Are there any good domestic US carriers anymore? Sure, everyone has their favorites, and some are better than others for a given situation, but when asked recently, my response has been something like, “They all suck”.
What is the right airline for me?
A not so First Class breakfast on a 1400+ mile flight
We are nearing mid-September and after a run of some rather poor experiences on American I am again revisiting my airline choices for the future. Having been through multiple airline mergers before, I’m certainly not shocked. The greener grass I was enjoying on AA is turning brown. In the case of American in 2016, there really has been a drastic amount of changes in a relatively compressed time. A drastic devaluation to the AAdvantage program, majorly reduced earning, and poor operations. Hmmm, this sounds like United a few years ago.
Despite these very negative changes, the bulk of my flying is domestic business trips, so my 90+ percent upgrade rate is enough to keep me loyal for now. I’m certainly opening my eyes to other options especially as operational issues on American are becoming more frequent. Plus service recovery is poor to non-existent.
I still try to book AA in most cases, but especially now that I have nearly completed flying 100,000 miles to requalify for Executive Platinum status, I’m looking more at convenience than solely loyalty. The airlines have destroyed loyalty, so I am not going out of my way to stick with a carrier. For example, I have a domestic trip on Southwest in a few weeks. This wasn’t really my preference, but once I saw prices, paying a significant premium to fly American or United and having to connect in Chicago made a nonstop on Southwest too easy of a choice.
If not American, maybe United?
I also have a business trip to the Middle East later this week. I’m taking a combination of United and Lufthansa. I still have some United Global Premier Upgrades from last year. That way, the chance of an upgraded flight vs a long flight in economy with no chance of an upgrade made this more desirable. I could have flown nonstop on Qatar or Etihad from Chicago and earned AA miles, but that would have been a long flight in Economy, so I’m adding a connection in Business Class to make a more comfortable trip.
Upgrades on my outbound flights have already cleared, and even though the business class products on a United 777 is 8 across and Lufthansa A330 aren’t exactly cutting edge, both far surpass a long flight or flights in economy. Besides this trip, I’ve flown United a few times this year for flights to Canada where American just doesn’t have the frequency to make it easy or comfortable.
United 777 Biz-crowded, but beats economy by miles! Credit: Alan Light on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
I’m still looking at American as my primary carrier for 2017, and will have top tier status again; but just as the carriers have gutted their loyalty programs, I’m certainly not as blindly loyal as I once was. For next year, my United status will drop from 1K for the first time in a decade. That will be somewhat sad, but thankfully I won’t be doubling up on status as I did last year. That was just too much business travel and time away from home. At least I have the fallback of United Gold status for ‘life’ thanks to my Million Miler status.
What is the right airline for you?
How about you? In this post-loyalty program world, are you still loyal to a single carrier? What is the right airline for you? I’d love to hear your reasoning.