United has its groove back

Old Aug 5, 18, 1:43 pm
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Originally Posted by boat9781 View Post
Is anyone else seeing an improvement and, for as much as we give the airline a hard time, anything commendable youve seen that youd like to share?

My flights to and from Europe last month were flawless. Great crew, nice equipment, on-time, and clean. Nothing but positive comments about them.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post

It's a problem for connecting passengers, like the person earlier in this thread who had to overnight at DEN because they didn't hold the last flight of the day.
I don't agree - connecting passengers are not my problem. And I connect plenty of times, I plan accordingly. I shouldn't have to be penalized because of late connects or people who got to the airport at the last minute.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 2:26 pm
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The hard seats are painful to sit in for more than 20 minutes. I have tried various positions but all of them hurt. The 10 across on all the 777 makes it tough on top of the hard seats. It just seems to be a punishment to select UA. The reliability of their UX operations out of DEN is really bad. The frames that I have been on are terrible to the eye (things broken or falling apart) and mechanical delays confirm they are broken internally too. I am sure they will dial back on the Basic Economy one more time (allow carry on bags) and if AA switches to a 9 across on its 777 then they will follow that too.

Granted if they buckled the 10 across in 777 trend or switched the coach seats to something comfortable, I would have said they are improving but instead it is just getting worse.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Aug 5, 18 at 3:32 pm Reason: discuss the issue;not the poster(s)
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Old Aug 5, 18, 2:29 pm
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Originally Posted by PsiFighter37 View Post

Maybe kettles dont notice, but there have been many times this year where UA races to push back from the gate on time...and then the plane just sits there after theyve shut the door. Its annoying in the same way when you are flying circles above the airport waiting to land due to weather or ATC, and there is no announcement about it - I notice right away, while kettles start getting ticked off once they realize it feels like the plane has been making a constant right turn for 30 minutes. Id rather that UA was more transparent about these kinds of things than they ever are.
That' my experience more often than not also.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
I don't agree - connecting passengers are not my problem. And I connect plenty of times, I plan accordingly. I shouldn't have to be penalized because of late connects or people who got to the airport at the last minute.
D0 doesn't affect you arriving within A14 it's simply a parameter that UA can control... This has been discussed extensively on previous threads...
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Old Aug 5, 18, 4:17 pm
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Originally Posted by dmurphynj View Post

Maybe, if you come from the pmUA side of the house. For me, I’m still trying to claw my way back to my CO life.

If we unwound the merger, right here, right now, the only upside for me was adding E+ to the CO fleet. Otherwise, we could split it back apart, put it back the way things were and I’d be happier in every other single metric.

So, it’s hard for me to say best in 20 years. Since the merger, maybe. But still down from my CO customer
experience, even at its lowest point post-Lorenzo.
Sorry, I disagree. I’d never go back in time. My recent flights have been good to exemplary.

I flew both carriers extensively prior to the merger. On the CO side, my experience dates to the LA-based, pre-TI airline. (Yes, I’m old.) I joined the frequent flyer program when it was still called TravelBank. And I first achieved elite status in the 80s. I started flying UA after relocating to SF in the 90s; got premier status in the early 2000s. I also maintained memberships in both PC and RCC for years. I reject the idea that one carrier was significantly better than the other.

Are there things I miss? Sure. Buying a $198 rt on the CO EWR-LAX nonstop and getting free upgrades each way was nice even though at the time I knew it couldn’t last. But both lines had their warts. Integrating People Express/Frontier into CO made the CO-UA combo seem like cake. And I still feel dread thinking about the Shuttle and TED.

I moved to academia and stopped traveling often for business several years ago. These days, I mostly fly international for vacations and domestic to visit family/friends. I’ve also gotten to where I just buy F/J tickets rather than play the upgrade game. I’ve sampled enough other premium cabins (AA, AS, AY, KL, LH, SA, VS, VX) to feel comfortable giving my own money to UA when they offer a nonstop.

We’re on UA 990 to CDG in a few days. Sure I’m hoping for a retrofitted 772 (only three currently I believe so the odds aren’t good) but an IPTE bird will be fine. I sleep very well in the seat; I’m also going with my better half so deep down might even prefer the aisle-window pair while it lasts.
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Last edited by markedcw; Aug 5, 18 at 4:25 pm
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Old Aug 5, 18, 4:36 pm
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Originally Posted by itsMoe View Post
I'm torn on this. On the plus side:
  • Crews and staff in general seem more engaged and less apathetic
  • I like that 1kvoice now calls you back instead of sending you an email that is clearly comprised of pre-written text blocks
  • Compared to a couple of years ago, the reinstatement of some perks (free food in domestic Y for 1ks, etc.
  • Better and more food in United Clubs
  • Polaris hard- and soft product
  • Polaris lounges - although let's be clear, these are basically F lounges, not business lounges.
  • Oscar Munoz
On the minus side:
  • I've had bad luck with operational reliability. 8 out of my last 10 flights had issues ranging from broken APU to in-flight problems necessitating a diversion.
  • What's with the lack of proper meals on sub-4 hour flights in domestic F?
  • Only major US airline to forge ahead with 10-abreast seating on the 777. Seriously?
  • "Everyday awards"
  • No more showers in United clubs.
  • The stupid auto-splitting of PNRs during OLCI, and the inability to piece them back together
  • Forced credit card sales pitches in the air.
  • Scott Kirby

I am very torn as well, so I'd like to offer up my list:

On the plus side
  • Service has been visibly better, especially in the air, and for myself also over the phone. The only thing I think needs improving is just the way meals are being passed out. Passengers aren't barn animals, so we're not here for a feeding.
  • The Polaris lounges are an improvement for when you fly Polaris.
  • I agree that 1Kvoice seems to be more responsive than ever (but I've never received a phone call).
  • Their social media team is amazing. Responsive, but if you're there for schedule issues, the only thing they can do is to offer you a canned response (which is understandable).
  • The 10-across seating on the 777-300ERs. My first flight was from SFO-HKG, and the moment I sat down my elbows landed on the armrests (and I am a skinny guy). That's when I knew it's going to be bad for the 14-hour flight. How is this humane? Maybe some folks have read the recent NYTimes article on how some CEOs travel economy for "some of the time" and United's Munoz declined an interview? I am sure "all of the time" they were flying domestic.
  • Bottled water in economy on long hauls.

On the minus side
  • Operations are not at its best. I've had flight delays cancellations and such. The schedule padding is so amazing that even with a 2-hour boarding delay on an international flight, we've managed to "make up time" so in the end we're only delayed by 40 minutes.
  • Polaris food isn't really up to par with that of other airlines.
  • United Club is just sad.
  • Miles devaluation.
  • All of those ads before you watch any show. I seriously cannot watch another Checkpoint nor Marriott ad EACH TIME I select something to watch.
  • Food in economy is just gross. The sandwich is just nasty. Then generic ice cream on long-hauls. C'mon, they have Haagen-Dazs on NH. You can do better.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 4:37 pm
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Originally Posted by itsMoe View Post
  • Only major US airline to forge ahead with 10-abreast seating on the 777. Seriously?
AA was 10 abreast as early as 2013, and still is.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 4:38 pm
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Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
I have had the exact opposite experience. I am flying 2-4 days a week at the moment and 99% of the trips are delayed, cancelled or misconnected. Case in point yesterday. PDX-DEN delayed 40 minutes due to late inbound crew. That made my connection 8 minutes. Land in DEN at the time my plane to NY is departing. They didn't hold it for me even though I'm a 1K in first class on the last flight of the day. The most the plane would have had to wait was 10 minutes. So I misconnected and was forced to overnight in DEN. Sure, that's just one example. But every single flight I'm on is delayed (usually late inbound).

To me this has been the Summer of Hell that they were advertising a few years back.

I'm with you on this. I realize it's all impossible to predict but just last night they held our flight 29 minutes so 1 (one!!) guy (who other pax said got lost on a late connection and went the wrong way) could meander to the gate. No status whatsoever based on his BP. Meanwhile, I've had 2 scenarios this summer where the door was shut early for this 1k in F. Wifi still not working on >2/3 of my flights (yes I keep track).

So yes there seems to be some general operational improvements and planes are packed, but the food is still deplorable and there's other issues.

On the plus side, as others have mentioned, very quick responses by 1K voice and a general improvement in onboard service.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 5:22 pm
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Originally Posted by dmurphynj View Post

Maybe, if you come from the pmUA side of the house. For me, Im still trying to claw my way back to my CO life.

If we unwound the merger, right here, right now, the only upside for me was adding E+ to the CO fleet. Otherwise, we could split it back apart, put it back the way things were and Id be happier in every other single metric.

So, its hard for me to say best in 20 years. Since the merger, maybe. But still down from my CO customer
experience, even at its lowest point post-Lorenzo.
I feel the same way, but about pmUA.

We had:
1. A descent international F seat (not service)
2. International F lounges that were actually peaceful with good champagne (again, the Polaris lounges are nice but they are just packed)
3. SEA-NRT and an airline with a loyal fan base in Seattle (who all now fly Delta)
4. Useful tag flights such as GRU-GIG, SYD-MEL, and HKG-SIN

The tangible GS benefits have actually become better since the merger, but my desire to spent time on UA planes (crammed into Polaris coffins) has gone way, way down.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 5:32 pm
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by dmurphynj View Post

Maybe, if you come from the pmUA side of the house. For me, Im still trying to claw my way back to my CO life.

Originally Posted by kevanyalowitz View Post
I feel the same way, but about pmUA.

You're both correct! That was the "genius" of the United merger.

They managed to combine the worst features of both CO and UA.

It's taken this long to climb almost half-way back from the depths of that original merger snafu.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 6:59 pm
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Originally Posted by adambrau View Post
IMHO I think the aviation industry has declined because most passengers, looking to fly, purchase the least expensive ticket, and airlines have been in a race to the bottom to deliver that.
This hits the nail on the head: the US airlines are giving American flyers what they want. If they weren't, then the low-cost/low service seats would go empty and a higher priced/full-service airline would survive.

In the spirit of itsMoe, MarkedCW and sfsouthbay, I offer my opinion and appraisal of whence we've come for US airlines since I started flying for business in the last 30 years. For context, in addition to flying UA and CO, I have almost 2MM on AA and these days when I fly internationally, it's Polaris and domestically F or Y (on my own dime).

Were seats better in "the old days"? In coach, yes; In business and first class, yes for domestic, no for international (I remember many an overnight international flight with reclining seats that were not fully flat or only reclined 6 to 8 inches). In approximately 20 international long-haul trips since it was introduced, I have yet to experience the Polaris hard product, but am looking forward to doing so.
Was food and wine better? Yes, in all classes. And, CO kept serving full meals in Y long after others had stopped.
Were the Presidents Clubs and the Red Carpet Clubs less crowded? Yes. I have, however, experienced the Polaris Lounge in EWR, and it was excellent!
Was in-flight service better? Yes--even on domestic F, I felt that a higher level of service and that you were actually part of a special group.
The UA app is excellent; remember having to do everything over the phone or in person (or have a travel agent do it)?
Aside from this guy (https://everything2.com/title/Gerard+Finneran), were passengers better behaved? I think so, but I would ask any airline personnel or FT'ers to weigh in on this one!

On the downside:

Remember having one movie on a pull-down screen (or two if it was a long flight)? Or the tiny screens that rotated down from the overhead?
Since 9/11, I get the distinct feeling that some (but not all) FA's have used the increased emphasis on security and support from Homeland Security as an excuse to stop going the extra mile, trying, and rather lord the threat of "if you give me any pushback, I am going to have the federal marshals or TSA on you in an instant".
If not in E+ when traveling Y, the seats are tough to bear on flights longer than 3 hours.
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Last edited by BeanTownBoy; Aug 5, 18 at 10:12 pm
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Old Aug 5, 18, 7:09 pm
Join Date: Aug 2014
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I fly TPAC every other week

I can say that in the last month I've had the pleasure of meeting the best all around Economy Crew I've experienced in 46 odd trips, then also experienced the same as my general expectation from the other 45 trips.

There seems to be some improvement, but there seems to be a lot of opportunity still!

Food, snacks, entertainment can all get improved, not asking for the unrealistic, but just a realistic look at what the competition is doing and getting better could go a long way, LOL
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Old Aug 5, 18, 7:16 pm
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UA customer service has improved, no one can deny that. On-time % has improved, thats a fact. Everyone will have different experiences though. I was getting delayed on DL almost every flight.

The United product is no better than Spirit:
- Paper thin seats designed to cause agony
- Food so disgusting in Polaris I would not feed it to my dog.
- Crappy old planes, usually dirty with a crappy Wifi interface that never works. I do not know if a plan of improving the crap United wifi run by gogo. Its expensive too.
- No build in IFE... anywhere in the US. DL wins there.
- United Club - not at all worth a dime, id much rather wander he terminal and get some walking in.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 7:54 pm
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Posts: 710
A lot of the same old same old but I have to agree with how bad the slimline seats are and how bad the food, even in Polaris is. On our last trip from EWR to LHR I opted to take the 9pm departure and just have dinner at home.....the poor quality of the food on our other TALT and TPAC trips made it a no brainer. I guess we have been lucky, first of all I no longer travel for business so getting there on time is not as much of an issue for me but in the past year most of our flights have been on time or even early. Even the baggage claim at EWR is better. Realty for me is EWR is a 40 minute drive, JFK is at least 90 minutes plus all of the tolls and Phil is an hour and 15 minutes so I just keep hoping UA keeps making small steps forward.
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