An Obituary for Ted


Tedward, known to all as “Ted,” was taken off life support yesterday, June 4, after a long illness. He is survived by his father, United. He was only 4 years old.

Ted’s life was a very common and familiar story. His father, United, had a long history of tawdry affairs with low cost carriers. United’s first child, Shuttle, came to be after sexy Southwest moved to town, but Shuttle passed away in 2001. (You can still see his remains scattered throughout the United 737 fleet.) Ted was his second child, born after pretty-young-thing Frontier caught United’s attention in Denver. The two children couldn’t have been more different. While Shuttle spent most of his time with businessmen and women, Ted was more of a man of leisure.

Growing up wasn’t easy for Ted. He was teased as a child with taunts like “Ted is the ass end of United.” Even his father’s employees snapped at him with chants like “Ted is United without ‘U-N-I’.” That chant subsided when it was decided to avoid any meaningful cost savings and have United’s employees work with Ted for the same pay, but Ted never forgot those times.08_06_04 tedgrave Despite these troubles, Ted was modestly successful in his early years. He grew quickly and found himself traveling to places like Florida, Arizona, Vegas, and Mexico. Unfortunately, he became a tremendous distraction for United, who spent long hours and loads of money on his son while other, far greater problems brewed.

Ted tried to take it all in stride. He listened to his TedTunes, watched Tedevision, read TedTimes, and eschewed the First Class luxuries that his father embraced, but he was never able to fully escape his darker side. As he entered his awkward teens, he began drinking (lemonade, which his father did not support). Then Ted fell in with the wrong crowd. He started hanging out on the South Side of Chicago, over on Cicero Ave, with all those bald Irish guys (at left, incredibly from an actual ad that ran). His stay there was short, and he soon started to drift.

Eventually, Ted’s personality began to fade as his family belatedly began to focus on other more important problems. The music was gone, he started reading his father’s magazine, and he even stopped drinking his forbidden lemonade. If it weren’t for that big blue nametag and the lack of First Class seats, nobody would have even known who he was.

Ted continued to ply his trade even though his support system kept getting weaker and weaker. Finally, Ted succumbed to his long illness after months of speculation.

Ted has opted to donate his organs for a necessary aircraft transplant for his father, by whom he is survived. In lieu of flowers, please donate cold, hard cash at

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16 comments on “An Obituary for Ted

  1. “no one would have even known who he was”

    Or ever did know who he was. Or cared. Here is Denver, UAL second city hubville, people never cared because there was never anything compelling or different about Ted. Even the occasional Joe Flyer knew that Ted was simply UAL dumbed down a bit to brand match Southwest.

    Unlike Frontier vs Southwest – a struggle our residents actually have a vested interest in – people never made a conscious decision to fly Ted. They only flew Ted because the airplane went where they were going.

    Some at work said they didn’t even know they were flying Ted until seeing the plane, or entering the cabin.

    The only fun/unique thing Ted did was BEFORE they started flying, when UAL was trying to create a guerilla brand buzz. For a few weeks leading up to the launch someone named “Ted” would visit restaurants or coffee shops and pay for everyone’s lunch. Or deliver bagels to offices. Or give tourists gift cards downtown. etc. etc. “Courtesy of Ted.”

    Within a couple days though some net media sluething by the media revealed that “” or whatever website it was tracked straight back to UAL in Chicago. End of story and it flatlined.

  2. Did you ever look at the TED route map, it was like a 2 yr old just drew some lines on a map. Anywhere UA needed to match a lost cost carriers route, they plopped TED on the same route. They might have done better if they had just set TED up in a secondary city as a hub flying between leisure destinations. But then again all the airlines within an airline vanish after awhile. Why do the majors even try?

  3. Best, wittiest, smartest dead-on analogy I’ve read on this website.


    Excellent writing…. Thanks Cranky!

  4. Excellent obituary!!! Show’s when there is no direction the results are always disastrous. May god rest “TED” soul in peace.

  5. I’d like to sum up Ted with this little haiku:

    UAL Kills Ted
    Cheap Airline Couldn’t Take Off
    Is United Next?

    Thank you.

  6. No more “TED wants you to be safe.” No more colorful headsets. No more half can of soda. No more “TED is happy to see you.” RIP TED.

  7. I don’t understand these people that are hoping for United to fail. Tucano – your “haiku” is ignorant, ill timed and utterly childish. United, American, Continental, Northwest, Southwest, US Airways and a myriad of other airlines keep the US economy rolling by moving money, literally and figuratively, around the US and into it from other countries. Yes, let’s see an airline fail that has hubs in 4 major cities in the United States so we can feel what true economic disaster and ruin feels like. The airports will flounder, city revenues will drop, and taxes will rise. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d rather see a healthy airline industry, United included, than a disastrous failure of an airline that would have far reaching consequences. People need to get realistic about this industry, and be thankful that we have the brilliant airline service in this country that we do.

  8. I’m going to have to push back on you, airlineanalyst08. People said the same thing when Pan Am, Eastern, and many others were on the brink. If an airline goes under, there will be plenty others waiting to move in and take over, as long as there is true opportunity. If United goes down, I can guarantee someone will be in their hubs trying to pick up the pieces quickly. There may be short term pain in the transition, but there won’t be long lasting impacts from any airline disappearing other than having one fewer competitor and potentially a better chance at keeping capacity at a healthy level.

  9. re: People need to get realistic about this industry, and be thankful that we have the brilliant airline service in this country that we do. /quote

    ok I just stopped shaking my head Scooby Doo style after reading that statement.

    Yes it is brillant that someone in Blanding, Utah can fly to Paris or Bangkok in two or three hops, or I can jet to Las Vegas for a night and fly back home. But the following things do not constitute a “brilliant” industry or environment:

    Surly and retalitory security agents
    Overscheduled/constantly packed flights (which leave zero contingency)
    Detainment for hours on taxiways
    Arcane rigid policies for changing flights (sick/reschedule, etc)
    Ceasing operations with NO notice or assistance to pax
    Filthy facilities. (Tom Bradley and ORD)
    Fees applied POST purchase (re: AA baggage fees – overruled)
    Overbearing unfriendly immigration agents
    Lack of int’l transit lounges

    I can’t think of too many other industries where almost the entire populace despises the companies, their treatment of customers, and their business practices. Of course I love flying – once I’m relaxed and in the air. But the air travel experience from door to door leaves much to be desired.

    p.s. you accuse Tucano of being childish. What exactly was TED and the “character” it created? Grown up companies don’t constantly refer to themselves in the 3rd person.

  10. hmmmm. ilive paycheck to paycheck,so i don’t fly much. but i have had some interaction with customers , and i think james’ comments reflect a far too spoiled passenger demographic. some of the people (customers) that airline workers (not us mechanics, so much) have to deal with are just, well , stupid. that’s right. i said it. somebody had to. i’ve seen it all, and i don’t even deal with customers. agents being spit on by snot-nosed teenagers and old women. losers getting plastered and treating the agents, flight attendants like s*!t. the paying customer has become way too spoiled, much like the children of today. nevermind the fact that we all work hard to get u to ur destination as cheap as possible WITHOUT DYING! go fly around on some airline in a third world country for a while, i guarantee you’ll be more than happy to fly a u.s. carrier. cheers!

  11. Excellent obituary, Cranky, and I loved your haiku, Tucano. Ever heard of humor, airlineanalyst08? Maybe I shouldn’t ask. Yes, these are hard times for all airlines and their employees and I respect that, but we are still allowed a little smile here and there, aren’t we?

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