How bad is UA hurting?

 
Old Oct 23, 08, 5:15 pm
  #1  
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How bad is UA hurting?

I decided yesterday afternoon to fly from LAX to SFO last night. I went on .bomb and found that virtually all of the flights were wide open. Not only that but, after applying a $50 electronic voucher, my round-trip air fare (returning next Tuesday) was only $150. The icing on my cake was my upgrade on 500-milers was confirmed when I booked. Our aircraft was a 757 and the GA told me there were only 77 seats sold. In F, I saw empty seats!

I've been flying this route 2 or 3 times a month for the last two years or so. Previously, even booking a week or so out, I'd have trouble finding a flight on which I could find a seat that wasn't a middle or, worse, airport-assigned. My upgrades, if they'd clear at all, were always done last minute at the gate.

It would appear that the economy is taking its toll, at least on this route. Doesn't bode well for either the airlines or us.

Sidenote: I finally scored a "Glen must go" bracelet. I won't give specifics, but I was happy to wear it on-board.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 5:17 pm
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Do you think it may also just be the route due to the lack of a 500 minimum? I know I shifted most of my LAX->SFO trips to VX
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Old Oct 23, 08, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by AndrewT84 View Post
Do you think it may also just be the route due to the lack of a 500 minimum?
No.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 5:30 pm
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Last April, I got a SFO-LAX RT same day return, booked with two day advanced purchase for $70 after $100 cert. I don't think that they're really hurting all that awful, I mean, they are, but I don't really know how much we can really tell from this one anecdote.

I mean, last year I flew on the 4:15PM SFO-IAD on a Friday and many people had entire rows to themselves, me included. On the other hand, every other SFO-IAD or vice versa I've flown on this year has been packed, including the one I have coming up next week.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 5:35 pm
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Originally Posted by AndrewT84 View Post
Do you think it may also just be the route due to the lack of a 500 minimum? I know I shifted most of my LAX->SFO trips to VX
I don't think so becuase you only lose about 150 miles each way. I think the economy is the primary factor.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 5:35 pm
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While the elimination of the 500 mile minimum probably has some effect, pure competition (and midweek-evening factor) probably apply more. Flying, especially the short routes, is down to fare and convenience. UA might be able to claim a decent schedule, if they weren't canceling so many. But competitive price and service seems beyond them.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 5:49 pm
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Flew SFO to PDX today and there were 50 open seats. I'm seeing more open seats on the short haul flights, though my flights from SFO to ORD have all been full.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 5:59 pm
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Originally Posted by AndrewT84 View Post
Do you think it may also just be the route due to the lack of a 500 minimum? I know I shifted most of my LAX->SFO trips to VX
I don't think so, either. At the moment, I'm particularly cost conscious for a variety of reasons. Last night was my ideal UA experience. I got a "fair fare," (actually, a stunningly low one for last-minute travel), an easy upgrade, and a relaxing and comfortable flight with an on-time departure and early arrival. The only minor negative was that the captain put the World Series on channel 9. I'm not a sports fan, but I certainly understand the importance of the game to those who are and acknowledge the captain's courtesy in making it available.

The lines at TSA were so negligible that I was able to twice go outside for a cigarette and immediately return with no security delay. The TSOs themselves were professional, courteous and non-confrontational.

If flying was always like this, I might start enjoying it again.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 6:01 pm
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Originally Posted by fnothaft View Post
Last April, I got a SFO-LAX RT same day return, booked with two day advanced purchase for $70 after $100 cert. I don't think that they're really hurting all that awful, I mean, they are, but I don't really know how much we can really tell from this one anecdote.
I think the big question is at what point UA hedged on fuel. If it was above $100/bbl, they're got to be hurting. If they were conservative about hedging, the current price of oil should help.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 6:11 pm
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The more empty seats there are the more money UA is not making. I flew a 777 the other day and C was half empty as was Y. Leasure travelers are not traveling as much due to the economy. With over 12 LAX-SFO-LAX flights and VX, WN and B6 there can be empty seats.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 6:12 pm
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VX's fares on LAX-SFO right now are pretty cheap (lots of availability at $59 o/w at < 7 days- which is a LOT cheaper than WN, by the by). Between VX, WN and UA, there's lots of capacity on that route. That would certainly help explain everything.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 6:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Benny8444 View Post
Leisure travelers are not traveling as much due to the economy.
This is right on. I'm seeing fewer and fewer non-business travelers.

Last edited by DEN_exiled_to_PHL; Oct 23, 08 at 7:25 pm Reason: removed negative term for non-business traveler
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Old Oct 23, 08, 6:38 pm
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Could be the website (discouraging UA SFO-LAX)

Originally Posted by eponymous_coward View Post
VX's fares on LAX-SFO right now are pretty cheap (lots of availability at $59 o/w at < 7 days- which is a LOT cheaper than WN, by the by). Between VX, WN and UA, there's lots of capacity on that route. That would certainly help explain everything.
Plus, on shorter flights, it's so much easier using WN or VXs website to figure out your most cost-efficient options, if available. With UA, it seems as though the price of your second flight depends upon the first flight you choose. You end up doing quite a bit of back & forth to figure things out. WN or VX (or, for that matter, USAir) makes it a whole lot easier.

If you're flying transcon, investing a bit of time to figure things out isn't such a big deal (plus there are typically fewer options to consider than when flying a corridor). But who wants to go to all that trouble for an SFO-LAS or SFO-LAX quickie?

WN, VX & USAir make it so simple. Do I want to spend this many more $$$ to arrive at a given time, or can I rearrange things a bit to fly when it's cheapest? With United, it's as if they don't want you to know how things work.

Last edited by Mike Jacoubowsky; Oct 23, 08 at 6:41 pm Reason: saved too soon
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Old Oct 23, 08, 6:44 pm
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UA still has high frequency on said route, and they operate different sized aircraft throughout the day. Plus, Virgin America and Southwest moved in on this route. JetBlue added 2x daily flights between SFO-LGB in the past couple weeks. It's not peak travel season. There are no more $39 leisure fares that easily fit into peoples disposable income stash.

For those reasons, it's a real possiblity more flights will have open seats. And if not an explanation for how bad the airline might be hurting now, could be an indicator for the future.
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Old Oct 23, 08, 6:50 pm
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The economy is smoked...we ain't seen nothing yet.

I have been talking to a lot of people...most are saying about 3 weeks ago business came to a standstill!
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