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Where Did All The Pillows Go on United?

Aboard a recent United Airlines first class flight, FlyerTalkers reported high-quality duvets from Saks Fifth Avenue were being replaced by “thin throws,” while premium pillows were nowhere to be found. We asked United about the changes and got answers about why the premium experience was anything but.

Frequent United Airlines flyers know what to expect when flying premium cabins on longer flights: comfortable pillows and duvets from Saks Fifth Avenue. But on recent flights, some are claiming those amenities are slowly disappearing.

The first reported instance came on the forums from FlyerTalker mmack. On a January 31, 2018 flight from Lihue Airport (LIH) in Hawaii to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the flyer booked a first-class ticket for the lay-flat seat, with the comfortable pillow and duvet combination. However, when it came time to board, mmack’s expectations were far from the reality of their experience.

“No pillow, of any size or filling, and a mingy thin…blue ‘throw’ on the seat when we boarded,” mmack wrote. “[The] flight crew were bewildered when I asked why pillows hadn’t been provided.”

Other flyers started chiming in with their own mixed experiences. On a United premium cabin flying from Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), one flyer said they also didn’t receive the upgraded amenities. Meanwhile, another noted on their recent flight from Honolulu International Airport (HNL) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), they had not only lay-flat seats, but also the comfortable pillow and duvet.

Did United quietly cut this amenity from their premium cabin? Or are flyers getting the wrong answers from ground crews? We contacted United directly to get to the bottom of the situation – and discovered that in some situations, flyers were getting less than they were expecting.

“We provision all premium cabin seats on redeye-domestic first routes with a pillow and blanket at each seat,” United spokesperson Jonathan Guerin told FlyerTalk. “All other flights are blankets available on request.”

Does that mean that the “thin blue throw” is the new normal on overnight flights from Hawaii to the mainland? Or will it be the full Saks Fifth Avenue kit? According to United, redeye flights from the islands with lay-flat seats should expect the full luxury kit. Before booking, it may be important to check if your flight has the lay-flat seats.

“For Hawaii flights with lie-flat seats, we provision the Saks Fifth Avenue large pillow and duvet,” Guerin told FlyerTalk. “Otherwise it’s the same as domestic first – pillow and blanket at each seat for overnight flights.”

And in the situation of flights to Latin America? Guerin noted that it depends on the flight length. Because the BOG-IAH flight is a “Near Latin” route, flyers would receive the domestic first amenities: the thinner blanket and pillow combination. If you’re on a flight that doesn’t get a blanket, Guerin noted you can always ask the flight crew for additional comfort items.

Our questions and notes to United were provided directly to the airline’s premium cabin teams for review. We were also assured that FlyerTalkers feedback would be shared “with our [United ground] teams as a reminder.”


[Image: United]

Comments are Closed.
bayareascott February 23, 2018

There are not, and have never been, lie-flat seats on the LIH-SFO route. So it sounds like the original poster was simply not correct. You get all these shown pillows and blankets on the appropriate routes, but not most domestic ones.

KRSW February 20, 2018

@makfan: On paper, I'm sure these cuts make sense. In practice, I'm sure they cost more than they realize. Case in point: Free checked luggage. In the old days, 2 checked bags were the norm, even for domestic, even for United. Because they charge for luggage, people cram as much as they can into their carry-ons. This leads to increased boarding times due to everyone schlepping their oversized carry-ons on-board and fighting for the same bin space which existed before the policy change. FAs and GAs are made out to be the bad guys as they inform pax that their luggage won't fit. We all know the drill. BUT there's a secondary cost: Extra fuel carried. When bags are checked, dispatchers know exactly how much weight luggage is going into the plane. With carry-ons they have no idea so are forced to estimate. Guess wrong and you'll have the aircraft making an expensive diversion. So, they're forced to put more fuel than necessary on the aircraft to avoid reaching minimums. I'm sure the pencil pushers forgot about this.

Roberto Sonnenberger February 17, 2018

Just one more example of the chinciest airline in the world penny pinching its way to Total Customer Dissatisfaction.

Surfwriter February 17, 2018

The last time (and I hope it's the last time) we flew first-class with United it was from O'Hare to LAX. The crew were great. No complaints there. But we were given two seats with no seats in front of us. There was the main door then a bulkhead. Really classy. And no privacy, nowhere to keep things handy and no onboard entertainment. Unfortunately our national carrier (Air New Zealand) partners wit United in the Star Alliance. As a result we no longer fly with ANZ and use Emirates or Qatar instead. We've also made it clear to our travel agent that we prefer not to fly with American Airlines when flying across the USA. We have yet to experience Alaska Airlines. We've heard good things about it.

cairns February 16, 2018

In other words their advertisements are downright lies...... Great work Munoz.