Back To The Future Blunder: United’s Special Flight 200 Lands In The Wrong Year

Manifest was an ABC and later Netflix series about the passengers of Flight 828 who land after a turbulent but routine flight, only to discover that five years have passed in the world they left behind.

Those onboard the flight struggled to reintegrate into a society that had moved on without them, while also experiencing mysterious voices and visions, and uncovering what had happened to them.

On Friday I wrote about the five flights that take off one day, and arrive at their destination the previous day thanks to the international date line.

  • Guam – Honolulu, 7:35am – 6:50pm-1, United 200
  • Hong Kong – Los Angeles, 12:15 a.m. – 8:55pm-1, Cathay Pacific CX800
  • Hong Kong – San Francisco, 12:55 a.m. – 9:00pm-1, Cathay Pacific CX872
  • Tokyo Haneda – Los Angeles, 12:50 a.m. – 5:50pm-1, ANA 106
  • Hong Kong – Vancouver, 1:00am – 8:30pm-1, Cathay Pacific 888

United’s Guam – Honolulu Boeing 777 Allows Sleep In Business Class Before Repeating The Day

The first, Guam – Honolulu on United, actually would have allowed you to celebrate New Years Eve twice, in two different cities. Go out on December 31st in Guam, then catch an early New Years Day flight to Honolulu – arriving in Hawaii early enough on New Years Eve there to party again.

Reportedly people positioned themselves to do that – and United was promoting it. What’s more, the flight was even operated by a Boeing 777-300ER with lie flat Polaris business seats, making a nice recovery from the first set of celebrations possible in a flat bed over 7 hours and 15 minutes.

Unfortunately the United flight was delayed six hours out of Guam and passengers on board failed to land in 2023 – making it to Honolulu instead in the early hours of 2024.

Or, as One Mile at a Time put it, “United Airlines’ “Time Travel” Flight Lands In Wrong Year.”

Ironically, this is an exceptionally on-time flight. Weather is rarely an issue in Honolulu. There’s just not a lot of aircraft operations out of Guam getting in the way. And United has a real operation there, inherited from Continental Micronesia.

However the aircraft operating the flight was delayed nine hours for maintenance enroute from San Francisco then it was delayed even further – a total of 17 hours – enroute to Guam. And the plane was only set for a 12 hour overnight there, hence the remaining delay (it was on the ground in Guam for just two hours).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Delta, the world’s #1 premium airline (for the past 2000 years) would NEVER allow such an embarrassment to occur. United flyers need to wake up and switch allegiance!

  2. It was dumb to market the flight knowing that delays do happen.
    Somehow I bet they will think twice about doing this again, but we are talking about United after all.
    Hot air is worth more than substance.

  3. “Hot air is worth more than substance.”

    Which explains why you plague all the respectable travel blogs with your comments, eh Tim?

  4. @Timothy Dunn Jr

    Not only is Delta the #1 airline for 2000 years but some of its aircraft are almost 2000 years old!

    One of Delta’s mistakes is arrogance in selecting their name. Northwest would have been a better name and, certainly, more recognized in the Asia Pacific region. There, the Delta name is not much better than the AirTran or Sun Country name. It would also help in the fledgling SEA hub.

    Another name, but which would have cost Delta except in the first year of transatlantic routes, would be to buy the Pan Am name.

    In fact, the big 3 should have taken the names, United, Pan Am, and TWA. At least they didn’t take the names Texas International, Comair, and America West.

  5. I had two Labor Days before. Flew Guam to Tokyo-Narita on a 747 and then Narita to Honolulu, also on a 747, in 2015, back when Delta had intra-Asia operations. It was kind of cool.

  6. Technically, the passengers on this flight did come in fact, get to celebrate New Year’s Eve twice: Once on the ground in Guam, and second IN THE AIR, somewhere over the Pacific just west of Hawaii.

  7. An ex-partner said that I was in love with travel. I guess it’s true; I’m flying LAX-AKL departing on February 13th and arriving on the 15th.

  8. Love your blog, but please stop using pictures made with plagiarism software (AI.) You are exposing yourself to IP and copyright damages.

  9. United didn’t give the passengers the experience they advertised. So typical. The real story is probably about the maintenance and why United didn’t substitute a fully operational aircraft from San Francisco early in the delay. Why did a aircraft delayed nine hours for maintenance need so much additional maintenance afterwards?

  10. I flew the island hopper two days earlier. I flew this flight on December 31st (landing in the 30th) and one of my fellow island hopper passengers was taking this flight January 1st specifically for this reason. 🙁

  11. What a pack of slackers at United.

    @derek – Great idea on the renaming except then the flying public might expect quality rather than what they’re getting now.

  12. @Gary – Once in a while the AI art is nice but once a day is way too much IMO. Maybe ask your readers or set up a poll if you think I’m mistaken.

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