“You’re going to like where we land!”
Skytrax rating: 3 stars
Star Alliance member
- All international destinations (more than 1000)
- USA domestic
- International flights offered from Cape Town and Johannesburg via various Star Alliance partners and code-sharing with South African Airways and Lufthansa.
United Airlines (UA) is the largest airline in the world in terms of the number of destinations that it services, both by its own planes and via its Star Alliance partners. Established in 1926, UA has more than 80 years of corporate history to its name and employs more than 80 000 people. UA recently merged with the former Continental Airlines to form the largest carrier internationally.
In May 2010 new broke of a possible merger between UA and Continental Airlines. United has subsequently bought out Continental, and the combined company has kept the United name and is based in Chicago. Jeffery A. Smisek, Continental’s chief executive, now runs the company. The deal secured antitrust approval and the merged airline has replaced Delta Air Lines as the top carrier internationally.
Combined, United and Continental have 21 percent of USA domestic capacity, in terms of so-called available seat miles, or one seat flown one mile. Delta has a market stake of 20 percent. Globally, the merged companies have a 7 percent share of the market. The merger has put pressure on American Airlines, which was once the market captain, but which has dropped to third place. While American’s executives said that they did not feel threatened by mergers in the industry, Wall Street commentators were dissatisfied by the company’s performance.
In conjunction with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, the merged UA operates nearly 6000 flights daily to more than 350 destinations throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia from the airline’s hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. UA and Continental are both partners in the Star Alliance, which provides more than 21000 flights every day to a little under 200 countries using its 28 member airlines.
UA has a frequent flyer program known as “MileagePlus” which comes with its own credit card. The program has various levels of membership. UA offers a range of in-flight entertainment and catering, including movies, TV, music, a wide selection of food, and on the technology side there are electricity connections, wi-fi ports and satellite telephone (although, if you use the satellite phone, you need to have some money on your credit card as the tariff is USD10 per minute in addition to a USD10 connection fee). For those who wish to take advantage of the duty-free environment of an international flight, there is SkyMall, which offers various items at a claimed discount of 40% on their retail price and a 60-day unconditional return policy.
If you are based in or traveling to South Africa and you prefer UA as your carrier of choice, you are advised to contact us so that we can make the necessary arrangements for you in a professional and convenient manner.
Further operational developments:
In the last year, the airline has utilized the leveraged the flexibility of its merged fleet to better meet market trends. There are now new routes from the airline’s hubs on the East and West coasts to international destinations such as Guadalajara, Mexico; Montreal, Canada; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Shanghai, China, and Stuttgart, Germany, along with new intra-Asia routes between the Tokyo hub and Hong Kong and between the Guam hub and Okinawa, Japan. The merger has also allowed the airline to commence several additional domestic flights by deploying a combination of mainline and regional aircraft from both carriers more efficiently.
2011: Continental to add new daily flights between Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and Lagos, Nigeria (starting 16 November).
2012: Continental to commence second daily flight between New York/Newark Liberty to Frankfurt, Germany (starting 2 January).
2012: Continental to add new daily non-stop flights (starting in May) between Washington/Dulles and Manchester, U.K., and (starting in June) between Washington/Dulles and Dublin, Ireland (subject to government approval).
2012: New weekly non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Durango, Mexico (starting in March), subject to government approval.
2012: UA to add new daily non-stop service between New York/Newark Liberty and Buenos Aires, Argentina (starting in April).