On Monday as the blowback against United (UAL) continued, the company said that its first-quarter profit fell 70% from a year ago amid higher operating costs and rising fuel prices.
The firm reported a first-quarter profit of $96 million, or 31 cents a share fully diluted, on revenue of $8.40 billion, versus a $313 million, or 88 cents a share profit a year ago.
Analysts polled by FactSet Research expected the company to earn 38 cents a share on revenue of $8.38 billion.
United shares closed Monday at $70.77, up 2.5%, Delta added 0.7% to $44.35, and American rose 25 to $44.23.
Last week worldwide attention focused on the forced removal of a passenger on a United aircraft that was about to depart from Chicago for Louisville.
The passenger had refused to accept United's offer of $800 in compensation for his seat. He had also acted belligerently toward the United supervisor who made the request.
Chicago Airport security personnel dragged him from the aircraft, an event that was recorded in a video and widely viewed on Twitter.
American updated its contract of carriage last Friday said spokesman Ross Feinstein.
"In light of recent events, American has updated its conditions of carriage, which states that we will not involuntarily remove a revenue passenger, who has already boarded, in order to give a seat to another passenger," Feinstein said.
He said American would work "to ensure we set compensation amounts properly in order to obtain the correct number of volunteers."
So while United hasn't had the best run when it comes to PR, the stock hasn't suffered the type of fallout that some investors might have expected. Surely, management will address the situation when it releases earnings Monday after the close. Notably, though, the conference call isn't until Tuesday morning.
United will be OK, TheStreet's Jim Cramer, manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week.
While the company's earnings will likely be fine, Southwest Airlines (LUV) should have the best results. Southwest mostly flies domestic routes with little competition, which gives it pricing power, while the other leading airlines continue to fly international routes that have cutthroat competition, Cramer explained.
It's one reason that the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio has been buying Southwest aggressively over other airlines like Delta DAL, JetBlue JBLU, and United, he said.
Greg Morcroft contributed to this report.