United Has to Try Harder

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by webdes03, Mar 17, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. webdes03

    webdes03 Gold Member

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    I'm 9 weeks into an 18 week project at work that requires me to travel from Raleigh to Atlanta roughly 3 out of every 4 weeks. I've been loyal to CO, and now UA, for about 5 years, and typically average 40-50 segments a year. That said, I've never had a run of (what I'll call) bad luck like I have lately.

    I have lately been splitting my travel up between UA (RDU-IAD-ATL), and US (RDU-CLT-ATL) based on availability (and price). UA seems to price themselves out of business on some of these flights. Obviously ATL is a business destination, and those CR7's are constantly full, with just a few flights a day. Unless I book 3+ weeks in advance, UA usually wants $1200+ (if there's availability at all) vs. $300-400 on US. I've never been a huge US fan, but until the time comes that they formally leave Star, at least I continue to earn against and maintain my UA status.

    All that said, and I NEVER thought I'd say this... US is FAR more reliable. In three out of my last four IAD-RDU segments, I've been significantly delayed. My usual flight is scheduled into RDU around 23:15, once was almost 2am, and twice almost 1am. Last week, our flight was (according to our pilot) intended to be cancelled, until they decided last minute to cancel a TYS flight instead and give us their aircraft.

    Our flight was delayed roughly 40 minutes, and the gate swap (A2 to A6) was announced about 30 minutes before the new departure time, everyone lined up, boarding completed, and we just sat there. Bag carts parked outside, green-tag bags stacked up at the aircraft stairs, no sign of any ground crew. Twice the FO got off and walked around looking for ground crew. We sat on the ramp in IAD for almost 45 minutes before a ground crew was found to load our bags and push us back; and when they did show up they were clearly in no hurry. I've never seen a ground crew move so slow and nonchalant, especially given that a 10PM departure was still sitting on the ground well after 11PM and we were just waiting on them.

    Our ExpressJet crew was awesome; very apologetic (and as frustrated as us). The FO appeared to try and help one of the slow ground agents load the bags on the belt loader, but through the window it appeared that the ground crew sent him away and didn't want his help. As much as I hate to say it, over the last 8 weeks, US has done a far better job of getting me to my client and home on time, in better comfort (I'll take a new-ish A321 over a beat up E145 or CR7 any day), and more reliably. I'm in no way interested in moving away from UA or Star (definitely want nothing to do with the AA mess), but United... you have to try harder to do better.
     
  2. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    You're not the first person to say that US Air has surprised you in a good way. That's not to say they're taking the airlines by storm, but they are surprising some (I have flown them once in the past 20 years, and it was okay).

    But in the end, about your point on United, for me, I would send a message through your wallet.
     
  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Why would you pay that much extra to fly that far out of the way just to be "loyal" to United?

    Taking the last flight of the night on an Express carrier means you're always going to be at risk of cancellation if there are other flights which can better profit from using the plane.

    That's not to excuse delays, but late flights on regional operators are always going to be the worst option in that regard. Your choice if you want to be proactive about it or just hope for the best.
     
  4. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    Why don't you use DL if you're going to ATL? If you don't want to deal with SkyPesos, there are other programs you could credit to, such as AS. Or you could use another SkyTeam program, depending on your award goals and preferences.
     
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  5. webdes03

    webdes03 Gold Member

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    If I book 3+ weeks out, UA is no more or less expensive than US or DL. Then we're just talking about travel time, and an extra 90 minutes isn't enough to make a difference (if I had to go to EWR that'd be another story), but IAD is only a 35-40 minute flight, CLT is only about 30 minutes, and neither are more than a few minutes further than RDU. At the end of the day, the connection and second segment only adds about 90 minutes to the trip (that is, if UA isn't 3 hours late).

    I could slum it in the last boarding group on DL, but at the end of the day (as I said above), for an extra 90 minutes it's not worth it. I used to work at DL (granted this was about 10 years ago now), but I'm not a fan. At this point, I'd rather contribute the miles towards my UA account where I can actually use them. I'd never earn enough on any SkyTeam carrier over the life of this project to be at all useful, so at that point you're just pissing it away. Unfortunately I fly just enough to qualify for status on a single carrier, if I split it up I'm left with absolutely nothing (not that Silver is much to write home about).

    My point of the whole post was merely to point out that US has been doing a better job than UA, which was a bit of a surprise to me. They run a surprisingly good operation, the crews are polite, the aircraft are clean, and in my experience over the last year or so they're also running a pretty reliable schedule.
     
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  6. worldwidedreamer

    worldwidedreamer Silver Member

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    I've been quite impressed with my US flights lately. I really hope the Feds block the merger so they stay in Star Alliance.
     
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  7. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I hope I'm not jumping on the UA-bashing bandwagon here, as I'm happy enough with them to keep flying with them. I did, however, have a similar experience at DAL late one night in January. We arrived on time, but there was no place to park. Operations wasn't answering, so we sat. And sat. And sat.

    A little over half an hour later, the crew learned that the plane sitting at our gate was an earlier departure that had been cancelled. There were no open gates. We pulled up behind the cancelled flight and departed in the rain to walk up to the jetbridge that we were scheduled to walk through. I had my usual carry-ons, including one gate-checked bag, all of which I was trying to carry while unsuccessfully hold an umbrella over my head.

    It was uncomfortably cold, too, but I made it. The whole terminal was dead inside with the exception of one lone TSA agent making sure the traffic all filed by him in the right direction.

    After 45 minutes of waiting at what looked like a rural Kansas baggage claim belt, the bags started to arrive. "Priority" tags earned no special treatment for the bags on which they were placed. It was just one of those nights.

    My trip to Dallas was scheduled to be 42 hours. They took it down to 41. I saw my daughter, co-signed for her new car, signed a critical contract which required being notarized in Texas, had a nice (short) visit with my dad and jumped on Taca for the ride home.

    I don't know if the airlines are getting worse, I'm mellowing in my old age or both. This kind of thing would have made me lose my cool a decade ago. Now I'm learning to just roll with it and remind myself that, "What is ~ is." (Well... most of the time.) ;)
     
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  8. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    The title of this thread caught my eye, and I couldn't agree more with the sentiment. Last year at United sucked. Period. EVERY TIME I fly with them there is a problem. It could be a delay, trouble with seat assignments, cancellations, etc. A few times that has worked out in my favor in the form of VDB's or other compensation, but it has gotten to the point that I no longer trust the airline enough to fly them with my family. I'm a big girl and can handle pretty much anything on my own (including sleeping in the airport last year) so my cheap skate mileage running ways will continue until I make MM. My business travel has been shifted to AS, because I value getting to where I have to be in some form of reliable and consistent fashion. After my experiences at United, I find myself more and more impressed with basically ALL other airlines I've flown lately- Delta, Singapore, Thai, especially Alaska, and yes even US Air!
     
  9. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    Quoted for truth. The Express flights are far less reliable than mainline flights, both as to cancel rates and schedule integrity. The aircraft are scheduled for tight turns and they seem to routinely run late. If ATC creates any capacity limitations, the Express flights get cancelled or delayed at a much higher rate than mainline.

    I've done a bunch of flying this quarter, and this is totally my experience. Connecting from mainline to Express usually works but expect to be late. Connecting from Express to mainline - either leave a lot of connecting time, or be prepared to deal with a misconnect. And generally try to avoid booking Express if schedule is critical to getting somewhere. Just accept that there is going to be a failure rate.

    I'm also with WA - isn't RDU-ATL a short flight? Why not fly non-stop. Or fly non-stop to work, and then take a connection on the way home when you can accept delays and overnights?
     
  10. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

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    Theres probably a better chance of UA becoming Skyteam again than there is the feds blocking the merger.
     
  11. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    I'd be tickled pink if this happened, but it won't. Unfortunately. :(
     
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