Hey guys, it’s time for a poll. I’m going to be participating on a panel at the State of DIA event in Denver in March, and I have to pick who to fly. This would be an easy choice if the Frontier flights from Long Beach were operating by then, but they don’t start until May. With four different airlines flying out of LAX, I thought it would be fun to see how you guys would pick.
At last check, all pricing was the same so that’s not a consideration. I won’t have bags, so bag fees don’t matter either. A friend nominated me for Premier Associate on United, so I could sit in Economy Plus, but I’m short so that’s not a requirement. I don’t care about miles.
So, who would you fly? Vote and leave comments with your rationale below.
[Update 2/12 @ 406p – My decision has been made (though it’s actually been made for me). I’ll be flying United – see my entire thought process in my detailed comment.]
I voted Frontier, but only if one of your options out of LAX is a Republic-operated plane. I’m perpetually curious if they’re getting any better at managing and presenting the grab-bag of brands they now control. The last few times I’ve flown “Republic” I haven’t been particularly impressed. Frontier mainline is still a nice experience, however.
I’d love it if you flew Frontier so I could hear your take on any noticeable changes (if any) in the (now-Republic owned) operation.
There’s a je ne sais quoi about United that I really like, and since they own Denver I’d go for them. I’m a fan of legacy carriers and a hub man. No way would I choose Southwest; I don’t like having seat assignments up in the air. This one is a no-brainer for me.
When you really don’t have any particular preference over cost, timing or comfort…. then it’s time to give the small guy your support
I’d choose United and the E+ offer. UAL is my first choice due to miles, but for the frequency it can’t be beat either. I believe there are between 8-12 flights a day, giving more than enough choices for flight times and contingencies too.
Even if E+ legroom isn’t important you’re more likely to find an open seat next to you – hence more elbow room, and more overhead bin space too. (My observations from from six UAL flights since late December.)
Second choice Frontier – although I haven’t flown them since the merger. (I’m trying for status on Star Alliance this year.) Frontier Plus: uses A gates which are easiest in/out from DIA – no need for tram unless the line over the pedestrian bridge is extremely long.
I’ve flown the American flight RT twice. Don’t care for the MD-80 even with the 3-2 seat config. And although I like Southwest I don’t like having to check in exactly 24 hours prior to my flight for a good seat.
Republic owns all of Frontier now. Every Frontier flight is “operated” by Republic.
I assume you meant if it “isn’t” a Republic-operated plane, right?
Well, we flew Midwest on a Frontier plane for the holidays and I didn’t notice any changes to the Frontier product on board. Of course, can’t say the same about Midwest . . .
Believe it or not, they are flying 737-800s on the flight I would take.
Actually, he’s referring to the operating certificate. The E190s are under the Republic certificate while the Airbii are under the Frontier certificate.
Of course, I would say Southwest, but you might try something more exotic like say a DL MD-90 to SLC with a connection to a Mesaba flight to DEN.
Is this conference held at the DIA or off site?
I wouldn’t use AA as they only have two flights and if something goes wrong there isn’t many options open to you.
Same for F9, while they have a number of flights if you need to change or if something goes wrong, options are less compared to UA/WN.
UA or WN have a number of flights and a number of connection points to route you if something came up.
UA is big in LAX and DEN so that could help speed your travel or slow it down…..lol. But with UA you have different choices of aircraft and could chose a different one each direction and give a report on each. Maybe time it for a widebody in one direction and narrowbody in the other.
I voted UA
Frontier. Stretch seating. Live TV. New, clean, airplanes. Pretty dependable.
I’ve never been a big fan of United, but had to fly them recently on a business trip. I have to admit things are better. Both A320s I flew on had newer leather seats which is such a nice upgrade over the old 1980s-feeling cloth interiors. Also had some of the nicest UA FA’s I’ve ever encountered. I flew 4 segments and everything was consistent. We even had our last flight cancelled and had to stay in a hotel, and the ticket agent was very understanding and apologetic and did everything he could to help us. I had to keep reminding myself I was on United. Usually I don’t like legacy carriers, but I’d trade my last experience any day over WN.
Why would you go through the ordeal of Terminal 1 on Southwest? Ever NOT seen the security line wind its way outside and often times down the curb toward Terminal 2? I’ll never take another Southwest or US Airways flight out of LAX…Plus Frontier is just a better airline and you’ll be on a Airbus out of LAX.
I voted for Southwest, while I enjoyed my experience on Frontier, i still feel that the people at SWA are so much nicer than the airlines i’ve flown on.
I vote southwest . Well oops change my vote to f9 they won’t be around much longer so at least you can say you flew them before SWA puts the final nail in there coffin Lol lol lol
Brian Lusk wrote:
I’ve done the MD90 and love it, but if I were going to start considering connections, I’d just fly out of LGB. I want to go nonstop.
It’s offsite somewhere downtown.
Good point, though traveling in the middle of the day isn’t too bad out of there. I’ve seen Delta’s T5 competing for the worst lines lately as well.
On a side note, try going through T1 on a Saturday evening – it’s completely empty. I had to pinch myself and make sure I wasn’t seeing things.
Thanks for representing the average WN rider oh so well.
I voted American because it’s the only carrier that doesn’t have a “hub” at Denver, i.e. they are the little guy in Denver. Competition is always a good thing, right? Obviously most other voters don’t have my perspective.
United. As mentioned before, with E+, you will likely get the middle seat free. Makes a much more comfortable flight.
Competition is a good thing, but in this scenario CF said that all variables of price were equal.
Sorry for the serial post, but choosing a carrier specifically because it DOESN’T have a hub at your arrival airport is rather odd.
Also, want to say this: Denver in March = still lots of potential for a snowstorm to gum up the works. Another reason to choose a carrier with numerous flights throughout the day.
Who _I_ would fly would be different from who I think you should fly.
I’d fly American, because I’d get Alaska miles. Since you don’t care, though, I voted Frontier, since their product is interesting and I’d like to hear about it.
Republic owns all of Frontier now. Every Frontier flight is “operated” by Republic.
I’m aware of this. I meant “operated” in the airline sense: Frontier (as a subsidiary of Republic) still operates their own Airbus fleet for most of their routes, just as they did before. Same generally good flight experience. On some of these routes, however, Republic has swapped in their own crews and RJs, while still flying under either the Frontier or Midwest brands. It is on those RJs that I’ve noticed Republic seems confused about branding and flight experience. My suggestion to Cranky was to book with Frontier, but see if you can fly one of their “Operated by Republic Airlines” flights, just to see if they’re juggling branding better.
Are you 12?
Gaah, wish you could edit a post. I messed up the quote. Alarmist’s words end with “…by Republic.” My text starts with the next paragraph.
United due to likely schedule convenience and frequency for LAX (and SNA) and because with Prem Associate you’d get E+ seating, Seating Area 1 boarding, and a shorter security line.
UA service is improving domestically. Planes are MUCH cleaner. Cabin staff are doing a better job with in-flight service. Domestic aircraft seem to be receiving some cabin upgrades — recently was on a refurbished 757 myself.
That noted, the flight kitchen (serving multiple airlines) at DEN has failed basic food safety checks. So I would not eat any meal, on any airline, where the meal was boarded in Denver.
Thats simple, Frontier. They are undergoing many changes. This is an opportunity for you to get a sample of where thier service is headed. All the other airlines are fairly stable at this point.
Although I have premier executive status on United, I voted for Southwest. It comes down to “no drama” with Southwest. Fast, efficient, on time flights and everyone gets the boarding/seating protocol (low maintenance passengers)
I voted Frontier: Of course Frontier mainline is nice. But my #1 priority when there is a toss-up is do I get to fly on Republic Airlines or another RAH company flight or do I get an Embraer? Republic Airlines dba Midwest really surprised me. The service was excellent. I would take a Republic flight over a mainline flight anyday. Have a fun trip.
Oh and haha don’t eat me/beat me up for that. O.o
That should be “Whom” would you fly to Denver.
Hey – this English degree has to be good for something ;-).
First choice – United — Economy Plus even if you’re short
Second choice – American – Even if you don’t care about the miles as such, all miles from all sources earned with American contribute towards lifetime status (1MM earned = Gold / 2MM earned = Plat).
But YOU DON”T CARE ABOUT THE MILES?!@$#$
Frontier would be my top pick, followed by Southwest, American, and United.
Frontier: Nice, clean planes with friendly employees. Satellite TV if if interests you. I have only flown Frontier once but it is an experience I would look to repeat during another trip to or from Denver.
Southwest: Generally smooth operations, friendly employees, and I love their newly redesigned boarding process. RapidRewards isn’t the most lucrative program, but the artificial incentives don’t have to be as enticing if everything works and you have a good experience.
American: Not a huge fan of the MDs, but at least there would be less of a chance to get a middle-seat. Not a huge amount of frequency, between LAX and DEN – and I don’t know where you bank your miles, but I would appreciate being able to earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles. The biggest plus for me is probably that American isn’t United.
United: I used to be ORD based with lots of flights between UA cities and hubs in LAX and DEN. The passenger processes are crappy, employee attitudes range from indifferent to surly (granted, probably due to the end of pensions, etc.,) but it just doesn’t really add up to a great experience. At least you could have the E+, early boarding, and a strong possibility of channel 9 – but that wouldn’t be my primary motivator for selecting United. The biggest plus of UA would probably the frequency and schedule in case of irregular operations. Although quite rate in my experience, if you did happen to get good service on UA – it would likely be noticeably good compared to the usual UA flight.
Frontier – besides all the positives mentioned by others, they have Newcastle Brown Ale among their beer selections. Much better than the swill offered by all the other domestic airlines. At least they had it before Republic took over.
I can see the logic here – I used to fly NW from ORD quite a bit, primarily because of the Alaska miles. The other plus was the fact that not many people were trying to go through security at Terminal 2 vs. Terminal 1 or 3!
United. Economy plus is a deal breaker for me, since it is just so comfortable. Plus, I like United’s high use of the A319 and A320- the seats are wider than 737s or 757s, and I feel that the extra inch width in the seats really does make a difference.
Although I’m probably biased since I’m from SFO and currently live near IAD where United is the hometown airline, and I’m a Premier with Mileage Plus.
I can actually see flying the non-hub carrier, because it’s fun to do, but in this case, BF has it right . . .
The chance for snow means I want lots of options. I’m told March is actually Denver’s snowiest month.
Oh, I thought you were saying to avoid the Republic flights. Funny. I’ve actually never flown on Republic itself – just Chautauqua.
Argggh, damn you and your objects! You’re right, of course.
It’s not that I don’t care about earning miles – I’ll do that on any of the carriers I fly. I just consider myself mileage agnostic. I care about the product and schedule a lot more.
I voted AA, but that’s because I have status with them. Home being in DFW I always fly AA if its an option and price competitive. If I weren’t flying AA, F9 would definitely be my second choice.
I voted AA as well and am not surprised to see them losing the vote. I am an elite on AA and I loathe UA asides from Ch 9. I guess I would go for Frontier for their IFE, assuming Republic hasn’t scavenged that airplane.
I voted Southwest. I LOOOVE that they have no change fees if you need to change, whereas the others are all either $100-$150 minimum. In this market, probably the cost of the ticket. Also, so many choices, nice staff.
United. Just to keep the miles going…
I do this flight pretty often and always take United–with status, you not only get E+, but also access to the shorter security line in Denver, which can sometimes be pretty long. I often do Southwest to Oakland or Phoenix, but for Denver, its always United.
I would go with united , they usually operate a 757, huge exit row but my favorite thing about the 757 is that it is the only aircraft that has a real cabin seperation. So if you can upgrade it feels a lot more intimate as general boarding does not effect First. I prefer 6A. Food though is nothing… Have fun, elliot
Frontier. Their service is hands-down better than the big guys. I’d use them all the time if they had useful service from DFW. Plus, while flying to a big airline’s big hub does have its benefits, DEN becomes an absolute cluster for UA if the weather causes a disruption, which is a significant risk in March. Even with less frequency, you’re more likely to actually get responsive service from F9 if you have to rebook.
Short or not, extra legroom is extra legroom. I’m 5’8 and it still matters to me. So E+ would win out. There’s a mix of aircraft on this route, so a 757, 767, or 777 – if on the schedule – could be fun to fly, if not just the A319 or A320. Add channel 9 to the mix and it’s a no-brainer.
AA would be one of those awful md-80’s, and Southwest for me is “when there’s no one else”.
Frontier would be a 2nd choice.
I noticed it was mentioned 4 times on this page – what is the fascination with earning Alaska miles?
My Vote: I fly a lot and am big on the experience.
I voted Frontier cause they still imbue flying with a bit of flash & glamour. United is the bane of my existence (I really wish they were liquidated when they went bankrupt). American is just kind of… boring – they get you point A to point B but I can never recall anything memorable from any of my AA flights. Southwest (along with Ryanair & Easyjet) is just so utilitarian – it feels too much like getting on a Greyhound for me.
I voted United, but why limit yourself? You’re flying two legs. Why not fly United one way and Frontier on the return? Or at least something like that.
Which pre-departure lounge do you prefer (I’m sure your buds will guest you for the trip) Which LAX terminal do you prefer, and who has the best schedule? Those thoughts aside, you could try SWA, the Business Select outbound and the Early Bird return and tell us about the products.
As a Denver based traveler, I have to tell you to take SW. More legroom, great prices, decent service and free luggage. Unless you are willing to pay more, Frontier just squeezed all the legroom out of their seats. American is fine, but a limited schedule on that route. Don’t even think about subjecting yourself to UA.
Cranky, your reponse makes it sound like you aren’t considering AA. Not that I really care who you pick, but are you being honest that you’re truly open to taking any one of these airlines?
Did you purposely exclude US Airways? They fly from Long Beach and connect to Denver at PHX.
I posted my above comment before I read that you wanted to avoid connections. But I have to ask a question: Which is worse, driving to LAX or connecting at PHX? You would know better than I.
Definitely Southwest. More legroom, friendly employees, stess-free boarding (it seems like the legacy carriers’ boarding processes are turning into more and more of the “cattle call” that people used to associate with WN – AA will announce “now boarding first and business class passengers”, and then every single passenger immediately crowds around the boarding area – I absolutely hate it), all leather seats, no change fees if you want to adjust your reservation, etc.
I would be interested to see how F9 has changed, if at all, since the Republic takeover, but for me, that would not be enough to negate the above perks of WN. The absence of the $150 change fee that other carriers charge is a key factor for me.
Given that you’re a BLOGGER for a living, I’d go for the airline that’s most likely to give you inflight WiFi — AA.
ok Mister Cranky it’s now 8:20am Thursday morning and UA has 137 votes and F9 133.
From all the comments, what have you decided to go? And don’t say Greyhound…….lol
David SFeastbay wrote:
Oh and naturally I think you should go with my logic when I said to go UA and time it to use a widebody in one direction and narrowbody in the other. That would make for a good trip report to compare the whole UA service on two different leveles of aircraft both on the ground and in the air.
David SFeastbay wrote:
I’m just going to walk – should be a nice stroll.
Actually, I’m working on finalizing my times, so it may be another couple days before I buy. I will, of course, keep everyone posted.
there’s a service called Cranky Concierge that might be able to help you with your trip planning for a fairly low fee. And if you somehow get lost along the way, you can call them day and night for help. You might want to give them a call.
Jokes aside, I personally would go with United. You’re saying miles don’t matter, but for me that’s not true. I like trying new airlines when miles don’t matter (so I recently tried Virgin America LAS-SFO), but on a trip like this United seems to have all the benefits (frequency, frequent flyer program, E+).
I would DEFINITELY fly Frontier. As an employee of another low cost airline, I try to non-rev on Frontier every opportunity I get. Mainline Frontier staff are the kindest, sweetest, most pleasant people and how can you not love the animals? Frontier all the way!!!
I voted for WN but F9 was a close second. As a frequent flyer (at least twice a week) I am becoming more and more impressed by the better service I receive on WN when compared to the legacies.
AA — The MD-80 is loud and old.
UA — The plane will be nicer than on AA and I love Channel 9 but you generally are stuck with a crew that could care less that you are a paying customer.
F9 — I haven’t flown them in a while. Used to be a good product but that might be changing with the new ownership.
WN — Clean, comfortable, efficient, friendly, and you even get peanuts or pretzels!
Everyone has made some good points on how they feel, but this is only a 2hr 20min flight. By the time Mr Cranky starts feeling cramped or annoyed by the FA’s, he’ll be there.
Now if we were talking that nice little 18-hour nonstop on SQ LAX-SIN then comfort and service would be deciding factors assuming price/times worked out compared to other carriers flying connections.
But for 2hr 20mins the carriers with the most flights either nonstop and/or connections should be used to have the just in case options.
Southwest…no bag fees; no change fees and friendly employees. What could be better?
Not to go all fanboy on United but like Ryan said above I’ve noticed a marked improvement this past year. As far as “crew could care less,” comment by Mike — fortunately I haven’t had the same experiences.
I was flying United / Frontier about 50/50 depending on flight times mostly, but I’ve had 10 UAL flights since October: (2 in First using miles upgrades, 1 E+ and 7 in economy,) and found all of them above average.
Among some surprises: An FA saw me sleeping across three seats in economy on a 6am flight, and while I got up she actually took another seat cushion so I could have an angle pillow against the wall. (Rather than my jacket over the armrest.)
A US based call center rep was extremely patient and resourceful in changing a Chicago trip to include a Florida leg for a funeral, in addition to coordinating a relative’s flight down to Florida too. The bereavement refund (from the $150 change fee,) was credited to my card less than two weeks after emailing it, much sooner than I expected.
(Again in economy,) a senior FA on my IAD-EZE flight last fall chatted me up about my plans and we talked on and off through the flight about her background and traveling. She was extremely friendly and outgoing – which still makes me remember her.
I tend to gloss over reviews like “I’ll never fly XXX because they’re mean and don’t care.. ” knowing that if a person only flights a few times a year it won’t provide an accurate picture of an airline’s personnel attitude. It’s completely dependent on who they run into each time – like roulette you can be a winner a few times in a row or the opposite.
But I’ll contradict my logic by noting my recent experiences, which are of average frequency, have been surprisingly positive.
What could be better? Knowing what seat you’ll get before you board the plane. That’s what could be better.
quote: Everyone has made some good points on how they feel, but this is only a 2hr 20min flight. By the time Mr Cranky starts feeling cramped or annoyed by the FA’s, he’ll be there. /quote
I was going to add that barring my examples above I usually have ZERO interaction with FAs on domestic flights, with the exception of handing them my boarding pass or politely requesting coffee when the cart ambles by.
I check in online, sit in my seat and mind my own business. If all goes as planned I’m a happy camper. If an FA makes my day with something extra then I’m pleasantly surprised and appreciative.
Southwest. I’m a United 1k but pick Southwest anyday for the ability to change flights without being whacked with a change fee. I only fly United on long haul flights when I’m 90% sure I’m going.
I’d fly Southwest because I own LUV stock.
Southwest. Efficient, reliable, punctual, friendly. No b.s.
In my case, I bank AS miles because A) I live in Seattle and B) Alaska miles have a very large range of potential redemptions, across both most of SkyTeam (DL, KL, AF, KE) as well as oneworld (AA, BA, LA, CX, QF). It’s also advantageous to be able to have DL and AA as potential domestic options to go along with AS, and still earn elite qualifying miles on AS. Alaska’s kind of the airline equivalent of universal recipient blood type (AB+); it can accept miles from many sources.
That being said, I get Cranky’s opinion regarding product- it’s why I fly a good amount of WN and VX.
Southwest! Say a better conference comes along that overlaps the one you have planned, or you get the flu, or something–you can bank your airfare for later without penalty. Plus they have the best minimum coach legroom (that means not counting United’s Y+ or Frontier’s Stretch).
The only downside is that United does have 9 nonstops LAX-DEN compared with 6 for Southwest, 6 for Frontier, and 2 for American.
Definitely …..SOUTHWEST!!!!! They’re the best………. =)
Southwest – Instead of being the Customer who wines and complains about more fees, I want to take action. When given a choice, as in this case, why would I continue to support (with my purchase of a fare) the airlines who want to nickel and dime me?. I don’t support extra fees – fuel surcharges, bag fees, change fees, pillow fees, seat selection fees, etc.
As to the above posted…Knowing what seat you’ll get before you board the plane. That’s what could be better.
I’d rather pick my fellow seatmate, than pick my seat.
LOL at all the southwest cultists crawling out of the woodwork. Didn’t realize greyhound was so popular that the airline equivalent would hook in so many people.
The discount carriers are for rubes. I voted United since I’ve had status with them for 20+ years, but American is fine too. Stick with real airlines.
Ok guys, it’s a done deal. I have good news and bad news. Originally, I thought I was going to be expensing the flight, but now they’ve decided to just buy the ticket for me. So that bad news is that I’m flying United whether I like it or not. The good news is that I was going to choose them anyway, well, at least one way. But here’s what my thinking was. Here’s why.
1) American’s flight times were ok on the 737, but that was all they had. On the way out, I preferred something earlier, but it wasn’t necessary. Technically, the flight time back was 10 minutes earlier than what they said I should do as the absolute earliest, so I didn’t feel comfortable with that since there were no more flights during the day. Also, between American and United, I would generally pick United for Channel 9 (listen to the cockpit) and since I have access to Economy Plus, why not . . .
2) Southwest was ok, but the return really bugged me. The flight time was 10 minutes earlier than American’s already slightly-too-early time and the next flight wasn’t for nearly 3 hours. Not worth hanging around that long if I miss it. I have no issues with not having an assigned seat, and I like flying Southwest. The return was just no good.
3) Frontier had good flight times on Airbus airplanes, and I love the TV, but one thing stopped me. United. (I’ll get to that in a second.) On the way back, I probably would have purchased a ticket on Frontier. The flight time was good and there was only an hour and a half until the next flight if I missed.
4) So why did United stop me from buying a Frontier flight on the way out? The 757. I love that plane, and the ideal flight on the outbound puts me on it. On the way back, I’m on an Airbus, so to be honest, I’d rather fly Frontier. But oh well. With any luck I’ll get on one of the newer interior A320s so I can try that out.
To sum it all up, here’s what really impacted my decision-making process. Schedule was first and foremost – good flight times and frequencies were key. Other than that, I love, in order, 757s and Live TV. So that’s how we got here.
Thanks for all the feedback and votes here. Believe it or not, this has been so interesting to me that it’s going to form the backbone of my starting speech. Great stuff, and it shows why Denver is such an awesome market for the consumer right now.
Perhaps I should be classed as a subset of airline dork, and that is the seat-assignment dork (we frequently manifest over on Flyertalk, though I don’t personally go there). I can’t quite get my head around not caring where I sit on a plane, and the popularity of Seat Guru and Seat Expert tell me I’m not alone. Maybe it’s my managed claustrophobia (or control issues?), but it’s imperative to me that I get a window seat (I need to see out, other claustrophobes like the aisle seats because of the illusion of being able to “get out”.)
I thought part of the fun of being deeply into airliners and airline types and the game of getting cheap seats and using miles (etc etc) was figuring out where best to sit on any given plane. At least that’s how it is for me.
A long way of saying… I dread the idea of having to take Southwest somewhere. I know there’s some method to the madness of getting an A boarding pass or whatever, but I just can’t be bothered to figure that out. I want a number on my boarding pass, not just a letter.
I also have to admit the word “cultists” popped to the forebrain when reading all the people pushing you to take Southwest. I mean, ick. Of all the airlines you could go ga-ga for, why pick a low-end cattle car (however “cheery” and “on time” they supposedly are…)?
“””””4) So why did United stop me from buying a Frontier flight on the way out? The 757. I love that plane, and the ideal flight on the outbound puts me on it. On the way back, I’m on an Airbus, so to be honest, I’d rather fly Frontier. But oh well. With any luck I’ll get on one of the newer interior A320s so I can try that out.”””””
To bad one direction couldn’t have been a widebody, a trip report on one airlinie with a narrowbody and widebody would have been interesting on how UA handles each one both on the ground and in the air.
Ed Casper wrote:
I’ve never been to or through PHX, but living in Long Beach I almost always fly out of LAX. It’s only an extra 20 minutes down the freeway when roads are clear. Granted, parking at LAX is a pain (I typically use the remote lots which add an extra 30 minutes), and when I don’t drive then transit to/from LAX can take 1:30 hours or more (to LGB I can take a cab, or ask to be dropped off), but the flight options from LAX almost always end up being better overall.