How To Get Great Service on United Airlines

United Airlines

We all know United Airlines doesn’t have the best reputation. My list of gripes with the airline is long (SEE: United’s Problem is…Everything). Between canceled flights and lengthy delays, they tend to disappoint me more times than not. I’ve about given up flying them out of our local airport. But I did give them a chance over the past week, and our flights went smoothly. 

One aspect that is rarely an issue is their in-flight service. This is not to say that their service is stellar. Most interactions are pretty subpar. United flight attendants don’t seem to share the same exuberance I see in many Delta flight attendants. I don’t know what Delta feeds their staff, but they need to share. 

However, there is one way United consistently goes above and beyond. 

The Secret to Great United In-Flight Service

In three words: be a kid. I know. You were hoping for some useful tip and don’t think I’m funny. Yet this has been so consistently true that it *is* funny, at least to this dad. Hear me out for two more minutes. 

When my kids and I flew from Arcata to Tucson last year, the flight attendants doted on them. The load factor was low. After the handful of first class passengers on our E175 were served, the attendants brought my kids snacks from the first class snack basket . No one else in economy got these snacks. Not even me. Just them. 

They were handed more snacks before we deplaned. Seriously. It needed to end. 

To Be A Child Again

We had a similar experience on our connection to Tucson. It didn’t help that we were literally three of maybe a dozen people on the flight. The kids were again given snacks from the basket, and then an entire bag of candy just before we deplaned. This wasn’t anything standard-issue; it was probably the flight attendant’s own stash. Unfortunately, dad had to step in and prevent (or at least delay) the consumption. 

On our flights a couple days ago, it was rinse and repeat. After the quick snack and beverage service on our CRJ hop to LAX, the flight attendant grabbed a handful of stroopwafels. He handed one to my son seated in seat 1A and then moved on. Hey…what about me? I love those things. Been meaning to try that stroopwafel McFlurry. 

The same flight attendant proceeded to pass out stroopwafels to all the other kids onboard (there were about 5-6). It was a very nice gesture. Yet things didn’t end there. Ten minutes later, he repeated the same with maple wafers. Sugar for the kids. Nada for dad. Well, there were still pretzels. Yay?

True story: United has you covered if you’re a kid.

Kids Should Enjoy Flying

I’m glad the United (more accurately, Skywest) flight attendants go out of their way to make sure my kids enjoy themselves in the air. While my older two really don’t have any issues, and my son flat out loves air travel. It’s a nice gesture. I hope they treat kids like this all the time. It’s been such a common experience on nearly every United flight I’ve taken with my kids that I have to imagine these aren’t isolated incidents.

Tough luck, parents. The secret to great United service is to be a kid.

Anyone else noticed United’s special treatment for kids? 


  1. DaninMCI says

    Delta doesn’t feed it’s FA’s anything special but my guess is this is Union Vs. Non-Union culture when it comes to how to complete the job, etc. I’m not bashing unions but some union members become entitled and can’t seem to complete regular job tasks in the same manner.

  2. KK says

    It’s not a mainline flight. Keep in mind these are regional carriers and SkyWest may have the same crew working on different airlines depending on their roster. For all we know, they may be taking a break from DL or AA and forgot they were working on an UA painted plane and continued on with their alternate cheery smiles.

  3. Ned Dragston says

    So the point is what? Travel with a child. Great, mine is an adult now. This wasn’t very helpful or insightful.

  4. Counsellor says

    You can’t be serious. An article like this on a frequent flyer site? What, we’re supposed to lie about our age to get “great service ” {sic – pardon my laughter} out of United?

    You must really have been scraping the bottom of the barrel. How about an article useful to your audience?

  5. Lucilla Mcdonald says

    I’ve actually had a similar experience on a long haul United flight from Honolulu to Guam. It was the end of our vacation and just about dropped into our seats. Our then 12 year old stayed up the whole flight watching movies and the very attentive flight attendant was a godsend. He kept feeding her. She was in heaven. It was so appreciated I wrote an “orchid “ letter for him.

  6. Matthew Vickinovac says

    Well I’m hoping for a few good flights: taking United to Munich and back next month. Last time I flew United was 10 years ago. Had two bad experiences in a row; counter, gate, and FA, plus damaged bags. Thanks to AA piss poor service last few years, ready to try again. Hoping with partner Lufthansa this will be a good experience. Maybe they are upping their game? I have status with AA and I’m walking right now…..

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