Airlines - United States
The big 3
Other full service airlines
(business class, lounge, long-haul):
- Fleet: All 737
- Focus: West coast
- Lounges, no lie-flat seat.
- jetBlue (Spirit):
- Fleet: 320 + 220
- Focus: Northeast, Florida, Caribbean
- Long-haul: transatlantic
- Mint business class lie-flat seat; no airport lounge.
- Fleet: 321, 332, 717, 789
- Focus: Hawaii
- Long-haul: transpacific
LCC and ULCC
- Southwest: all 737;
- Frontier: all 320
- Allegiant: 320 + 737
- Avelo: all 737
- Breeze: A220-300
- Sun Country:: all 737
How to earn lifetime status?
|1M||Gold (25k)||Silver (25k)||Gold (50k)||MVP Gold (40k)|
|2M||Platinum (50k)||Gold (50k)||Platinum (75k)||Gold 75K (75k)|
|3M||-||Gold (50k)||Premier 1K (100k)||-|
|4M||-||Platinum (75k)||Golbal Services||-|
- Airlines are all using "Million Miler" as the qualification for lifetime status.
- Silver and Gold are not created equal in different programs.
- United and Alaska do not count partner flights, that is why the same 1M miles will earn you a higher level status in these two.
- Only United and Alaska provides highest level lifetime status. Delta does not have lifetime Diamond, AA does not have lifetime Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum.
- 2M: 4 one-way systemwide upgrades
- Every additional 1M miles: 4 additional one-way systemwide upgrades
- 2M: Annual companion Premier status
- 3M: Annual companion Premier status
- 4M: Annual companion Premier status
Shooting for Million Miler? Do your own math to see if it is possible, for example, suppose you are based in San Francisco:
SFO-SEA: 679mi, 1 million = 737 round trips
SFO-JFK: 2586mi, 1 million = 194 round trips
SFO-PEK: 5913mi, 1 million = 85 round trips
UA vs DL vs AA
There are quite a lot of bad news about the airlines, globally. This industry is considered "uninvestable" by many. Even Buffett sold all airline stocks.
I've never been a big fun of AA, especially after the Project Oasis; I want to love more about Delta but my home airport is an United hub, so I do not have many choices as a customer. However as an investor, how to rank the big 3?
Assets vs Liabilities
It's the first time that I take a look at their earnings. The comparison of their assets and liabilities is quite interesting:
(2020 Q1, In million $)
Before the COVID-19, AA has the world's largest fleet, with 900+ mainline aircraft, and Delta 800+, United 700+. Delta is known for it's old planes (dozens of MD and 717), yet it has the highest assets, and AA's stockholder's equity is negative.
All 3 are retiring planes due to the lack of demand:
- Delta will accelerate the retirement of MD-88 and MD-90; all 777-200ER and 777-200LR will be retired, making A350 the long haul flagship (thanks to the upgrade of 280t MTOW so that the newer deliveries can fly the LR route like ATL-JNB)
- AA will retire all 757, 767, A330-300, E190. AA fleet looks much simpler and streamlined after this: 737 and 320 for short-haul, and 787, 777, 332 for long-haul.
- United does not have an obvious set of type to chop (either super old like Delta's MD or a small sub-fleet like AA's 9 A330-300). It will retire 767-400, which is mostly used for transatlantic routes, plus 10 757-200 that use a different type of engine than the rest of 41 planes.
Alliances / Joint Ventures
- Sky team
- Transatlantic: joint venture with Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM
- Transpacific: primarily Korean Air, also China Eastern
- Latin America: LATAM
- Transatlantic: British Airways
- Latin America: Gol (after LATAM leaves oneworld)
- Star Alliance
- Transatlantic: Lufthansa
- Latin America: Copa Airlines and Avianca