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Some Observations of AA vs UA by a UA flyer(s)

Some Observations of AA vs UA by a UA flyer(s)

Old Jul 15, 14, 8:02 pm
  #1  
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Some Observations of AA vs UA by a UA flyer(s)

Hi All,

I've decided to take the plunge and fly AA for the rest of the year. I got matched to AA Platinum (which is UA Gold). Here I'll document my experiences/observations.

Please don't hijack this thread, I just want to document my experiences not turn it into a pro-UA or anti-UA thread.

Right now its mainly booking observations and they are ...

1) UA.com does a great job at reporting cheap flights. But with AA.com you can easily find cheaper flights using HipMunk, Kayak etc. I mean much cheaper.

2) One world is much smaller than Star Alliance.

3) AA mileage earning for a Platinum (UA Gold) is much better (100% bonus vs 50% bonus) but some One World partners are stingy so you need to be careful, i.e. Air Berlin only offers 25% miles!

4) But AA has the nice policy of pricing things cheaply if you book months out. $900 fares to FRA in the middle of Octoberfest ... from the west coast!
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Old Jul 15, 14, 8:33 pm
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Originally Posted by inpd View Post
Hi All,

I've decided to take the plunge and fly AA for the rest of the year. I got matched to AA Platinum (which is UA Gold). Here I'll document my experiences/observations.

Please don't hijack this thread, I just want to document my experiences not turn it into a pro-UA or anti-UA thread.

Right now its mainly booking observations and they are ...

1) UA.com does a great job at reporting cheap flights. But with AA.com you can easily find cheaper flights using HipMunk, Kayak etc. I mean much cheaper.

2) One world is much smaller than Star Alliance.

3) AA mileage earning for a Platinum (UA Gold) is much better (100% bonus vs 50% bonus) but some One World partners are stingy so you need to be careful, i.e. Air Berlin only offers 25% miles!

4) But AA has the nice policy of pricing things cheaply if you book months out. $900 fares to FRA in the middle of Octoberfest ... from the west coast!
One thing i've noticed is that AA will offer 100% miles on any flight with an AA flight number (so codeshares on any OW airline), while on UA, the opposite is true and you get however many miles the operating carrier decides.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 8:55 pm
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Originally Posted by inpd View Post
but some One World partners are stingy so you need to be careful, i.e. Air Berlin only offers 25% miles!
You'll run into similar mileage accrual rates (0-50%) on Cathay, JAL and Qantas. You have to be very careful when booking the partner airline's flight number. The one workaround is to book the AA code share which will always accrue full AA miles and bonuses. Partner accrual rates are covered HERE.


But AA has the nice policy of pricing things cheaply if you book months out. $900 fares to FRA in the middle of Octoberfest ... from the west coast!
That's a sale that either UA or DL started for mid-Sept to mid-Oct travel. That route is normally $1,400-$1,500 RT. I booked SFO-DUS on AA for $714 on the sale. Look at Nov and Dec and you'll see the normal AA high-priced fares to Germany.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 9:25 pm
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Originally Posted by inpd View Post
Hi All,

I've decided to take the plunge and fly AA for the rest of the year. I got matched to AA Platinum (which is UA Gold). Here I'll document my experiences/observations.

Please don't hijack this thread, I just want to document my experiences not turn it into a pro-UA or anti-UA thread.

Right now its mainly booking observations and they are ...

1) UA.com does a great job at reporting cheap flights. But with AA.com you can easily find cheaper flights using HipMunk, Kayak etc. I mean much cheaper.

2) One world is much smaller than Star Alliance.

3) AA mileage earning for a Platinum (UA Gold) is much better (100% bonus vs 50% bonus) but some One World partners are stingy so you need to be careful, i.e. Air Berlin only offers 25% miles!

4) But AA has the nice policy of pricing things cheaply if you book months out. $900 fares to FRA in the middle of Octoberfest ... from the west coast!
I did a status match from UA (1K MM) to AA (Ex Plat) earlier this year. Personally I think AA is a better airline and UA isn't as bad as everyone says. I am maintaining status with both airlines for 2015 and I will evaluate what I do after the new AAdvantage program is announced (though we might not see changes till 2016).

Strengths of AA:

- WiFi (UA has it on some planes, but not enough)
- Better catering
- Easier to get upgraded as EXP than 1K (from IAD)
- Sometimes low-prices P fares (discounted F)
- They still give free upgrades between LAX/SFO and JFK (UA didn't last I checked)
- EXP get a free drink and BoB in Y if not upgraded
- 8 SWU for EXP with no
- Far superior catering in F

Strengths of UA:

- *A is a better alliance than ow (IMHO)
- Superior J for international (except maybe AA's 77Ws and updated 763/772s)
- *A is stronger in the EU and Asia
- Easier to book award travel on partners (though it will cost you more miles)
- Easier to earn miles by non-BIS activities like mileageplusshopping.com, rental cars

Just my two cents
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Old Jul 15, 14, 9:33 pm
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Originally Posted by scherzva View Post
I did a status match from UA (1K MM) to AA (Ex Plat) earlier this year. Personally I think AA is a better airline and UA isn't as bad as everyone says. I am maintaining status with both airlines for 2015 and I will evaluate what I do after the new AAdvantage program is announced (though we might not see changes till 2016).

Strengths of AA:

- WiFi (UA has it on some planes, but not enough)
- Better catering
- Easier to get upgraded as EXP than 1K (from IAD)
- Sometimes low-prices P fares (discounted F)
- They still give free upgrades between LAX/SFO and JFK (UA didn't last I checked)
- EXP get a free drink and BoB in Y if not upgraded
- 8 SWU for EXP with no
- Far superior catering in F

Strengths of UA:

- *A is a better alliance than ow (IMHO)
- Superior J for international (except maybe AA's 77Ws and updated 763/772s)
- *A is stronger in the EU and Asia
- Easier to book award travel on partners (though it will cost you more miles)
- Easier to earn miles by non-BIS activities like mileageplusshopping.com, rental cars

Just my two cents
Seems like a solid list - My biggest issue with UA is the current path / trajectory they are on - going down while others seem to be improving, and when I think of how things will look in a few years it makes it hard to continue to "invest" my travel time with UA...
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:01 pm
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Originally Posted by bmwe92fan View Post
Seems like a solid list - My biggest issue with UA is the current path / trajectory they are on - going down while others seem to be improving, and when I think of how things will look in a few years it makes it hard to continue to "invest" my travel time with UA...
I agree its a solid list. Two quick questions though... when looking at partner awards, it used to be that CX was easy to book (at reasonable rates) with AA miles. Is that no longer the case?

Also AA and UAL has similar OT percentages (not great, and AAs is getting better, UALs has of late been worse) currious if either poster has noticed (a) similar or more frequent IRROPs on one airline or the other, and (b) if AA is better at addressing them when they occur?
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:06 pm
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Originally Posted by scherzva View Post
Strengths of AA:

- WiFi (UA has it on some planes, but not enough)
- Better catering
- Easier to get upgraded as EXP than 1K (from IAD)
- Sometimes low-prices P fares (discounted F)
- They still give free upgrades between LAX/SFO and JFK (UA didn't last I checked)
- EXP get a free drink and BoB in Y if not upgraded
- 8 SWU for EXP with no
- Far superior catering in F
Adding to the list:

- You can fly OW partners and get lifetime mileage credit...all of them count
- IIRC if you fly premium cabin in any OW partner, you get the elite RDM bonus and 50% "points" bonus (unlike UA where it's only the JV partners)
- As a mid-tier Plat, I'm now 8/9 on the year with sticker upgrades...at similar flight lengths on UA, I'm 7/16. Reason: no TODs
- ACs are just damn nice...like having a quality drink at the bar and ordering food.
- Power, power, everywhere on planes!
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
Adding to the list:

- You can fly OW partners and get lifetime mileage credit...all of them count
- IIRC if you fly premium cabin in any OW partner, you get the elite RDM bonus and 50% "points" bonus (unlike UA where it's only the JV partners)
- As a mid-tier Plat, I'm now 8/9 on the year with sticker upgrades...at similar flight lengths on UA, I'm 7/16. Reason: no TODs
- ACs are just damn nice...like having a quality drink at the bar and ordering food.
- Power, power, everywhere on planes!
This is perhaps the best perk. i suspect it'll go away eventually but for right now im milking it like crazy.

And yes an Admirals Club > United Club. Less crowded (IMHO), and you can actually order a real meal. i think i had sushi last time.

Also Oneworld Emerald: First Class Lounge access. Star/Skyteam has no equivalent.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:14 pm
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
I agree its a solid list. Two quick questions though... when looking at partner awards, it used to be that CX was easy to book (at reasonable rates) with AA miles. Is that no longer the case??
It will go up, but it's insanely cheap right now...US to SE Asia, one way C is 55K miles and F is 67.5K miles. On UA partner carriers, C is 80K and F is, what, 140K now?

IME still pretty easy to find CX flights for awards.

Also AA and UAL has similar OT percentages (not great, and AAs is getting better, UALs has of late been worse) currious if either poster has noticed (a) similar or more frequent IRROPs on one airline or the other, and (b) if AA is better at addressing them when they occur?
Have an interesting story from last week on AA...LGA-DFW (so an hourly shuttle basically), we start to board when the captain comes out and says "sorry, need to de-board, this plane is going out of service".

With UA, this means "flight cancelled, you're screwed, may or may not be auto-rebooked, good luck". On this AA flight, they announced they were pulling a plane from another flight, just needed to switch gates, do paperwork, etc. Delay ended up being 45 min, no biggie.

Now it was a focus city for them, but not a hub, so not like they have tons of 737s sitting around. But based on past (UA) experience, thought for sure I was looking at a cancel. Just shows what you have come to expect w/UA though.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:15 pm
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
I agree its a solid list. Two quick questions though... when looking at partner awards, it used to be that CX was easy to book (at reasonable rates) with AA miles. Is that no longer the case?

Also AA and UAL has similar OT percentages (not great, and AAs is getting better, UALs has of late been worse) currious if either poster has noticed (a) similar or more frequent IRROPs on one airline or the other, and (b) if AA is better at addressing them when they occur?

On CX awards, I have booked 2 seats in F to/through HKG the last 4 years now with not a lot of issues. In fact, cashing in an award next month. Try doing that with SQ. BTW...67.5K AA miles each way.

IRROPS on AA is waaaay better as an EXP compared to 1K today.....As a former GS (from the day of its inception) and now a lowly 1K for life at UA, I can tell you the IRROPS at AA is almost to the level of GS back in say...2010....I don't think anyone can match UA back in 2010 as a GS in IRROPS situation, not even AA, but it is better than "Jeffro Air" is today....
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:37 pm
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
It will go up, but it's insanely cheap right now...US to SE Asia, one way C is 55K miles and F is 67.5K miles. On UA partner carriers, C is 80K and F is, what, 140K now?
Please! Only a mere 130K for F to SE Asia one way (using *A carriers).
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:51 pm
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Originally Posted by 787fan View Post
AA's primary European partner is BA, so you're frequently dealt with the double whammy of BA's heavy YQ and UK PFC/APD
Isn't UA charging the same taxes/fees for UK departures/class of service that both AA and BA are?

Yes, you will pay the BA fuel surcharge on awards which can be up to $400 one way from reports I've read, but then you're not paying the additional miles you would to fly Lufthansa across the Atlantic or Singapore across the Pacific in premium classes. Some would say you sort of come out even there when you look at the dollar value of those additional miles you give up as a UA flyer. I've only paid the BA fuel surcharge once and that was on LHR-DUB which was the second segment on HEL-LHR-DUB. Still much cheaper than a paid ticket and a good value for me.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 11:27 pm
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I find a big con for me is that AA doesn't allow SDC for free for their elites. This is a major benefit for me that I leverage quite a bit with UA.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 11:32 pm
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Originally Posted by 787fan View Post
AA miles work better for partner F and very direct straight forward itineraries and can avoid BA/LHR. UA miles work better if you like to make it complex and squeeze every ounce of value.
Well, AA miles also work a lot better for partner J as well. ~50% more to fly *A carriers relative to AA/OW carriers.

Agreed on UA miles nicely able to squeeze a bit more out...the stopover adds a 3rd city to all of my vacations.
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Old Jul 16, 14, 6:53 am
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Well I can say that I have taken the plunge as well.

So far great experiences.

I had one delayed flight which I mentioned in another post somewhere on this site but it was a77w to hkg that went mx at boarding time. The swapped, cleaned, catered, packed, boarded and took off only 2 hours late. WOW! That was some speed.
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