This one’s on us, United…

What matters more: the ticket price, or the airline? The answer is that every traveler is different, all needs are different and logic would say that most travelers will pick the cheapest option. Most of the flying public isn’t glued to a specific loyalty program, and travel is about getting the best price for the dates and times which suit them. Fair enough! There may be one exception though. God Save The Points conducted a survey, and found that United’s reputation is so low, 76% of travelers would pay at least $40 more NOT to fly United.

The Survey

The question was simple: Would you pay $360 for a direct United ticket, or $400 for a direct ticket on any other mainstream competing airline. Each respondent would naturally have their own reason for their answers and base the answer on a variety of factors, but an overwhelming majority picked an answer we never could have anticipated. The idea was to take personal factors such as elite status out of the equation and think on a purely A or B basis. God Save The Points has millions of annual readers, and the survey offered readers a chance to chime in. Sure, anyone reading the site is more travel crazed than your average person, but the results were too compelling to ignore.

The Result

76% of travelers sampled said they would rather choose to pay $40 more for ANY other legacy airline experience, than to save money but fly United. This is arguable proof that some airline issues are not of interest to the general public, such as exact inches of recline, but that when bad news, such as dragging passengers down an aisle hits mainstream – it really can impact business. United has grabbed more negative headlines in recent memory than any other airline, and savvy travelers are fed up. To summarize those findings, 76% of this traveler sampling would rather pay at least  10% more to not fly United, and would sacrifice holiday dollars.

The Shock

For the most part, economy is economy. Most airlines have adopted “lite” fares, which have taken away bags, many have added seats and the discernible “x- factors” which separate various airline offerings have largely disappeared. That’s what makes these results just so compelling. You could argue that travelers know they’ll get the same legroom, same meal, same seat, and experience, yet despite all these factors, they’d rather pay at least $40 more justo to avoid United entirely. Does PR reputation matter? This study says “yes”.