Matthew wrote a great post a couple days ago about how he'll be making the jump to American Airlines for the rest of the year.
His primary reason for switching includes the following:
- Frustration with United's IT System Integration
- More (8 on AA v. 2 on UA) Systemwide Upgrades with the Ability to be Used on Any Fare (United requires at least a W fare)
- Better Likelihood of Clearing with Domestic Upgrades
- Being Overall Slighty Disgrgruntled with the "new" United
His post cites other reasons for the switch, but I think that encompasses most of his reasons. They are indeed quite valid! In fact, I think a LOT of frequent fliers are jumping ship from United to American. The reasons are, indeed, quite good. Their domestic first class products are similar, but elites on American do seem to have less competition for clearing upgrades.
I've been tempted to take the status match bait from American Airlines and jump ship as well, but I've decided not to. Here's why.
- United's West Coast route network is unmatched by any U.S. carrier, especially as I live in San Francisco. I can get to Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mexico City, New York, London, or Frankfurt all on non-stop flights on United airplanes. It's truly fantastic, and now that the merger is complete, there are just SO many options on United to go almost anywhere. If I were to go to American, I would require at least one domestic plane change, and even after plane changes, some of those cities are unreachable on American planes.
- United's new Million Miler Program is great for those with wives / husbands. I'm not too far from the million mile mark, and once I hit it, I'll be Premier Gold for life. Furthermore, I can choose a companion to ALSO have that status for life. It gets better. If I earn a status level higher than Premier Gold, my companion gets THAT status as well! I'm getting married in a few months, and once I hit a million miles, my future wife will be a Premier Gold, and if I earn 1K status, she will be a 1K as well. Think about the implications this could have for families. Let's say, theoretically, that I have two kids. Let's also say that I'm a 1K. In this case, my future wife could book a ticket for herself + kid one, and I could book a ticket for myself + kid two. All of a sudden, we're eligible for complimentary upgrades for the entire family. This is really sweet! While I've never done a mileage run before, they seem more palletable when I know that I'll be earning status for two people instead of one. This is the biggest thing keeping me with the program, but I understand that it doesn't necessarily apply to those who haven't logged as many miles on an airline.
- The future of American Airlines is rather uncertain. What will happen to American? Will they merge with US Airways? Will they stay independent? Something else? It's pretty unclear. A merger with US Airways might be a good thing, but it might also be bad, depending on how it's all structured. Whether you think United is good or bad, their merger, from a frequent flier perspective, is complete, and they just finished overhauling MileagePlus. Thus, the program probably won't see any drastic changes in the near future.
Matthew and I have a similar amount of lifetime miles on United, but he's toying with jumping ship, and I'm staying put! Just thought I'd throw another opinion into the mix :-).