United Airlines Continues On Its Downward Spiral Into Oblivion…


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?

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13 Comments On "United Airlines Continues On Its Downward Spiral Into Oblivion…"

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In the future may I recommend just getting back in line and talking with a different agent? Proving your point to an agent that has already proved himself and idiot, incompetent, and plainly an unpleasant human being, will probably try to make things as bad for you as possible once you have proven your point.

From what I understand, agents do have some leeway when it comes to certain things, so if they don’t like you they can do any of the following: put you in the special security category (strip search anyone?), measure your bags very carefully, and if you are just a tiny bit off, make you check it/ pay the fees… and then they of course could just say you are drunk or some other reason that allows them to refuse to let you board.

There is no doubt that some of this may be illegal when it is not true, but is it really worth the fight and missing your flight?

Just try a different agent (assuming the supervisor is not around of course), and you may have it better. Of course, don’t forget to file a complaint against the unruly agent..


You’re assuming that I was in a major airport with multiple agents, I wasn’t.

There were only 2 agents, and both were equally incompetent.

yankee B.

dan, you mentioned that u connected your laptop to your centro, as I understand it, it was to use your centro as a wireless modem… I have the centro with the sero plan (i think that’s what u have). is there any way you can let me know how to use it as a modem?

mendel s

Are you suggesting that United is even worse than Northwest? I didnt think such a thing was possible…


I have only had that type of experience with Untied. (no spelling arror)
Their agents area all from Bangalore and aren’t able to accomplish anything. My husband’s flight was canceled last week from Norfolk to Chicago on Thursday. I was trying to get him home for Shabbat.(The airline rebooked him on a flight at 730pm Friday) So tried to get him to Silver Spring for Shabbat but in order to get to the Washington area he had to fly through New York!
fortunately my husband made a reservation on Southwest and as they rarely cancel and have knowledgable agents. He flew SWA into Midaway ended up taking a car service to O’Hare to retrieve his car, but he was home for Shabbat.
This is really typical for United. Their customer service is awful. Even their extra legroom in economy plus doens’t make it worth flying United.

the fan club

Absolutely! Something is wrong in their business model.

On a recent United flight, I boarded as the gate door was closing. I took a seat in the empty economy-plus section at an exit row. The back of the plane was packed. After announcing a 30 minute ground delay, the pilot turned off the seat belt sign. A few unassuming passengers decided to relieve themselves of the sardine-like quarters and moved to the front. Within 10 seconds the flight attendant came down and kicked them back to the seats in their “ticketed-cabin” They proceeded back up the aisle with looks of utter humiliation painted in red on their faces.

Later I told the flight attendant how embarrassing that would have been had it occurred to me. After all economy-plus is just 3 inches extra legroom! It aint first class!

Her response: “They should have known better.”


thats why everybody shuld join the facebook group i hate united airlines


My recent expereriences on Delta were bad also. Delayed for 6 hours ecause there was no pilot.

In any case, you may appreciate this.



Dan,check-out the above link by “me”…in the end it said…
As January ended, and Delta’s talks with Northwest gained momentum, United in turn weighed reigniting negotiations with yet another airline, Continental…hopefully continental will change the way united does business…!!!


Dan: Can I still do the match status with united? and if i can, do i have to call and then fax in proof, or can i just fax without calling?


how did you hook up ur laptop to your centro??? Please help me out…. cant figure out how to do it…thnks