Was United's Super Bowl Ad a Subtle Dig at Southwest's Holiday Chaos? Watch It Here

United Airline's commercial particularly showcased how it brought families together for the holidays.

The Super Bowl wasn’t the only competition happening on Sunday night. A thousand miles northeast in the Denver television market, airline rivalries were on full display between Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. 

United, which ranked first for on-time departures and completion in the Denver market during the holiday season, took the opportunity to boast of their performance in the Colorado city with a television ad that wasn’t a “flashy Big Game commercial,” as it noted, but a series of clips of a family traveling home for the holidays.

The ad titled, “United – An Airline Built for Denver,” spotlighted how United “got more families in and out of Denver this holiday than any other airline,” and was purchased in Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Omaha as part of their 'Good Leads the Way' campaign, an airline spokesperson told Travel + Leisure on Monday.

Although the commercial did not directly mention Southwest, the ad comes after the airline canceled over 15,000 flights during the holiday season. A representative of Denver International Airport (DIA) confirmed to T+L on Monday that "approximately 1,000" passengers slept at the airport after Southwest cancellations caused travel chaos for passengers over the holidays.

Meanwhile, United said, in a recent earnings call, that they finished first among network carriers for on-time departures and completion in Denver during the fourth quarter.

“Denver is the largest operation in our network of 121 airports and we’re proud to carry more than 20 million Customers annually – and employ nearly 6,000 co-hearts – at DIA.” Southwest Airlines told T+L in regards to the ad on Monday.

Southwest also pointed out that the airline “has demonstrated a 51-year history of serving customers exceptionally well by operating one of the world’s most admired airlines. We have a long, and proud, track record of safe and reliable operations — in fact, we are proud to be one of the top three carriers in on-time performance for January, ahead of United, and this month we hold the number two spot (also ahead of United).”

United also recently announced investments into the Denver market during their recent earnings call, including the expansion of their Flight Training Center, which they say is “already the largest facility of its kind in the world.” The airline also recently opened a new United Club Fly for members of the United Club. 

Denver International Airport is the third-busiest airport in the world, and over 69 million passengers flew through Denver last year, which was a 17% increase from 2021. 

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