United Airlines vs. American Airlines, Which one is better?

When it comes to choosing between United Airlines and American Airlines, you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle. Both airlines have their strengths and weaknesses, and it’s not always clear-cut which one is the better choice.

Maybe you’re looking for the best in-flight amenities, or perhaps punctuality is your top priority. Is it the frequent flyer program that’s got you hooked, or is it all about the ticket price?

In this text, we’ll dive deep into the world of these two aviation giants. We’ll compare United Airlines and American Airlines on various factors, helping you decide which airline is the better fit for your travel needs. Stay tuned as we help you navigate this decision with ease.

In-flight amenities

When it comes to comparing United Airlines and American Airlines, one feature that can significantly sway your decision is the in-flight amenities. These services and extras can turn a simple flight into an enjoyable journey.

United Airlines boasts an impressive gallery of in-flight amenities. With their personable in-flight service, you might find your long-haul flight more pleasant than expected. They dish out three-course meals in their economy class on long-haul international flights, a rarely-seen feature among many airlines. And if you’re on a red-eye flight, you’ll be glad to know you can unwind with some well-selected wines and beers. To top it off, their in-flight entertainment is worth noting. With hundreds of movies, TV shows, music options, and even games on offer, you could say that they’ve turned the sky into a flying entertainment hub.

On the other hand, American Airlines doesn’t fall short when it comes to their in-flight services. You’ll experience a wide array of meal options a world-renowned chef prepares for you. A generous selection of drinks is available to wash your meals down. And if that doesn’t impress you, their in-flight entertainment surely will. With free movies, live TV, and Apple Music at your fingertips, who could say no to that? Plus, their Boeing fleet even offers WiFi, so you can stay connected even miles above the ground.

But, it’s important to note that in-flight amenities can vary greatly depending on the route, aircraft, and class of service. For instance, WiFi may not be available on certain flights or routes, and the menu options may also vary.

As you can see, both airlines aim to deliver the best in-flight experience possible for their customers. You might find some overlap in the type of amenities provided but the execution often differs. So, while comparing the in-flight amenities of these airlines, focus not just on the what, but also how it’s served to you. A well-balanced meal, wines, entertainment – all become significant when presented with finesse. So, the question isn’t just about the amenities, but also about their quality and service. Both United Airlines and American Airlines are known for their in-flight amenities, and it’s clear to see why. Be it food, beverages, or entertainment, certainly, you’re in for a memorable flight.


One of the main concerns passengers have when choosing an airline is punctuality. After all, reaching your destination on time is an essential part of any journey.

Understanding the punctuality metric is pretty simple – you can imagine it as the percentage of flights that arrive on time. An airline’s punctuality can be a favorable determinant of its quality of service.

When comparing United Airlines and American Airlines, both have shown respect for punctuality, but the performance slightly fluctuates year after year.

For United Airlines, their punctuality record has been consistent over the years. Known for getting you to the destination with less hassle, data over the last five years shows their on-time arrival percentage hovering around 79% to 82%, which rates as high within the industry.

As for American Airlines, their punctuality statistics show a similar story, with a yearly on-time arrival percentage between 77% to 80%. Though, fluctuations might occur depending on various factors like weather conditions and air traffic.

Here’s a quick summary in numbers:

Year United Airlines American Airlines
2017 79.5% 77.5%
2018 81.2% 78.6%
2019 79.3% 78.9%
2020 82.3% 80.3%

Remember, these numbers vary from route to route and day to day. Official data are averages and not necessarily reflective of every flight.

Whether you choose United Airlines or American Airlines, keep in mind that punctuality is just one factor. It’s equally important to consider other aspects such as in-flight amenities, ticket price, baggage policies, and customer service when choosing an airline. Reviewing all aspects in a holistic manner could help in a more well-informed choice.

Frequent flyer program

When considering your airline of choice, one factor that might tip the scales is the Frequent flyer program. Both United Airlines and American Airlines offer programs meant to reward loyal customers but they approach it from two different angles.

American Airlines presents the AAdvantage program. This platform allows passengers to earn miles not only through air travel but also through its vast network of partners that include hotels, car rental agencies, and credit card companies. With these earned miles, you’ve got a wide variety of redeeming possibilities such as flight upgrades, hotel stays, or even an access to exclusive events. Another standout feature is its elite status challenges that can help you climb the ranks faster.

In contrast, United Airlines offers MileagePlus as its frequent flyer program. Just like AAdvantage, you can also earn miles through flights and partner companies. But, what sets MileagePlus apart is the ability to use miles for unique experiences through its auction platform. These experiences, especially for the passionate traveler, range from backstage passes to concerts to adventurous trips. MileagePlus is notable for its extensive array of redemption options.

Let’s compare some hard facts between the two programs:

Program Earning Miles Redemption Options Elite Status Challenges
AAdvantage Flights, Partners Flight upgrades, Hotel stays, Exclusive access Yes
MileagePlus Flights, Partners Unique experiences, Wide array of options No

When it comes to picking the ideal frequent flyer program, it’s all about what best meets your travel needs. Do you value the faster ascent to elite status? Or are you thrilled by the idea of unique experiences? Your travel’s value isn’t cut and dry – it’s as unique as you are. Let the factors that hold the most weight guide your decision in this all-important comparison.

Ticket price

When considering an airline, ticket price plays an important role as it directly affects your travel budget. Both United Airlines and American Airlines offer competitive prices that can affect your decision.

In general, United Airlines has a reputation for being slightly more expensive than American Airlines. But, this is not always the case. They often run promotions and discounts, significantly reducing the cost of their flights. These deals can result in fares that are comparable to or even cheaper than American Airlines. Remember to keep a watchful eye on these offers; you might just snag a great deal.

American Airlines, in contrast, is well-known for offering reasonable regular fare prices. They focus on providing their customers with quality service within affordable price ranges. This approach doesn’t usually include many unexpected fare reductions or flash sales. Instead, they keep a more stable, predictable pricing structure.

Pricing, but, goes beyond the cost of a ticket. One needs to consider additional fees such as baggage charges, seat selection fees, or in-flight amenities. Some airlines may have a cheaper base fare but can accumulate extra charges that you didn’t originally anticipate.

You also should take into account the pricing variability depending on time of booking, seasonality factors, and route specificity. A last-minute ticket tends to be more expensive, and flights during peak travel seasons usually have higher fares.

Both airlines offer different perks and conveniences that can make the extra costs worthwhile, depending on your travel needs and preferences. The bottom line: it’s not just about the price tag — it’s about what you’re getting for your money.


When you’re choosing between United Airlines and American Airlines, it’s not just about the ticket prices. Yes, United might be a bit pricier, but they frequently offer promotions and discounts that could swing the balance in their favor. American Airlines has its own appeal with steady, reasonable fares and fewer surprises. But remember, it’s not just the ticket price you should consider. Look at the additional fees and the perks each airline offers. It’s about getting value for your money and having a comfortable, convenient flight. So, whether it’s United or American, your choice eventually depends on what matters most to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Which is generally more expensive, United Airlines or American Airlines?

United Airlines tends to be slightly more expensive than American Airlines. However, frequent offers and discounts can make United’s fares competitive or even cheaper at times.

Q2: Does American Airlines often have unexpected fare reductions or flash sales?

No, American Airlines is more known for offering consistent, reasonable regular fares, without sudden fare drops or flash sales.

Q3: Are there additional fees to consider beyond the ticket prices for United and American Airlines?

Yes, both airlines may have additional fees and variable pricing to consider. These factors might be significant when comparing overall ticket prices.

Q4: Do both airlines offer exclusive perks and conveniences that could justify additional costs?

Yes. Each airline provides different perks and conveniences, all of which may make any extra expenses worthwhile depending on individual preferences and expectations.

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