United’s single-class TED operation is no more, but its lesson shouldn’t be forgotten — and don’t underestimate the ability to forget, as it wasn’t United’s first foray into the low cost carrier subsidiary market (though Ted was a worse idea – Shuttle by United at least offered a first class cabin and with complimentary upgrades for 1Ks years before United introduced that feature for elites program-wide).
CrankFlier interviews Swiss CEO Harry Hohmeister, and Hohmeister makes the point that you cannot have a successful international premium class operation without premium connecting flight offerings.
Cranky: And what about the premium cabin?
Harry: It’s very much under pressure, so we have to rethink it. But, business class has an important value with hub connecting itineraries. You can’t fly someone in business class from San Francisco to Zurich in business class and then within Europe in coach.
Cranky: United did that when they had Ted
Harry: Maybe not a good idea
Cranky: Yeah, well it’s gone now fortunately. You could fly over the Pond in business class and then you’d have to fly coach for the 4+ hours to Las Vegas on Ted.
Harry: [Shakes his head]
It’s worse even than that — once United stopped providing its Economy Plus product to patner elites and full fare passengers, a paid international first class passenger who wasn’t also a United elite would be asked to buy up to Economy Plus for domestic Ted segments subject to availability at check-in.
Ted will not be missed, let’s just hope that United (and other onlooking carriers) can remember its lessons.