American, Alaska, and United Airline Brands


The U.S. commercial airline industry and the brand positioning efforts associated with it present an interesting topic that has not been researched extensively. This essay analyses three commercial airline brands, such as American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines. The brands are studied with reference to market positioning decisions, potential problems, customer loyalty, and popularity.

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Brand Positioning

Being one of the largest businesses in the global airline industry, American Airlines (n.d.) is positioned as the internationally recognized company with a long history. American Airlines (n.d.) is the business that serves totally different populations and combats human trafficking. It also has special offers for those who travel for business purposes on a regular basis. Alaska Airlines (n.d.) is also among large U.S. airlines, and it is positioned as the major air transportation company of Alaska. This award-winning company positions itself as an effective innovator focusing on propelling clients’ comfort during flights to the next level (Alaska Airlines, n.d.). The third brand, United Airlines (n.d.a), presents itself as a well-known provider of domestic and international flights that offers customer-centered decisions, including special services for seniors, clients with disabilities, passengers with animals, and customers with food allergies.

Concerning brand positioning, I regard United Airlines as the most successful company since the way that it distinguishes itself from the competitors appeals to multiple categories of people instead of being targeted only at high-class clients. As an example, the brand actively collaborates with disability organizations and advocacy centers in the U.S. (United Airlines, n.d.b). More than that, it has established its own advisory board to update accessible travel policies and improve services.

The Level of Brand Awareness

The level of brand awareness has a critical impact on commercial success. It involves the degree to which people are familiar with some brands and their products (Aaker & Moorman, 2017). In general, awareness depends on the brand’s media presence, and organizations with high brand values typically have more opportunities to launch advertising campaigns and stay recognized. Following this logic, American Airlines is one of the world’s most known airline brands (Southan, 2018). The brand value of United Airlines is much lower, but it also features in the list of the most prominent companies and is recognized globally (Southan, 2018). As is clear from the name, Alaska Airlines focuses on flights from and to Alaska, which makes it less known globally compared to the previous brands, but it is still popular among American travelers.

Consumer Loyalty

Consumer loyalty is also an indicator of success in the commercial airline industry. Some information peculiar to customers’ willingness to collaborate with particular brands can be derived from ratings. According to the Points Guy rating, Alaska Airlines was the best airline company in the U.S. in 2017, whereas United Airlines and American Airlines were given the fourth and the sixth place, respectively (Begley Bloom, 2018). Unlike Alaska Airlines, American Airlines scored low in customer satisfaction due to the cases of baggage loss (Begley Bloom, 2018). Based on the brands’ results associated with ten points of analysis, the three companies’ “personalities” can be described. Thus, Alaska Airlines is associated with kindness (moderate prices) and punctuality (on-time arrivals), whereas American Airlines is caring (cabin comfort) but a bit irresponsible (baggage loss) (Kheel, 2017). Finally, United Airlines is easy to work with (inclusive environment) and active (large route network). As for the potential issues, considering the incidents involving baggage loss, American Airlines will probably experience customer outflow if it does not improve its baggage policies. Therefore, implementing new efforts to meet its stated values is critical for the brand to prevent further reputational damages.


Finally, the three brands analyzed in the paper have specific strengths and weaknesses. Interestingly, from the case of United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines, it is evident that expensive companies with high brand awareness are not always the best when it comes to customer loyalty and retention. For instance, American Airlines, the world’s famous brand, needs to improve customer satisfaction to stay the market leader.


Aaker, D.A., & Moorman, C. (2017). Strategic market management (11th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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Alaska Airlines. (n.d.). About us. Web.

American Airlines. (n.d.). About us. Web.

Begley Bloom, L. (2018). Ranked: The best and worst airlines in America. Forbes. Web.

Kheel, J. M. (2017). The best and worst U.S. airlines in 2017. The Points Guy. Web.

Southan, J. (2018). American, Delta and United are world’s most valuable airline brands. Forbes. Web.

United Airlines. (n.d.a). Our shared purpose. Web.

United Airlines. (n.d.b.). Special travel needs. Web.

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