OK, you had to ask...
The better one is ... American Airlines
Network: Most comprehensive domestic network of any of the Big 6 - equally strong on the eastcoast as in the west. On the international side, it is the largest US carrier to Latin America, largest US carrier to the UK (LHR
, Gatwick, Manchester, etc.), and third largest US carrier to Japan. Covers the rest of the world through codeshares with highly respected partners.
Regional Partner: American Eagle is the largest US regional carrier. AA
and American Eagle operate seamlessly at all of AA
's hubs and major focus cities. In terms of operational coordination, they are unmatched by any other regional airline/major airline relationship. (It certainly helps that AMR owns both Eagle and AA
and that it runs Eagle as a single, unified operation).
Hubs and gateway cities: DFW
are perfectly situated to support AA
's strategic emphasis on east-west connecting traffic. As focus cities, LAX
, Boston, and Miami, provide AA
with the geographical leverage to dominate the non-stop transcon market. AA
's balanced presence at Boston, LGA
access to the major sources of intra-regional traffic. AA
's Miami hub is the premier Latin American gateway. AA
has a major presence at more of the major international gateways than any other US carrier - ORD
, Miami, and LAX
International partners/alliances: Though smaller than Star, oneworld is unmatched in terms of the quality or reputation of its members. Within their respective regions, BA
, Cathay, LanChile, Qantas lead the industry in quality and service reputation. AA
also maintains strong bilateral relationships with JAL and TAM.
Aircraft: The 777's and 767-300's do the bulk of the international flying. All of the 777's are of the extended-range variety and sport RR
engines. 737-800's tend to serve the major US business centers, mostly midcon, some transcon. The 737-800's were all acquired new over the last 6-7 years. MD
-80's tend to serve the secondary US markets from major hubs or focus cities. All of the MD80's, except for some of the ex-TWA birds, have been refurbished over the last five years. The ex-TWA birds are scheduled to be rufurbished. The 757's are now being reassigned to leisure-type routes where AA
competes with JetBlue and the like. The A300's are now relegated to high-density Carribean routes originating in the east coast. The F-100's well be fully retired by the middle of next year. Eagle is transitioning to an all ERJ fleet.
human resources excels at recruiting and training new employees. Traditionally, that has meant that AA
's line personnel are very knowledgable and resourceful. Though the recent wage concessions have affected employee morale to some degree or another, it has done nothing to diminish the quality of the current roster of employees. Moreover, AA
never had a period in its history like United, during the ESOP era, or Continental, pre- and post- bankruptcy, when it was forced to hire low quality personnel due to an uncompetitive wage structure. Moreover, AA
has traditionally supported its employees by fostering a corporate culture that is very professional and highly ordered.
In the mid- to late-90's, AMR began upgrading and renovating its terminals at key gateway cities and hubs. As part of this effort, American Eagle was one of the first regionals with its own dedicated facilities (e.g., Concourse G at ORD
). Mainline has new or upgraded facilites at DFW
. By the middle of this decade, it will have new or upgraded facilities at JFK
and Miami. A new international terminal will also open at its biggest hub, DFW
, along with a new people mover system. In total, these facility improvements will give AA
a better marketing profile than any of its competitors.
Customer Service Experience:
On the Ground: Most facilities are very modern and have been updated. Renovation projects are ongoing at major stations like DFW
, and Miami. AA
has installed self-service check-in kiosks at almost all of its major and minor stations.
In the Air: AA
has MRTC on 85% of the fleet. Furthermore, the coach cabin of all fleet types, except perhaps the 757, sport new seats and interiors. That new interior scheme was introduced with the delivery of the first 777's and 737's in the late 90's. The premium cabins of all the fleet, except the 757's and 767-200's, sport new seats and interiors as well.
has arguably the best domestic first class product (seats + service) of any of the Big 6, specifically on midcons and transcons. It has the best premium class service on 3-class transcons. On the international side, it has arguably the best First class product of any of the Big 6, Flagship Suite and all.
Frequent Flyer Program:
The customer service experience of its elite frequent flyers is unmatched by any other program. It is quite easy to redeem miles for awards in the program. Miles can be redeemed for premium awards on some of the industry's premier carriers. AA
's award chart is arguably the most comprehensive in the business. (Try getting to Easter Island on a Star award.) The AAdvantage Credit Card is the most widely held credit card of its type.
Strategy and Management:
Current management is focused on reducing costs and increasing revenue. Third quarter numbers will show how successful they have been at doing that. At the moment, they are leading the industry in unit revenue improvement. Though they will lose money this quarter, most Wall Street analysts predict that they are well-positioned to turn a net profit next year. They will do so by building on their core competencies and hubs. Current management has done a very good job of identifying those and concentrating assets there.