For the second trip in a row, my intent was to fly American Airlines. Yet a quick search on ITA Software revealed that AA was hundreds of dollars more per ticket than United! Not only that, they only operate American Eagle service to Denver from Los Angeles. Actually, I would have been happy to try it, but I doubt my father and uncle--who were traveling with me--would have been appreciative of the diminished legroom for the two hour flight (I've spoiled them with exit rows and first class on United for years).
So I booked on United instead--out of Santa Ana and into Los Angeles. The upgrade cleared overnight for me from Santa Ana to Denver and for my uncle and me from Denver to Los Angeles. I then used a regional upgrade to confirm my father in first class as well, so all three of us returned home in first class.
Despite my best efforts to give my father or uncle the first class seat on the outbound, they both insisted I take it and they actually wound up with more legroom (and an open middle seat) in the exit row.
Crews were great, meals were good, and though the return flight was delayed by an hour, the United Club in Denver was a decent place to pass the time.
All in all, a very smooth trip on United. More importantly, another missed chance to fly on American. I tried, but United just worked out better...again.