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How many are REALLY leaving UA? [2014 edition]

How many are REALLY leaving UA? [2014 edition]

Old Jan 3, 14, 9:24 pm
  #16  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: WAS, LAX
Programs: AA EXP, AS 75K
Posts: 1,287
1) What did you like most about fkaUA or fkaCO?

The best customer service around (Oh, you're 1K? We'll do anything for you!). Fast IRROPS handling. A written policy guaranteeing amenities to 1Ks in IRROPS. Easily navigated reservations systems. Proactive apologies and (occasionally) compensation when things went wrong. A CEO that didn't act like a celebrity by inserting himself into every safety video and didn't use lawyer double speak (Enhancements? Yeah, right). E500s as upgrade instruments, which preserved first class integrity. 1K Bags. 1K Desk.

2) What changes have had the greatest negative impact on you?

The gradual but incessant cuts. Very difficult to use reservation system when doing anything but the simplest tasks. Downgrading of domestic first class meals (no new menu changes in the last 18 months, cut backs in quantity and quality). Loss of 8 CR-1s (RPUs). The feeling that the new airline considers 1K to be just another over-entitled group of elites (when compared to pre-merger UA). Non-merged pilot groups leading to massive delays when things go wrong and no apologies or compensation offered (experienced several 4+ hour delays in 2013). Almost guaranteed chance of flying on a RJ at some point if connecting.

3) What remains about the current UA that makes it hard for you to leave?

I'd say the ability to transfer via Europe for awards to the Pacific, but that's going away. I'd say finally learning to read the flight loads in Expert Mode properly to increase my upgrade percentages, but I get better upgrade percentages on AA without having to do this. I'd say free SDC, but I almost never used it.

4) What airlines are you considering switching to? Or kayaking?

AA

5) What benefits / improvements do you expect on your new airline?

AA has an efficient and quick reservations system. EXP frontline service has been beyond exceptional. NO RJs on my most frequent route (thank goodness!). I've consistently received the best meals out of any airline I've flown domestically. Ability to reserve meals is an added bonus. Even if I don't get an upgrade, I get a choice of a free food and a free drink item in Y. Somewhat unrelated, DFW is a beautiful airport. The Admiral Clubs are very pretty on the inside and have more amenities like made-to-order food and internet-enabled computer stations.

6) What aspects of the new airline make it hard for you to switch to them?

The uncertainty of the merger is a big risk, but so far AA has indicated they're retaining reservations systems, meal windows, branding, etc from PMAA. All of which was unlike the CO takeover of UA, so I'm hopeful. Time will tell if I am indeed correct.
flyingmusicianlax is offline  
Old Jan 4, 14, 4:54 am
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NYC
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Originally Posted by bburrito View Post
I dont get a lot of the whining. I just made 1K literally today, and have been Platinum for most of the year. I have found UAs service to be pretty darned good, particularly at the United Club service desks.

Recent customer service experiences include:
1. Being 1 hour late for flight because I slept through my alarm. I got rebooked and was given a 1st class upgrade at no charge. I got to my destination at the same time as my original scheduled flight.
2. Coming home my connection into IAH was late due to weather. I arrived in IAH 45 minutes late and there was no way I was getting home that night. I was booked into first class the next morning and I was still given a hotel voucher despite the delay being weather related.
3. Needed to escape a city prior to a huge storm coming in. I showed up at airport 3 days before my scheduled departure date. Explained the situation and I was rebooked on the next flight out of town with no change fees.

My experience has been good and status does count.

It seems to me everybody is just whining because they dont get as many free FC upgrades. If it happens, great. If it doesnt... Economy+ really isnt that bad.

Flying domestic all three majors are pretty good getting you to/from biz meetings on time and accommodating IRROPS. Biz people who do this are underrepresented here because of the negativity and the frankly foolish attempts to analyse the business..you will see about 3x more lurkers than users on the UA Fora.

For the last decade UA was very generous letting people fly Star Alliance partners cheap on miles, with credit card, MR, etcg those days are over per a partner devaluation of OCT 2013.

The whining is mostly the party hangover from that event.

Cover your keyboard in plastic when you read threads on revenue management and pricing...there is some great stuff there.
LaserSailor is offline  
Old Jan 4, 14, 5:06 am
  #18  
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Originally Posted by bburrito View Post
I dont get a lot of the whining. I just made 1K literally today, and have been Platinum for most of the year. I have found UAs service to be pretty darned good, particularly at the United Club service desks
.
Translation: I've just recently made elite status. Woohoo!!

Nonetheless, I haven't been stung by issues that travelers who've been elite for a few decades have. Perhaps when I've spent as much time flying as they have my perspective might change.

Until then, I'll just marvel that they don't always see things as I do.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Dave
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Old Jan 4, 14, 5:51 am
  #19  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NYC
Programs: AA DULtArer
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Perfect example.

The other thing coming into play is the airlines are looking beyond status into spend profiles for benefits and customer service. Delta was first with this program which, as I understand it , takes the UA GS model and looks for HVF that aren't captured by the status metrics per se, and also looks for LVF.

If you call in 8 times to force your RPU and are 1K on 1.9 cpm spend and email for comp because your wife ate your puppy, nada

If you are on a 30 cpm spend track and you call because your kid had IRROPS with no status, you might find a GS agent calls your kid on her cell and talked her through it.
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Old Jan 4, 14, 6:21 am
  #20  
xox
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: CHS
Programs: UA ex-1k, now Gold bumped up from Silver
Posts: 155
1) What did you like most about fkaUA or fkaCO?

Never flew CO and have been flying primarily United only the last four years or so. (Was using other US carriers prior to then.)

2) What changes have had the greatest negative impact on you?

The domestic United Clubs have gone downhill over the past few years, and I didn't think they could get much worse.

Other than that, not sure that I have been negatively affected. I almost never use award tickets so the recent devaluation is not much of a problem for me. Having to ticket everything on 016 stock might be a problem in 2014 but others here believe United can ticket anything on 016. PQD won't be a problem for us.

3) What remains about the current UA that makes it hard for you to leave?

Their international network and the ability to consistently upgrade to lie flat seating on TPAC and TATL flights. I almost always have some flexibility in scheduling and using instruments can almost always upgrade to BF, at least for the longest segments of our trips. I believe we have only flown a couple of pure award tickets on United (emergency domestic situations).

If not, I'll pay full fare for BF a couple of times a year. For domestic trips, I don't really care that much if I fly in an RJ for three hours. Even a 5 hour RJ wouldn't bother me too much. But for an overnight 8 - 17 hour trip, I want to lie flat (my wife even more so). And I don't really care that much about the meals or lack thereof ... I'ver never flown airlines for the cuisine or for the amenities kit.

Our daughter lives about 5 miles from EWR so a number of daily CHS-EWR flights are convenient for us (although in the summer United Express is anything but ).

4) What airlines are you considering switching to? Or kayaking?

The new AA/US Air. Based in CHS, I have to fly to either IAD, EWR, ORD or IAH to go anywhere. We're doing more S. American travel in the next few years, and flying through Miami (AA has CHS-MIA flights) makes a little more sense than going through IAH.

5) What benefits / improvements do you expect on your new airline?

Some people here have commented that AA is a big upgrade in terms of flight experience. I have flown US Air quite a bit over the years, and haven't seen that much difference with United. Haven't been in AA lounges (ever) but the domestic US Air lounges I've visited were marginally better than domestic United Clubs (which sets a rather low bar). Fortunately in EWR and IAD we can use LH. Skytrax rates AA, US Air, UA, DL three star carriers and the fact that they rate ANA, Asiana, CX, SQ, and Malaysia airlines 5 stars gives credibility to their ratings (to me). So I'm skeptical that AA is a big improvement (or even an improvement in terms of what I want as a customer).

6) What aspects of the new airline make it hard for you to switch to them?

No nonstops on US/AA to EWR.
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Old Jan 4, 14, 8:39 am
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Southern California, GVA, SIN, LHR, BRU, CDG
Programs: UA LT GS 4.12MM (4.08MM BIS), AA EXP 1.86MM ,DL DM 1.1MM, HH LT Diamond, SPG Platinum
Posts: 1,182
1) What did you like most about fkaUA or fkaCO?
As a UA 1K and GS for as long as there have been 1Ks and GS...and PE before that...the personal service and the "can do" attitude of the UA staff. As I was told a number of times, if it is not against the law, we will do it for you...and they did!! They made travel easy!

2) What changes have had the greatest negative impact on you?
Diminishing reliability (on all levels)The loss of the ability for staff to make things "right" when they go wrong...which has happened to me more since the merger than in the previous 40+ years of flying UA and a lot of other carriers...combined!

3) What remains about the current UA that makes it hard for you to leave?
My UA "angels"...UA employees who I have known for years...many who have become personal friends!

4) What airlines are you considering switching to? Or kayaking?
After 35 years of loyalty to UA, we are Kayaking...and have enjoyed excellent service on AA, NZ, BA, AF, SQ and others without the "drama" we were experiencing on the new UA.

5) What benefits / improvements do you expect on your new airline?
Good and personal customer service...a "can do" attitude...and we are receiving it!

6) What aspects of the new airline make it hard for you to switch to them?
New airline procedures and processes...UA was like a pair of comfortable old slippers...not the newest or fanciest but reliable and very comfortable. It felt like...well...home!

As if we need another piece of anecdotal evidence of HVFs leaving UA...I flew from LAX to LHR in F last month (first time in over a year...I usually fly NZ in C on this route) and I had one of my "angels" (who I have flow with 100s of times) as purser and FA in F...only two seats occupied in F and I was told that I was the only GS on the aircraft (C and Y were full) and that GSs and 1Ks had all but evaporated this route in 2013... very noticeable...and that "Hollywood" had essentially abandoned UA on this route. I have been flying this route monthly since PA had it...it was always full of HVFs and Hollywood types...I guess no longer...Sad, Sad, Sad!
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Old Jan 4, 14, 10:42 am
  #22  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Portland, OR, USA
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Originally Posted by LaserSailor View Post
Flying domestic all three majors are pretty good getting you to/from biz meetings on time and accommodating IRROPS. Biz people who do this are underrepresented here because of the negativity and the frankly foolish attempts to analyse the business..you will see about 3x more lurkers than users on the UA Fora.

For the last decade UA was very generous letting people fly Star Alliance partners cheap on miles, with credit card, MR, etcg those days are over per a partner devaluation of OCT 2013.

The whining is mostly the party hangover from that event.

Cover your keyboard in plastic when you read threads on revenue management and pricing...there is some great stuff there.
I don't disagree that there is a lot of pointless whining here. However, your analysis is too simplistic also. There are a lot of successful businesses that value good customers and make plenty of money doing it largely via high quality customer service (think Nordstrom in retailing).

I have no issues with UA adding dollar qualifications for elite levels - makes sense. I don't have issues with them trying to sell first class seats. However, their overall customer service is quite a bit worse today that it was in the past for customers like me who actually buy expensive tickets. Their reliability is worse, their on-board service is worse, their IRROPs handling is worse, their phone handling is worse, and, yes, the value of things like elite status and miles is worse.

As a result my buying patterns have changed a lot to UA's detriment and my benefit in an, I think, rational response to this degradation. I just bought a cheap fare to Hawaii made even cheaper using an "oops" cert from UA from my last trip to Hawaii and upgraded that with a cert upgrade. Cheap first class trip. I also just finished a trip where I bought last minute first class on Delta, and I'm planning my next two trans cons, one of which will be a first class purchase on AS and the other probably a first class purchase on AA. In the past both of those would have gone to UA. I don't pretend to understand UA's business model but I will observe that any model that incentivizes me (a many year GS) to buy low cpm tickets with UA and direct high cpm tickets to their competition due entirely to the quality of their customer service and product seems to me a strange one.

So while there is a lot of noise on this forum from folks that are purely motivated by the mileage equation and elite chase, there are also those of us who pay for good service and do not see they are getting their value any longer from UA. I hope to someday understand the strange world in which that is savvy business by UA's current management.
pdx1M is offline  
Old Jan 4, 14, 11:27 am
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: SEA
Programs: AS MVP Gold, SPG LT Gold, HH Diamond
Posts: 1,024
1) What did you like most about fkaUA or fkaCO?

Very good and in my experience consistent premium cabin service on TATL and TPAC flights (which I realize is a significant YMMV based on crews). Good flight protection and irregular operations handling even for a mid level (50K) traveler. Good phone and in-person customer service. Good clubs with reasonable - though not great - offerings and superior customer service.

2) What changes have had the greatest negative impact on you?

I'm not sure if employees are unhappy, unempowered, or frustrated by changes/systems, etc., but it shows in a decline in customer service. Passengers are unhappy too. I suppose I had 15 or 20 travel experiences with United from March 2012 to mid-2013 and they were just...unpleasant. I'd settle for "uneventful."

Prior and anticipated cuts (food service, clubs). Greater utilization of Express aircraft: taking the last flight out of Houston into an outstation after an ERJ has done a day of 6-8 30 minute turns has caused me lots of late arrivals.

3) What remains about the current UA that makes it hard for you to leave?

E+. Good frequencies into smaller Texas and Louisiana cities. I'm also at about 850K lifetime and lifetime status would be an incentive to stick around.

4) What airlines are you considering switching to? Or kayaking?

Kayaking. Lowest economy fare is required for domestic work travel anyway and I'll take the lowest discounted F for personal, which AA, DL, and AS usually offer competitively. I'll pay a few extra $ to get AS miles (thus AS, AA, or DL).

5) What benefits / improvements do you expect on your new airline?

Better customer service (principally AS), paying less.

6) What aspects of the new airline make it hard for you to switch to them?

Tenuous relationships between AS and DL/AA. US/AA merger. Based on my experience and location/travel pattern, AS will always be my primary. If and when things calm down at UA, I'll probably be back but won't go out of my way or pay more to fly them as I used to.
mbluecpa is offline  
Old Jan 4, 14, 11:40 am
  #24  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 5,825
Dear United:

You are Welcome.

Sincerely,

All the thoughtful FlyerTalkers who have contributed to this thread
LarkSFO is offline  
Old Jan 4, 14, 11:49 am
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Originally Posted by LaserSailor View Post
If you are on a 30 cpm spend track and you call because your kid had IRROPS with no status, you might find a GS agent calls your kid on her cell and talked her through it.
FWIW, I had well over 30cpm spend on UA in 2013 and had (my only) three complaints to 1KVoice/customer appreciation completely unanswered.

I can understand that some people have knee-jerk contrarian responses due to the overwhelming negativity on this forum, but ignoring that the negativity results from actual negative experiences and deciding to lash out at FT'ers who have had those negative experiences is at least as unhelpful. As pdx1M pointed out, there are many reasons that UA represents a poor value to fliers including HVFs, and that's why BA/AA will get almost the entirety of the travel that I spent on UA last year.
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Old Jan 4, 14, 12:21 pm
  #26  
Suspended
 
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Originally Posted by LaserSailor View Post
Perfect example.

The other thing coming into play is the airlines are looking beyond status into spend profiles for benefits and customer service. Delta was first with this program which, as I understand it , takes the UA GS model and looks for HVF that aren't captured by the status metrics per se, and also looks for LVF.

If you call in 8 times to force your RPU and are 1K on 1.9 cpm spend and email for comp because your wife ate your puppy, nada

If you are on a 30 cpm spend track and you call because your kid had IRROPS with no status, you might find a GS agent calls your kid on her cell and talked her through it.
Is the latter a true example?
elitetraveler is offline  
Old Jan 4, 14, 3:07 pm
  #27  
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: southern Indiana
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Originally Posted by xox View Post
For domestic trips, I don't really care that much if I fly in an RJ for three hours. Even a 5 hour RJ wouldn't bother me too much. But for an overnight 8 - 17 hour trip, I want to lie flat (my wife even more so). And I don't really care that much about the meals or lack thereof ... I'ver never flown airlines for the cuisine or for the amenities kit.
Nailed it.
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Old Jan 6, 14, 10:11 am
  #28  
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Originally Posted by pdx1M View Post
I have no issues with UA adding dollar qualifications for elite levels - makes sense. I don't have issues with them trying to sell first class seats. However, their overall customer service is quite a bit worse today that it was in the past for customers like me who actually buy expensive tickets. Their reliability is worse, their on-board service is worse, their IRROPs handling is worse, their phone handling is worse, and, yes, the value of things like elite status and miles is worse.
My problem with PQD isn't that it's been instituted. My problem with is it that they're demanding more and continuously giving less in return for those increased demands. If the experience is enhanced positively due to PQD - that's one thing. If they're going to continue to cut the experience - no thanks, I'll pass.

UA's within its right to ask "what have you done for me lately." However, it shouldn't be surprised when customers ask them the same question, realize it's done nothing or made things worse for them, and then see them leave for greener pastures. It cuts both ways.
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Old Jan 6, 14, 10:18 am
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Superguy View Post
However, it shouldn't be surprised when customers ask them the same question, realize it's done nothing or made things worse for them, and then see them leave for greener pastures. It cuts both ways.
This is a very valid point.

The reason, IMO, that they will be surprised is that the HouCrew doesn't see how people CAN go to greener pastures. What other pastures are there when you hub at IAH, CLE, EWR and GUM??

Dave
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Old Jan 6, 14, 10:24 am
  #30  
 
Join Date: May 2001
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Originally Posted by bseller View Post
This is a very valid point.

The reason, IMO, that they will be surprised is that the HouCrew doesn't see how people CAN go to greener pastures. What other pastures are there when you hub at IAH, CLE, EWR and GUM??

Dave
I suspect that if one does the actual math there are more travelers that fly in aggregate from non-hubs than from hubs. For those of us that don't live in a highly captured hub (ATL, MIA, EWR - tho other choices for NYC, IAH, ORD, SFO, CLE) we are almost always (unless flying to a hub) going to have to connect. In that case, it really makes no difference. The current UA management seems to not see that based on their approach to competition. If I have to connect then where you do it often has little impact on travel time. An extreme example - I was just looking at PSP-DCA and the difference between connections that look "straight" and a rather weird looking PSP-SEA-DCA on AS maxed out at about 1.5 hours for the departure times I needed. Service levels and value/cost really come into play for most of us. It really takes an amazing level of obliviousness to the customer base you serve to understand so little of them.
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