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A Cautionary tale -- United, GS, 1K -- Wake up call...

A Cautionary tale -- United, GS, 1K -- Wake up call...

Old Apr 19, 2024, 11:44 am
  #61  
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Originally Posted by bmwe92fan
As many of you know I have been GS for many years -- but due to some life changes post COVID I travelled a bit less on UA this past year and was offered a challenge to get back to GS -- spend $18k in 4 months and you can stay GS.... Given that my wife and I live and work in both Tokyo and NYC this was a no brainer -- as the ability to upgrade economy award tickets to J on UA was an amazing perk -- even if the soft product sucks -- as we all know it does....
Sorry about the experience at ZGH during irregular operation.
I have been cheering for your GS status run. I fully understand why you are doing it. I am in similar boat with my significant other and I have commitments in Asia/Oceania outside of work. GS status saves us a lot of $, Like you, I can live with the bad food, but the benefits to sit in J on long haul using awards/PPs is well worth the GS status.

Congratulations on earning GS for another year. I am glad I don't need to requalify.

Originally Posted by Schultzois
This goes back around 20 years now but I learned back then that UA doesnt care about paid fares and only thinks about status passengers. I was on a paid F (not J) back when they stil had such a product. I think the 767 back then seated 10 in a 2 row 2-1-2 configuration. I am ready and willing to board. They kept asking oh are you global services and kept getting sent around whilst they boarded almost half the plane.

I still got my seat but as a full fare passenger in their highest cabin I felt like it was bad form. The cabin only seated ten so it seemed odd to wait for all these more important people on lower fares and lower cabins to go ahead of me.
+1. High value passenger in paid J should be treated better.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 11:45 am
  #62  
 
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I think the lesson here on what really, really matters is GS at least gives you a chance of reasonable service in irrops.

I dropped to 1K last year after many years as a GS and found essentially no difference given the degradation of GS benefits, but also a lack of serious travel disruptions. This year down to plat and had a vicious reminder of the GS difference when a Phillipines (?) based agent wouldn't move me to a later connection when it was clear I was going to blow mine (departing flight at a once-per-day outstation not showing delay even though inbound in-air and scheduled to arrive beyond our scheduled departure). GS "protection" days may be spotty, but don't think I would've had that issue with a GS agent.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 11:49 am
  #63  
 
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25-30 years ago I was 1K for a few years when 1K was special (1K rooms, carnations in lapels, cookies at the holidays, etc.) UA employees would move heaven and earth during IRROPs to get me where I was going. I think it was 1994 or 1995 on a delayed flight from PHL when I was met in the jetway of Stapleton (by an agent with a carnation), handed a first class COPM boarding pass and driven in a golf cart to the gate where they closed the door behind me on the last flight heading west of the night. I know that no other passenger on my flight made it to the west coast that day.

I suspect, but don't know the numbers, that GS today is a similar proportion of passengers to 1K back then. The more things change... Since then, of course, UA IT is 10x better so self service is a lot easier, but still when the fit really hits the shan, you won't get a lot of special service at any tier below GS.

For me 1K > Plat for the plus points, the pre-board (especially on RJs), and the occasional message/phone agent who can do something complex. For every other benefit I value (E+ at booking, *A lounge) I can get it at Gold.

So for me it is GS (in my dreams) then a cliff, then 1K, then a big hill, then PLT and Gold hanging out together on the knoll overlooking the great unwashed. I don't think I could fly United Economy without at least Gold.

Edited to add: Since I am LT Gold, I don't have to experience that horror.
Also, some may find value in complimentary upgrades, I fly out of SFO, so that is neither a possibility nor a consideration.

Last edited by The Man in Seat 9A; Apr 19, 2024 at 11:58 am
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:02 pm
  #64  
 
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Originally Posted by The Man in Seat 9A
25-30 years ago I was 1K for a few years when 1K was special (1K rooms, carnations in lapels, cookies at the holidays, etc.) UA employees would move heaven and earth during IRROPs to get me where I was going. I think it was 1994 or 1995 on a delayed flight from PHL when I was met in the jetway of Stapleton (by an agent with a carnation), handed a first class COPM boarding pass and driven in a golf cart to the gate where they closed the door behind me on the last flight heading west of the night. I know that no other passenger on my flight made it to the west coast that day.

I suspect, but don't know the numbers, that GS today is a similar proportion of passengers to 1K back then. The more things change... Since then, of course, UA IT is 10x better so self service is a lot easier, but still when the fit really hits the shan, you won't get a lot of special service at any tier below GS.

For me 1K > Plat for the plus points, the pre-board (especially on RJs), and the occasional message/phone agent who can do something complex. For every other benefit I value (E+ at booking, *A lounge) I can get it at Gold.

So for me it is GS (in my dreams) then a cliff, then 1K, then a big hill, then PLT and Gold hanging out together on the knoll overlooking the great unwashed. I don't think I could fly United Economy without at least Gold.
In 1995, I was met at the gate at SFO by a an agent while debarking from a delayed feeder flight. I was certain that I was going to miss my flight to Tokyo but she said that the Captain was holding the plane for 10 mins and that we needed to run. We ran to a security door and she buzzed us through, and then we went down into a tunnel that went under the tarmac. We ran to the end of the tunnel and popped-up one gate away from my flight. She walked me onboard and thanked me for being a 1K. Those were the days! Oh, and my baggage made it too!
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:11 pm
  #65  
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Originally Posted by bmwe92fan
Here is my tracker as of this morning -- haven't received any credit for the ZRH - LHR - EWR $6.7k spend yet...
While generally flights post in less than an hour, in irrops it can take 2 days. This delay of posting is not uncommon
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:14 pm
  #66  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
While generally flights post in less than an hour, in irrops it can take 2 days. This delay of posting is not uncommon
I also think that the GS update only occurs overnight - the miles and spend have already hit my account so Im thinking tonight when it runs my status will be updated.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:16 pm
  #67  
 
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Originally Posted by findark
The main benefit was being able to call in, rarely with a hold, and have (usually) reasonably competent agents rebook me the way I dictate to them. That's been okay at lower status levels too, but the difference in hold times is the most noticeable thing.

If you're not willing to fend for yourself with all your effort, US carriers are probably not the best choice, or you can get a real TA. It's the American way.
Pretty much this. I will say the preboarding is nice, and I'm nearly 100% on upgrades this year, but the main benefit of 1K this year has been calling in at absolutely weird hours of the night and having an agent pickup after one or two rings and figuring out whatever I need (granted, I do have to hand hold them through it, but at least it gets done the way I want).

Realistically, no US carrier offers a true white glove service experience, and even the Asian airlines struggle to a certain degree (e.g. waited an hour on hold to speak with an ANA phone rep).
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:17 pm
  #68  
 
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Originally Posted by bmwe92fan
You didn't miss it -- it is in another thread. We live in Tokyo and NYC and travel back and forth regularly (we own homes in both). The ability to upgrade economy award tickets to business class has saved us a ton of money over the years -- it's the one remaining GS benefit that has real value to us -- so spending $14k to get that ability back is worth it to us as we will use it at least 8 more times this year. With the pricing of J class tickets to Japan these days it's a financial no-brainer to us!
Thanks for replying. I accept that yours might be an edge case but it does bring up the natural question about how valuable GS passengers are to United. If you're chasing status to ultimately save money flying back and forth between NYC and Tokyo, then are you of higher value to UA than many 1K passengers? This is not a knock at all on what you're doing... I very possibly would do the same in your situation. But it did cause me to rethink whether the standard beliefs on status tier value to UA are actually correct.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:22 pm
  #69  
 
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As a United employee, I am sorry you had this experience. There is a sense amongst some of us that the quality and customer focus is taking a downward spiral. To be candid, there are times I wonder why anyone would fly on us, and other times when everything works, I realize how great we could be if we consistently behaved that way.

Sadly, this problem isn't unique to United but every domestic airline. Sadly, the airlines, not to mention much of corporate America, lack true leadership. Profit has always been put ahead of people, but it is significantly worse now.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:36 pm
  #70  
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Originally Posted by 757FO
As a United employee, I am sorry you had this experience. There is a sense amongst some of us that the quality and customer focus is taking a downward spiral. To be candid, there are times I wonder why anyone would fly on us, and other times when everything works, I realize how great we could be if we consistently behaved that way.

Sadly, this problem isn't unique to United but every domestic airline. Sadly, the airlines, not to mention much of corporate America, lack true leadership. Profit has always been put ahead of people, but it is significantly worse now.
Thanks for the note -- and I truly believe that the VAST majority of UA employees feel the same way (except for a few at EWR but that's for another thread)... To be honest I am not sure she was even an employee of United (the gate attendants at ZRH appeared to work many different flights / airlines) -- but she was very sure about what her job was -- and who it was to serve!

Originally Posted by The Man in Seat 9A

I suspect, but don't know the numbers, that GS today is a similar proportion of passengers to 1K back then. The more things change... Since then, of course, UA IT is 10x better so self service is a lot easier, but still when the fit really hits the shan, you won't get a lot of special service at any tier below GS.
It sure feels like it -- and I do give UA credit for the technology they have -- I can't think of anyone better than them... My options were extremely limited in the app though -- and none would include another airline. The best UA could offer me was waiting for 2 days (the flights out of ZRH have been packed lately). I had visions of Tom Hanks in ZRH as the lounges are not open 24 hours -- and I didn't bring any clothes with me!

By the way - I was in your seat on the way over -- a very popular seat was asked twice if I would switch -- nope!

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 19, 2024 at 12:58 pm Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:39 pm
  #71  
 
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Originally Posted by bmwe92fan
It sure feels like it -- and I do give UA credit for the technology they have -- I can't think of anyone better than them...
As much as I swear at united's site, I have not found any carrier close to their functionality or having less bugs.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:39 pm
  #72  
 
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Originally Posted by narvik
Well, there's a word in Swiss German that captures the essence of that type of person perfectly. It's called a "Bnzli".
I've had my fair share of such encounters at ZRH.
Yup. I had an experience at the Senator lounge there that exemplifies it. The Mileage Plus card in my apple wallet was out of date, so the Bnzli tried to turn me away. When I tried to show her the one in the United App, she waved me away, as in "you didn't get it right the first time, so you have to leave" (!). Pax with unsigned passports have actually been sent back to the U.S. for similar reasons.

The trade-off is you never, ever have people drive slow in the passing lane there! I guess I'll take it.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:41 pm
  #73  
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Originally Posted by 757FO
As a United employee, I am sorry you had this experience. There is a sense amongst some of us that the quality and customer focus is taking a downward spiral. To be candid, there are times I wonder why anyone would fly on us, and other times when everything works, I realize how great we could be if we consistently behaved that way.

Sadly, this problem isn't unique to United but every domestic airline. Sadly, the airlines, not to mention much of corporate America, lack true leadership. Profit has always been put ahead of people, but it is significantly worse now.
Appreciate for being candor! I would mostly agree with your assessment except for Alaska. From my own experience, AS has consistently surpassed my expectations...so much so, I have been flying 75K+ miles a year ex-east coast where AS does not have a robust network, at all.

I think you have hit the nail in the head in your assessment - consistency is a key ingredient which I would implore UA to practice more. Even a bit more of (consistency) and better customer care throughout the flying process would go a long way.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 12:58 pm
  #74  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee
12 year 1K now Gold as of Feb. 1. Haven't really noticed. I found 1K pretty meaningless and not missing it at all (at least not yet). Though it does mean I'm even more likely to book AA, AS, or WN.

I also completely agree with jsloan's self-service airline comment. For me, the trick with UA has always been to know exactly what you want and the path necessary to get it done. It's never been a Four Seasons VIP experience.
Totally agree. 1K got GPUs and PPs, but I was rarely able to use them. Boarding one group earlier? No big deal. Dedicated line? Nice, but I do most changes on the app. On the other hand, I do think being OW Emerald has helped on my latest connection fiasco caused by UA bumping.me out of business class on a direct due to overselling the flight, then putting me on a A to OW connection.
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Old Apr 19, 2024, 1:21 pm
  #75  
 
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Originally Posted by bmwe92fan
Thanks for the note -- and I truly believe that the VAST majority of UA employees feel the same way (except for a few at EWR but that's for another thread)... To be honest I am not sure she was even an employee of United (the gate attendants at ZRH appeared to work many different flights / airlines) -- but she was very sure about what her job was -- and who it was to serve!
Maybe an LX F agent in UA costume.
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