Max Q
Topic Author
Posts: 7910
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

United vs American, the old rivalry

Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:56 pm

In the history of the American civil aviation business I don’t believe there’s been a bigger contest between two carriers than this one



With the three legacy airlines controlling 80% of the domestic market these days
I don’t think this competition is like it used to be but I stand to be corrected


Interested in people’s comments on this, not looking for any unpleasant comments or disparagement of either of those great companies, rather a reflective look of this ‘clash of the titans’ over the years and any particular stories / vignettes
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 6408
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:03 pm

Max Q wrote:
With the three legacy airlines controlling 80% of the domestic market these days...


Not even close.

One could look at domestic revenue passenger miles, a measure of demand. Southwest Airlines had 18% of the domestic revenue passenger miles market share for July 2017 to June 2018. This falls just behind the market share leader, American Airlines (AAL) with 18.1%. Other larger competitors, Delta Air Lines (DAL) and United Continental (UAL), came in with market shares of 16.8% and 14.9%, respectively.

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/m ... re-luv.asp
 
TYWoolman
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:24 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:12 pm

Even their old liveries seemed to be of similar fuselage design albeit with different colors. To me, United and American wielded their DC-10s with prominence, at least from my perspective at JFK in the 80s. Great memories. Diesel smell forever!
 
superjeff
Posts: 1293
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:14 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:27 pm

If you go far enough back in time, there were a lot of fierce rivalries, including Delta/Eastern (mainly out of Atlanta), American/Braniff (DAL until 1974, then DFW), United/Western on the West Coast, and the Eastern/National in Miami, and the granddaddy of them all, American, TWA and United on the Transcon NYC-California.routes. Also of course Pan Am and TWA internationally, and Pan Am and BOAC (British Airways) to London.
 
TW870
Posts: 1073
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:01 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:43 pm

I think the reason the rivalry has persisted for so long is that they both had a successful response to deregulation. They both built relatively strong coastal operations, and built large connecting hubs in cities that were on the cutting edge of the economy in the center of the country (DEN and ORD for UA, DFW and ORD for AA). Other competitors just didn't adapt as well, with TWA getting forced out of Chicago and into cities with receding economies such as STL and PIT, or with Eastern unable to develop east-west flows that would give them a truly national audience and allow them to take advantage of greater economies of distance and density. Whereas TWA was their main adversary in the 1960s, the other carrier that was really successful after deregulation - Delta - gradually replaced TWA in that role over the course of the 1980s and 1990s. Northwest, the other major post-deregulation success story, remained too much of a niche player (excellent MSP and DTW hubs and giant Asia presence but lacking a relevant presence in the megalopolises on either coast) to threaten UA/AA. But again, I think it is the response to deregulation that really mattered the most historically.
 
mga707
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:52 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 2:21 am

Pre-deregulation (1978 and before), American competed on more routes with TWA than they did with United. Compare route maps of the three from the 1970s and it is obvious.
 
simairlinenet
Posts: 793
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 2:24 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:09 am

TW870 wrote:
I think the reason the rivalry has persisted for so long is that they both had a successful response to deregulation.

Great point. I agree with the original poster that this is the deepest rivalry, perhaps globally:
- Both have been innovators and thought leaders from the early days
- Both came out with FFPs nearly simultaneously
- Both were 1 or 2 in size virtually all of the last 90 years
- American buys LHR via TWA, United buys from Pan Am
- American buys Latin America from Eastern, United buys from Pan Am
- American introduces More Room Throughout Coach, United introduces Economy Plus
- American president leaves for United
- Etc.
 
User avatar
jetblastdubai
Posts: 1892
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:23 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:45 am

The battle between UA and AA at ORD during the 80s was epic. The competition for winning ORD-NRT authority was almost like a political campaign with newspaper ads, civic leader endorsements and employee rallies.

UA built T1 which was monumental.
AA built up their ORD-TATL service to an amazing level for the #2 carrier at the airport. They had a boatload of 767s
UA started Business One service....hourly (or nearly hourly) to BOS, LGA, DCA, MSP, ATL and maybe PHL??. These flights all left from dedicated B gates in T1.

It seemed that almost every week someone would try to outdo the competition....fun times then.
 
Max Q
Topic Author
Posts: 7910
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:53 am

jetblastdubai wrote:
The battle between UA and AA at ORD during the 80s was epic. The competition for winning ORD-NRT authority was almost like a political campaign with newspaper ads, civic leader endorsements and employee rallies.

UA built T1 which was monumental.
AA built up their ORD-TATL service to an amazing level for the #2 carrier at the airport. They had a boatload of 767s
UA started Business One service....hourly (or nearly hourly) to BOS, LGA, DCA, MSP, ATL and maybe PHL??. These flights all left from dedicated B gates in T1.

It seemed that almost every week someone would try to outdo the competition....fun times then.



I remember that era, AA stated they would purchase 744 aircraft to operate ORD-NRT if they were awarded that route
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
Posts: 7449
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 11:45 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:53 am

Not to mention AA's renovation to T3 as a response to UA's state-of-the-art facilities at the time in T1
AA making a huge marketing PR push on when they made ORD "all-jet" in the late 90's, removing the ATRs and backfilling all with ERJs
AA marketing the heck out of MRTC more room through coach that they thought would be a differentiator at ORD.
AA making vast inroads on corporate travel after the 2000 United summer from hell.

ORD was ground zero for the UA vs. AA battle.
 
TW870
Posts: 1073
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:01 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 4:45 am

jetblastdubai wrote:
The battle between UA and AA at ORD during the 80s was epic. The competition for winning ORD-NRT authority was almost like a political campaign with newspaper ads, civic leader endorsements and employee rallies.

UA built T1 which was monumental.
AA built up their ORD-TATL service to an amazing level for the #2 carrier at the airport. They had a boatload of 767s
UA started Business One service....hourly (or nearly hourly) to BOS, LGA, DCA, MSP, ATL and maybe PHL??. These flights all left from dedicated B gates in T1.

It seemed that almost every week someone would try to outdo the competition....fun times then.


Business One was all the cities you named plus EWR - and yes, the service was hourly from 6am generally to 10pm. Service was on all the narrow body fleets, and included a hot meal on every Business One flight. The dedicated gates had soda machines in the boarding area - which really dates things given that soda is now thought of as unhealthy given the massive sugar content.

It is true that ORD as a hub was one place that UA and AA could really pull market share from one another. AA had the flight attendant strike on Thanksgiving 1993, UA had the summer of hell in 2000. All of those irregularities caused shifts in corporate accounts. I was hired as a flight attendant in 1998 as part of an effort to enhance onboard staffing to more effectively compete against AA at ORD - especially via products such as Business One.
 
TYWoolman
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:24 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:10 am

Max Q wrote:
jetblastdubai wrote:
The battle between UA and AA at ORD during the 80s was epic. The competition for winning ORD-NRT authority was almost like a political campaign with newspaper ads, civic leader endorsements and employee rallies.

UA built T1 which was monumental.
AA built up their ORD-TATL service to an amazing level for the #2 carrier at the airport. They had a boatload of 767s
UA started Business One service....hourly (or nearly hourly) to BOS, LGA, DCA, MSP, ATL and maybe PHL??. These flights all left from dedicated B gates in T1.

It seemed that almost every week someone would try to outdo the competition....fun times then.



I remember that era, AA stated they would purchase 744 aircraft to operate ORD-NRT if they were awarded that route


Actually I think Crandall proposed purchasing a total of 12 744s as he proposed that the public's best interest would best be served by one carrier being awarded all Narita slots up for grabs at the time. His rationale being that that would ensure the best competition against stalwarts United's and Northwest's Asian networks. But really IMO such a drastic proposal was just an attempt to lock out Delta.
 
User avatar
STT757
Posts: 13966
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2000 1:14 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:29 pm

And also that the terrorists of September 11th picked two AA and two UA aircraft for their attacks. They targeted both carriers because they saw them as symbols, which is also why the attacked NY and Washington. Symbolism.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
 
User avatar
cathay747
Posts: 1204
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 8:47 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 2:35 pm

An important aspect of this old rivalry to remember is that back in a more civilized time, before the lawyers and bean-counters took over running the industry, C.R. Smith and Bill Patterson were friends. They respected each other. Rivals and competitors yes, and pretty fierce, but it was always a gentlemanly, friendly competition.
Try a Little VC-10derness
 
airlinewatcher1
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:49 pm

Delta always held its own in the midst of AA and UA - with ATL as a fortress mega-hub all these years. Also, CO did well in the late 90's and early 2000's.

I also find it interesting that the 9/11 hijackers chose AA and UA for their plans. The names are iconic and have the most symbolism, as has been mentioned.
 
WA707atMSP
Posts: 1822
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:16 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 6:52 pm

cathay747 wrote:
An important aspect of this old rivalry to remember is that back in a more civilized time, before the lawyers and bean-counters took over running the industry, C.R. Smith and Bill Patterson were friends. They respected each other. Rivals and competitors yes, and pretty fierce, but it was always a gentlemanly, friendly competition.


Patterson's daughter wanted to be a flight attendant, but she knew her dad would never let her work for United because of nepotism concerns, so she applied to American without telling her dad, or telling anyone at AA who her dad was. Mr. Patterson was nice about it when he found out, and pinned her wings on her at her graduation ceremony. Long after she retired from AA, Patterson's daughter remained active in AA's retired stewardess group, the Kiwis.
 
User avatar
readytotaxi
Posts: 6845
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:09 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:01 pm

In the late 80's :old: CO and NW were offering great deals in the UK to capture your business and the FFP was really really good. Do miss them lots.
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
Growing older, but not up.
 
User avatar
intotheair
Posts: 1814
Joined: Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:25 pm

Let’s not also forget the rivalry between UA and CO at DEN in the 80s.
300 319 320 321 332 333 345 346 380 717 733 734 735 73G 738 739 744 752 753 762 763 772 77W 788 789 CR2 CR7 CR9 CRK Q400 E175 DC10 MD82 MD90
AA AF AS AY AZ B6 BA BR DL F9 FI GA HA KF LH MI QX SK SN SQ UA US VY WN
 
User avatar
JetAwayDrew
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2019 2:58 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:44 pm

The rivalry is most intense at ORD. There’s no doubt about it.
 
User avatar
PacoMartin
Posts: 738
Joined: Sun May 27, 2018 8:18 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:45 pm

Max Q wrote:
With the three legacy airlines controlling 80% of the domestic market these days
I don’t think this competition is like it used to be but I stand to be corrected


I have to correct you. Domestic Market 2018
42.7% Three legacy Airlines (UA, DL, AA)
7.5% Regional Airlines (largely controlled by 3 legacies)
20.4% Southwest Airlines
29.4% Other seven mainline airlines (AS,B6,NK,F9,G4,HA,SY)
 
TryToFlySomeday
Posts: 346
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:51 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:39 am

AS all the way. They give better earning rates than AA/UA would combined
Pakistan's aviation sector is coming back. It won't be as strong as our eastern neighbor, nowhere close, but it's going to grow over time. Stand by and watch.

Born to Pakistani parents near ORD; raised and based near ORD.
 
User avatar
PacoMartin
Posts: 738
Joined: Sun May 27, 2018 8:18 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:13 am

TryToFlySomeday wrote:
AS all the way. They give better earning rates than AA/UA would combined


It is true that AS is higher than AA or USA, but not really saying much compared to Delta

First three quarters of 2019 at Operating Profit/Operating Revenue $0,000 (not at net income)
19.1% Allegiant Air $249,558 / $1,307,373
14.5% Delta Air Lines Inc. $5,163,021 / $35,663,347
13.9% Sun Country Airlines d/b/a MN Airlines $74,462 / $536,993
13.7% Southwest Airlines Co. $2,292,460 / $16,698,471
13.2% Spirit Air Lines $376,425 / $2,860,720
13.0% Frontier Airlines Inc. $241,004 / $1,852,764
12.9% Hawaiian Airlines Inc. $273,514 / $2,122,367
12.1% Alaska Airlines Inc. $793,550 / $6,548,775
10.6% United Air Lines Inc. $3,441,846 / $32,371,139
9.5% JetBlue Airways $576,366 / $6,062,883
6.7% American Airlines Inc. $2,300,753 / $34,448,581
 
User avatar
gunsontheroof
Posts: 3571
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:30 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:49 am

STT757 wrote:
And also that the terrorists of September 11th picked two AA and two UA aircraft for their attacks. They targeted both carriers because they saw them as symbols, which is also why the attacked NY and Washington. Symbolism.

That probably had more to do with the fact that both carriers were operating larger aircraft on transcon routes at the time. New York and Washington are pretty obvious targets for anyone, jihadist or otherwise who's looking to make a statement with an attack on the U.S.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
Picked a hell of a week to quit sniffing glue.
 
User avatar
gunsontheroof
Posts: 3571
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:30 am

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:49 am

gunsontheroof wrote:
STT757 wrote:
And also that the terrorists of September 11th picked two AA and two UA aircraft for their attacks. They targeted both carriers because they saw them as symbols, which is also why the attacked NY and Washington. Symbolism.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro


That probably had more to do with the fact that both carriers were operating larger aircraft on transcon routes at the time. New York and Washington are pretty obvious targets for anyone, jihadist or otherwise who's looking to make a statement with an attack on the U.S.
Picked a hell of a week to quit sniffing glue.
 
TryToFlySomeday
Posts: 346
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:51 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:01 am

PacoMartin wrote:
TryToFlySomeday wrote:
AS all the way. They give better earning rates than AA/UA would combined


It is true that AS is higher than AA or USA, but not really saying much compared to Delta

First three quarters of 2019 at Operating Profit/Operating Revenue $0,000 (not at net income)
19.1% Allegiant Air $249,558 / $1,307,373
14.5% Delta Air Lines Inc. $5,163,021 / $35,663,347
13.9% Sun Country Airlines d/b/a MN Airlines $74,462 / $536,993
13.7% Southwest Airlines Co. $2,292,460 / $16,698,471
13.2% Spirit Air Lines $376,425 / $2,860,720
13.0% Frontier Airlines Inc. $241,004 / $1,852,764
12.9% Hawaiian Airlines Inc. $273,514 / $2,122,367
12.1% Alaska Airlines Inc. $793,550 / $6,548,775
10.6% United Air Lines Inc. $3,441,846 / $32,371,139
9.5% JetBlue Airways $576,366 / $6,062,883
6.7% American Airlines Inc. $2,300,753 / $34,448,581

Didn't think they were more profitable than AA and UA... probably should've said mileage earning rates... lol. Interesting information, thanks!
Pakistan's aviation sector is coming back. It won't be as strong as our eastern neighbor, nowhere close, but it's going to grow over time. Stand by and watch.

Born to Pakistani parents near ORD; raised and based near ORD.
 
User avatar
cathay747
Posts: 1204
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 8:47 pm

Re: United vs American, the old rivalry

Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:55 pm

WA707atMSP wrote:
cathay747 wrote:
An important aspect of this old rivalry to remember is that back in a more civilized time, before the lawyers and bean-counters took over running the industry, C.R. Smith and Bill Patterson were friends. They respected each other. Rivals and competitors yes, and pretty fierce, but it was always a gentlemanly, friendly competition.


Patterson's daughter wanted to be a flight attendant, but she knew her dad would never let her work for United because of nepotism concerns, so she applied to American without telling her dad, or telling anyone at AA who her dad was. Mr. Patterson was nice about it when he found out, and pinned her wings on her at her graduation ceremony. Long after she retired from AA, Patterson's daughter remained active in AA's retired stewardess group, the Kiwis.


Yep, Patty indeed went to "the dark side" LOL. Word had it too IIRC that C.R. had a soft-spot for her, partly due to Bill being her dad. And the story of him pinning on her wings I always thought was priceless, but a perfect example of how C.R. and Bill got along, that he'd invite him to do that.

But nearly all the airlines presidents were at least cordial with each other back then. It was a mutual respect (and sometimes admiration) club with C.R., Patterson, Woolman, Six, Nyrop, etc. although I don't think Col. Eddie was too terribly liked LOL.
Try a Little VC-10derness

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos