a white airplane flying in the sky

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.

a row of seats in an airplaneThe 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”.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. the median inflation-adjusted household income in the US is also just $59k, so that tells you a lot regarding how “smart” these people are who say they wanna avoid UA.

  2. I’m not really buying this survey. I try my best to avoid flying United when I can. Another point, obviously share price isn’t always correlated to the health/success of a company, but United’s stock is up 30% YTD. Someone is flying them.

  3. Whoever publishes this garbage should be banned from boarding area. The only thing more idiotic than this post is the ‘survey’ itself. For starters the question alone is completely biased, not to mention that while your website may claim to have ‘millions’ of readers (a stat all of us would dispute because these clearly aren’t unique readers) you obviously had far fewer who actually responded to your internet poll. And while anyone with half a brain would agree that bad pr usually isn’t good for business I’d say that clearly based on UA’s stellar 3Q earnings they released yesterday, it’s not having any lasting effect on their business. While in some respects UA has a lot of catching up to do against DL I think they’re far superior to AA right now. AAs operation and product are dumpster fire.

  4. My sister and I fly UNITED from Frankfurt to Houston in August, was worried with all the negitive reporting about UA. We were very surprised how good they were, clean, good food, very good service. and return journey not so good but only because of some of the passengers demands (it was economy people)) if you want that sort of service pay up!!!
    Heres to UA. Try them just don’t go by what you read.!!!!!

  5. Well, I won’t comment on survey methodology, but myself being a European Star Alliance Gold customer, I’m kind of forced to fly United within my programme and codeshares, and I’d really prefer something else. I have some (admittedly limited) experience with AA on US domestic flights, and experience of my OneWorld friends as a benchmark, and I’d be happy not to fly United anymore, as everyday experience is somewhat similar to European low costs.

  6. Any article that claims a survey showed something definitive like this, but does not have a link to survey results is not worth the bytes it was written in

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