Ted was one of two airline divisional brands of United Airlines. It targeted vacation locations in the low cost airline market, in contrast to United's high end divisional "sub-fleeted" brand called United p.s.. "Ted" comes from the last three letters in the United brand name. United marketed Ted anthropomorphically and attempted to personify Ted; it used phrases such as Meet Ted or I've Met Ted.
Due to the airline crisis caused by spiking fuel prices, on June 4, 2008, United announced that the Ted brand and services would be discontinued with the Ted aircraft being fitted with United's First Class cabin and eventually being incorporated into United's regular fleet to compensate for the removal of United's entire 737 fleet. Operations were folded back into the mainline brand on January 6, 2009.
Ted's creation was announced November 12, 2003, and service began February 12, 2004. It began service in Denver, a United hub, to compete with Frontier Airlines. The airline had 57 Airbus A320 aircraft with 156 all-economy seats, allowing United to compete with low-cost airlines such as Frontier Airlines. All Ted flights were operated by United Airlines crew flying under the UAL operating certificate, as Ted was not actually a certificated airline, but rather a brand name applied to differentiate the all-economy service from United's mainline flights. Therefore, because of operational needs, it was possible for one to see Ted aircraft operate as mainline United flights; in the reverse, more often mainline United aircraft operated as Ted flights because of equipment substitutions.
United Airlines had 57 aircraft in its fleet dedicated to Ted operations. Their fleet only consisted of the Airbus A320-200 which could carry up to 156 passengers. In September 2008, Ted's average fleet age was 8.7 years old.
Ted's A320s were configured in one class that was split into two sub-classes. Economy Plus was the first sub-class which included rows 1-11. Economy Plus provided an extra five inches to the existing 31 inches of seat pitch for economy. Ted planes were equipped with 20 overhead retractable LCD screens known as "Tedevision" which were used to play videos throughout the flight. First class seating was not available on Ted flights. Every seat had TedTunes, which had 12 music stations plus a station that played live feeds from Air Traffic Control (channel 9) at the pilot's discretion.