I took a brief trip to Chicago for personal reasons earlier this week. What I found most interesting was the difference in crowds between the United Airlines and American Airlines terminals. It felt like two totally different places and illustrates the different approaches UA and AA have taken to COVID-19 scheduling.
My flight in arrived in Chicago at 6:00AM, giving me a few hours to spare before I had to depart the terminal for my appointment. I headed over to Tortas Fronteras for breakfast only to find out that it was closed. The McDonalds next door was open, but that did not look appealing, so I decided to walk over to the American Airlines terminal, to see if the Terminal 3 branch of Tortas Fronteras was open.
I will say the United concourse and gate areas were a lot more crowded than at LAX and SFO. But they looked deserted compared to what I found in Terminal 3.
American Airlines has continued to offer more flights than Delta or United during the pandemic. In fact, American is growing twice as fast in terms of number of available seats. AA’s July schedule represents 55% of 2019 capacity while United is only running 30% of its July 2019 schedule this month. American is also aggressively discounting fares, something United has refused to do.
Terminal 3 at ORD was packed. Sadly, Tortas Fronteras was closed there too, though I found a breakfast burrito and some decent coffee at Burrito Beach.
I walked back over to the United terminal and even at 9:00AM (during the morning bank) it was not nearly as crowded.
How was mask compliance? Other than the occasional middle aged couples in their golf outfits and fake tans refusing to wear masks, compliance was very good. Not only were people wearing masks, but wearing them properly (over the nose, not just the mouth). I don’t think I’ll ever confront people who don’t wear a mask, but with the economy slowing due to a rise in cases, let’s all do our part…please.
I’ll offer more details on my flights tomorrow. In the meantime, I find it interesting that the AA terminal felt like a pre-COVID-19 day of travel in terms of crowds while the United terminal was much more quiet.