How Much More People Are Willing To Pay To Avoid Flying On United Airlines?


The incident the other Sunday when paying passenger was forcefully moved from United Airlines flight to make space for deadheading employee received plenty of play both on social media and TV last week.

Morning Consult

Many were saying that they would never ever fly on United Airlines again while others were canceling their tickets. People tend to have short memories and many buy their airline tickets on price. How the outrage has resulted in bookings is the million (or perhaps billion) dollar question.

You can access the Morning Consult report here and the New York Times article here.

Morning Star made a study on April 12 and it consisted of national sample of 1,975 adults. Those that had heard about the incident were willing to pay more or have transit versus non-stop to avoid flying on United Airlines.

Here’s an illustration from New York Times:

Morning Consult NYT

Here’s the Morning Consult full results:

Download (PDF, 92KB)


I guess that United Airlines can hope that traveling public would soon forget this incident (memory is often short) or something even more outrageous would surface online. The Morning Consult result show that people that were aware of the incident are at least in theory (remember the weren’t using money here) willing to pay more to fly on other airlines.

On more serious side, United completely lost the plot last week when they tried to put out the fire. It took days before the CEO Munoz made an apology that sounded as one.

We should learn more tomorrow (Tuesday) when United has conference call about the first quarter results. I am sure that everyone is eager to hear what kind of financial impact this “re-accommodation” has caused/will cause in coming months.

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  1. This incident was with a United Express flight, and I try to avoid United Express. Although I do not condone how the airline employees showed up at the last minute with no warning and took seats, I also do not condone the antics of the passenger. He brought injury upon himself by fighting when it became obvious he would be going off the plane. That said, I will not avoid United Airlines. I am expecting this problem will be fixed and hopefully they will address some other issues I have seen at United Express.

    • Whatever mistake united made – it was the security guys tussle with him – not united – that caused the real scene. Kind of shocking this blogger doesn’t make that distinction so time to stop using the site. This is more social agenda commentary and social media hysteria/fake news than anything. Sad, but nothing to do with travel for most people. United didn’t injure the guy his own behaviour and airport security have to work that one out. Add the 93 charges for trading opiods for sex with men and you see that dao has a problem with any authority including himself. This blogger says its unrelated but so are dao’s injuries and united. United didnt injure him. In a few more days this will be more than over something important will happen on news and people will realize its a storm in a teacup, people getting murdered on facebook live, where’s the race outrage on that one?

      • Rubbish. I’m no fan of this blogging site however on this occasion John has got the balance about right. The CEO of United should have fallen on his sword by now. Not his fault were the actions of the ‘security guys’. But his fault was the poor response to the incident. Only when the United share price fell was an attempt made at an apology. And even then, not a proper one. This should roll further and further. And if United go under, well hell, the US will bankroll them, just as they previously have done, whilst complaining and acting against the ME3…. level playing field hey you yanks with guns and trigger happy fingers?!!

      • Whatever you think of the actions of the passenger, this situation was caused by United. From the moment they knew they had staff to fly, they don’t seem to have got one step right. The management and decision making processes from that time, through to the removal of the passenger were unbelievably, incredibly stupid.

  2. I have experienced united airlines for over 25 years. Rude, old and angry on board staff bad service and the red carpet lounge food is no better than what you expect at refugee camp. I have life status but avoid the airline like smallpox. Even this incident surprised me. The airlines wants the seats then pay up for them eventually someone will take the money/flight vouchers. Worst case scenario the airline should do what others do get a private charter to get your staff where they need to go. This is truly outrageous and can not be excused. I will never fly united ever again.

  3. While I am not an American domestic flyer, I have done my share of “United” flying. I have flown United Airlines 72 times according to MyFlightMemory, mostly across the Pacific between Australia and the USA.

    The latest incident finally made an impact on who I will fly with in the future. I was never really impressed with United over the years as they were pretty mediocre as far as economy seating was concerned. Their crappy old planes, unfriendly flight attendants, serious news incidents and the demise of their frequent flyer program has turned me toward flying Qantas / American / Cathay Pacific from Australia to USA/Canada and crediting miles to Alaska Airlines FF program.

    I am about to try Fiji Airways for the first time since it changed its name from Air Pacific. Again, I will credit it to Alaska Airlines. All my future travel out of Seattle / LAX will be with Alaska Airlines as well.

    Bye Bye United.

  4. Even if UA comes out with a same price or higher fare, but offers something like 10x mileage promo, frequent flyers will flock to it. Most market research forget about the frequent flyer who accumulate miles and well, they don’t know these group of people will go out of their way to fly on a particular carrier if the miles pad up their FF account.

  5. Insufficient information to draw conclusions. Specifically, fares being equal, if I am an AAdvantage member, or member of that alliance, I will fly American. I do not know the relative size of the MileagePlus group vs the AAdvantage group, and if there is a large discrepancy in their size, I would have to assume that it would impact the results, as presented.

      • “…according to a study from,…35 percent of consumers have an airline co-branded card.” Also, “about 300 million members enrolled in U.S. airline loyalty programs (nearly the population of the United States), and about 7 percent of all miles flown are via awards”. Other studies show that at least 30% of travelers are members of an airline loyalty program. Clearly, you are in the 70%, but my question remains unanswered.

  6. The incident was a one-off (hopefully) extreme case. What we do see is poor planning along with poor SOPs. So really the worst thing someone can expect is to get bumped off a flight. Happens with every airline. The extreme part is that the Pax did not follow orders of the Flight Crew (big No no no matter the issue), then did not follow the orders of a LEO, and then things went sideways. Momma always said follow the orders of those with authority, and sort it out later.

    I do not flu UA, but I bought a ticket for my kid, as they have the most direct service (only 1 other airline) from the location to home. And yes it is an RJ, so probably similar service. I was hoping the ticket price would be lower. It had not changed from three weeks ago when I first checked.

    With airlines flying full flights, less competition (especially on the smaller runs) there really is not much choice. If you fly LAX to NYC, yes you can. If you start in flyover country, not so much.

  7. Guys, don’t forget about previous incidents (ie girls with leggings)
    This is not the first time UA is mistreating passengers.
    From now on, I will never fly with them again.

  8. I believe a lot of this outcry to be virtue-signalling. An isolated incident. What are the odds of such an extreme incident happening again? Bearing in mind that the passenger exacerbated the incident himself. This will soon blow over.

  9. I’m one of those people who does surveys to help fund travel plans, so it was interesting to see the results report on one of these get published. And while I didn’t do this survey, I’ve done similar ‘pick a flight’ ones where I find myself going with United because I dislike them just a little less than American. (hate the changes to American’s FFP and the purgatory that is the regional jet area at CLT airport)


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