Dear STT757 and friends,
I suggest you do your own homework. First, you might begin by rereading my original post.
I did not say that AA has the most flights from New York to the west coast. I only asserted that AA has the most non-stop flights in all transcontinental markets combined to the west coast. Those markets would be New York, Boston, Miami, Washington D.C, Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles. By the way, I do not consider for these purposes Phoenix to Newark a transcon service. In rereading my own post, I see where the misunderstanding might have occurred. But, in any case, that was my point. [The other stuff - "one or two flights" - was simply a sarcastic understatement.]
As to AA's in-flight service and facilities being superior to Continental's on both ends of its transcontinental route network, I stand by what I said. STT757 tried to rebut what I said by making reference to a Wall Street Journal article. To him, I have this to say - "Don't believe everything you read." In fact, I suggest you go read what Continental's most frequent flyers think about this article over at webflyer.com. They were not too impressed with all the amenities and "enhancements" cited in the article. Many of them, in fact, were dumbfounded at the lack of integrity of the Journal. How could it print such a flagrant fluff piece after just last week featuring an article in which it drew attention to the outrage caused by recent changes in the OnePass Program.
I'll say this for that article and Continental. They are brilliant at self-promotion and promotion in general. The truth, however, is quite different. No one less than a Continental Platinum in the OnePass program had these comments to make about all of the "little things" that Continental does:
"Just to get the facts out (which WSJ is clearly not interested in):
1) The security checkpoint upgrades were required, not voluntary.
2) The "free" audio/video headset things are self serving: it costs CO more than the $2.00 per passenger to clean, package, and carry in inventory. There's nothing negative about the program, but it's self-serving, not a charity to customers
3) The EWR terminal upgrades were too far along to cancel. Would not have been prudent to cancel with so many contractual committments and dollars already spoken for. Plus, EWR was desperatly in need of additions, and such additions were made in order to expand EWR as the valuable hub it is, expand its intl connection flexibilities, and thus increase yields - not solely to convenience customers.
4) The self check-in kiosks are a significant advantage to CO. One-time up front capital outlay requiring minimum maintenance costs. Much cheaper than paying ticket agents forever. Again, good move, but not solely to be nice to customers."
(Source: Webflyer.com/Continental forum)
In other words, none of what Continental claims in the article are customer enhancements in response to 9-11 or in response to whatever its competitors were doing actually are. To this criticism of Continental's self-serving comments, I might add that Continental, like many carriers in the US with little or no equity, depends on sweetheart deals with local governments to make any improvements to their airport facilities. They simply could not afford them otherwise. If there had been no political will in NJ to boost the prospects of Newark over JFK, Continental's simply would not have been able to secure the financing itself to do the work.
Unfortunately for Continental, this isn't true everywhere. Take, for example, Los Angeles. For those of you who haven’t been to LAX, let me paint you this picture. Continental operates out of Terminal 6. It uses a ticketing area that hasn't been renovated, except for the change of signage, since the airport was built in the 60's. Moreover, it uses a gate area at the end of Terminal 6 whose floor covering is so old that in places it has worn away to reveal the concrete. Much of the rest of the terminal seems outdated as well. If you do not believe the picture I am painting, you can read what some of Continental's own employees think of their LAX digs. Just head on over to USAviation.com: <http://220.127.116.11/cgi-bin/forums/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=8&t=000046
>. If Continental had the money, they might be able to do something about these facilities. But, they don't.
Over at Terminal 4, however, AA just spent $800,000 on an artwork for the large expanse of floor directly in front of their security checkpoints. [Impressive, you should all see it while at LAX.] The artwork fits the renovated and expanded terminal quite nicely. All the work there was financed (I will have to check) through bonds secured by the airport authority. Why would the airport authority do this for AA, and not Continental? Because AA had the money to make the bond payments itself and because AA has significant operations at the airport. In fact, once things settle down, I would not be surprised to hear that AA in cooperation with Alaska plan to renovate and expand Terminal 3 (TWA's old digs) with the backing of the airport authority. You'll see that get done before the airport authority spends money for one can of paint for the Continental facilities.
[Just a brief aside: All of this work that AA is doing at LAX, including the spectacular new Admirals club in Terminal 4, speaks to the kind of customers that AA hopes to attract and keep on both ends of its transcons. Hence, it really doesn't bother me in the least that Newark now has 40% of the New York to Los Angeles market. It doesn't bother me because I am more than certain that that 40% is made up almost entirely of leisure travelers. I can tell you from general observation, as well as a long history of people watching at LAX, that Continental does not appeal to the largest proportion of premium travelers in this market. You are not going to see Julia Roberts plugging in her PC at the President's Club at Terminal 6, but come on over to the Admirals Club after the Academy Awards and you will see her and everybody else.]
So, why am I telling you this? Only to prove that the article in the Journal does not paint the full picture. If Continental were doing all it could do for its customers, while the other carriers were not, then it would be Continental and not AA that would be proceeding with their plans to upgrade and expand their facilities not only at Newark, but elsewhere. Let me remind you that AA is proceeding with its terminal projects at Miami, New York, and Los Angeles. Moreover, it has plans and designs to upgrade and expand its Boston facilities.
But, I see that this is not the only misconception I have to clear up. Who was it that said that CO's BusinessFirst product on transcons is better than AA's three-class transcon product? First of all, whoever said this failed to mention that CO does not properly speaking have a BusinessFirst product in its domestic markets. Practically speaking, what this means is that, while it may be true that Continental operates some planes equipped with the BusinessFirst cabin, BusinessFirst seat and all, on its domestic routes, it does not by the same token provide the same level of service on domestic routes as it does on international routes. In other words, it is simply not true, as someone said earlier, that the food service on a domestic first route is identical to the food service on an international BusinessFirst route. There are differences in the size of the salad and the omission of certain courses. If you do not believe me, go over to webflyer.com again and see how Continental's own frequent flyers see the differences. Moreover, it is, in fact, more often the case that your plane on a transcon routing will not be a plane equipped with BusinessFirst seating at all, but only domestic first seating with a much lower seat pitch. I think even CODC10 noted this inconsistency.
On AA's three-class flagship service (first, business, and coach), Continental's domestic first seating is the equivalent of AA's business class, or at least the business class seating that AA had before they began the More Room in Business seating initiative. On these flagship routes, AA serves a different menu than on its international routes, but the portions of the meal, both for the salad and entree, are comparable. Speaking truthfully, I don't think there is a material difference between AA's business class service on transcons and Continental's domestic first service. Where AA surpasses Continental, however, is in two areas: a first class cabin in addition to a business class cabin and seat-pitch in the coach cabin (MRTC).
In summary, then, let me say that I stand behind what I said at the beginning. AA is the dominant carrier in all transcon markets, with United being a dwindling second. AA has or will have better facilities than Continental at almost all ends of the most significant transcon markets, JFK, Miami, Boston, and Los Angeles. Moreover, and no one has yet contested this point, AA has the financial wherewithal to expand in all of these markets. Continental does not.
It also occurs to me now that I have had some more time to think about STT757's remark about how Continental's share of the New York market has grown "to 20.3% from 17.6%, while American's has grown far more slowly, to 17.7% from 16.8%." This doesn't look as good for Continental as it should. First of all, by everyone's admission on this board, Newark is a hub for Continental; JFK is not for AA. Frankly, if AA had 20.3% of the O&D market at DFW, I'd be worried for them. On the other hand, AA should feel rather good about its prospects in New York. With only the benefits of a number of transcon flights and several flights to Heathrow, CDG and South America, it has been able to stay within 2.6% points of a hub carrier with a large number of European flights out of its hub. Just how many people is poor AA packing into those Heathrow and transcon flights? I hope those people are paying a pretty penny, because otherwise AA is in trouble. He says sarcastically.