Pseudo rant about UA at Newark

Old Nov 2, 19, 1:57 pm
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Pseudo rant about UA at Newark

Sorry, as this is very specific to a region of the US/World, and its not really about Mileage Plus. But I know there are tons of fellow NY area members here who may have observations or knowledge of this.

As UA has consolidated and/or bullied every other carrier out of EWR in the past 5 years or so, fares have risen at EWR for the exact same flight by sometimes 50%-100% more than at LGA or JFK. I'm able to get to the NY airports and am not entirely dependent on EWR, but for many of my fellow residents of the region, EWR remains an important gateway for all of us in the region.

As one example, I can price a flight from NYC-DTW (Detroit), and the LGA-DTW fare on UA will be $200, while EWR will be $300. Both on UA, same flight, aircraft, times, etc. Same with just about any other fare I use the NYC (all NY airports IATA code). EWR is routinely WAY more expensive for the exact same flight.

And forget about international flights! Now that Norwegian has retreated to JFK and abandoned Newburgh (about 50 miles north), EWR international prices have absolutely skyrocketed. A recent search from NYC to LON (all London) showed Norwegian JFK at $500 RT and UA EWR at $1800 for coach. I've used both carriers often, and candidly, the product is much the same (the Norwegian planes are actually nicer and usually cleaner)

I realize comparing an old flabby network carrier like UA to a threadbare discounter like Norwegian is somewhat apples to cinder blocks, but the fare differences have become startling at EWR in the past, and have only become more striking since Southwest retreated this past summer.

Mostly curious about what others feel or have observed on this issue. If there's a better forum here for this, feel free to move.
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Old Nov 2, 19, 2:09 pm
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Originally Posted by wingnuthead View Post
EWR is routinely WAY more expensive for the exact same flight.
That's the way hub-and-spoke systems work. The same is true for every airline that has a fortress hub.
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Old Nov 2, 19, 2:20 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
That's the way hub-and-spoke systems work. The same is true for every airline that has a fortress hub.
True to some extent, but AA has a semi fortress hub at both LGA and is the largest airline at JFK. and there is high price variability at both of those for the same flights. Not so at EWR.
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Old Nov 2, 19, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by wingnuthead View Post
And forget about international flights! Now that Norwegian has retreated to JFK and abandoned Newburgh (about 50 miles north), EWR international prices have absolutely skyrocketed. A recent search from NYC to LON (all London) showed Norwegian JFK at $500 RT and UA EWR at $1800 for coach. I've used both carriers often, and candidly, the product is much the same (the Norwegian planes are actually nicer and usually cleaner)

I realize comparing an old flabby network carrier like UA to a threadbare discounter like Norwegian is somewhat apples to cinder blocks, but the fare differences have become startling at EWR in the past, and have only become more striking since Southwest retreated this past summer.

Mostly curious about what others feel or have observed on this issue. If there's a better forum here for this, feel free to move.
Norwegian flies in and out of Gatwick; while UA utilizes Heathrow. Heathrow has REALLY high costs, which carrier passes onto pax.

Norwegian is a LCC and operates on a different business model vs. UA. Nonstop flights between NYC and London, UA's fares are comparable to other legacies (BA, VS, DL, AA) - they also fly to/from Heathrow.

Originally Posted by wingnuthead View Post
True to some extent, but AA has a semi fortress hub at both LGA and is the largest airline at JFK. and there is high price variability at both of those for the same flights. Not so at EWR.
Not correct. Delta has almost three times market share vs. AA as of the latest data for JFK. Delta also eats AA's lunch at LGA by a wide margin.
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Last edited by Repooc17; Nov 2, 19 at 2:33 pm
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Old Nov 2, 19, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by wingnuthead View Post
AA has a semi fortress hub at both LGA and is the largest airline at JFK.
Delta is 60% larger than AA at LGA, and Delta and JetBlue are both significantly larger than AA at JFK. Neither airport can be considered a fortress hub for anyone.

LGA
DL 40.3% passenger share
AA 25.6%

JFK
DL 28.3% passenger share
B6 23.3%
AA 11.3%
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Last edited by mahasamatman; Nov 2, 19 at 2:35 pm
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Old Nov 2, 19, 3:10 pm
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UA has ~66% passenger share at EWR, which would fall short of the generally-accepted 70% threshold for it to be classified as a true fortress hub on the level of AA at CLT/DFW or DL at ATL/DTW/MSP.
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Old Nov 2, 19, 3:14 pm
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Originally Posted by wingnuthead View Post
As one example, I can price a flight from NYC-DTW (Detroit), and the LGA-DTW fare on UA will be $200, while EWR will be $300. Both on UA, same flight, aircraft, times, etc. Same with just about any other fare I use the NYC (all NY airports IATA code). EWR is routinely WAY more expensive for the exact same flight.
UA doesn't fly LGA-DTW direct, so it won't be "same flight, aircraft, times, etc." as EWR-DTW. It's common that non-stop flights are more expensive than connecting ones.
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Old Nov 2, 19, 5:43 pm
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Stop flying UA then...problem solved

I just landed at EWR from NRT - I would take EWR immigration and customs over JFK EVERYDAY and twice on Sundays

I fly OPM, so it really doesn't matter to me
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Old Nov 2, 19, 11:43 pm
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Originally Posted by wingnuthead View Post
As UA has consolidated and/or bullied every other carrier out of EWR in the past 5 years or so, fares have risen at EWR for the exact same flight by sometimes 50%-100% more than at LGA or JFK. I'm able to get to the NY airports and am not entirely dependent on EWR, but for many of my fellow residents of the region, EWR remains an important gateway for all of us in the region.


You are right to vent and be frustrated about how UA is handling their airport, EWR. Where I disagree with you is this idea that fares out of EWR are now much more expensive than ever before because EWR is a UA fortress. I hate to break the news to you but there are other airports beside EWR in NYC operated by carriers other than UA, namely JFK and LGA International airports. Hence, UA has to compete on fares even if they "own" EWR. In addition, some would argue that EWR is at a disadvantage to say, JFK there's no subway to the station. At the same time, there is poor *A coverage since the traffic is split between EWR and JFK. Meanwhile at JFK most of the major domestic and international carriers are there making alliance connections possible.

As someone who has had to fly out of and sometimes through EWR, I've also not witnessed the fares you are talking about. Could there be specific non-competitive routings like EWR > MAJ where UA has a stranglehold and can charge outrageous prices? Absolutely but that's true with every airline. Here are some fares I pulled up from Google Flights ex-EWR and you tell me if these are overpriced:





That being said, by no means am I a UA apologist, the airline has issues not the least of which with their DollarsPlus FFP.

Speaking specifically of EWR, here is the laundry list of grievances I have with how UA is handling that airport:
  • Limited to non-existent food options out of Concourse A which UA uses for regional flights
  • Concourses are not connected airside except by a stupid bus which only covers a couple concourses and only if you are holding the right boarding pass
  • Impossible to connect from "domestic" AC flight to UA flight without having to re-clear security
  • Security is not centralized but rather broken up by concourse and gate sections in some instances resulting in slow/inefficient security screening
    • Security in Concourse A is a disaster with its TSA pre-light and often times hour long waits
    • Security in Concourse C can be hit or miss even with proper pre-check
    • Oscar Munőz United Premier Elite Concourse (aka Concourse B) which features the Senator lounge and SK lounge has gawd awfully slow security (expect to wait 30 minutes in the F/*Gold lane) and the UA shuttle won't bring you back to Concourse A/C after enjoying the lounges forcing you to take the air train and re-clear security
  • United Club in Concourse C is an overcrowded dump
  • Global Entry is acceptable but slower than SFO, LAX and ORD from my experiences
  • Re-checking luggage after clearing customs is a disaster (often the station is closed and you have to schlep the bag over to Concourse A/C and re-check for connecting flight)
  • Transit into NY is a joke (you're lucky if you can get there in an hour!)
Perhaps things will change. I hear good things about the things UA is doing at EWR with the refurbishment process but remain skeptical. UA has "owned" EWR for some time having bet their company out of operating chiefly out of that airport having moved out of JFK and to a lesser extent LGA.

Safe Travels,

James
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Old Nov 3, 19, 5:55 am
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Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
  • Concourses are not connected airside except by a stupid bus which only covers a couple concourses and only if you are holding the right boarding pass
Terminal design issue rather than UA's; LGA/EWR/JFK all share this problem, as well as most US airports. Also, 99.9% of pax go directly to the terminal/concourse they depart out of, so a moot issue at that.

Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
  • Impossible to connect from "domestic" AC flight to UA flight without having to re-clear security
Also not UA's problem.

Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
  • Security is not centralized but rather broken up by concourse and gate sections in some instances resulting in slow/inefficient security screening
    • Security in Concourse A is a disaster with its TSA pre-light and often times hour long waits
    • Security in Concourse C can be hit or miss even with proper pre-check
    • Oscar Munőz United Premier Elite Concourse (aka Concourse B) which features the Senator lounge and SK lounge has gawd awfully slow security (expect to wait 30 minutes in the F/*Gold lane) and the UA shuttle won't bring you back to Concourse A/C after enjoying the lounges forcing you to take the air train and re-clear security
The premise of your post states this is a list of grievances I have with how UA is handling that airport, again how are any of these UA's issues?

Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
  • Global Entry is acceptable but slower than SFO, LAX and ORD from my experiences
How? Again, not an UA issue, but I have consistently gotten off the plane to land side in under five minutes at all four of these airports - have never failed yet.

Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
  • Transit into NY is a joke (you're lucky if you can get there in an hour!)
9 times out of 10 in under an hour. Before getting off the plane, check traffic along the route (turnpike, lincoln tunnel, etc), if bad traffic, hit up AirTrain -> NJ Transit, which has never failed me. You have similar issues at all three airports - traffic is the common denominator. Once again, not an UA issue!
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Old Nov 3, 19, 6:13 am
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....

Speaking specifically of EWR, here is the laundry list of grievances I have with how UA is handling that airport:
  • Limited to non-existent food options out of Concourse A which UA uses for regional flights
  • Concourses are not connected airside except by a stupid bus which only covers a couple concourses and only if you are holding the right boarding pass
  • Impossible to connect from "domestic" AC flight to UA flight without having to re-clear security
  • Security is not centralized but rather broken up by concourse and gate sections in some instances resulting in slow/inefficient security screening
    • Security in Concourse A is a disaster with its TSA pre-light and often times hour long waits
    • Security in Concourse C can be hit or miss even with proper pre-check
    • Oscar Munőz United Premier Elite Concourse (aka Concourse B) which features the Senator lounge and SK lounge has gawd awfully slow security (expect to wait 30 minutes in the F/*Gold lane) and the UA shuttle won't bring you back to Concourse A/C after enjoying the lounges forcing you to take the air train and re-clear security
  • United Club in Concourse C is an overcrowded dump
  • Global Entry is acceptable but slower than SFO, LAX and ORD from my experiences
  • Re-checking luggage after clearing customs is a disaster (often the station is closed and you have to schlep the bag over to Concourse A/C and re-check for connecting flight)
  • Transit into NY is a joke (you're lucky if you can get there in an hour!)
Perhaps things will change. I hear good things about the things UA is doing at EWR with the refurbishment process but remain skeptical. UA has "owned" EWR for some time having bet their company out of operating chiefly out of that airport having moved out of JFK and to a lesser extent LGA.

Safe Travels,

James
Have you been to EWR? There's a big food court right in Terminal (not Concourse) A. Yes, it's outside security where it can accessed by all travelers using that terminal. An hour long security screening? I've flown UAX more times going through EWR Concourse A security than I count. I've never waited more than about 10 or 15 minutes (typically less). I'm sure someone has but there are worst case scenarios at every airport.

As already posted before me, none of these issues belong in UA's shop. Besides, EWR Terminal A is soon to be torn down anyway.
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Old Nov 3, 19, 10:10 am
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Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
  • Concourses are not connected airside except by a stupid bus which only covers a couple concourses and only if you are holding the right boarding pass
  • United Club in Concourse C is an overcrowded dump
  • Re-checking luggage after clearing customs is a disaster (often the station is closed and you have to schlep the bag over to Concourse A/C and re-check for connecting flight)

I missed a few of your "grievances".

You know the airside bus for the benefit of UA flyers, right? Why would the bus go to the domestic portion of Terminal B, for example?

Bag re-check stations are often closed? I wonder how much truth is there. I haven't checked bags in a long time, but for every INTL arrival (either Terminal B or C), I have always seen UA service agents at bag re-check stations - my data points are for morning (e.g. 5am arrival from SIN) to early evening arrivals (e.g. 6pm arrival from PEK/PVG), and those in between (e.g. arrivals from Europe).

Based on my experience, lounges issue at EWR Terminal C is the only legitimate "grievance" I would agree with you.
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Old Nov 3, 19, 10:38 am
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I've been to 3rd world airports all over the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. EWR is worse than any of them. It's frankly a national embarrassment that this is the first place many visitors to the US see. I was once on the pathetic airtrain in a cabin with some Germans who didn't know that I speak German. They were incredulous at how dilapidated and poorly organized the airport is.

I am very grateful for GS status because I go the head of TSA pre-check lines that often appear to be 20-30 minutes long. The ludicrous restaurants in the middle of the concourses make it hellish to anywhere fast because they create such bottlenecks in traffic. I've given up on taking the airtrain from terminal to terminal. After thinking back about all the times it was slow or took forever to arrive, I determined it's actually faster, on average, to walk. They should just get rid of the trains and have a big path with moving walkways.
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Old Nov 3, 19, 10:49 am
  #14  
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Marketing folks at UA -- as well as other legacy carriers -- love threads such as this.

OP apparently does not like UA or its fare structure. But, he is apparently NYC-based. So, why is he still flying UA?

If the grass is greener on DL or AA xLGA/JFK or AA xPHL, then by all means fly those carriers. At places such as NYC and CHI, there is no such thing as a "fortress hub", rather they are self-made "captive hubs".
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Old Nov 3, 19, 11:47 am
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If you think EWR is an embarrassment to the country because folks see it as their first experience of America, clearly you haven't flown internationally into LAX
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