American Airlines VS. United Airlines: Which Is Better For You?

Airlines in USA
Read Time:12 Minute, 40 Second

There is a definite winner if you are deciding between American Airlines and United Airlines for an upcoming flight.

This is it; this is the big one. This American Airlines vs. United comparison is about as significant as airline competition gets, and I’m about to try to provide a substantial response. is one of these airlines truly better than the other?

In my opinion, after flying both Even after traveling (each) hundreds of thousands of miles, there isn’t much of a difference between United and American. In-flight entertainment is one area where American Airlines excels over United, and vice versa is true for long-haul business class, which United offers better than American.

This kind of comparison is similar to trying to choose between Coke and Pepsi (or WestJet and Air Canada). Both perform the same task (and do it well), but ultimately, it comes down to preference.

If your eyes aren’t bleeding by the time you read everything in this comparison, you’ll find out which of these two airlines is better for me and the way that I travel. You’ve made it to the end, good luck, and Godspeed.

What Is United Airlines?

Also known as United, United Airlines. United Airlines’ main office is located in Chicago, Illinois’s Willis Tower.

Considered to be the third-largest airline in the world.

United Airlines operates on both domestic and international route networks. The airline was established on April 6, 1926.

United Airlines has an 854-strong fleet and flies to 342 locations. The airline’s parent company is United Airlines Holdings.

Scott Kirby serves as the business’s chief executive officer. Over 96,000 people were employed by United Airlines as of December 2019, according to a report.

The Airlines was a Star Alliance founding member. The largest airline alliance in the world is another name for Star Alliance.

VAL, also known as Varney Air Lines, is where United Airlines got its start. Walter Varney established VAL in Boise, Idaho in 1926.

The airmail flight was privately requested on April 6, 1926, making it the first airline to have one.

Operating on five continents and more than 48 nations is United Airlines. The airline offers 238 domestic destinations and 118 international ones.

Operating out of eight hubs is United Airlines. They are Chicago O’Hare, Washington-Dulles, Guam, Denver, Newark, Houston-International, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Newark.

The airline, a member of Star Alliance, has codeshare agreements with numerous other airlines, including Air India, Cape Air, Aeromar, Air Canada, Silver Airways, Turkish Airlines, Boutique Air, Eurowings, Swiss International Air Lines, and numerous others.

United Airlines

What Is American Airlines?

Considered to be the biggest airline in the world is American Airlines. American Airlines’ corporate headquarters are in Texas’ Fort Worth.

It has the largest fleet size, revenue passenger mile, and number of scheduled passengers carried. The airline runs both domestic and foreign networks.

It offers over 6800 flights per day to 350 locations. American Airlines was established on April 15th, 1926. It was initially known as American Airways Inc.

On June 25, 1936, the operations got underway.

The airline was founded through the merger of more than 80 small airlines. Colonial Air Transport and Robertson Aircraft Corporation are the two primary companies that were the forerunners of American Airlines.

The Aviation Corporation was the merger’s original name. OneWorld is the American Airlines alliance. American Airlines has 857 mainline aircraft in its fleet.

American Airlines Group serves as the parent company. In 2020, there will be 133,700 people working for American Airlines. The frequent flier program provided by American Airlines is called AAdvantage.

Doug Parker is American Airlines’ chairman and chief executive officer. Robert Isom serves as the leader.

Out of the 10 hubs, DFW, or Dallas/Fort Worth, has the largest operation for American Airlines. The airline has a track record of serving over 200 million passengers yearly.

Every day, there are over 500,000 passengers. As of 2021, American Airlines will have 862 aircraft in service, including Airbus and Boeing, and another 179 aircraft ordered or planned.

American Airlines

American Airlines VS. United Airlines

In the top 4 busiest U.S. airlines are American Airlines and United. airlines, with American came in first, and United came in a distant fourth. United typically operates more than 4500 flights per day, while American typically operates over 6,000 flights per day (both averages). Although United has two abroad, both airlines have about nine hubs each.


  • Both airlines have hubs in New York and Los Angeles
  • Both airlines operate a highly diverse fleet of aircraft types, with Airbus and Boeing being the most common
  • They both fly to nearly 350 (or more) destinations per day
  • United Airlines and American Airlines have both declared chapter 11 bankruptcy in the past (UA-2001, AA-2011)
  • At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, both airlines have what they call a “fortress hub”—despite the word “fortress” suggesting that one airline is the dominant one there. All we can assume from this is that both AA and UA think very highly of themselves.
  • Both airlines compete head-to-head on the premium New York to Los Angeles route, with aircraft featuring lie-flat business class seats and premium service


  • United was employee-owned for five years (1995-2000)
  • American Airlines is the largest airline in the world (financially + number of passengers)
  • Houston is the only hub for United in the South, whereas Phoenix, Miami, and Dallas are hubs for American.
  • United typically charges more for checked bags than American
  • American has more regional-sized aircraft than United for short flights
  • In the Star Alliance, United Airlines participates. Oneworld is a member of American Airlines.
  • Flagship First Class and Flagship Business Class are American Airlines’ high-end, dedicated transcontinental business and first class offerings. United does not; instead, they fly Polaris Business Class-equipped, globally-equipped aircraft.
  • United Airlines is installing high-quality video entertainment on all it’s aircraft, while American Airlines is moving away from seat back video screens (on domestic aircraft)

Flight Options

American For Domestic Travel, United For International

Your home airport may be the most crucial factor to take into account when choosing an airline, especially if you’re looking to earn miles or elite status. For instance, if you reside in Houston, United, which has a hub there, will likely offer more affordable flights.

However, American likely has more to offer if you reside in Dallas.

Let’s examine where these two airlines fly in more detail.

United Airlines’ Destinations

Daily, United offers 4,500 flights to 300 cities across five continents, including 200 within the United States. cities. Here are United’s U.S. hubs:

  • Chicago-O’Hare.
  • Denver.
  • Guam.
  • Houston.
  • Los Angeles.
  • Newark.
  • San Francisco.
  • Washington-Dulles.

Nearly two dozen airlines in the Star Alliance are among the roughly thirty airlines with which United has partnerships. Some notable partners are Air Canada, All Nippon Airways, Hawaiian, Singapore, Swiss, Thai Airways, and Singapore Airlines. If you accumulate United MileagePlus miles, you can use them to travel virtually anywhere with one of our partners.

American Airlines’ Destinations

350 destinations are served by 6,700 daily flights operated by American and its partner American Eagle. Hubs operated by American Airlines include:

  • Charlotte.
  • Chicago-O’Hare.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth.
  • Los Angeles.
  • Miami.
  • New York-JFK.
  • New York-LaGuardia.
  • Philadelphia.
  • Phoenix.
  • Washington-National.

American has partnerships with about 20 airlines, which is about 12 fewer than United. fourteen Oneworld alliance airlines are on their list of partners. Some notable affiliates are Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, and Qantas.

Therefore, if you participate in American Airlines’ loyalty program, AAdvantage, you can book flights with these partners using your miles. On this list of partners, there is one glaring omission, though: When redeeming partner miles for a flight, British Airways is infamous for having some of the highest fees and taxes, particularly in business or first class.

For instance, a recent search for a flight from Los Angeles to London on British Airways paid for with American Airlines AAdvantage miles revealed additional costs up to $1,096 on top of the AAdvantage miles redeemed.

A Los Angeles to London business class flight on American might cost $340 instead of $1,096 in fees for AAdvantage members traveling to British Airways-served destinations. If the flights operated by American work for you, you’ll have a substitute for British Airways’ outrageous fees, though you might have to pay more AAdvantage miles for the trip. Considering American versus United Airlines in light of this can have a significant impact.

Travel Credit Card Availability

Best Airline Credit Card Winner: United

It may be easier for you to choose which airline to be loyal to if you are aware of your priority airline credit card benefits. Examples of benefits include no foreign transaction fees, additional award flight access, discounted award flight rates, and free checked bags. Your comfort level with paying an annual fee may also be a factor.

You can choose the best co-branded credit card for you by considering these “must-haves” before making your decision.

United Mileageplus Credit Cards

The United ClubSM Infinite Card, which grants access to airport lounges when you fly, is the most expensive of the four consumer credit cards offered by United Airlines.

An outline of those choices is provided below.

United Gateway℠ Card

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 2 miles per dollar for United purchases, gas and transit, 1x miles on other purchases.
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights.
  • One year of complimentary DashPass once activated.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

United℠ Explorer Card

  • Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 2 miles per dollar for United purchases, dining and hotels; 1x miles on other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • One free checked bag.
  • Priority boarding.
  • No United flights are off-limits for booking with miles.
  • One year of complimentary DashPass once activated.

United Quest℠ Card

  • Annual fee: $250.
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 3x miles on United purchases; 2x miles on travel, dining and streaming services; 1x mile on other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Two free checked bags.
  • Two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits.
  • No United flights are off limits for booking with miles.
  • One year of complimentary DashPass once activated.

United Club℠ Infinite Card

  • Annual fee: $525.
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Membership in United Club network of airport lounges ($650 value).
  • 4x miles on United purchases, 2x miles on other travel and dining, 1x miles on other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Two free checked bags.
  • Priority boarding and priority check-in where available.
  • One year of complimentary DashPass once activated.
  • $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS credit.
  • No United flights are off limits for booking with miles.

American Airlines Aadvantage Credit Cards

In comparison to Barclays Bank, Citi offers three AAdvantage consumer credit cards. Your options range from a no annual fee card that will actually give you a $50 statement credit for signing up to a luxury card that entitles you to membership in American’s network of airport lounges.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

  • Annual fee: $0.
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening..
  • 2x miles for American Airlines and grocery store purchases, 1x miles for other purchases.

AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®

  • Annual fee: $199.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 3x miles on American Airlines purchases, 2x on hotels and car rentals, 1x on other purchases.
  • Earn two $99 companion tickets by charging $20,000 in a calendar year.
  • Earn up to 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles and $3,000 in Elite Qualifying Dollars by meeting minimum spends.
  • Up to $50 in anniversary Wi-Fi credits.
  • Up to $25 food and beverage credit on every flight.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

  • Annual fee: $450.
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, 1x on other purchases.
  • One free checked bag.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Priority boarding and priority check-in where available.
  • Membership in the Admirals Club lounge network (a $500 to $650 value).
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point per 1 eligible mile.

For every price range, both airlines have reliable credit cards. The expanded award availability for credit card customers of United, however, gives United the advantage over American. With American’s reduced mileage benefit, some cardholders can save up to 7,500 miles on a revolving list of discounted locations, which typically excludes popular routes like Hawaii (plus, American will end this perk in October 2021). However, with higher-end United cards, booking any United flight with miles makes it simpler to travel to your dream locations.

In-flight Experience

Winner Of The Sky: Slight Edge To American

United Airlines

Even though United’s economy class seats can vary from plane to plane, most of them offer 31 inches of pitch, or the distance from your seat back to the same spot on the seat in front of you. With seats that range in pitch from 34 to 37 inches, Economy Plus seats are more expensive but offer more legroom. On long-haul international flights, United’s Polaris Business Class offers restaurant-quality dining and perks like Saks Fifth Avenue bedding. Upper-class cabin seats vary by aircraft and by route.

We conducted a thorough analysis and found that United’s basic economy tickets are among the worst of this ticket type.

American Airlines

However, some seats in American’s economy class have a 32-inch pitch. Between 33 and 36 inches of pitch are available if you pay more for Main Cabin Extra. The seating options for business and first class on long-haul international flights vary depending on the route but can include opulent lie-flat seats with first-rate service.

For passengers on the major airlines, American offered the best basic economy fare. Additionally, the airline provides superior onboard entertainment to its rival.


To customers, business associates, and even cargo, airlines provide paid transportation services. United Airlines and American Airlines are the two most well-known airline companies.

Around the same time, both airlines were established. However, there are differences between the two companies’ operational models.

Both airlines are well-known and prosperous, and their primary mode of transportation is passenger aircraft. Both offer access to a huge number of destinations and have a ton of hubs.

Both regional and global services are offered. Before deciding on a final course of action with the airline company, the customers must assess all the differentiating factors.

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