Apple spends $150M a year on United flights, Shanghai is No. 1 destination

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 11
A pair of promotional banners created by United Airlines to tout its various business relationships with big-name companies reveals a sneak peek into Apple's global operations, with the tech giant reportedly spending some $150 million each year on flights for employees.

United
Source: LAFlyer via Twitter


The signage, spotted by LAFlyer, is on display at United's terminal in the San Francisco International Airport, the jumping off point for many Apple-purchased flights. SFO serves residents and scores of tech companies operating in the Bay Area and is less than an hour's drive from both Apple's One Infinite Loop and Apple Park headquarters.

Generating $150 million in yearly revenue, Apple represents United's largest global account. Others on the list, including Facebook, Roche and Google, are credited as contributing "over $34 million" a year in revenue to United's bottom line.

Interestingly, the airline goes into specifics regarding Apple's movements, noting Shanghai as the company's most important market. More pointedly, Apple spends $35 million on flights from San Francisco to Shanghai Pudong International Airport -- an average of 50 business class seats daily -- representing a quarter of its annual spend with United.

Shanghai acts as a major hub for scores of regional airports in China, many of which are located near Apple's numerous partner suppliers across the country.

Outside of Shanghai, Apple's top-ten destinations include Hong Kong, Taipei, London, South Korea, Singapore, Munich, Tokyo, Beijing and Israel, respectively. As can be expected, Apple owns office space or deals with suppliers based in each of those locations.

Though the promotional material is designed to goose confidence in United's business, it also provides valuable insight into Apple's behind-the-scenes operations that goes beyond information found in quarterly earnings reports and other public disclosures.

It should be noted that the statistics offered by United relate mainly to San Francisco operations. Thousands of Apple employees are stationed at other U.S. campuses, like facilities in Texas and North Carolina, and likely rely on United for their business travel needs.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    Some heads will role for this cock-up.. Remember what happened with Nvidia under Jobs. This may result in United losing their prized client.
    macseekerthrangfastasleepfirelockksecSpamSandwichcaladanian
  • Reply 2 of 49
    lazereth said:
    Some heads will role for this cock-up.. Remember what happened with Nvidia under Jobs. This may result in United losing their prized client.
    Agreed.
    ksec
  • Reply 3 of 49
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,761member
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 
    tyler82designrdavgregwilliamlondonviclauyycanantksundaramrotateleftbyte80s_Apple_Guy
  • Reply 4 of 49
    e90e90 Posts: 1member
    And so many business class seats... 50 a day
  • Reply 5 of 49
    thrangthrang Posts: 760member
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 
    My wife flies to China quite a bit, and even United first class sucks in comparison to many other airlines. Cathay and Emirates I think are among the best she said...

    But what idiot or (unmanaged team of idiots) thought it was a good idea to share private customer data as a public marketing campaign>

    This is like data from an internal powerpoint presentation.. oh, those wacky millennials in marketing... If this is how United pays attention to details, I wonder how equipment inspections are going...

    edited January 11 entropysagilealtitudefastasleepviclauyycanantksundaramwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 49
    payecopayeco Posts: 271member
    e90 said:
    And so many business class seats... 50 a day
    I’m not sure what is going on with those bulleted stats. I can’t imagine Apple has that many people going back and forth daily. I think that bullet more likely refers the business class seats available on that route. United serves that route with a Boeing 787-9 which has 48 business class seats. I think the marketing person just rounded up to 50.

    https://seatguru.com/airlines/United_Airlines/United_Airlines_Boeing_787-900.php

    Maybe I’m totally wrong though and they really do have that many people going to Shanghai every day. That seems crazy.
    fastasleepwilliamlondonsuperkloton
  • Reply 7 of 49
    payecopayeco Posts: 271member
    thrang said:
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 
    My wife flies to China quite a bit, and even United first class sucks in comparison to many other airlines. Cathay and Emirates I think are among the best she said...

    But what idiot or (unmanaged team of idiots) thought it was a good idea to share private customer data as a public marketing campaign>

    This is like data from an internal powerpoint presentation.. oh, those wacky millennials in marketing... If this is how United pays attention to details, I wonder how equipment inspections are going...

    If you’re flying US direct to Greater China then Cathay Pacific is definitely the way to go if you’re going to travel in first. The seats are incredibly spacious and the bed is nearly as comfortable as a real bed. I’ve been lucky enough to fly them in first from Hong Kong direct to JFK.
    edited January 11 ksec
  • Reply 8 of 49
    robbyxrobbyx Posts: 444member
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 

    Totally!  They are the WORST airline.  I remember flying them a lot several decades ago and it was quite the opposite.  Back then the employees were friendly and the planes weren't ridiculously cramped.  I've had the misfortune of flying them a few times in the past ten years or so and they are just awful now.  Some of the rudest, nastiest employees I've ever dealt with and the most uncomfortable planes.  I'd rather flying standing than have to sit in those seats.

    $150M also seems like a pretty absurd amount to spend on air travel annually.  I'm having a hard time imagining why any company would need to spend that kind of money on air travel, especially these days with high speed internet, video conferencing and online collaboration tools.  I understand that some things have to be handled in person, but at an average price of $2000/ticket, that's still 75,000 trips or 200+ employee flights per day.  Doesn't that seem crazy?
    edited January 11 fastasleepsuperkloton
  • Reply 9 of 49
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,761member
    robbyx said:
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 

    Totally!  They are the WORST airline.  I remember flying them a lot several decades ago and it was quite the opposite.  Back then the employees were friendly and the planes weren't ridiculously cramped.  I've had the misfortune of flying them a few times in the past ten years or so and they are just awful now.  Some of the rudest, nastiest employees I've ever dealt with and the most uncomfortable planes.  I'd rather flying standing than have to sit in those seats.
    I would actually pay MORE for a plane ticket to not have to use United. 
    robbyx80s_Apple_Guy
  • Reply 10 of 49
    robbyxrobbyx Posts: 444member
    macxpress said:
    robbyx said:
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 

    Totally!  They are the WORST airline.  I remember flying them a lot several decades ago and it was quite the opposite.  Back then the employees were friendly and the planes weren't ridiculously cramped.  I've had the misfortune of flying them a few times in the past ten years or so and they are just awful now.  Some of the rudest, nastiest employees I've ever dealt with and the most uncomfortable planes.  I'd rather flying standing than have to sit in those seats.
    I would actually pay MORE for a plane ticket to not have to use United. 
    Same here.  I have witnessed, on more than one occasion, a horrible United employee actually make a passenger cry.  Truly the most wretched airline on the planet.
    80s_Apple_Guy
  • Reply 11 of 49
    It would be interesting to look at the pattern of travel.  I’m hearing that it’s a pain in the ass to travel from other countries to the USA the last 2 years.

    I suspect there were quite a few partners that used to fly to Apple, and that pattern has reversed.

    You can only have Apple people touring partners plants so many times... there’s a bigger issue here.
  • Reply 12 of 49
    robbyx said:
    Same here.  I have witnessed, on more than one occasion, a horrible United employee actually make a passenger cry.  Truly the most wretched airline on the planet.
    You have obviously never flown RyanAir.
    fastasleepsphericwilliamlondoncaladanian
  • Reply 13 of 49
    d_2d_2 Posts: 55member
    payeco said:
    e90 said:
    And so many business class seats... 50 a day
    I’m not sure what is going on with those bulleted stats. I can’t imagine Apple has that many people going back and forth daily. I think that bullet more likely refers the business class seats available on that route. United serves that route with a Boeing 787-9 which has 48 business class seats. I think the marketing person just rounded up to 50.

    https://seatguru.com/airlines/United_Airlines/United_Airlines_Boeing_787-900.php

    Maybe I’m totally wrong though and they really do have that many people going to Shanghai every day. That seems crazy.
    A quick check on a few days later this month shows two nonstops each of the days.... and the 50 seats may not be an average, Apple is possibly buying 50 seats a day no matter the need of actual employees. This happens in large business air travel deals to pay a preferred rate and have the frequency of available flights.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 49
    What's next? Taxi companies might publish how much business they get from Apple and which addresses Apple employees are travelling to. Telephone companies might publish how many long distance calls they get from Apple employees and what destinations Apple employees are calling. Then there's shipping companies (package deliveries), ISPs (web site deliveries), car rental companies, and so on. Even if Apple were to get each company that it uses to sign an NDA, those companies must have thousands of employees who each have access to their own company's internal client databases. Keeping the data secret will be difficult, especially since some of the company's Apple uses are foreign-owned or influenced. Foreign laws may *require* that the foreign governments gain access to those data. Like China. But Apple wouldn't do business with anyone in China, would they? That would be like handing over their corporate expense sheets.
  • Reply 15 of 49
    I’m stunned if this is real. Surely Apple and United have a MNDCA (Mutual Non-disclosure and Confidentiality Agreement) in place.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 49
    d_2d_2 Posts: 55member
    robbyx said:
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 

    Totally!  They are the WORST airline.  I remember flying them a lot several decades ago and it was quite the opposite.  Back then the employees were friendly and the planes weren't ridiculously cramped.  I've had the misfortune of flying them a few times in the past ten years or so and they are just awful now.  Some of the rudest, nastiest employees I've ever dealt with and the most uncomfortable planes.  I'd rather flying standing than have to sit in those seats.

    $150M also seems like a pretty absurd amount to spend on air travel annually.  I'm having a hard time imagining why any company would need to spend that kind of money on air travel, especially these days with high speed internet, video conferencing and online collaboration tools.  I understand that some things have to be handled in person, but at an average price of $2000/ticket, that's still 75,000 trips or 200+ employee flights per day.  Doesn't that seem crazy?

    Not crazy, especially for a global company flying many employees international business class.

    Also, this is just their United spend - we don’t know about their spend on other airlines.... as well as if Tim (and others in the C-suite) have private jet access like Steve did back when...
  • Reply 17 of 49
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,168member
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 
    You're not flying Business Class, obviously. I'm not saying United is a great airline ... they're not ... but in BC and FC most US airlines are pretty similar. Non-US airlines ... oh that is a whole different story.

    Anyway ... I have a friend who is an engineer for Apple ... flies to China at least 4-6 times a year.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    robbyxrobbyx Posts: 444member
    d_2 said:
    robbyx said:
    macxpress said:
    I feel sorry for all of those Apple Employees who have to fly United. That would be the absolute LAST airline I'd ever consider flying on. I cannot stand United. 

    Totally!  They are the WORST airline.  I remember flying them a lot several decades ago and it was quite the opposite.  Back then the employees were friendly and the planes weren't ridiculously cramped.  I've had the misfortune of flying them a few times in the past ten years or so and they are just awful now.  Some of the rudest, nastiest employees I've ever dealt with and the most uncomfortable planes.  I'd rather flying standing than have to sit in those seats.

    $150M also seems like a pretty absurd amount to spend on air travel annually.  I'm having a hard time imagining why any company would need to spend that kind of money on air travel, especially these days with high speed internet, video conferencing and online collaboration tools.  I understand that some things have to be handled in person, but at an average price of $2000/ticket, that's still 75,000 trips or 200+ employee flights per day.  Doesn't that seem crazy?

    Not crazy, especially for a global company flying many employees international business class.

    Also, this is just their United spend - we don’t know about their spend on other airlines.... as well as if Tim (and others in the C-suite) have private jet access like Steve did back when...
    I don't know, it still seems crazy to me, especially considering your second point.  If this is just United, what about other airlines?  It's hard for me to imagine that literally 100+ Apple employees are flying every single day of the year.  I also find it hard to believe that every employee always flies business class.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    chasm said:
    You're not flying Business Class, obviously. I'm not saying United is a great airline ... they're not ... but in BC and FC most US airlines are pretty similar. Non-US airlines ... oh that is a whole different story.

    Anyway ... I have a friend who is an engineer for Apple ... flies to China at least 4-6 times a year.
    On flights with the "new" Polaris seat (which finally matches what Delta has been offering for years), maybe. But on the many planes that haven't yet been updated, their business class is dreadful (as many seats across as decent airlines cram in premium economy on the same plane, to give you an idea). Charging business class fares for such lousy seats is highway robbery.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    bitsandbytesbitsandbytes Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    In other news Apple plans on buying their own plane.
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