Are United Airlines And American Airlines The Same?

United Airlines and American Airlines are two of the largest air carriers in the United States, but they are not the same airline. If you’re wondering if United and American are part of the same company or have merged, the quick answer is no – United and American operate as completely separate airlines.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain the history and key differences between United and American Airlines to help you understand if they are the same or not. We’ll cover topics like their founding and history, route networks, fleet size, hubs, loyalty programs, and more.

We’ll also look at whether the two airlines have discussed merging or collaborating in the past. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how United and American compare in size and operations.

The History and Founding of United Airlines and American Airlines

When and how United Airlines was founded

United Airlines, one of the major airlines in the United States, was founded on April 6, 1926. Originally known as Varney Air Lines, it was established by Walter Varney, an aviation pioneer. The airline began its operations in the western region of the United States, providing airmail services.

Over the years, United Airlines expanded its operations and routes, eventually becoming one of the largest and most recognized airlines in the world.

When and how American Airlines was founded

American Airlines, another prominent airline in the United States, was founded on April 15, 1926. It started as a result of a consolidation of more than 80 small airlines, with the aim of providing a more efficient and reliable air travel service.

The company initially operated under the name American Airways and focused on mail and passenger services. Like United Airlines, American Airlines grew rapidly and played a significant role in shaping the aviation industry.

Key events and mergers in each airline’s history

Both United Airlines and American Airlines have had their fair share of key events and mergers throughout their history. These events have played a crucial role in shaping the airlines and their operations.

  • United Airlines became the first airline to introduce the Boeing 747, a revolutionary aircraft that changed the dynamics of air travel.
  • American Airlines made history by being the first airline to introduce computerized reservation systems and develop a frequent flyer program.
  • Both airlines have undergone several mergers and acquisitions, which have allowed them to expand their network and increase their market share.
  • United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines in 2010, creating one of the largest airlines in the world.
  • American Airlines merged with US Airways in 2013, further solidifying its position as one of the major players in the industry.

These mergers have not only brought financial benefits to the airlines but have also allowed them to offer a wider range of destinations and enhanced services to their passengers.

For more information on the history and founding of United Airlines, visit their official website at To learn more about American Airlines, you can visit their official website at

United vs. American – Route Networks and Fleet Size

Destinations and hubs served by United Airlines

United Airlines ( serves over 200 domestic airports across the US, as well as 130 international destinations across Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America. Its main hubs are Chicago-O’Hare, Denver, Houston-George Bush Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark/New York, San Francisco and Washington-Dulles.

Destinations and hubs served by American Airlines

American Airlines ( serves 250 destinations across 40 countries. Its domestic hubs include Charlotte, Chicago-O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington-Reagan.

It also uses London-Heathrow as a key hub for European and transatlantic flights.

Comparing the size of the United and American fleets

United Airlines operates a much larger fleet than American Airlines. According to 2022 data, World Airline Fleets reports that:

  • United Airlines’ fleet size is over 1,300 aircraft
  • American Airlines’ fleet size is under 1,000 aircraft

The table below compares some key details between their fleets:

Airline Total Aircraft Average Fleet Age
United Airlines 1,322 14.7 years
American Airlines 933 10.8 years

As the numbers show, United has around 400 more planes, but American has a younger average fleet age.

United and American international route networks

Both airlines operate extensive international route networks serving hundreds of global destinations. However, there are some key differences in terms of their international coverage:

  • United serves more cities in Europe, northern Asia and Australia/Oceania compared to American.
  • American has more service to major cities across South America as well as the Caribbean.

Loyalty Programs, Alliances, and Collaborations

MileagePlus – United’s frequent flyer program

United Airlines offers its customers the opportunity to join their loyalty program called MileagePlus. This program allows passengers to earn miles every time they fly with United or any of its partner airlines.

These miles can then be redeemed for various rewards such as flights, upgrades, hotel stays, car rentals, and more. MileagePlus members also enjoy exclusive benefits such as priority boarding, access to airport lounges, and waived fees.

The AAdvantage program from American

American Airlines, on the other hand, has its own frequent flyer program called AAdvantage. Similar to MileagePlus, AAdvantage members earn miles for their flights with American and its partner airlines.

These miles can be used for various rewards and benefits, including flights, upgrades, and hotel stays. AAdvantage members also enjoy perks such as priority boarding and access to airport lounges.

Airline alliances – Star Alliance vs. oneworld

Both United Airlines and American Airlines are part of major airline alliances. United is a member of the Star Alliance, which is the largest airline alliance in the world. This alliance includes airlines such as Lufthansa, Air Canada, and Singapore Airlines, among others.

American Airlines, on the other hand, is a member of the oneworld alliance, which includes airlines like British Airways, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific.

These alliances provide various benefits to passengers, such as seamless travel options, shared lounges, and expanded route networks. Passengers can earn and redeem miles across member airlines, making it easier to accumulate rewards and enjoy a more convenient travel experience.

Have United and American discussed deeper collaboration?

While United Airlines and American Airlines are both major players in the airline industry, there have been discussions about potential collaborations between the two. However, as of now, there has been no formal announcement regarding any deeper collaboration between the two airlines.

It is worth noting that airlines often collaborate on certain routes or codeshare agreements to provide more options for their passengers. These collaborations can include shared flights, joint marketing efforts, and reciprocal benefits for loyalty program members.

However, any potential collaboration between United and American would depend on various factors, including market demand, regulatory approvals, and strategic considerations.

For more information on United Airlines’ loyalty program, you can visit their official website:

To learn more about American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, you can visit their official website:

Financial Performance and Brand Perceptions

Key financial metrics for United and American

When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of United Airlines and American Airlines, there are several key metrics that investors and industry analysts pay close attention to.

One of the most important metrics is revenue. In terms of revenue, United Airlines has consistently outperformed American Airlines. According to the latest financial reports, United Airlines reported a revenue of $43.2 billion in the previous fiscal year, while American Airlines reported a revenue of $42.2 billion.

Another metric that provides insights into the financial health of an airline is profitability. Here, American Airlines has been performing better than United Airlines. In the same fiscal year, American Airlines reported a net income of $1.7 billion, while United Airlines reported a net income of $1.4 billion.

It’s worth noting that financial performance can be influenced by various factors such as cost management, fleet size, route network, and market conditions. Therefore, it’s important to consider these factors when evaluating the financial performance of United Airlines and American Airlines.

How passengers rate their travel experiences with each airline

Passenger satisfaction and brand perception are crucial factors for airlines. To gauge how passengers rate their travel experiences, surveys and customer reviews play a significant role.

According to a recent survey conducted by Skytrax, United Airlines received a rating of 3 out of 5 stars, while American Airlines received a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. The survey took into account various aspects of the travel experience, including comfort, customer service, in-flight entertainment, and baggage handling.

Passenger reviews on popular travel websites also provide valuable insights into the brand perceptions of United Airlines and American Airlines. While both airlines have their fair share of positive and negative reviews, American Airlines tends to receive slightly higher ratings overall.

However, it’s important to note that individual experiences may vary, and factors such as flight routes, aircraft types, and specific incidents can influence passenger perceptions. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to consider a range of sources when forming an opinion about an airline’s brand perception.


While United and American occupy similar positions as legacy airlines, they continue to operate as fully separate companies with their own routes, fleets, hubs, frequent flyer programs and corporate strategies.

Although they have discussed potential collaborations, so far United and American remain independent and competitive air carriers.

In summary, the core answer is no – United Airlines and American Airlines are not the same. But as two of the major airlines in not just the U.S. but globally, comparing United and American across areas like history, operations, finances and brand image provides useful context on their scale and approaches to the airline business.

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