United Details Plans for Ted’s Death

United has internally released its plans for how it’s going to handle the dismantling of Ted, and as usual, copies are circulating. I know that some planes have already been painted over, but that’s just the beginning. Here’s what we’re going to see. Let’s start with the biggest news.

  • United will be creating another subfleet. The Ted A320 aircraft had a closet and galley removed from the front of the plane when they were converted from mainline A320s. Without those monuments, they can now fit more seats on those planes. The Ted planes will have 12 First Class, 42 Economy Plus, and 90 Economy seats. That’s 6 more seats (or one row) in the Economy Plus cabin than the existing A320s. This reconfiguration will start in March and be done by the end of 2009. It appears that these aircraft will continue to show the code “32S” while the mainline A320s show “320.”

  • So far, eight of the 56 Ted planes have been painted in United colors with the rest being finished by May.
United Repainting Ted Planes
  • Starting today, all former Ted flights beginning on January 6 will be renumbered with United flight numbers. This means it won’t say “operated by United for Ted” or whatever that was, and it won’t be in the 1400/1500 flight number range. It’ll just be a regular United flight.

  • It says the FlyTed.com will redirect people to United.com starting tomorrow as well, but it’s been doing that for some time so I’m not sure why they’re saying this now.

  • All Ted branding in the airports will be gone during the first quarter of 2009, and Ted uniforms will not be worn by anyone beginning January 1.

  • The only thing that really stands out here as problematic is the introduction of another A320 seat configuration. I have to wonder if this is the full story here. On one hand, United continues to fly two different configurations on each type of 737, and that’s a 10 year old relic of the Shuttle days (that is soon coming to an end when they’re retired). So with that mindset, is it in any way surprising that United would not bother to standardize the A320 fleet?

    On the other hand, maybe management is now enlightened. Maybe we can expect to hear an announcement that a galley and closet will be removed from the other A320s in order to standardize the fleet. (You know it’s not going the other way, that’s for sure.)

    [Original Photo via Wikimedia]


    17 Responses to United Details Plans for Ted’s Death

    1. Zach says:

      I’m not in the “biz,” so I’m rather uninitiated, but I never really understood the idea behind Ted in the first place. I guess it was UA’s attempt at a LCC division (?), but it was odd, since you didn’t really have a choice as to whether you would fly Ted or United (depended on route and schedule). It’s not like UA was going to compete against itself, and I don’t think it was ever going to make a dent in WN’s piece of the Chicagoland area pie. It always just seemed like UA with a different marketing and paint scheme to me.

      Will they be raising fares on what had been Ted routes?

    2. DRG says:

      Cranky, I am with you on the last paragraph.

    3. Mark says:

      RE: Subfleets

      Unfortunately, historically United does not learn from it mistakes.

    4. CF says:

      Zach – The idea was to create a low cost carrier that originally targeted Denver flying (against Frontier). It never had the separate wage rates or anything like that to make it a true low cost carrier. Eventually, the branding efforts slowly died away and it effectively became United without First Class. It did briefly try to hurt Southwest in Midway by launching Midway to Washington and Denver, but that failed very quickly. So it was never really Southwest-competitive, unlike the earlier Shuttle.

      Will they be raising fares? I wouldn’t think that this change would have anything to do with a fare change. They’ll raise fares if they can, but that is true for every route they fly.

    5. United never called Ted what it was. Ted was not an LCC, Ted was a heavily expanded version of United Shuttle. Of course United Shuttle flights flew 737s while Ted flew A320s.

      Ted was United’s answer to Delta Song. The problem was that while Song was all economy, it provided a ‘little something extra’ that got passengers excited about Song’s service. Ted on the other hand offered flyers all economy seating and Channel 9 (of course all other UA flights offered Channel 9 as well).

      Ted fares were not LCC fares and a separate sub-fleet that used dedicated Ted gates was an interesting experiment. To be honest, Ted lasted longer than I expected it to.

      Ted…..its been nice knowing you.

      Steven Frischling
      Founder
      The Travel Strategist
      Web: http://www.thetravelstrategist.com
      Blog: http://www.flyingwithfish.com

    6. JG says:

      So this is now another thing to look for when checking on flight options. Ex-Ted a/c are non-upgradable, but will only differentiated by their a/c/ type code. So, avoid “32S” if you want to score that F seat (or even PAY for that F seat). With the “32S” aircraft presumably no longer tied to ex-Ted routes, keep checking your itins!

    7. CF says:

      Steven – I have to disagree with you on this one.

      > United never called Ted what it was. Ted was not an LCC,
      > Ted was a heavily expanded version of United Shuttle.
      > Of course United Shuttle flights flew 737s while Ted
      > flew A320s.

      Ted was quite different from Shuttle in many respects. Shuttle had different work rules than mainline, so it allowed for a true lower cost structure. Shuttle was centered around California and was primarily created to fight Southwest. It offered high frequency service in heavy business markets like SFO-LAX, and it maintained First Class.

      Ted, on the other hand, started out in Denver as a leisure-focused carrier with no First Class. It expanded to all United hubs, but it never really got beyond Florida/Mexico/Caribbean leisure markets (with only a couple small exceptions). Work rules were no different with Ted than they were with mainline.

      > Ted was United’s answer to Delta Song. The problem was
      > that while Song was all economy, it provided a ‘little
      > something extra’ that got passengers excited about
      > Song’s service. Ted on the other hand offered flyers
      > all economy seating and Channel 9 (of course all other
      > UA flights offered Channel 9 as well).

      Ted had nothing to do with Song. In fact, I don’t know that they ever even had a single overlapping route. (Song did briefly fly from Dulles to Florida, so there may have been overlap there.) Ted was mostly a reaction to Frontier in Denver, and it did its job initially of moving market share back to United. (Whether that was the right thing to do or not is up for debate . . . .)

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    9. Hmm, woudn’t a C check be the time to upgrade the 320s to the 32S configuration? It makes sense to standardize the fleet, but no faster than you’d have to…

      On the other hand I’m still amazed United made it out of Ch 11, and isn’t in Ch 7, although I’m rooting for Ch 7.

    10. SAN Greg says:

      Brett – I *love* the re-branding job. You are a cost-cutting GENIUS! Are you sure you don’t work for UAL?

    11. CF says:

      Nicholas – Yeah, I would agree that you wouldn’t want to pull the planes out of service just to add a row if you could avoid it. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t announce their plans to do so. That tells me they haven’t quite figured out what they’re going to do yet.

      SAN Greg – Used to, but I left in 2005. I think that I should have stayed on to help with the rebranding effort . . . .

    12. Alex C says:

      Cranky, maybe you can enlighten me about a few aspects of Ted…

      You mention that it was started as an operation primarily out of DEN to combat Frontier, but LAS definitely seemed to be a focus for Ted… LAS was/is exclusively Ted, and with service to every North American UA hub (SFO, LAX, DEN, ORD, and IAD). I just don’t understand how it fit into the strategy of the airline except to be competitive with WN to its hubs. Even then, why EXCLUSIVELY Ted?

    13. bmvaughn says:

      Alex C – Ted was for leisure destinations. That’s what LAS is. End of story.

    14. CF says:

      Alex C – bmvaughn is right. I somehow forgot to mention Phoenix and Vegas as being part of the plan, but almost all flights to those destinations were Ted. It must have been fun seeing the look on the faces of those premium passengers flying from Europe through Washington only to realize that they were stuck in coach for more than four hours to Vegas.

    15. Alex C says:

      I think most of the preimium passengers connecting onwards from or to LAS/PHX probably just booked on US, in which case that would be an entirely different look on their faces.

    16. myriam says:

      I can say that I will miss the little orange stripe on their overhead bins.

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