Friday, June 16, 2006

Why I Still Hate United Airlines

After a nightmare of an experience earlier this year, I swore never to take United again.

Unfortunately I had to take another airline trip via United Airlines.

This time I decided to combine business with pleasure and after attending Vloggercon in San Francisco take a trip to Maui.

After examining the the many complex itinerary choices online for a trip from San Francisco to Maui and back to Las Vegas, I determined that a package deal including air, hotel and rental car would make the most sense.

Feet in sand
I was going to stay at the Hyatt in Maui, so I went online to book the trip, though Hyatt Vacations I figured out the rate and then called the 800 # to make sure everything I'd planned seemed logical.

The problem with dealing with a package like this, and having to used a vacation packager like Hyatt vacations, is that they are limited by their computer system as to what they can do online.

I asked the operator if I should just go ahead and book online myself. No, they replied, you might save money if I do it for you.

Although, I usually prefer to do things myself online I went ahead and booked over the phone. It wasn't pleaasant.

Short story for this part of my experience is that due to computer issues or operator error, I had to repeat my address and credit card information three times. Then, I was assigned an online account username of stevegarfield7683034867, a username that I would never have chosen if doing it myself.

Next, I was told that they could only book me on a round trip from San Francisco and back. They were not able to book me to Las Vegas on my return flight. That, I was told, was going to have to be booked by me from San Francisco to Las Vegas.

Upon arrival at the airport I checked in, using the self serve terminal and was presented with an option to purchase more leg room for $48. Sold.

Charging a surcharge for an upgrade to United Plus seating at check in to get more legroom, which I feel should be standard anyway.

Duplicate Seats
Next up, Duplicate seats. When we arrived at out assigned seats, there was a young girl sitting in one of them. Hmm, one of our seats was double booked.

The problems with United continue. Happily, she had to move and Carol and I ended up sitting together.

XM Radio I was happy to see that XM radio was available on the flight. I was listening to the Top 20 station and then the music cut out. I asked the attendant if htere was a problem with the music system, and he informed me that I'd have to either jiggle my headset jack, or hold it in by hand. Those solutions didn't work, and then I noticed others around me complaining about the same thing.


It's like when you go to a restaurant and they try to sit you directly under the airconditioner, and then when you complain, you get moved to a better table. Then when the next customer comes in, they sit them in the same place until someone is meek enough not to complain.

And I paid $48 extra for an upgrade to this seat!

Side note: When the TV's on JetBlue didn't work on one of their new planes one time, everyone on the flight automatically got a rebate towards theor next jet Blue flight. What did United offer me? Nothing.

So one hour and ten minutes into the flight that I swore I'd never take again, I'm listening to iTunes with 73% battery left.


  1. Anonymous9:59 PM

    Sounds like most of your problems were with Hyatt Vacations than United itself.

  2. Anonymous2:57 AM

    Sounds like you complain about everything. You paid the upcharge for more leg room not an upgraded seat. So the music problems had nothing to due with the additional money you paid for lets say a business or first class seat.
    You swore you would never fly UA again but you did - whose fault is that and more importantly why?

    Probably because of cost and/or flt schedule. Maybe you should have flown JetBlue or Southwest, but wait, they dont offer the option for additional leg room - and they dont even fly to Maui...

    As much as you hate UA, they have the most extensive route structures in the world. Additionally, flying out of SFO you are screwed as that is one of UA's HUB's. As a matter of fact, it is a HUB to no other airline. So pay your money and stop complaining as you really have no choice from SFO unless you want to make a bunch of connections!


  3. Hello Anonymous,
    Like they say on Jerry Springer, "You don't know me!"

    If you'd read my blog you'd know that I don't complain about everything, just some thingks that are worth complaining about. I complain when I don't get satisfaction from companies. My blog goves me a voice to be heard.

    What happens is that people read this blog and then can make their own decisions of weather or not to do do business with these companies that I write about.

    Smart companies, use tools like technorati to find my comments nad address them.

    You are right, I paid for more legrom and got that. JetBlue gives you more leg room at no additional charge.

    The music problems were not addressed correctly. That's poor customer service.

    The beauty of the internet is that you can comment on my complaints and I can keep on complaining.

    I had an open mind going into my last flight with UA.

    Let's see how they are on my return flight.

  4. United's legroom is atrocious. I have to fly it often. I'm not particularly tall 6'1" and flying United is a horrible experience. Also, I've found from many trips that United really doesn't care about pasengers unless they are business travelers who can afford the seat upgrades. If you're a poor grad student, do not choose United.

    Jet Blue, on the other hand, the best I have flown in the US.

  5. Angela M5:11 PM

    I only recently began to hate United Airlines. What was suppossed to be a five hour layover from Paris in Chicago, turned into a terrible experience for me and many of the United passengers I became close to during my ordeal.

    As I waited patiently around my gate at O'Hare I heard three different announcement from United staff that different flights would be delayed due to the fact the crew wasn't on time. That was the first time I had ever heard such an excuse, but then again, I am Canadian and usually don't fly United.

    When it came close to the time my flight was to leave we noticed the departure time was changed, without an announcement being made. This was the first of half a dozen changes to our departure time.

    I will write Part Two at a later point. For now I will say that United Airlines repeated lied to their passengers, and they treated us extremely poorly.

    After a three hour wait our flight was cancelled (because the pilot didn't show) we were all told to make our way to Terminal One to the baggage area. We were told to line up and they would help us with hotels etc.

    The lineup took three hours to get through and on top of this we were all responsible for re-booking our own flight.

  6. Hi Angela,
    Sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience.

  7. Anonymous1:24 AM

    You are right - everyone is entitled to an opinion. United is no different from AA, DL or CO when it comes to the services that it provides - wait, I take that back, AA does not even offer economy plus, music, pillows or blankets.

    I agree that Jet Blue is cutting edge and focused on the passenger with leather seats and live tv. However, they do not have the network that United or the other legecy carriers do. They serve a nitch market and with crude being as high as it is, I will be surprised if they survive as they do not serve international routes or have first class which is where the money is.

    As far as that seat is concerned with the music, it sucks, it didnt work but what did you really want the flight attendant to do? They cant fix it while you are in the air. You paid for the extra leg room and got it....try packing an i-pod next time you fly Jet Blue.

  8. Anonymous,
    I wanted a credit for no XM radio.

    And with JetBlue you don't need an iPod:

    "JetBlue offers the most live entertainment of any airline: 36 channels of free DIRECTV® programming, 100+ channels of free XM Satellite Radio®, and a choice of first-run movies from FOX InFlight Premium EntertainmentTM."