UA and US transcon

Old Feb 18, 00, 10:39 pm
  #1  
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UA and US transcon

Recently I compared AA and UA transcon, and here I was forced to compare UA and US transcon.

With the President's Day holiday in the USA coming up I had to take a quick trip to San Jose CA from IAD. I do IAD-SFO instead of IAD-SJC because of more frequent direct flights and better equipment. But this time around, I knew that I wouldn't be able to upgrade on UA due to the holiday. I am a lowly PremEx and the IAD-SFO market is very competitive here.

Since I ordered my tix last minute, UA would only waitlist me for upgrde at the airport (grrr!). So I ended up leaving on an Airbus 320 in coach,paying $1000 for the privilege.

The flight out was 5 hours and 47 minutes. The Airbus is pretty comfie I must admit, even in coach, far better than the 737 as many here have observed. The FAs seemed to know my status and discretely refused to charge me for alcoholic drinks. The meal was chicken with some kind of sauce, not really bad actually. I did have an empty middle seat and was sitting near the front, so it wasn't too bad.

I knew the flight back would be awful because they were completely sold out, with nothing but middle seats in coach so I phoned USAir and they gave me an upgraded F seat from SFO-BWI, less than 24 hours before the flight, just like that

I switched my return UA ticket to SEA-IAD because I thought there was a chance I'd have to be there Friday, and again UA could practically assure me that I wouldn't get an upgrade there either.

But back to the US flight which I ended up taking Thursday from SFO. That flight was totally full. It was a redeye, but the service was very good. The FA s were very attentive, there was a decent snack (lettuce greens, swiss cheese, ham, eggs, a chefs salad really, and a slice of cheesecake.)

Comparing US and UA transcon:

1. US has more crampped 757s, this is the biggest disadvantage to US's transcon product.

2. US has had consistently the nicest FAs in F, I've flown them a bunch of times and always been pleased.

3. UA service can be spotty. UA's people at the club, at the PremEx phone center etc. can be frosty, or good, depending, but often they treat me rather like a number than a loyal customer.

4. The US call center (Preferred Plus) and US gate and club staff have consistently been friendlier and seemed more pleased to be earning my business.

5. I have had a far, far easier time getting upgrades on US than UA out of IAD (100%).

I will continue my 2000 strategy of flying longer trips with UA to earn my 1K this year, and maintaining middle tier with US with segments (such as the DCA-LGA shuttle and Metrojet flights to Chicago or RDU). I like being treated so well by US and being catered to, being able to pick up the phone on a holiday week at the last minute and know I can get into F with certificates even though I am a last minute traveller. UA maintains the advantage of alliance partners, direct flights, and better equipment (wide bodies on many flights).

I've had some great experiences with UA, but here in Dulles if you are not a 1K you don't count for all that much, while with US even in the middle tier you carry a lot of weight and are appreciated.
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Old Feb 22, 00, 11:16 am
  #2  
geo1004
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Richard, you must be reading my mind...

I just flew US BWI-SFO r/t for the long weekend and had great service in First. The dinner service I had on my way out was some of the best I've had in a long time... very attentive FA's who seemed to go a little out of their way to make sure all went well.
 
Old Feb 22, 00, 6:23 pm
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My experience, too. US service last summer on a PIT-SFO flight was superb.
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Old Feb 22, 00, 7:45 pm
  #4  
dg1
 
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It looks like all of us have gone to SFO .. I recently went PIT-SFO roundtrip. It was a great flight -- a delectable breakfast on the way out. Lunch on the way back was a little too raw for me (steak) but the FA offered to cook it some more -- I turned her down since I actually had lunch right before I got on the plane. This was the flight where they asked me first since I was Chairman's Preferred for my meal preference.

Go US go US go! As per upgrades, I flew PIT-LAX on US for $1900 R/T. In Coach. So it all depends on market. USAirways competes fiercely (maybe too fiercely) in DC so you guys get all sorts of perk.
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Old Feb 22, 00, 9:49 pm
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Flying in coach for top dollar tix Grrrr

Doncha hate it when you spend $1900 for a transcon trip and can't get an upgrade? I sorta feel entitled
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Old Feb 22, 00, 10:39 pm
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An accurate and serviceable assessment, Richard. Thanks!
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