Last Thursday I flew to Denver for a family trip to the Rocky Mountains. Four members of the party were coming together at the airport on three different flights—quite the coordination campaign. From Boston, two different airlines: United and American. From Manchester: Southwest. I was on a direct flight to Denver on United after deciding that for such a short weekend, being on multiple flights was too much of a risk for cancellations, delays, and angst. Turns out, all three airlines experienced postponements of some sort or another.

Unsettled weather in the Denver area the last few weeks has led to baseball size hail, tornadoes, and lightening/thunderstorms. We weren’t sure what to expect for our flights–but I was anticipating some sort of significant setback. On United, our delays were fairly minor. After pulling out of the gate, we sat on the tarmac for about half an hour; in flight, we did some circling around Denver and experienced some bumps. But we managed to arrive only about 15 minutes past the anticipated arrival time. In fact, our flight was supposed to be the last to arrive, but we ended up being the first–a rare feat.

Southwest had been delayed in Philly (surprise, surprise!) and the American traveler had been rerouted from Boston-Dallas-Denver to Boston-Chicago-Denver. She had then waited in Chicago for hours. I found it interesting that my least favorite airline (United) was the most on time, whereas my usually favorite airline (American) was the most delayed.

Overall our success on United seemed more a product of airports less inclined to delays, the right timing regarding the weather, and most importantly, direct flights, than to the individual airlines. Nevertheless, I might be inclined to check out United again. Well…only if it’s direct.

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