Another week passes and United gets in to more trouble

I have written before about the changes to United that I don’t like. (This line comes from a welcome video by United’s CEO introducing changes that flyers ‘would like’. In fact few, if any changes, have been liked by anyone).

Personal Experience

I am travelling from Honolulu to Copenhagen in August, and had booked a nice routing from HNL to Houston, on to Newark and then to Copenhagen. This week, I logged in to the reservation and found that the segment EWR-CPH had vanished. PANIC!

I called the 1K desk (if that is really what it is – reports seem to indicate that 1Ks get the general desk now) and was told that the flight had been cancelled on my day of travel and that they could rebook me on the day before. However, the EWR-CPH segment had no Z fare space, so I would need to pay for the difference between my Z fare and the C fare which was available. So I lose one day of my holiday AND pay for the privilege.

In 20+ years I have never been asked to do this when an airline cancels the flight. Especially as UA had made no effort to rebook me!

There was space on the SAS codeshare to Copenhagen, but I was reluctant to accept this as I am not very fond of SAS, knew their seats were not lie-flat, and would lose out on United Million Mile credits, on my way to 4 Million Miles.

Reluctantly I accepted the codeshare and posted on for comment.

“Over entitled elites”

In what has to be one of those rare occasions when travellers get to see behind the curtain at UA’s corporate HQ, their CFO has described how they have made changes to the benefits of their elite members – “We have certain groups in this (Mileage Plus) program that were over entitled…” . This has not sat very well with these same groups, many of whom have lost benefits directly, or as with the upgrade ‘problems’ behind the scenes. There is a very long thread on Flyertalk AND on Milepoint about these comments, much of which is of the annoyed type. The whole presentation is available via if you would like to read it. The over entitled comments are on page 3.

United did step in at Flyertalk and attempt to limit the damage – the post by UAInsider is here

Don’t get excited it doesn’t address who is over entitled or what benefits are going to get pulled from this group soon.

Loss of free hotel room for 1K’s during weather problems

For several years United offered a free hotel voucher to 1K travellers who were delayed overnight by weather. As of this week, that benefit is gone and there is now no guarantee that we’ll even get a discounted room voucher as these are available in limited number and, much like upgrades, are given out to General Members with none held back for 1Ks.

Customer Service Experience

A fellow blogger recorded this video following being denied boarding at IAH despite (it seems) being at the gate in time. His seat had been given away and he had to standby for the next flight. Full story here.

No more 1K Reservation line

In the old day 1K’s had a special phone number which connected them to more experienced agents – this has gone too.


Well, and finally, this is turning in to a huge issue. This massive thread on Flyertalk follows the failure of many elite members of MileagePlus to receive upgrades when there are sales of First Class seats for only a few dollars being offered at check-in to ordinary members. (Most elite members report that they have not been offered these paid upgrades). Other members report that despite upgrade class (R, in most cases) being available at their upgrade window,  the system is simply ignoring them. United have been claiming this is a fault, but some statements by a phone agent perhaps gives things a new explanation, (and not one we’ll like):

The agent kept ranting and raving about how SHARES is the most sophisticated system in the world and how it determined that I am not supposed to be upgraded. I read him what it said about CPU on the website and he said that’s not how it works. That it looks at where people live, how likely they are to pay, and what they are wiling to pay and determines who gets an upgrade based on that. He said 90% of his calls are people who ask why they weren’t upgraded and then they end up paying over the phone to skip the list and that’s how the system is supposed to work. I said that they should not be advertising CPU the way they are if it’s not how it works. He said its so complex, they can’t put how it really works on the web, but he said its desigend to maximize profit and that it’s exactly what it’s doing, and that their internal memos show record profits selling upgrades and that a lot of PM UA elites are quite mad, but that they will learn to deal with it.

Oh, and the outcome of the CPH issue?

Called back yesterday and asked to be waitlisted on the UA flight. Agent was amazed that I had been asked to pay, opened Z space, moved me in to it and re-issued the ticket. 12 minutes well spent if you ask me!



  1. Just back to the states from Spain. I am a 1k level flyer and have never had meal issues before. My special meal noted in my profile did not make it onto the US outbound flight. I went online in Spain to note it in the reservation in case they weren’t linking from the profile anymore as it seems with the merger many things have not gone smoothly. I chose vegan meal and again on the return there was no special meal. The crew did not undertsnad the difference between vegan and vegetarian and then told me vegan meals were discountinued. I dont mind buying my meals ahead of time and bringing them on board but it I can’t figure out why the website offers this and the crew says it no longer exists. They were also pretty rude about it- long 9 hours home on an empty belly. Not thrilled about this new United!

  2. One of the problems is that we don’t seem to know what we are going to get after booking. Will we get the food we ordered? Will we be sitting in the seats next to our traveling companion, as we booked? Will they cancel the plane at last minute? Will my ungrade instrument clear properly? Will all the segments of my trip be there? Will we be rudely treated by the staff? Flying with UA has become an unnecessary headache.

  3. there was also a time when a 1k or million miler was protected immediately if the flight was canceled or massively delayed … Gone!

  4. I won’t go beyond your first issue, United’s asking you to pay more for a replacement flight. Frankly, that sucks and strikes me as a seriously wrong move on their part. You can quibble about the other stuff – and should, but I’d raise holy hell about the first issue. You did not change your plans – United did. It smells soooo bad that I suspect that the agent screwed up, so th e real fix should be +/- easy. That they did not notify you of the change is an Airline Customer (no) Service Felony.

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