There is perhaps no other airline with such an incredible lack of a coherent vision than United. They were once upon a time considered a premium carrier, with an impressive route network, strong loyalty program, and a powerful alliance.
Now they have fallen so far until we get this gem of a PR release,
“As part of its continuing effort to offer customers choice, flexibility, and low fares, United is announcing a new, simplified checked bag policy for customers who purchase nonrefundable domestic economy tickets. United’s new checked bag policy is available at united.com/baggage.
Customers who purchase nonrefundable domestic economy tickets and do not have status in Mileage Plus or Star Alliance may check one bag for free and a second bag for a $25 service fee.”
Well then, at least it’s simplified!
We’re living in an era where the low-cost carriers provide better snacks, and allow you to check more luggage than the “full-service” carriers do!
Warning: Rant ahead:
Maybe I’m spoiled because I primarily fly with Continental. They only have domestic call centers with empowered agents, they still offer free meals on flights, they consistently upgrade me even though I only maintain bottom-tier elite status, their have an excellent website, they have a very good labor relationship which results in agents and crew-members with a positive attitude, they have a new and clean fleet, etc, etc…
I recently had the dubious pleasure of flying United on a 10,000+ mile trip. Luckily I have Star Alliance elite status so I was able to travel in economy plus (one of the corners that has not been cut yet), because the economy minus passengers looked dreadful…
Calling United is a disaster, it is absolutely impossible to talk to someone who speaks English. (And that’s only if United’s phone-tree maze doesn’t hang up on you first!) Even if you do speak Hindi, it won’t help. The agents are completely unempowered, they must contact their supervisor to deal with even the slightest issue. If nothing else though, the phone agents are a courteous bunch.
Checking in was a double-disaster, the completely indifferent agent told me bluntly, “Your tickets were for yesterday and are canceled, please move so I can help the next person in line..”
Impossible! There’s no was I could’ve made such a mistake. So I got onto my Centro and pulled up my itinerary, which was of course for that day.
The agent’s response “You could have just typed that into your phone, that doesn’t actually prove anything.”
“Can I speak with a supervisor please?” “They aren’t here yet, can you please stop holding up the line.”
So I got out my laptop, tethered it to my Centro, logged into my Mileage Plus account on United.bomb (this is the nickname that the frequent flyer community use to refer to United’s industry-worst website) and settled the debate once and for all.
The agent did not even bat an eye, let alone apologize, all he could mutter was that his computer wasn’t showing that information, but he’ll honor my ticket on a courtesy basis.
Of course the agent had no idea how to interline baggage so that it would connect to another carrier, which meant I would have to claim and recheck my luggage.
United, don’t you train these people?
My brother was also flying on United, coming from another destination. United apparently changed his flight to leave 40 minutes earlier than he had ticketed. He never received any notification that there had been a change. The agent refused to let him check luggage for his flight even though there was 35 minutes left until flight time. The agent did request payment for a change fee until she realized that United had indeed changed his flight times…
Incredibly, on a flight that was over 10 hours long, there was only food available for purchase. To make matters worse, the plane was downright dirty and uncared for (Altough I did enjoy listening to channel 9 to hear that our mechanical delay would be about 2 hours and learn how long patches of turbulence were expected to last…)
United CEO Gregg Tilton can’t seem to decide if he’s running a premium carrier or one that offers less than Southwest.
United claims to be a premium carrier, yet nearly every move that have made since emerging from bankruptcy has been aimed at cutting costs and services.
United has the ability to be a great carrier, but as Mr. Tilton makes cuts at every corner there’s simply nothing left to work with. His employees are poorly trained, unempowered, and disenfranchised with his leadership. The utter lack of vision reflects itself throughout the entire operation.
At least Mr. Tilton has been clear about one point: United desperately wants a merger partner to put what’s left of his once glorious airline out of its misery. Delta, will you please do the honors already?