Having been to various travel points conferences, I have found that, of the domestic airlines, travelers seem most enthused about Delta, Virgin America, JetBlue, Alaska and Southwest, probably in that order. No one is ever enthused about American (because they blow), or United — except me, and Matthew Klint, the classiest travel blogger in the biz. Go read his blog, and use his award booking services!
I guess Delta must really kiss the asses of elite level members to inspire that kind of loyalty, so yay for them. And I’ve certainly flown Delta flights and have found them to be good. But I do not care. I love United, despite that every flight I take with them seems to incur some kind of delay, and some of their customer service is terrible, and I can’t spend towards elite status, and blah blah blah. Some of it is just irrational — humans are tribal, and we assemble ourselves into nonsensical group identities all the time.
But even beyond my ape brain, United sucked me in with their Economy Plus subscription, and the fact that I became Premier Silver by accident just by flying their vast route network, and that being Silver gave me a much faster and easier airport experience, including priority baggage claim, which you don’t get on Delta or American. Do you like sitting around with your thumb up your ass waiting to collect your bag? I do not. And in a week, I’ll make Gold, and keep it through the end of 2018, so I can have all the Economy Plus I want, and change my flights same day willy-nilly.
Even if you’re not a United Premier, you can buy all that airport convenience shit on a per flight basis, or by holding the United Club credit card. Options.
And then there’s award tickets. You know what sucks? Trying to find a reasonably priced award ticket on Delta. They pretty much don’t exist. Same goes for AA. United just “devalued” their awards (meaning they got more expensive), and they still are vastly better than Delta, American, JetBlue, etc. I mean, fuck, I’ve been able to fly one way at the last minute from Cleveland, Lexington, and New Orleans for 10,000 or 12,500 points when those tickets cost $600 otherwise, and at least 25,000 points on other airlines.
Finally, I can earn so many United Miles so friggin fast, just by spending on my Chase Freedom Unlimited and my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’m earning either 1.5 points or 3 points for every dollar I spend, and those convert straight to United miles.
And when United fucks up — which, to be fair, is often, but I’m not sure much more often than other airlines — I submit a polite complaint on their customer care form and they usually kick me a hundo towards my next flight. Or I submit a refund request if appropriate (and I’ll request it for anything I can, from crap wifi, to same-day change fees for a flight that ended up being delayed, to unused segments because I missed a connection and had to get there another way), and they often honor it.
So yay for United. You can be all “But Dr. Dao!” all you want, but your other dumb airline probably doesn’t get you where you want to go for as few points, nor give you as much for having entry level status, nor give you as many alternative ways of getting status-like benefits, nor let you earn miles as quickly. Eat it, Delta. I like United.