A Tale of Two Airlines

I fly American out of Boston to LA and United out of Boston to San Francisco.

American has a far better lounge, with a free breakfast and even more elaborate food that can be purchased. United’s club has a desultory food selection.

United flies a far better airplane, a 757 with flat beds. American uses a 737 coast-to-coast, and these have never been large enough for real comfort (unless you’re on the old Virgin America, which had fewer first class seats and the best service in the US before Air Alaska gobbled them up).

The cabin service on United is efficient and competent. The cabin service on American is gracious. American simply serves from the front of the cabin the rear, or vice versa, and if your choice is out you take what’s left. United insists on asking for two choices at the outset, because they actually give preference to their most frequent fliers, who are not necessarily their most profitable ones. A full fair, first class passenger might lose the meal to someone flying cheap fares and upgrades consistently. I call it “meal hopscotch.”

Almost every time I fly American I give out recognition awards the company sends me, which provide opportunities for the recipient. I’m seldom moved to do that with United, which doesn’t provide me with such incentives for their employees in any case.

It’s too bad American can’t use United planes and fly to LA.


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