Although United Airlines has received a lot of criticism for lousy financial performance and poor service since it merged with Continental four years ago, it has been named the 2014 Airline of the Year by Global Traveler, a magazine for frequent business and luxury travelers.
According to the report, a panel of Global Traveler Advisory Board members and employees chose United "based on outside research, experiences traveling with the airline and information provided by the individual airlines that were nominated."
The results of Global Traveler's 2014 Tested Reader Survey found that readers named United the "Best Trans-Pacific Airline" and — for the 11th straight year — named the airline's MileagePlus rewards program as the "Best Frequent-Flyer Program." MileagePlus was also hailed as the "Best Frequent-Flyer Bonus Program" in this year's survey.
Similarly, the airline's MileagePlus Club Card was named "Best Credit Card" and "Best Credit Card Rewards Program," while the United MileagePlus Explorer Card was named "Best Frequent Flyer Affinity Credit Card Redemptions."
The survey was conducted by including open-ended ballots in subscriber copies of Global Traveler, as well as featuring a submission form on its website, from January 1 to August 31, 2014. According to the site, more than 26,000 qualified ballots were returned during the voting period, and employees of the magazine's parent company — FX Express Publications — and affiliated members of the travel industry were not allowed to participate.
The good news arrived just as the airline is expanding service to a number of international destinations from its Houston hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Beginning on December 7, United is launching the only daily nonstop service from Houston to Santiago, Chile. Additionally, the airline is introducing year-round service from IAH to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic starting on December 20.