Beware The Premier Upgrade List Of United.

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What a mess…and we haven’t even left the ground yet.

As a Premier Platinum member at United I get 2 annual confirmed regional upgrades. As I was booked as part of a party of 4 to LAX, using 2 of those upgrades split us into 2 reservations. Of course I had made sure to have everyone seated in economy plus before splitting anything. The upgrade for the return flight could not be confirmed despite the empty cabin, so that confirmed upgrade is still waitlisted.

Today when I checked in for the flight it added me to the upgrade standby list. It also had the option to rebook everyone left in the reservation on another flight for free. After checking in it split the reservation once again, leaving us with 3 reservations.

Later today we realized that we could actually be ready to fly on the 9pm flight instead of the 9am morning flight. However when I went to change the other passengers it wanted to charge $75 for that change. Additionally it was now showing no free bags for everyone else in the reservation. Back when it was Continental when a reservation was split it remembered the proper baggage allowance (3×70 pound bags for everyone booked with a Star Alliance Gold member), but no longer is that true.

I spent the next 4 hours playing HUCA, or hang up, call again. That included 3 calls back from the electronic support desk, 2 calls to the Platinum desk, of which the Platinum desk punted me to an offshore support desk that kept me on hold for an hour. I heard every excuse in the book:
-I’m right, but there’s nothing that can be done once it’s split, even if I didn’t want it to be split.
-Companions of Platinum members don’t get free confirmed standby.
-Free confirmed standby doesn’t work for flights the day before even if it’s within 24 hours.

Finally I called back the Platinum desk again and got a very kind agent who agreed with me and made the changes on all 3 reservations for free. But she wasn’t able to get economy plus seating for my companions. Which led to another hour long phone call with the electronic support desk to get that fixed again.

At the airport the lead checkin agent said that the new policy is that only one companion of a Star Alliance Gold gets 3 free 70 pound bags, and everyone else had nothing. I pulled on the correct policy from on my Galaxy Nexus, but she still insisted that the policy is outdated, but that she’ll make a one-time exception…

I read that United was having teething pains with the merger with Continental, so I’ll cut them some slack for now. But it’s a full month since the systems merger, I sure hope this gets fixed of they’re going to have a whole lot of defecting elites members.

Wish me luck for the actual trip!

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26 Comments On "Beware The Premier Upgrade List Of United."

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good luck


I also had issues with a reservation their system is very buggy and they have added 600 support staff for their call centers and the wait times are still very long i am suprised this has not made headlines in the press


Good luck!


In the United forum forum on flyertalk, premeer members and GS members have been complaining about this for a month now. I just don’t understand why they didn’t test this before the merger, or at least why they haven’t fixed this yet. Instead, they are of p!ss!ng off their most loyal customers.


It is a large undertaking, certainly. But you would think that during this prolonged migration period UA would be bending over backwards to placate customers and perhaps even bending the rules in favor of the customer, for having to endure this chaos. Sad that customers need to fight for the rights they should be entitled to… and extremely poor and short sighted customer service. Why is it that these large companies just don’t get it?


Where in the world is Mr Smisek today?

He has conveniently disappeared!


Just flew a NYC-LAX-HNL-LAX-NYC asa Premier Plat member as well….what a nightmare. Flights almost left the gate with empty first class seats. After showing the crew the policy on my phone, got the upgrade to. Wow, someone’s got to get it together at the “NEW UNITED”


It gets better. A Gate Agent told me with the current system if you aren’t standing at the gate when they call your name for an upgrade, you loose your place in line b/c the Continental system doesn’t let them “save” an upgrade and move on to the next if there are multiple seats to assign. So you can be 1st in queue and still not get that seat.


Assuming your time is worth next to nothing and you’ve got lots of expendable travel days, just keep telling yourself “all this work and hassle and delays and frustration required to play this miles/flying game is totally worth the money I don’t have to give anyone.”


My experience is that every large company is horrible customer service besides for Amex. Their reps are so much more advanced that they actually speak English fluently!


The customer service is horrible on the phone, it’s taking over 30 minutes go get anyone on the phone even if you call the 1K number. Took 3 tries to book an awards ticket on partner airline where they tried to charge me 60,000 miles for a economy seat that I was able to cancel and rebook for 45,000 online. The only good thing is now you can book star alliance flights on the website now. I’ve heard alot of people already leaving the new United.


I just am unsure who to deflect to?


Dan – is it really worth it to spend that much time on hold just for a few inches of legroom in coach? Also – why not just avoid the baggage mess by bringing it on board?


@Chris: Feel free to take a walk


As a lowly Premier, why would I want to have status if it still means flying economy minus? Forget UA.


I’m with Chris here. To each his own but all this effort and frustration seems like too much for such a marginal benefit. I can’t stand being on hold with these airlines for any reason, let alone a few inches of extra room in economy. Guess we all have different patience levels for this though. I think if you looked at the amount of time you spent on this for the minimal savings realized, you’d be dissapointed.


Let’s see.
We had 12 bags, 70 pounds each, many filled with cooked frozen food for Passover to feed an army that doesn’t get free baggage.
Care to to calculate what they would charge me for that?

And we had an infant. Economy Minus had no empty rows. In Economy Plus we got the bulkhead as an empty row where he had his own seat, and more room to play on the floor than they have even in first class. We literally could stretch out our legs as far as they could go. So not just a few extra inches, that’s for sure. Easily quadruple the legroom of an economy minus seat.

Still not seem worth it to you?

Little did I know I would get a broken seat though which would lead to more fun, it was obviously just not my day, but the plane ride itself is a story for another time…


I guess we each put a different value on our time. Not a judgement, just an observation. I personally would not spend 4 hours on the phone with an airline to avoid baggage fees. I don’t know how many were travelling with you but were you responsilbe for their baggage fees? Also – how long was the flight? Me, I’d pay the fee and spend the four hours playing with my kids, or actually earning money at my job.


@Shalom: that is his job 😉


@Shalom: Again the 4 hours were spent getting everyone onto an a flight the day before for free in economy plus with an empty seat for the infant car seat on a 5 hour flight and the 12 free 70 pound bags.

All that would easily have cost thousands of dollars if I was not platinum and did not spend the time on the phone.


They became a disaster. Its sad that the best airline of the US Continental merged with the worst airline in the US United. I am still mourning Continental. I really used to love them. Everything changed for the worse, I fly them every two months long distance….I might defect indeed


Not everyone enjoys throwing away money as much as you!! Second of all what else are you doing in an airport anyway?????


It is easy to lay blame, but remember that pretty much the entire upper echelon of the new UA is actually CO. I wouldn’t necessarily jump on the “old UA is terrible and ruining new UA” bandwagon without doing a little due diligence first. I think it is probably a host of many factors that is causing all this trouble with the airline. Hopefully it will start getting cleared up pretty quickly.


Not about throwing money away, just a comment on the nature of “free”. If you spend four hours on the phone trying avoid a payment, that does not mean it is free. There is an opportunity cost to your time that has value based on what else you could have acheived in that time. It’s not a judgement, just a statement on the economics of time. By commiting your time to one thing, you are giving up doing another. There is an economic value on whatever it is you are giving up going and everyone assigns that value differently. Nonetheless, not spending money on something does not mean it’s free.


Defecting to where? Delta? AA? Not kidding here – no where to go, no one to talk to.


what is it with United since the continental merge?
1. I just saw an article on the yeshiva world about a flight with turbulence that 12 people had to be transported to the hospital.
2. My husband was on a United flight last week, ewr to tlv. 90 minutes out, over nova scotia, the pilot turned around to go back to ewr becuase there was a toilet in business class not working! he dumped hundreds of thousands of fuel, at 1:30 in the morning, for a non working toilet! (there was no plane nor crew available to continue the flight until 1:30 the following afternoon!) Dan and fans, any suggestions as to how to go about it and what to get get as compensation?
3. Dans story above