Dear United, I'm holding you to a higher standard

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by SnowDogDad, Jun 5, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. SnowDogDad

    SnowDogDad Silver Member

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    Dear United,
    I have been a loyal UA flyer and apologist for the last 8 years. Seven out of the last 8 years, I have been a 1K. I go out of my way to purchase UA tickets and usually pay a bit more for the privilege.

    I have tolerated poor on-board service, a painful merger with CO, canceled flights, long delays, crappy seats, an often substandard on-board experience (terrible food, bad audio/visual, seat problems (lights, no recline or broken recline), canceled tickets in mid-flight, LONG upgrade lists, missed connections, a mediocre Club experience, baggage problems, and surly gate agents. You have had to put me up in a hotel more times than I care to recall over the last 8 years because I missed my connecting flight.

    I have griped a bit, but put up with it because I understand the complexities of operating an airline and delivering consistently high service. Chaos theory surely applies to an airline.

    Now, you continue to turn the screws on your frequent flyers. I get it. We 1K's, Platinums, Premier Execs, and Premiers not as profitable as the top 2% of your customers. And, I get it, you are trying to be profitable. That is the point of a publicly held company.

    But, the final few screws you have turned on me (including the changes to the frequently flyer program over the last three years) have made me realize I need to be less tolerate of your service shortcomings.

    Expect to hear from me anytime I have a delay of more than 2 hours. Or a canceled flight. Or your crappy on-board entertainment / WiFi system fails to work. Or the seat light is out on a night flight. Well, you get the idea. I'll be complaining (whining.)

    Your griping and less-loyal customer,
    Jim
     
  2. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    And UA's stock answer: "Oh, look, another over-entitled elite. Don't let the brick hit you in the head on the way out."
     
  3. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    "The food at this restaurant I keep coming to is so terrible, and such small portions! I think I'll complain more often when I come here."

    I've never quite understood this viewpoint when there are other options available, as opposed to walking out the door (why waste time complaining? Are you really trying to get more free travel on an airline you don't like to fly?). Or are you really, truly hub-captive with your travel patterns?
     
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  4. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    They do understand how you feel and appreciate your letter.

    Thank you for your understanding,

    All airlines have the same problem, as for the small portions of food, it is quality, not quantity we strive for...

    Sometimes a buffet is nice, but the food is not the same quality...

    The view from the other side if the isle :D
     
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  5. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Absolutely! :) Here's how UA sees their elites. :p

     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2015
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  6. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    And UA customer service cares about this because? UA's position as the "most hated airline" has been hard-earned! :mad:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/this-is-hands-down-the-worst-airline-in-america-2012-5

    http://fortune.com/2015/05/21/these-airlines-get-the-most-hate-on-social-media/
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
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  7. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    United and AA have lost money for years, and when they do make a buck rest assured the a Government will have more regulation for them to pay off the inspectors...

    Even with the price of fuel down, these companies have a long way to go.

    I like to see a company make a profit...

    Every once in a while we all get an empty load on the return trip...
     
  8. Desidivo

    Desidivo Silver Member

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    Totally agree. Don't complain. Try other airlines and see what you get. If you find one that you like, start using it more then write a letter to United showing them you have taken your business to another airline if you feel the need.

    I have tried many of the other airlines and now fly asian airlines for all most all of international. I stick with United for domestic as they are currently my best option (mostly out EWR). I had over 2K on United last year. This year I have about 60K on United and 70K international. United is missing out on most of my high dollar/business class travel and getting mostly my lower dollar domestic.

    In short, this is how they have structured their programs for FF and I have adjusted. Just let your dollars to do the talking.
     
  9. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    Are you reading from Jeffy's playbook?
     
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  10. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    No, just a personal experience, trying to make a buck,,and give a few people jobs.

    It is a hard cruel World out there, but it was a good ride.

    In my early days, airlines were almost like an elevator ride, lot of stops on them tail dragers.
     
  11. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    While YMMV, you may want to consider using WN for domestic flights. I do this for my personal domestic travel, and enjoy their customer-friendly orientation, most especially the ability to cancel/change flights without being dinged $200 or more. Of course, there aren't premium seats on their planes, which some on Milepoint can't seem to be able to live without! But this frequent flyer could care less, and am pleased with all the $$$ I've saved by flying WN domestically, versus travel on AA, DL or US.
     
  12. Steve GadFly
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    Steve GadFly Gold Member

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    I've been told exactly what you just said by a lot of WN fans. My business travel is entirely domestic and consists of ~200 flights and ~200,000 miles flown per year (with 500 mile minimums thrown in there, my actual average PQM is lower than it seems).

    UA gets 99% of my business because, being EWR based, I can usually begin and end every week with a non-stop. Add to that the fact that I can work in the club until just before boarding and, averaged over all of my flying, I'm saving hundreds of hours per year of just standing at the gate waiting to board.

    A great deal of my flying is regional so it's not about getting a premium seat...it's about being productive and getting me more time at home between trips.

    UA may screw up occasionally but I'm sure it's not much worse than any other airline. Most things I deal with regularly are outside of the airline's control (weather, ATC, etc.) but UA has always been decent about compensation when it's their fault. I can literally count on one hand the number of egregious screw ups that I've had to write in about. Over thousands of flights, I think that's actually pretty good.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2015
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  13. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    All absolutely understandable! I've described out-of-pocket personal travel. If an employer were picking up the tab, that might well dictate other considerations, as it has for me in the past. BTW, I have access to both AA and UA lounges (through credit card use), so that doesn't enter into the equation for me. I don't understand that you have access to either lounge as a premium customer when travelling domestically. YMMV is always the rule!
     
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  14. Steve GadFly
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    Steve GadFly Gold Member

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    My personal travel is all on UA too...being a 1K and having lounge access greatly improves the whole experience. Add to that my MM status which means my wife is also a 1K and the choice is easy.

    To answer your lounge question, I bought a lifetime membership in The CO Presidents Club almost 10 years ago. With the 200+ visits I make per year, would say I've gotten my money's worth!
     
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  15. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    What a great deal! I would have also jumped at that offer - congratulations!

    I'd suggest that "lifetime" membership isn't always what you think it will be, but in this case, you've done extremely well! I've taken advantage of lifetime membership offers twice: the first time I did so was for a lifetime magazine subscription, and that magazine went out of business less than a year afterwards.
    I guess that my lifetime subscription was for the lifetime of that magazine! :p

    The second time I've done this was when I was offered a lifetime-of-the-vehicle XM radio subscription for my now 6-year-old vehicle when I bought it new. XM needed the cash at that time, and the offer was short-lived. But 6 years later, I've definitely got my money's worth out of that deal! :)
     
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  16. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I know your travel patterns and the WN network would mostly be a disaster for you.

    But you also do not have to sit at the gate and wait in line to board. You really can just show up 20 minutes prior to departure, like you would on UA, and get on the plane. I flew a decent amount of WN last year for work trips where it was the best option (by far) and I never wasted much time at the gate. I worked until I was ready to board and then I got on the plane. Window seat (my preference) every time.
     
  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I see you got a bunch of "likes" for the above but for no reason at all.

    One cannot quit a loyalty program as easily as one can quit patronage of a restaurant. I have been passionate on this board about how I despise the revenue-based system. According to you, I should just quit patronizing UA and MileagePlus because "there are other options available". However, it ain't that easy and the reason it is not easy is shown below:

    TOWARD-UA-MM.jpg

    I am just 124K miles away from reaching the 1MM milestone and walking away with lifetime *G. According to your thinking, I should just switch to another FF program because "[you]'ve never quite understood this viewpoint when there are other options available."

    Why would I walk away with nothing after having "invested" so much in UA MP and am so close to achieving lifetime status?

    Inquiring minds wanna know...
     
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  18. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Because FF programs are not investments (though airlines would like you to think they are), and thus lure you into diamond handcuffs, as a blogger put it today, when he discussed why he wouldn't chase seemingly appealing status.

    *A Gold status (outside of UA Premier Gold) is basically "we will treat you as if you're flying business even if you're sitting in the economy cabin", no? Lounge access, more baggage and better treatment similar to a business class ticket?

    This means that if you're flying outside the US on a business class ticket on a non-UA airline... you get very little benefit from additional *A Gold status. So why not buy business class tickets that meet your needs, and ignore airline/alliance shenanigans? They are becoming surprisingly reasonable these days, as airlines realize that filling J seats with customers willing to pay a little bit less than the going rate of a few years ago is better than filling J seats with elites paying discounted Y using their upgrade instruments, or filling J seats with people burning miles. And with the advent of premium economy, and the increasing misery of longhaul economy... I'm not sure a nice lounge overseas makes up for just figuring out the best combination of price/acceptable comfort/acceptable travel and ignoring miles/status. If airlines think their elites are over-entitled, why not walk away from loyalty? Especially if the benefits are fairly thin gruel in seats I might not want to sit in anyways?

    I'll grant that having some basic benefits with UA as a fallback on cheap economy tickets for domestic travel is nice, if we want to switch to talking about Premier Gold as opposed to *A Gold. E+ is nice. They are also benefits that are fairly easy to replicate elsewhere (even with the benefit of cash). UA's also welcome to water down the MM deal any time they care to (as they arguably already have). I place not my trust in princes and I do not wish to pray they do not alter the deal any further.

    In the end, what I purchase is a plane ticket. The FF program is gravy for me. If the gravy is less tasty these days, then I look for the plane ticket that meets my budget and needs, and ignore the gravy.
     
  19. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    That view is so cynical it kills all debate; in fact, it is so cynical that if you participate in any loyalty program at all, you are not true to yourself. Rather than saying initially: "I've never quite understood this viewpoint when there are other options available";you simply should've said "I've never quite understood this viewpoint when one can just quit" because it would be the only option that avoids the so-called "diamond handcuffs."

    For your edification, regardless of what the airlines think, I consider my free participation in loyalty programs to be some type of investment, though a short-term one, from which I have been reaping the benefits like gangbusters. I've done so well over the years, in fact, that the joke, if there is one, is on the airlines for luring me into 'them' diamond handcuffs...;)

    Oh, I will make 1MM and lifetime *G, and will keep "investing", not just in UA because that would no longer be necessary, but in a travel strategy that would keep the fun going...

    Investment is time, energy, or matter spent in the hope of future benefits actualized within a specified date or time frame.

    It seems to me that is precisely what one does when one plays the mile/point game, so maybe you should revise your claim about FF programs not being investments...or change the definition of "investment" to fit your cynical view.

    G'day.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
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  20. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Of course it's cynical. It's exactly as cynical as airlines that make promises of lifetime benefits, and then say in court "well, it does say in our program terms we can change our terms at any time, so saying 'lifetime benefits' is meaningless". Which UA has said in court proceedings.

    That's great. And I wouldn't argue that this isn't possible, even today. What I would argue is that airlines are trying ("status", naming after precious metals/jewels, "elite") to make emotional arguments to their customers to get them to make decisions that are in the airline's best interest rather than in the customer's. "Pay more to keep flying us, maybe do some meaningless flying with mileage runs, and we'll let some crumbs fall off the table for you; free upgrades (maybe)! Lounge visits (with mediocre food)! You can escape painfully cramped economy seats!" I'm not sure I get the point of flying an airline one actively dislikes enough to vow lots of complaints about, either.

    I think a decision to keep flying an airline that's treating you badly if you might have better alternatives and refuse to consider them is Stockholm Syndrome. Rather, be coldly rational (as cold as the airline is to their elites) and consider the alternatives. Maybe UA is still the best alternative when it comes to schedule/price/nonstops (which I suspect is the case for a lot of people). Maybe you're a hub captive. Maybe when you pencil it all out UA is still acceptable even if they're nibbling benefits to death like ducks. But I tend to think people chasing lifetime status need to consider the sunk costs fallacy. Is what you are chasing after really worth it?
     
  21. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    This is nonsense. There are lots of things that we with stick with, even if the conditions are not ideal. It is give and take -- a "calculus of felicity" of sort, whereby one adds the pluses and minuses and opts for the option that has more pluses than minuses. It does not mean that one should stop railing against what one despises.

    In sum, one needs to examine the totality of one's options and then act accordingly because there will seldom be a perfect solution. Everything considered, it would simply be silly for me to quit flying UA now because I do not like the r-b.s. I consider reaching the 1MM status and walking away with lifetime *G worthwhile -- the purported "sunk costs fallacy" fallacy (the second "fallacy" is there purposely) notwithstanding.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
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  22. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Nah...but the trick is to make rational decisions based on a realistic view of both present and future value of the "rewards" being accrued, the timing/pace of such accrual and the alternatives. For most occasional passengers airline loyalty programs are a factor best ignored in making travel decisions. As travel frequency increases the value of the programs increases, too.

    Put another way, 1,000 points have a value of roughly zero while 10,000 points can actually be used for something. And 100,000 points can be used for lots of things. The value of the points is not linear.

    But claiming you're too invested and cannot leave is also a ridiculous argument. Throwing good money after bad is about the worst decision you can possibly make. If the program is no longer of value to you then there's no reason to keep "investing" in it. Walk away. Or the value is still there so you should stay. But that means actually reviewing the value, not just deciding you have no choice.
     
  23. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Great. Why is it more worthwhile than ditching UA now and flying whoever you please in *A, as opposed to ditching them to fly whoever you please in *A when you have the shiny card in hand, and putting up with UA for the interim? Is your intent to fly a lot of economy class flights on UA's *A partners once you have achieved UA MM status? That would be the situation where you reap the most benefits from your status on partners. (I guess if you really think the Senator lounges of Lufthansa are the bomb that would be a good reason, too, since you only get those as *A Gold, not as a business class traveler).
     
  24. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Like I said, that is nonsense. Why would I ditch UA now, when I am so close to reaching the 1MM and lifetime *G milestones, which would ensure me *G lounge access for as long as the perk would be honored, while at same freeing me to fly afterwards with any airline I choose because I would no longer be chasing that milestone? You do know that UA BIS miles are required to reach 1MM and lifetime *G, don't you? If those milestones mean nothing to you then that should be the end of this "discussion" because you could not possible understand why it means something to me. That also goes to the inanity of this whole "discussion": you purport to know what is best for others, which is again nonsense.

    With my *G I would have access to *G lounges while I fly with *A partners to keep raking in the miles that I need to sustain my annual year-end Asian escapades, and when I fly UA, I would be guaranteed E+ seating. Oh, and I could easily get used to flying economy if that is what it would take for me to keep earning miles based on distance traveled. Then with all the miles that I accumulate, I would able to fly in premium cabins for 3-4 weeks at the end of every year. I call it an investment and that is exactly what it's been, and I intend to cash in...
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  25. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    LOL. Another one who purports to know what's best for me!
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015

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