This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
A day after Delta announced that in-app SkyMiles seat upgrades were coming soon, the government shutdown was costing it a pretty penny and the long-awaited first flight of the A220 may be delayed, United is unloading a barrage of bulletins itself. As part of its full-year and Q4 2018 earnings report, the carrier quietly disclosed that it ordered an additional four Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and 24 737 MAX aircraft last month.
That’s atop the 21 new Boeing aircraft it took delivery of in the past year, including four 777-300ER, four 787-9, three 787-10 (which we recently reviewed between Newark and Los Angeles) and 10 737 MAX 9 aircraft.
The 777-300ER expansion is great news for those looking to plop down in a Polaris business-class seat across the ocean, and we found the 737 MAX 9 to offer a slick first-class cabin, improved seats from front to back and a far quieter ride than the aircraft it will replace. United isn’t going so far as to point out which routes on which the new metal will fly, but we’ll be keeping an ear out on its full earnings call for added detail.
On the operational side, it saw profit drop some 20% — attributed to higher fuel and labor costs — but still managed to beat expectations. More interesting, however, are the records set in Q4. United flew “the most revenue passengers ever,” and also operated “the most mainline departures and achieving the fewest cancellations ever in a year.” Translation? More United customers departed on time in 2018 than ever before. Granted, the weather in 2018 seemed to help all airlines, as Delta noted on Tuesday that it, too, blew past 2017’s on-time performance records with 251 days of 2018 without a Delta mainline cancellation.
You may have noticed a little less luck in scoring an open middle seat last year as well, as United was able to push its year-over-year load factor from 82.4% to 83.6%. That’s even more impressive given the rate at which United is adding seats, and it seems to be filling them at higher prices. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) was up 5%, while cost per available seat mile (CASM) was up 7%, both on a year-over-year basis.
United absorbed a staggering 29.3% uptick in fuel cost from 2017, reporting an average rise from $1.74 per gallon to $2.25 per gallon, while the airline as a whole guzzled 4% more during the period.
On the customer experience front, it swung open the doors at three new United Polaris lounges located in San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), while also introducing a new boarding process and United Premium Plus seating. In January, it opened its newest Polaris lounge in Los Angeles (LAX).
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees