United passengers departing Erie International Airport Thursday night were on a one-way trip on the airline’s final flight from Erie.

United Airlines has officially left the Erie International Airport, leaving only American Airlines to service the once thriving airport.

Some people said that with United leaving, they might be forced to fly in elsewhere when visiting Erie.

In 2004, Erie International Airport was the third fastest growing airport in the country. That’s according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Thursday evening, the final United Airlines flight leaving Erie and headed for Chicago took off leaving only American Airlines.

The executive director of the Erie Regional Airport Authority said United’s departure from Erie was related to the pandemic as well as pilot shortages.

“With Chicago service on United and American service to Charlotte, people had options if they were trying to head east. So, if you were heading to Denver, LA, or San Francisco, your whole trip was heading west. Now to do those same trips, you have to head to Charlotte and connect through there to get to those destinations,” said Derek Martin, executive director of the Erie Regional Airport Authority.

One passenger explained to us that they visit family and fly United all the time through Erie while another says that he has no problem with a one-way trip.

“Basically, I started playing music as a kid. I’m 26 now and not getting any younger, so I kind of just decided to pick up and move to Austin, Texas to play a little music,” said Michael Drzewiecki, a United passenger.

Other travelers on the last flight say they’ll have to now come in through Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Buffalo when visiting relatives.

“It’s really sad, I couldn’t believe it when he said this was our last flight,” said Phyllis Bardonski, another United passenger. “I’m one of 12 kids and I’m 76, we’re scattered across the United States.”

Martin told us there is hope, saying they’re trying to bolster their relationship with American Airlines and extend their service for at least two more years.

Beyond that, he explained they’re still working on bringing in a low-cost carrier offering flights to Florida, hoping both could be viable travel options for people by 2024.

Those still choosing to fly with American Airlines out of Erie need to keep in mind that they have lock out time to check in with baggage. People should be at the airport checking in at least an hour before scheduled departure.