctuality rate.