U.S. Airline Crackup: The Four Largest Carriers Are Each At A Crossroads

The role that each of the four largest U.S. airlines plays is changing rapidly, upending the fixed narratives that prevailed prior to the pandemic. Delta’s leadership role is being challenged. American and United, laggards prior to Covid, are each focused on strategies that could catapult them to the top or fail. And Southwest Airlines faces a struggle for its identity.

Which Way Delta Air Lines?

Before the pandemic Delta Air Lines was head and shoulders above its major competition. It was the most reliable airline by far. And it worked hard to attract premium customers, even premium leisure customers, but offering a better product. They tried to deliver free wifi in 2019 (it only took until now to deliver) and they even introduced hot towels and welcome drinks in international economy.

The airline is still generally performing better operationally than peers, but the gap has narrowed. Delta does cancel flights now, it almost never used to. And the quality of its inflight product has fallen. They use a story about the environment to justify disposable utensils in domestic first class (ditching plastic for wood, hoping you don’t notice that means metal doesn’t return, and focusing on ‘sustainable indigenous’ amenity kits rather than quality ones. Meals and service have declined greatly. And in their very announcement about reducing plastic waste, they introduced… plastic cups for wine.

Credit: Delta

Delta has used milquetoast political platitudes to mask cost cuts, like its focus on going green – mostly achieved through carbon credits, which offer no meaningful benefit to the environment. It’s almost as though they want you to forget that they own an oil refinery.

It used to be that it didn’t matter that SkyMiles is such a low value program because people chose to fly Delta for the experience of flying Delta and their reputation, combined with several captive hubs, meant they were able to ink a record-breaking credit card deal.

Maybe Delta will recapture its once and former glory. They shedded a third of their staff during the pandemic despite massive government subsidies meant to ensure they’d keep everyone on board and ready to fly when customers returned. They lost tremendous institutional knowledge, and even the architect of their reliable operation. They need to regain a focus on quality across the board – from their operations to their inflight experience.

Outstanding Delta Sky Club, Austin

While this could be restored, there’s an opportunity for Delta to be displaced as the premium U.S. carrier – if other airlines don’t make the traditional mistake of ‘doing what Delta does’ on the assumption that Delta’s executives are smarter (something I had heard explicitly from competitor executives in recent years).

Will The Real United Airlines Please Stand Up?

United Airlines had been a basket case in many ways for decades. A low point came before the Continental merger under CEO Glenn Tilton when the carrier didn’t clean planes or maintain cabins – to the point that they pre-printed apology cards for customers and set up compensation websites that had pre-filled out routine issues like ‘broken reading lights’ and ‘broken armrests’ the airline simply ignored.

It seemed things couldn’t get worse, and that Continental – which had been a higher-quality airline under Gordon Bethune and Larry Kellner – would make things better. But Kellner, who seemed not to want to do the deal, left Continental and was replaced by their lawyer Jeff Smisek. Before Smisek was ousted in a federal corruption scandal he promised customers ‘changes you’re going to like’ while imposing draconian multi-billion dollar cost cuts dubbed in Newspeak ‘Project Quality’.

Oscar Munoz, a talented executive with no airline executive other than his board service, stepped into the role of CEO. He promptly went on leave with health issues. When he returned, looking to make a splash for the airline, he greenlit very high quality products. United’s business class soft product went from mediocre to downright indulgent with quality meals, outstanding bedding, and top notch dedicated lounges.

The new United Polaris business class seat was ‘good enough’. Its primary attribute was that it could deliver a lie flat product with direct aisle access (something competitors already had) without dedicated more space per passenger than their six-abreast Collins Diamond seats. When it was rolled out it wasn’t better than, and in many ways still inferior to, the products offered by American, Delta, Air Canada and Air France. That shouldn’t surprise because the seat itself was developed under Smisek.

Shortly after unveiling this new product, American Airlines released President Scott Kirby and he was hired into that same role at United. United promptly engaged in a series of cost cuts in business class, reducing staffing levels and eliminating amenities. That tracked both with Munoz going too far towards quality, and with Kirby’s traditional role at American, US Airways, and America West as someone who cut costs – and who, if you couldn’t demonstrate direct revenue from an investment in a spreadsheet, wanted little part of it. They were also one of the most dishonest airlines during the pandemic, holding onto customer money and refusing refunds when cancelling flights.

Yet now United is investing in its domestic cabin experience and investing in massive growth. Even before the pandemic Kirby declared quality mattered and (thanks to pilot contract scope clause) introduced a premium regional jet, the CRJ-550, and improvements like ConnectionSaver to hold planes for passengers to keep people from getting stranded.

United was even the first U.S. airline to eliminate change fees on most of its fares (of course Southwest never had them to begin with).

What’s the model of United Airlines under Scott Kirby’s leadership? They’re spending money. They’re offering an improved product, though they’re still far behind Delta and American in terms of business class and inflight wifi, yet they have plans in place to catch up. Up or down, United? Up.. or down?

Is American Airlines Finally About To Grow Up?

This is a strange question to ask of an airline that traces its history to 1926. For years American Airlines has talked about improving its operation and that this is the key to success with customers. Now-CEO Robert Isom was known as an operations guy, yet the American Airlines operation hasn’t been especially especially impressive. Chief Operating Officer David Seymour, responsible for the airline when it melted down in the face of poor relations with mechanics in summer 2019, continued to fail upwards.

When US Airways management took over we started to see real cuts to the business. US Airways-style inflight catering was an embarrassment to crew and an affront to customers, so much that they walked it back (somewhat) in a matter of months. In 2018 then-CEO Doug Parker talked about the only reason they were even adding power to seats was because customers didn’t know what to expect – US Airways customers knew they had to charge their devices before a flight, but American customers didn’t, and while they thought they could get away with not having it they found it was an investment they had to make. (When America West management took over at US Airways they actually removed seat power from the planes that had it.)

The airline densified aircraft, and didn’t even bother doing a mockup of their new domestic cabins before rolling them out. So they were taken by surprise at how much customers – including first class customers – hated them, and how challenging they were for flight attendants. They re-retrofited planes they’d just retrofitted to fix some of the problems.

American Airlines was clearly going down-market. They removed business class seats from planes. Boeing 787-8s are down to just 20 business class seats, and on some routes they’re restricted to sell just 19. The airline realized as far back as 2018 that they didn’t have enough premium seats to sell. At US Airways they offered a poor premium product, from markets without significant premium demand, and dumped it at a discount. They didn’t model for customers actually being willing to spend a premium.

Even now there are members of leadership who believe the schedule, not seats or service, is what American Airlines sells. And when CEO Robert Isom took over he directed employees not to spend a dollar more than they needed to.

Yet American Airlines is… investing heavily in its product. American is introducing business class suites with doors for widebody aircraft, going premium heavy in the number of business seats, and even putting business class suites with doors onto new Airbus A321XLR narrowbodies when those planes are delivered.

Credit: American Airlines

They’re planning to introduce new bedding, amenities and meals with the introduction of their new premium seats. Their new Admirals Club lounge template is downright gorgeous. I could sit comfortably inside the new Washington National Airport’s E concourse Admirals Club for hours.

Indeed, American Airlines charges less for lounge access than competitors and its premium co-brand credit card is also a cheaper way to access its lounges than other major U.S. carriers. Citibank has been surveying new benefits to go along with a higher price. If American would further improve the food in its lounges (beyond meatballs and baklava) and fast track a rollout of this new lounge design which is vastly better than the 2018-era institutional template, I’d be willing to pay more for it.

Currently American’s catering, for all of its lack of attention to detail (I’ve gotten 3 salads on a tray, and the same meal on back-to-back connecting flights) is better than Delta’s or United’s. I never thought I’d say that. Their business class lounges are good. And though there’s been some luck involved, their operation is performing better than it has in the past.

There are risks, in pilot and flight attendant negotiations that have dragged on for years, and in pending changes to AAdvantage award pricing. The courts could side with the federal government and decide that the New York market ought to be preserved for United and Delta, striking down the airline’s partnership (that DOT had previously approved!) with JetBlue.

Passengers have a lot to look forward to at American, from a new business class to nicer lounges.
If American Airlines maintains its improved operations, the DOJ doesn’t manage to undo its partnership with JetBlue, and Devon May isn’t given as much of a voice as his predecessor Derek Kerr as CFO (who had been school chums with Isom), American Airlines could be on a fantastic path to be better than it has been in years.

Is Southwest Airlines Still The Carrier It Used To Be?

Southwest Airlines has been a business school case study: an airline that’s actually consistently profitable, and a corporate culture envied across industries, indeed a heavily unionized company with great employee relations – happy people, high pay, and less onerous work rules than competitors.

Yet much of the Southwests narrative is being questioned after their huge failures over the peak holiday period at the end of 2022. Bad weather exposed gaps in their operations, and insufficient slack in their staffing. Once they began cancelling flights, their IT systems weren’t up to the task of rebuilding – so cancellations spirals, and extended out for several days.

The airline didn’t know where its crews were. They didn’t have a way to get in touch. And they literally built schedules manually for days – a task that they could only manage to keep a third of their flights in the air. This made plain the chronic underinvestment in technology they’ve been making for years.

In many ways Southwest Airlines has still been the underdog shoestring operation of its youth from the 1970s. They’ve seen shortcomings, and made some investments like a new reservations system, but there hadn’t been a fast-track corporate priority to change. CEO Bob Jordan was criticized for barely communicating during the mess, but he’s been in place for only a year and as a result largely escaped criticism for the historical decisions that led to Southwest’s problems.

Instead former CEO Gary Kelly has come under fire for taking a financial manager’s approach to running the airline, leading to its underinvestments. In the mythology the appointment of Kelly was supposed to have been the departure from the days of Herb Kelleher running the airline. Yet people forget how famously cheap Kelleher was! Southwest Airlines stopped serving peanuts in 2018 but peanuts had been closely associated with the Southwest brand for decades. The famous book about Southwest’s style of success was even called Nuts!

Other airlines served meals while Southwest served just peanuts. Some Southwest executives felt they would need to increase their investment in inflight food. Then-CEO Herb Kelleher shot that down, “Do you know what the difference in cost is between peanuts and Snickers?”

Southwest seems likely to get a handle on its problems, and at a minimum what happened six weeks ago was a long tail event that requires a confluence of events to repeat. And Southwest still offers a better product to the domestic coach passenger, which is most Americans who fly.

They give more space than other airlines. Their flight credits do not expire. They don’t have draconian ‘basic economy’ fares. They don’t charge for (up to two) checked bags. And their employees generally seem to like their jobs, and as a result passengers wind up in a better mood. This last is going to be a critical challenge for Southwest to maintain, having turned over a full fifth of its workforce, and where their new employees know the Southwest from the holidays more than the upbeat and positive experience the airline created before that.

The U.S. Airline Industry May Be Prepared For A Shakeup

The U.S. airline industry heavily regulated and protected from competition, and as a result can seem sclerotic. Change happens very slowly… and then all at once.

Each of the largest U.S. airlines find themselves in a sense between Scylla and Charybdis, torn between their pasts and future selves, facing difficult choices. While the industry seemed settled before the pandemic – Delta as the leader, Southwest as the strong profitable airline with a differentiated lower-end product, American as the financial laggard and United as dysfunctional mess – all of these past models may be upended.

United faces the financial headwinds of major capital investment, which American largely has behind them after renewing its fleet. But United is also positioning itself as a premium airline with global reach.

American is a mostly-domestic airline, that can take passengers from anywhere to anywhere in the United States and then connect them globally onto partners. It may become a premium version of itself even.

Delta still has the lead, but has to prove it can recapture the excellence it displayed in the past – though it doesn’t seem to fully realize it has slipped.

And Southwest Airlines must prove it can fill the role that it has in the past, which will also slow down its growth as its focus must necessarily be elsewhere.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What happened on other sites in the past does indeed have relevance here because of the reeking stench of bias that was a constant undertone in your posts. And if it wasn’t the bias, it was the lies of omission, and the distortions, dressed up as facts.

    For instance, you (nee World Traveler) may have then suggested a financial failure of L-AA, but, – to paraphrase one of your responses here – EVERY PIECE OF DATA and EVERY PROFESSIONAL ANALYST suggested the high probability of a L-AA bankruptcy. Since you were you so prescient & claim to have UNDERSTOOD WHAT WAS AT STAKE, why don’t you lay out your credentials for the readers.

    Psst….don’t you remember how you used to openly root for the demise – not bankruptcy, the DEMISE – of AA?

    Now, for you to throw stones at the basic thesis of this article is laughable. Mr. Leff is taking a mix of fact & conjecture to posit a simple, forward looking “what if…” Instead of casting aspersions, why don’t you draft your own article countering the suggestions put forth here. I think Seeking Alpha.com would be the perfect place for your Tim Dunn-authored counterpoint.

    Your preparation for participating in factual aviation social media discussions could use improvement. And don’t be afraid to admit when you have lost the debate.

    Only someone living in their head can claim that DL “was the biggest winner” at DAL when UA is getting paid $9.3M per year through 2028 to not fly there. And you continually “cite” how DL “must be in compliance with gate usage rules” at AUS. But, you have yet to cite or even paraphrase the rule. I doubt you know what it is (though I’m certain you’ll now scour the interwebs to find out).

    Boy, you’ve always hated it when someone came along to logically point out your hypocrisy and provided facts that counter your opinions and incorrect statements.

    I know these diatribes you’ve been leaving are just indicative of a man in his emotions.

  2. @aafly

    Cheers to actually using data to argue your point and then actually sticking to the point. It’s frustrating to see threads constantly hijacked and then brigaded by Tim.

    Funny the use of Cranky Flier to counter Gary. What has Cranky Flier said about Tim?

    [redacted -gl]

    Gary has been quite patient and tolerance of his shenanigans given the multiple comments he’s redacted from Tim. He’s been redacted on here, suspended and censured on Cranky Flier, and banned from airliners.net. For good reason too.

  3. “DL is now in a position to grow at AUS more than any other carrier.”

    Fascinating considering it was three or so weeks ago that you said – on this site no less – that DL wasn’t interested in growing in AUS when (a) the coastal markets were of more value, and (b) didn’t want to involve itself in a three carrier city battle.

  4. aaway and Leo,
    you both simply cannot accept the fact that I have debated with facts and you can’t win so you want to drag every other site into the discussion.

    You also prove exactly what I said which is that you want to silence anyone that challenges the flimsy arguments that you throw up with facts that are right.

    By continuing to bring up Austin, you clearly can’t accept that Delta IS growing; failing to recognize that my statement about Delta growing elsewhere came BEFORE Delta announced their AUS expansion simply proves once again that you are a mental and logical lightweight.

    Gary doesn’t ban me because I focus on the issues and I bring a whole lot of page views to his site.
    Gary also replies to my comments and he is also smarter than you in knowing when to walk away from an argument.
    You would do well to follow his example instead of hoping that he will do what you and others failed to accomplish on any other site.

    and I still participate on CF and cite his work. I would meet him in person if I get out to his events just as I would with Gary.

    Grow up and learn to debate instead of trying to silence people that are clearly smarter and more informed than you.l

  5. @Tim Dunn – respectfully you don’t bring a material number of page views to my site 🙂 You can do some back of the envelope math using publicly available data e.g. https://www.similarweb.com/website/viewfromthewing.com/vs/onemileatatime.com/#overview


    I do not mind substantive disagreement. I edit out attacks that get too personal.

    I am tempted to redact all of the stuff about Cranky Flier, it’s not super relevant to this discussion. But I’m on my phone [much easier to do on my computer], I’m enjoying the afternoon with my family, and I’d really rather folks just debate issues. Sometimes I tire of debating issues when it feels like the other side isn’t listening, and at that point I step away from the keyboard rather than digging in for its own sake. 🙂

  6. Speaking strictly from recent, aka “anecdotal,” experience, it is my (& my partner’s) opinion, that the “problem” with Delta is that it has had some glaring customer service “fails” since we resumed flying 18 months ago that stand out if only because there were so few fails by Delta in the “before times” that the recent fails stood out as being the fails experienced at other airlines we avoid.

    Sure, Delta was not perfect in years past, but the fails when they occurred were few & far between, & when they did occur, it was our experience that the airline – within reason – CONSISTENTLY worked very hard to remedy problems or its service delivery fails.

    Since resuming travel, in our experience, it’s the consistency that’s missing more than anything else, as we’ve had some excellent customer service experiences, but also a few fails that were truly disappointing.

    Meanwhile, over at United (we live/work in midtown Manhattan so all 3 NYC airports work for us, although we prefer EWR & JFK over LGA because of the public transit options available to/from EWR & JFK), we have found the airline much improved vs. the truly awful United during the Smisek era.

    And quite frankly, we much preferred United’s Premium Plus EWR-LAX-EWR international configures widebody flights last fall vs. Delta’s underwhelming domestic Comfort+ (for which they charge very high fares for extra legroom seating, cocktails & little else now) for prior transcons.

    For our other flights, we’ve also found United to be much improved vs. pre-Dr. Dao dragging incident 6-years ago (April 2017), although the mainline fleet inconsistency vs. Delta is both noticeable & disappointing (we like Delta’s seatback IFE & live tv much more than United’s aircraft that lack either seatback IFE &/or have it, but don’t offer live tv inflight…but that’s a personal preference).

    As noted, for us, it’s the inconsistency at Delta that stands out most, as while most of our flights have been OK, & we are aware of staffing issues in the current post-lockdown era, when Delta has “failed” we noticed it, & even coined a term we use in our conversations to reference those fails: “not very ‘Delta-y’”.

    For example, last month a direct family member was rushed to the ER by ambulance just hours before our flight, but when we asked to rebook a flight 2-days later even after offering full documentation, a steep fare increase was demanded vs. past experience when the airline, upon verification of a bona fide medical emergency, would waive any increases.

    We found a much less expensive replacement on United, & used the eCredits for an upcoming flight instead.

    But, that disappointment by Delta stood out & still impacts how we feel about the airline vs. our experiences in the before times.

    We also encountered a less than pleasant “roaming rep” during the long line for bag drop at LGA airport back in December, & we still remember that, too.

    On the other hand, Delta gave each of us $15 gift cards for food & beverage for about 2 hours delayed flight that included multiple gate changes, with the final gate requiring 15 mins walk to reach.

    Needless to say, we appreciated the $15 gift cards.

    Actually, we were surprised – & delighted by that.

    And the airline came through promptly refunding our family member’s non-refundable fare when the doctor determined they’re unfit to travel for the foreseeable future, vs. another international airline that yet still is dragging its feet on the refund despite having the same medical documents from the ER visit & doctor’s evaluations since then that Delta reviewed to refund our family member’s fare.

    So, as noted, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag at Delta, & we miss the consistency of years past.

    Anyhow, as a side note:

    Liked Gary’s post – & the lively discussion in the reader comments…a LOT!

    Definitely glad to see things with wings being the primary focus in this forum once again!

  7. Gary,
    thanks for the link. That was actually quite insightful and not what I expected. Congratulations.
    I don’t really think I make a material difference to any site but the mere fact that we have people arguing endlessly about my activity elsewhere on the internet instead of dealing with the root issues that are being discussed is what is driving volume.

    I don’t care whether you delete their posts or not. They are clearly trying to stiff arm you to eliminate a viable voice in the conversation that they cannot logically and factually counter. Of course they want someone else to eliminate me when they can’t successfully debate.

    Enjoy your time with the fam, Gary. As I said before, I want you to succeed and by bringing intelligent conversation to this side – regardless of whose toes I step on, I do my part.

  8. outstanding comment, Howard Miller.
    I don’t disagree with a word you said and you were very careful to note that it is your anecdotal experience.
    But let’s be honest that stuff like what airlines do is measured and if Delta consistently scores higher on a macro level, even if less consistent than they were in the past, then it simply means that other carriers consistently perform worse than Delta.
    And what Delta might be inconsistent about is customer service, not their operation. There is yet to be any evidence that Delta’s operation is any less consistent or any more impacted by factors which Delta could have controlled over more than an anecdotal, cherrypicked period of time for Delta which excludes a similar cherrypicked period of time for another airline.

    Dragging the rest of the internet into the discussion because some people can’t grasp what you eloquently posted shows not just your strength and mental acuity but their weaknesses.

  9. I don’t care how large Southwest Airlines becomes, I will not fly on an airline with cattle car boarding and only one class of “service.”

  10. @Gary Leff
    Oh no, it was Tim Dunn that openly rooted for the demise of AA.

    Also thank you for debunking the delusions some folks have about themselves. For as much great insight that Mr. Dunn brings to this forum, he continually commits self harm when chiding others in the following ways:

    “The problem w/ you….and zillion other people is that you are incapable of recognizing that your tiny view of the world and your experience does not translate into anything more than your tiny view of the world. Period. Your thoughts mean nothing to the rest of the world.”

    “As much as you want to bob and weave and deflect from reality….”

    “YOU AND only you….need to deal with the cold hard facts and not your opinions….”

    The statements made above, and attributable to Mr. Dunn, are also accurate about Mr. Dunn. And, when brought to accountability by evidence or fact, such a fixation on shaming, insults, and the need to be right.

    I believe Mr. Dunn’s credibility would be greater if he ceased wallowing in the same morass he purports to loathe. No, Tim Dunn doesn’t need silencing. However, a reader should question – and is within his/her right to question – the credibility of Dunn’s statements when Mr. Dunn is being a hypocrite.

  11. @Gary Leff – not sure why you redacted a portion of Leo Guam’s post. It was a factual event. The statements attributable to the event and as quoted were also factual.

  12. Thanks, @TimDunn – kind words appreciated.

    As you know, I have long respected & admired your insightful commentaries & analyses posted here on VFTW & elsewhere!

    Agree – operational metrics speak for themselves & data driven analysis is what matters most.


    FBOFW, more often than not, airline operations in post-lockdown era are a lot less “predictable” (I found that word better than “reliable” given industry-wide “issues”) what with the many “phantom”/“placeholder” flights that later result in (sometimes multiple) schedule changes between advance bookings & departure dates; equipment changes with downgauging especially problematic; or even last minute flight cancellations that we’ve experienced for our flights & those I’ve booked for others (family & close friends).

    It is what it is & we’ve adjusted our expectations as it’s an industry wide problem that’s going to take some time to resolve, especially if/when any future spikes in Covid19 infections results in employees unable to work as scheduled, which of course, is a huge component of airline operations.

    I also make it a point to warn those who ask for an opinion on which is the “best airline to fly?” or who ask me to book their flights to be prepared from the outset for an array of “problems” between the time of booking & departure dates as there’s been quite a few unpleasant surprises over the past year or so, some of which were only discovered during the online check in (sudden schedule changes; involuntary class downgrades that were not disclosed; changed/broken advance seat assignments, including no seat assignments) to canceled flights literally as we were preparing to leave for the airport.

    Digressing for a moment:

    Based on what others said, maybe we should rethink our “AA-no way!” prohibition.

    Then again, Oasis cabins…no thanks!

    Besides, we’ve found the Delta & United combination works for us, & don’t see a need to tinker with that as we’re more than once or twice per year flyers, but hardly globe-trotting, top tier road warriors whose needs & expectations are vastly different than ours.

    Just the same, the other, big, Delta “disappoint” in the post-lockdown era that we have experienced & found frustrating:

    The much longer time it takes to connect with the airline’s reps when DIY online via web site or using its app doesn’t work for resolving problems.

    Even though we’re not high value road warriors, the difficulty reaching Delta reps vs. before times has been something we’ve learned to live with, but hope is resolved in the not too distant future – & have said so in surveys they sent.

    Finally, is it possible that the SkyClub overcrowding is where much of the problem – or at least the perception of a larger than actual problem – for Delta lies?

    I/we don’t have SkyClub membership, nor do either of us have cards offering club admission as a perk.

    However, it was impossible to miss the *very long* line to enter the SkyClub at LGA when we were there December 22nd (obviously a peak travel date) & I’ve seen/read the many blog posts & reader reply complaints about the long lines & waits to enter SkyClubs at some of its hubs/gateways throughout much of the 2nd half of last year.

    And again, as more modest flyers (“Silver” now at United; formerly “Silver” at Delta), while airport clubs/lounges were enjoyable on the occasional times we’ve been to them, our needs & expectations are not nearly the same as road warriors – but I’m pretty sure we’d be disappointed if we did pay the additional (high) fees for premium credit cards & then had to wait in long lines to enter very crowded lounges, & all the more so if traveling was an integral part of our work & prompt & reliable access to a lounge – or lack thereof adversely – impacted our work product.

  13. Howard,
    again, I agree with your reasoned, logical discussion which neither predicts the end of anything is coming or that anyone is on the verge of taking over the world.
    Others would do well to follow your example.

    btw, I both had to call Delta this week and flew American just last night – on a 737 in “oasis” Good news is that I had the half row to myself but would have survived even if hadn’t.

    Your point about Sky Clubs is completely accurate. Social media amplifies anything good or bad and removes any sense of logic or comparison.

    bringing the rest of the internet into the discussion isn’t relevant, Gary said so, and he said he would edit the post – which he did.
    The question is why you and Leo have spent post after post unable to focus on the discussion at hand – and when at least you do, you were shown the logical fallacy of what you posted. Gary is not throwing me off of here despite the clearly stated desire for that to happen because you and Leo can’t logically and rationally debate the issues and are being out-debated by someone that clearly not only has alot more experience but also a whole lot more knowledge.

    Learn to properly debate with facts where they are due and then frame the rest as opinion and we’ll all get along just fine.

  14. Funny given that it was Tim who brought up Cranky Flier before anyone else in this thread.

    Gary removed the direct quotes from Brett but not the action he took against Tim. I don’t blame Gary, there’s more than enough comments regarding Tim getting sanctioned.

    It’s a waste of time to debate a person who’s so off base to think United’s social media team is following them around and out to get them.

    I’m waking away from my “keyboard” which is a concept Tim will never be familiar with.

  15. it would take no effort whatsoever to find that I still post on Cranky Flier so whatever point you think you had by bringing it up seems meaningless and contradictory to reality.
    CF and Gary write content I agree with and some which I do not.
    More importantly they are both mature enough to accept criticism – and they both get it from lots of people -and they also respond to their readers.
    CF is very data driven and what he just posted is relevant to this discussion. IN case you haven’t noticed, Gary links to CF.
    But let’s be honest, Leo. You said exactly what I expected to come out which is that you want me removed from here because I express truths which you don’t want to accept and can’t counter.

    If that is your goal, you should walk away from the keyboard.

    It is only on a.net and in Washington DC and its surrogates where people silence those they disagree with.
    Adults discuss and share their opinions.
    There are more than enough people that have demonstrated that skill in this thread.
    You would do well to look at their example and make a conscious decision to actively participate or accept that someone else just might be right; even if you disagree with them, they have as much of a right to express themselves as you do.

  16. The ONLY reasons U.S. carriers live are: insane bailouts; crazy subsidies (“Fly America” for one); and market access protection. If actual competition was allowed, all of them would die slow and painful death. And I ‘d be perfectly ok with seeing them gone.

  17. Mayor Dunn,
    Debate? What debate? I haven’t conducted a debate with you. I took you to task for your hypocrisy & vindictiveness. There’s no debating behavior that was on full display for the readers here.

    There’s absolutely no reason for you to belittle opinions that are contrary to your own, or that lack industry insight. You spent 30 years with Delta. Be an educator, not some damn self-appointed arbiter.

    There simply is no debating bad form & bad behavior.


    With that said, since debating is at top of mind for you, you may want to polish your skills ahead of 2024 down in Lilburn, GA. Lose the equivocations, the false dichotomies, the ad hominems, and the appeals to pity.

    You may just come out alright.

  18. aaway
    what you and others have tried to do on multiple websites is to get rid of people that you don’t agree with and Gary here has said that is not relevant to what goes on here.
    Gary is a big boy and sets the rules of his own show. If he wants me or anyone else out of here, he will do it. He doesn’t need you asking.

    and the fact that you and others have tried for years to out me and still get it wrong shows why YOUR efforts have failed and why you need to walk away.

    And specific to this discussion, I disagreed w/ Gary on the basic assumptions he used to come up with his rearrangement of the airline industry. Gary responded and then you and others jumped in thinking that you could pile on to convince him that I shouldn’t be a part of the discussion.
    Gary is not a wallflower. He is more than capable of expressing his opinions and listening to diverse opinions even from people that disagree with him.

    Gary demonstrates the best engagement with his readers and ability to discuss airline issues on the internet – with CF not far behind.
    You would do well to learn to follow the example rather than worrying about what is happening in a small town in Georgia.

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