Should I switch from United to American this Winter?


Before the launch of Niko’s Travel Blog, I wanted to share some teaser articles to get things going. The first is my on-going thought…….

For the last three years, I’ve been a United Airlines Premier Silver member, and, frankly, I’ve had a good experience.

I have a 100% success rate with Economy Plus upgrades, and this year, I’m 3/7 in terms of Complementary Premier Upgrades to the United First cabin, which I think is pretty good.

I also primarily fly United because of their route network, and because they are in the Star Alliance. My mother’s side family is from Canada, so I fly to YFC multiple times per year (pretty much exclusively Air Canada) and SKG to see my father’s side family (Aegean). So, the Star Alliance is my natural fit.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately) Newark was never the most convenient airport to commute to, like, extremely far away. And, if all things go to plan, I will be moving to Long Island City this fall, which will distance me further from Newark, two bridges through Manhattan, and 5 minutes from LaGuardia, and another 25 from JFK. So, it’s no secret I’m debating about switching to American Airlines in 2018.

So, I composed this list of pro’s and con’s:

Why I should stick it out with United:

  1. Star Alliance – It’s no secret that the Star Alliance is a miracle worker for me. Virtually all of my flights in recent memory, United, Air Canada, SAS, Aegean, Swiss, Lufthansa, Turkish etc. have been on Star Alliance carriers, and, with a route network so strong internationally, it’s important to have a domestic counterpart.
  2. My plethora of Miles (with Chase) – All of my credit cards are Chase Visa’s, including the MileagePlus Explorer. I’d guess I have around 500,000 Ultimate Rewards Points and MileagePlus miles combined, and I have zero AAdvantage/Citi miles. While I could jump in with American, I’d like to use those United miles with status, so I get Economy Plus/CPU.
  3. Familiarity – I’m not lazy, but I really don’t want to learn the ins and outs of a new program. I know United’s secrets, downsides, and benefits as good as anyone, and that alone is a reason why I like United.
  4. Good Service & Product – I like United’s Economy Plus seat, and I think the drink selection and buy-on-board is superior to American. The First Class catering has taken a nose dive, though.

Why I should switch to American:

  1. LaGuardia is 5 minutes away – And Newark Airport is 50 minutes away. While this isn’t a problem on international trips, it’s not really worthwhile to go all the way to Newark on short domestic hops.
  2. IFE – American’s entertainment options are superior to United’s in most ways.
  3. Better Premium Cabin – United’s First cabin is not cutting edge, and while American’s isn’t industry leading either, I like the offerings and touches of their cabin more.

So what would you do if you were me? Stick it out with United or jump ship to American? Let me know below or on Twitter @NikoMetsPlus.


Author: Niko Goutakolis

I’ve been writing about the Orange & Blue since 2013 on, and I can be found talking about Baseball, Transit and Aviation on Twitter and Instagram @NikoMetsPlus.

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