United’s Largest Global Account in SFO? Apple, Which Buys 50 Business Class Seats To Shanghai Daily

by Enoch

Thanks to points and miles, I get to travel comfortably in premium cabins much of the time. However, I am not naive to the fact that most customers flying up front paid cold, hard cash. Many of these passengers likely work for a large company, one that maintains a contract with the airline for preferred pricing or other arrangements.

@LAflyer posted this photo on Twitter today, which shows two banner ads by United. The ads included some very interesting information about United’s corporate customers. It turns out, Apple is United’s largest global account, contributing $150 million in annual revenue. The ad most likely only account for flights out of San Francisco, so actual spending by Apple might be even higher than that.

And here is a staggering statistic: Apple purchases 50 Business Class seats in the San Francisco to Shanghai market every. day. United operates two daily flights between San Francisco (SFO) to Shanghai-Pudong (PVG), using two Boeing 787 jets. As a point of reference, the 787-9 offers 48 Business Class seats, while the 787-8 offers 36.

Here are the primary destinations for Apple out of San Francisco:

  1. Shanghai-Pudong (PVG)
  2. Hong Kong (HKG)
  3. Taipei (TPE)
  4. London-Heathrow (LHR)
  5. Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  6. Singapore (SIN)
  7. Munich (MUC)
  8. Tokyo-Handea (HND)
  9. Beijing (PEK)
  10. Tel Aviv (TLV)

Other large accounts for United include Facebook, Roche, and Google, all of which contribute over $34 million a year.

Are you surprised by the list of companies, or the magnitude of their business for United?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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Pablo January 11, 2019 - 4:32 pm


WR2 January 11, 2019 - 4:47 pm

I can’t imagine that Apple is super happy that United is plastering their spend data all over the place.

Ex-Apple fruit picker January 11, 2019 - 5:39 pm

Ex-Apple employee here, yup when working at Apple I used to fly out of SFO every other week to PVG, TPE, and HND, and always without fail there would be tonnes of coworkers on these flights in business. Our internal system always made us prioritize either Cathay (SFO-HKG-PVG/SHA) or United (SFO-PVG). When united used to run the 747 on the PVG route the entire upperdeck would informally be an Apple lounge/hangout zone haha. Also, many (and i mean MANY) of us had Global Services (I had it once before I swapped to Asiana), it was never hard to achieve, esp if you worked in Apple operations (they guys who work with the supply chain and product engineering) given that we flew 3-4 times a month international long haul return trips in J and mostly clocked upwards of 200K flown butt in seat miles a year. Awesome flying but stressful work haha!

United’s Largest Global Account in SFO? Apple, which Buys 50 Business Class Seats to Shanghai Daily – Chenta's Reads January 11, 2019 - 6:35 pm

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