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Arikson77 Dec 8th, 2003 09:23 PM

Qantas vs. United
Which airline in your opinion provides more room and better service Qantas Airways, Air New Zealand, or United? How are they comparable in prices for an airfare in late May? Could you please suggest what kind of airfare should I be looking for at that time of the year. Is there a better gateway than LA for an airfare?

PixieChick Dec 9th, 2003 12:23 AM

Check out for details on room. Check out orbitz and zuji for flight prices. You don't note where you plan on going. If it's Australia or NZ, LA is the best. Qantas only flies out of LA. United out of LA and SF (although rumour has it they're thinking of dropping SF direct). ANZ doesn't fly direct from the US to Aus. It's a stopover in NZ.

Clifton Dec 9th, 2003 04:28 AM

Actually, Air New Zealand does a lot of free stopovers in Auckland, Fiji or Tahiti (I believe), but they do have a non-stop daily each way LAX - SYD.

Air New Zealand has been how I've been going. Pro's: Nice airline, good Int'l service, better than avg seat pitch. Con: No individual TVs, United partner, not a member of my primary FF program.

Qantas: Will be finding out for the first time come Saturday. Chose them thistime because of our current investment in keeping everything in the OneWorld bucket.

United: Can't say, stopped flying them years ago whenever possible.

Nothing on airfare above. That's a hit and miss deal, depends on when you search and when you're going. Keep searching their websites plus the online broker sites.

hotandsweaty Dec 9th, 2003 02:07 PM

well, i feel so qualified to answer this as i have flown all three on the long haul and short hops several times starting in 2001.

overall, i think the staff at air new zealand are far above average in every way-- an example: on a recent departure the head steward had an entirely empty business class section. what did he do? he reseated as mny coach class passengers as possible- assisting with baggage and passing out blankets. i have never heard of such a thing at united airlines, or any american carrier, for that matter. i have had similarly pleasant experiences with anz employees on flights to tahiti and other islands.

qantas is my second choice- again crew attitude. american flight atendants - and i am speaking as a 100 flights + a year flier, are almost universally surly. for whatever reason it is rare, i find, and always have found even long before 9/11, to find a us-based flight crew that even approaches the pleasant attitudes i have consistently seen on view in the south pacific (20 + flights in the region over the past 3 years, most origoinating in australia). they will help you put your bags up whereas american attendants will snarl at you, etc. they just make the long haul experience that much better.

united is my last choice.

all three provided on time, comfortable seating for long haul flights. the anz to tahiti did have an inferior aircraft the first time i flew them in 1998, and again this year to samoa, but i was also on my newest state of the art plane with them, as well. depends on the route.

an added bonus of flying either anz or qantas are the cute accents! :). makes you feel like you're on vacation before you've left.

Arikson77 Dec 9th, 2003 05:35 PM

I keep on finding good airfares for May 31 to SYD on United and I don't ever see anything good on Qantas or Air New Zealand. Want to stay with AA aliance for miles reason. We are going on a honeymoon - do you think they might help me out with upgrade if there are seats available. Is $ 930 from LA a good deal? When do they usually start releasing sales for the end of May?

Neil_Oz Dec 9th, 2003 06:35 PM

hotandsweaty's comments struck a chord. Visting the USA, after having been often told that America was the home of good customer service, I was struck by the offhand and bureaucratic treatment many customer-contact staff working for large corporations dished out. This began with our UA SYD-SFO flight, whose cabin crew just seemed too worn down by the whole grind to do much more than go through the motions.
OK, this problem was not by many means universal, but it seemed a bit too common to be accidental.
Let me stress that this lack of interest was totally at odds with the friendliness, warmth and generosity displayed by individual Americans throughout the country, it certainly didn't get in the way of enjoying our time in a great country, and it wouldn't deter me from a return visit. However, it did get me to wondering why things had, apparently, run off the rails in recent years.
My conclusion was that rampant downsizing, outsourcing and other assaults on job security and working conditions - driven by increasing competition - were eroding morale and loyalty in most large corporations to the extent that staff were starting to "switch off" on their customers. I couldn't see any other explanation for the paradox, and this was backed up by several studies of employee attitudes.
The bad (worse) news is that after a slower start the same business pressures are well under way in Australia and, sadly, among the blessedly laid-back New Zealanders.
I'd be interested to know if other travellers, especially American, have drawn a similar conclusion.

Clifton Dec 9th, 2003 08:15 PM

Neil, I think I'd agree with what you've said or at least wouldn't argue the point. I'm American but have had a bit of chance to see things from a non-US perspective in that I'm married to an Australian. Have read a couple of books (theories?) on US-Aus relations that make sense to me as well.

Americans, generally but not everyone surely, have been historically fairly accepting of the "live to work" ethic, rather than the "work to live" ideas embraced in other places. But, the idea in times past was that this was an investment in your own future. In these days when mass layoffs can leave a person on the dole without notice, especially in the airline industry, I can see where people may be a little less prone to invest in blind loyalty. I'm not sure I feel the same, as I still like to think I serve a good purpose and that my behavior reflects my character, but I think I can understand the malaise.

Neil_Oz Dec 10th, 2003 12:24 PM

Yep, good point. I don't want to stretch the patience of other readers (and won't beyond this) but there's a theory that different cultures have varying notions of what qualifies as good customer service - e.g. Americans place a high value on speed, Germans on efficiency, the English value a "class" image, Australians the "relationship" factor, etc. While perhaps having a grain of truth this seems way too simplistic to me. There are certainly some cultural differences and misunderstandings, but I don't think Americans and Australians are all that far apart, which is why I was careful to blame a business environment rather than Americans as such, an innately hospitable people, for the sins of some of their corporations. Same goes for Australians. There'll always be people who will manage to do a good job despite their employer's despite rather than because of their employers, because that's the kind of people they are, and others who'll use workplace gripes as an excuse to slack off.

hotandsweaty Dec 11th, 2003 09:00 AM

wow this has gotten quite interesting.

i have definitely seen a drop off in industry wide service...but as for airlines, i cannot recall in my lifetime having a "pleasant" flying experience vis a vis on board personnel, even before economic hardship set it...

and as for previous question - you can earn united miles on anz if you're concerned about accrual..

and you can earn american airlines miles on qantas

Kate_W Dec 14th, 2003 04:01 PM

You'll get some very detailed pros and cons info about airlines (and some very specific tips about seating etc) on the bulletin board Check out the Qantas, United and Air NZ boards.

Unless you're a frequent flyer, you shouldn't hold your breath about "honeymoon" upgrades on a highly discounted ticket. If you are a frequent flyer with one of the airlines, the slightly increased chance of an upgrade might influence your choice of airline.

wlzmatilida Dec 28th, 2003 05:22 PM


As a travel agent (who specializes in Australia and NZ), I can tell you that Qantas, or Air NZ, for that matter, beats UA hands down. (and, I am a "frequent flyer" with mileage on UA, as I'm located in the San Francisco bay area, which is considered "UA country").

All the airlines are going to be comparable on similar routes, so don't drive yourself (or your travel agent :) crazy by trying to compare. The airlines are very predictable - if Airline A has a special from LAX to Sydney, you can bet that Airline B is going to come up with the same rate or lower within a matter of days.

One of my criteria for dealing with any supplier is how they handle a customer service issue. As in, my client's have missed their flight; there's a family emergency, that type of thing. I can tell you from firsthand experience that Qantas has been more than helpful in these situations. I cannot say the same in UA, and wish I had the time I've spent back writing to the airline trying to resolve various consumer problems!

As far as an upgrade because it's your honeymoon...well, the fact is...they don't care. It all comes down to dollars and availability. There is no reason any airline is going to give any seat away on mileage if they can sell it. The less seats available, the more chance they have of selling it.

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Aussie Specialist

Clifton Dec 29th, 2003 08:18 PM

I just thought I'd revisit my response to the original question, having just returned from a US - AUS flight on Qantas.

I thought they were quite good really, and very comparable to my past experiences with Air New Zealand. I'll stand by my dislike for the UA option though.

Qantas had a fairly average seat comfort level in economy but the service was friendly and timely as it was on ANZ. There was a fair list personal video choices (wasn't available on ANZ last time I flew them, just the single big screen). Food was decent, nothing unidentifiable and a couple of decent mains.

We were delayed taking off on this Qantas return flight by 6 hours due to hail damage prior to the plane's arrival, so they had to send and prepare another plane. Qantas provided plenty of refreshment vouchers for the wait, and it was a decent flight, even though it was full.

Now if only American hadn't cancelled our outgoing domestic flight without notice... leaving us to find out 3 hours before takeoff and struggling to find a way to make our connection. The joys of modern flight, eh? :)

Doh Dec 30th, 2003 01:31 PM

As a US-based traveller, my rule of thumb has always been that any non-US-based airline is likely to treat me better than any US-based carrier (the exception was Air Canada, which it turns out is in bankruptcy, oh well).

That said, I think United and ANZ code share, so you may be able to buy a "United" ticket but actually fly ANZ. IIRC we did this, and has a good experience with ANZ.

PixieChick Dec 30th, 2003 02:08 PM

Doh is right, but you can just as easily buy an ANZ ticket and get United miles since it's a star alliance partner.

One thing to keep in mind: I flew United from Sydney to LA, and then transferred to NY. I hadn't realised that my initial ticket (purchased through a travel agent) was through ANZ but on a United flight (the ANZ price was about $500 cheaper than United for the transcontinental, even though both were on the same plane!)

Long story short, the flight got in late to LA and I tried to speak to United reps on the ground as I missed my connecting flight. They point blank said that since my ticket from Syd to LA was through ANZ, they wouldn't (not couldn't) help me.

wlzmatilida Jan 1st, 2004 05:30 PM


not to worry about Air Canada (which I like very much) being in bankrupcy....geez, we have UA, USAir and Delta who have all filed for Chapter 11..... :)

Certified Aussie Specialist

Eagle Jan 5th, 2004 08:23 PM

I would opt for Air New Zealand. Excellent service. Way ahead of United in every way.

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