United Airlines - 2 experiences

Old Apr 15, 15, 9:37 am
  #1  
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United Airlines - 2 experiences

Hi I've been a member here for a while but not posted before, I used to be a regular flyer (United 1k for many years pre merger)but owing to work changes most flying now is leisure.

I recently took the family on United to Florida and had a couple of experiences and wasn't sure if they were the norm now.

Firstly Flying SAN-MCO via IAH, our flight our of SAN is delayed, as we will miss our connection I call and rebook the second leg on a later flight. The wife and son flying on a first class ticket redeemed using miles are confirmed in first class on the later flight, however due to space issues I (flying on a paid first class ticket - with a lap child) am put into economy. When I question that there is available space in premium economy and why didn't they ticket me there at least, I am told they will gladly sell me an economy plus seat for $49 ! , Can't put me there for free I have to pay !

Is this normal practice or should they have put me in an economy plus seat ? Just not sure how this works now I no longer have status with them.

As it happens it didn't make any difference as our plane was delayed 5 hours and we had to catch an even later connection that had availability for all of us in first class, but just wondered what the standard practice was.

Secondly flying back ORD-IAH we are sat in the boarding area and behind us are 2 united flight attendants (maybe husband and wife not sure) who are obviously waiting to get a trip somewhere , I believe they were discussing getting to AZ or NV, they are arguing a little as the flight is fully booked and they don't think they are going to get on it , he thinks she should have chosen a different route or flight time.

Anyways we board and about half way through the process she comes down the aisle and takes a seat . Once boarding is complete, an announcement comes over the cabin stating "we have a weight and balance issue and need a volunteer to get off the plane, we will offer $400 plus meal vouchers if we have no volunteers we will have to pick someone" . After a few mins a passenger leaves the plane presumably having accepted the offer. Shortly thereafter, he (the second flight attendant) boards the plane and takes the seat vacated by the recently departed passenger ! So much for a weight and balance issue I think to myself !

Again just a general question but is this standard practice at united or outside the norm.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by Sanman68 View Post
Hi I've been a member here for a while but not posted before, I used to be a regular flyer (United 1k for many years pre merger)but owing to work changes most flying now is leisure.

I recently took the family on United to Florida and had a couple of experiences and wasn't sure if they were the norm now.

Firstly Flying SAN-MCO via IAH, our flight our of SAN is delayed, as we will miss our connection I call and rebook the second leg on a later flight. The wife and son flying on a first class ticket redeemed using miles are confirmed in first class on the later flight, however due to space issues I (flying on a paid first class ticket - with a lap child) am put into economy. When I question that there is available space in premium economy and why didn't they ticket me there at least, I am told they will gladly sell me an economy plus seat for $49 ! , Can't put me there for free I have to pay !

Is this normal practice or should they have put me in an economy plus seat ? Just not sure how this works now I no longer have status with them.

As it happens it didn't make any difference as our plane was delayed 5 hours and we had to catch an even later connection that had availability for all of us in first class, but just wondered what the standard practice was.

Secondly flying back ORD-IAH we are sat in the boarding area and behind us are 2 united flight attendants (maybe husband and wife not sure) who are obviously waiting to get a trip somewhere , I believe they were discussing getting to AZ or NV, they are arguing a little as the flight is fully booked and they don't think they are going to get on it , he thinks she should have chosen a different route or flight time.

Anyways we board and about half way through the process she comes down the aisle and takes a seat . Once boarding is complete, an announcement comes over the cabin stating "we have a weight and balance issue and need a volunteer to get off the plane, we will offer $400 plus meal vouchers if we have no volunteers we will have to pick someone" . After a few mins a passenger leaves the plane presumably having accepted the offer. Shortly thereafter, he (the second flight attendant) boards the plane and takes the seat vacated by the recently departed passenger ! So much for a weight and balance issue I think to myself !

Again just a general question but is this standard practice at united or outside the norm.
There are a lot of issues raised in your trip report and it's not clear what exactly you're asking about.

I believe it is the case that United Continental is currently rated as the worst airline in the country besides Frontier.

http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/five-w...es-in-america/

So, at a macro level, none of this is surprising.

One specific thing I can comment on is the refusal to give you E+ without "paying for it."

When I had status that gave me free access to E+, and I tried to make a seat change into an E+ seat from an E- seat at about 45 minutes before boarding at the gate (because an E+ seat had just opened up then), the gate agent refused to give it to me, and told me I'd have to pay for it, despite the fact that as a Silver (at the time) I was entitled to get into that seat for free within 24 hours of departure.

So, your experience seems consistent with mine, in a sense, on that particular point.

Is it wrong? Absolutely. Is it normal? Perhaps so.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 9:52 am
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Welcome to FT!

Originally Posted by Sanman68 View Post
When I question that there is available space in premium economy and why didn't they ticket me there at least, I am told they will gladly sell me an economy plus seat for $49 ! , Can't put me there for free I have to pay !

Is this normal practice or should they have put me in an economy plus seat ? Just not sure how this works now I no longer have status with them.
Technically you were not "entitled" to economy plus, but it would have been a nice gesture under the circumstances. It sounds like you did well ultimately to all get rerouted in F. Can be really difficult to find open F seats day of departure these days.

After a few mins a passenger leaves the plane presumably having accepted the offer. Shortly thereafter, he (the second flight attendant) boards the plane and takes the seat vacated by the recently departed passenger ! So much for a weight and balance issue I think to myself !

Again just a general question but is this standard practice at united or outside the norm.
Unless the UA employee was flying for work purposes, that was wrong.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 9:53 am
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Welcome to FlyerTalk, Sanman68!

Was your First Class fare a P fare, not F or A? That may have had something to do with the bump back to E-.

As for the customer service experience, it's hard to say what is the norm anymore. In recent months, flying weekly, I've witnessed everything from outright lying (3 lies in quick succession, rebutted 3 times by me -- sheesh) to above-and-beyond service. The norm has been about the same as it was before the merger.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 9:53 am
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If you were in F originally, you are owed a refund/compensation for being displaced to economy.

There is no "premium economy" on UA, at least in comparison to other airlines where its a separate class. UA has one economy class cabin, with the opportunity to buy up to a seat with more legroom within that cabin.


In your second scenario, assuming what transpired is exactly what you observed and reported here (sometimes other stuff is going on we don't see), that is NOT policy, but many here would say they've seen similar things happen from time to time. Not standard practice but not completely unusual either.

Last edited by JBord; Apr 15, 15 at 9:55 am Reason: re-read post
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Old Apr 15, 15, 9:54 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Unless the UA employee was flying for work purposes, that was wrong.
If a PAX had to be offloaded for weight and balance purposes, and then a UA employee was added, how can that not be wrong?

Doesn't a UA employee have the same weight whether they are flying for work or personal reasons?
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Old Apr 15, 15, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Technically you were not "entitled" to economy plus, but it would have been a nice gesture under the circumstances.
So an elite isn't entitled to an E+ seat despite the circumstances? That's friendly for you.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by FlyWorld View Post
If a PAX had to be offloaded for weight and balance purposes, and then a UA employee was added, how can that not be wrong?
Offering VDB comp to open a seat for an employee traveling on UA business would not be improper.

UA employees give the wrong reasons for stuff all the time.

Originally Posted by hans View Post
So an elite isn't entitled to an E+ seat despite the circumstances? That's friendly for you.
Where did you get that OP is a UA elite?
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Old Apr 15, 15, 10:03 am
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The fare was an A class ticket paid cash, not upgraded in anyway. I would have thought if they were bumping me down the least they would do is put me in premium economy from First rather than normal E.

I take the point on the refund I would be due, not sure what the fare difference would have been but seeing I eventually flew in F anyways , I'll take the $75 voucher they offered for the delayed flight and move on.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 10:10 am
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Where did you get that OP is a UA elite?[/QUOTE]

I'm not any more, just a lowly member, I was 1K for many years but recently haven't been flying united as much. Post merger I seemed to lose out on most upgrades and didn't see the point in retaining loyalty.

Since most of my long hauls (and I only do 1 or 2 a year now) are SAN-LHR I've been using the BA direct flight rather than fly UA and have to make a connection. It reduces the travel time so much.

For any domestic flying I do I just find the cheapest and most convenient F class fare with any airline and fly that.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Sanman68 View Post

united incompetence

Again just a general question but is this standard practice at united or outside the norm.
yup. They are the unfriendly skies (but more profitable).
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Old Apr 15, 15, 1:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Sanman68 View Post
is this standard practice at united or outside the norm.
Flights delayed for hours, so you miss the connection?: not outside the norm
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Old Apr 15, 15, 2:38 pm
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we have a weight and balance issue and need a volunteer to get off the plane, we will offer $400 plus meal vouchers if we have no volunteers we will have to pick someone
Come on, folks. Even if you can't smell a lie when it's wafted in front of your noses, this is quite patently one, given that a UA employee then took the vacated seat. Enough of the B/S about "we don't know what was going on behind the scenes". Of course we do. "Weight and balance issue" ? You gotta be joking. This is one pax we're talking about, not an elephant.

You'd hardly have expected them to announce "We need to get an empty seat for one of our own, so, rather than screwing some poor s.o.b. whose livelihood might depend on being on this plane by bumping him, we'd much rather that someone who doesn't desperately need to be on this flight took our generous compensation offer. But if no one volunteers, screw is what we will do." At least that would be honest, but of course it wouldn't help their image. They opted for the image, not the honesty. End of story.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 2:48 pm
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OP, I suggest writing a short/just the facts mail (the VDB issue is particularly galling) to [email protected].

His office is usually quite responsive.
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Old Apr 15, 15, 4:54 pm
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Originally Posted by malgudi View Post
OP, I suggest writing a short/just the facts mail (the VDB issue is particularly galling) to [email protected].

His office is usually quite responsive.
On the W&B issue? What was the damage to the OP? The OP saw something that looked suspicious but was not directly impacted. Most VDB passagners (since they volunteer) are happy to get the VDB.

On the first issue, again no actual harm after the initial delay. The no E+ access for displaced F is standard UA policy. But the OP eventually did flight in F.

Neither issue a shining moment for UA but OP was not really impacted (outside of the initial flight delay).
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