Polish Carrier LOT Returns to Newark

The first LOT Polish Airlines plane arriving from Warsaw at Newark International Airport was greeted with a water salute. (Photo by Sebastian Kunkowski via Nowy Dziennik)

After a four-and-a-half year hiatus, a LOT Polish Airlines plane landed at Newark International Airport on April 28 and then took off with passengers headed to Warsaw and other destinations in Poland. Direct flights from Newark to Warsaw is good news for residents of the Greater New York area, who live west of the Hudson River and don’t find it convenient to drive through New York City to JFK Airport to take a direct flight to Poland.

The first LOT plane that landed in Newark after a long break was greeted with a water salute. The passengers who took that first direct flight from Warsaw and those waiting for their trip to Poland were able to join the festivities at Gate 54 that inaugurated the resumption of direct flights between Newark and Warsaw. Participating in the ceremony were LOT Polish Airlines representatives, Poland’s consul general in New York Maciej Golubiewski, representatives of United Airlines, the Polish Tourist Office and a group of American journalists who LOT was taking for a trip to Poland.

Initially, LOT will offer direct flights from Warsaw to Newark and Newark to Warsaw four times a week, and then, starting in August, five times a week. Planes will take off from Warsaw Chopin Airport at 11:35 a.m. (local time) and land at Newark International Airport at 3:20 pm (EST) to take off back to Poland at 5:05 pm.

Newark is the fifth U.S. airport serviced by the Polish carrier, and the second (after Los Angeles) overseas long-distance connection launched by LOT in the last month. “Newark has an enormous potential for us. It is the fifth most popular flight destination from Poland, after JFK, Beijing, Toronto and Chicago. Some 70,000 people travel along these routes from Poland. That’s why resuming direct flights between Warsaw and Newark was a wise decision,” said Rafał Milczarski, CEO of LOT. The carrier has since more than a year ago been aggressively expanding LOT’s flight connections, adding 27 new routes in 2016 alone.

The Polish carrier stopped direct flights to and from Newark in October 2012 citing economic reasons. Lack of direct flights to Poland from the New Jersey airport was a big inconvenience for the Polish-American community in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Many prefer direct flights, especially elderly people who are not fluent in languages other than Polish or for whom flights with a connection are too taxing, and parents sending their underage children for vacation to Poland. These flights have been offered from JFK throughout the whole time. However, for the residents of the Greater New York area who live west of the Hudson River, driving to JFK to catch a direct flight to Warsaw means two or more hours driving in often heavy city traffic, and additional costs.

Each time they were purchasing plane tickets they voiced their disappointment with the lack of direct flights from Newark. The Society of Polish American Travel Agents (SPATA) spent more than four years advocating for the return of LOT to Newark. “We spent countless hours with LOT representatives discussing the possibility of resuming the flights. We knew how inconvenient the lack of them was for the Polish-American community,” says Honorata Pierwola, director of SPATA, an umbrella organization for U.S. based travel agents who serve the Polish community.

Many travelers, including these who were waiting for the first flight to Warsaw, sighed with relief knowing they can fly to Warsaw directly from Newark.

“I am delighted with the opportunity to fly to Poland from Newark. I detest driving through the city,” said Grazyna from Hackensack, who has for the past four and a half years remained faithful to the Polish carrier, which meant long trips in traffic to JFK.

Many Poles were switching to other carriers in order to be able to fly from Newark, which on the other hand meant flying with connections. “I have had enough of layovers in various European cities. I have been flying through Germany, Brussels, and other airports, but those cities are becoming less and less safe. I am happy that LOT resumed its direct flights from Warsaw to Newark,” said Irena Smolinska, who lives in the southern part of New Jersey and each year flies to Warsaw to visit her sister.

Not only Polish Americans or their Polish families will find the direct flights from Newark to Poland convenient. From Warsaw, travelers can fly to 77 other destinations in Poland, the rest of Europe, Asia and North America, where LOT flies now to Newark, Los Angeles, JFK and Chicago. “We are considering other destinations in the U.S., both on the East and West Coast, but are in the process of analyzing the possibilities,” said Adrian Kubicki, LOT’s PR representative.

The first LOT plane to land at Newark International Airport on April 28 was a 787 Dreamliner. Until August the route will be serviced by Boeing 767-300 planes with a business and economy class. Then LOT plans to acquire new vessels – Boeing 787 Dreamliners with business, premium economy and economy classes. According to experts, Dreamliners offer a higher level of comfort, because they are quieter, with more accurate humidity and air pressure levels, which reduce tiredness. Their windows are 30 percent bigger and seats in the economy class unfold to the bed position. All that adds to the comfort of the trip, which is important in the cases of long-distance trips.

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