Home Airlines I Was Right – United Airlines Doesn’t Deserve Your Business

I Was Right – United Airlines Doesn’t Deserve Your Business

by joeheg

The last time I flew on a United aircraft was in June of 2017. That’s almost 3 years. At the beginning of 2018, I decided that we wouldn’t be flying with them anymore. It wasn’t a decision I made because of any problems we had on a United flight. Instead, it was my way to say that I felt United’s management didn’t appreciate or even care about their passengers. After beating passengers, killing pets, and leggingsgate (well not so much this one), I didn’t want to reward the company with any of my bookings.

Here’s what I said about my decision:

So here I am, making the only decision I can make as a customer. Walk with my money. Not give it to them anymore. Cut ties with places that do, like getting rid of my co-brand credit card with Chase and telling them why I am doing so. No longer using the United shopping portal or Mileage Plus X app. Dropping the dining program. Not earning any more miles in their program. PERIOD! (Well, I’ll earn just enough miles to keep my account active). Otherwise, I’m done. I’m out.

I caught a bunch of grief about my decision.

From the haters

terrible, lazily researched and written article. United has been just the opposite for me and my family, showing nothing but promise and positivity. Check out the stock price too as Wall Street agrees with me. Your loss in avoiding a great airline.

to the basic trolls

Pathetic rant.

and United’s Fanboys

This article is absurd. I fly United about 2-3 times per month (based at ORD) and have not had a bad flight with them in years. They’ve worked very hard to improve their service and on-time performance. I can be a picky traveler, but I haven’t had any issues with any UA employees. They’re generally very courteous and professional. And I’ve flown through every one of their hubs in the past year. No issues.

I hate to tell all of you, but I was right.

My chief complaint with United was with their management, not with their day to day workers. I felt that the corporate suite wasn’t making the right decisions and that customer-unfriendly policies work their way through corporate DNA.

Unless changes were made at the top, nothing would change. Events this weekend prove my point.

Amid the biggest crisis for the travel industry since 9/11, United changed their policy with regards to issuing refunds due to schedule changes. As per this post on Frequent Miler:

In the past, United Airlines allowed you to get a refund if they changed your flight schedule and it would get you to your destination more than two hours after the original arrival time. They’ve now changed this policy so that if they change your flights, you’ll only be eligible for a refund if it results in you arriving at your destination 25 hours or more after your original arrival time.

Social media channels blew up, blasting United for a sudden change in policy. United was canceling flights due to decreased demand while passengers were looking to rebook flights due to fear of illness. Perfect time to make a considerable change to the rules.

United realized that they weren’t going to get away with this, so they suddenly (again) changed their policy. Gary from View From the Wing writes:

After a swift backlash in social media, United will now let customers cancel and retain a travel credit without a change fee in the event United changes flight schedules 2 or more hours. The credit must be used within 15 months of the original ticketing date (up from the usual 12 months for a credit). United still won’t give refunds unless the schedule change is at least 25 hours. A two-hour schedule change had entitled a customer to a refund before this policy change.

Final Thoughts

Guess what? I am sure glad I didn’t have any flights booked with United. Delta allowed me to change a flight for free when my plans were changed. I was also able to cancel a flight on Southwest and get all my miles refunded for free, which is their usual policy.

Only United has instituted policies that are more strict in the middle of this crisis. It just goes to show that the only thing they care about is the bottom line. Passengers are only a means to reach that end, and it matters not if we’re inconvenienced by the changes they make to hold onto their revenue.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Paul March 10, 2020 - 9:46 am

I, like you, have avoided flying on United for a number of years despite being a MM. It wasn’t a particular incident, but many small actions that led to a feeling that United didn’t value my business or loyalty. Individual agents were helpful, but limited in their response capability or direction.

United management seemed to feel that they could always fill their seats, so attitudes changed to where every passenger was a price point and valued by how much could be earned at every opportunity.

The time has arrived where they may not be able to fill their seats and where a reservoir of good will would be a helpful commodity. United may have exhausted theirs and it may prove costly. People have long memories when it comes to having felt misused, mistreated and under valued. United consistently proves that they can kick themselves when they are down.

Greg March 10, 2020 - 10:33 am

AA and DL aren’t saints – airlines are among the most loathed companies in America

There are other blogs that don’t shove a banner ad at the top of the page, forcing me to scroll to read the article. I guess i will only patronize them.

That’s how silly you sound.

xyeahtony March 10, 2020 - 3:44 pm

and yet you took the time to read the article haha

Gus Byee March 10, 2020 - 7:43 pm

Bye Felicia

Rob March 10, 2020 - 11:10 am

Totally agree here. I’m not sure how a business traveler is able to find value here – if you’re traveling on a deadline, United’s new policy discourages purchasing new tickets, especially where its competitors have done the opposite with regard to cancellations. If I need to be somewhere by a certain time and I am only guaranteed a refund if my flight won’t get there more than a day late, there is little value proposition in taking United.

FF78 March 10, 2020 - 2:52 pm

My sentiments were the same, which is why I’ve moved all of my domestic business to SWA, overseas business flights to European or Asian carriers. I have a flexible points card that lets me credit places other than the Big 3. I have spared myself the misery. Good riddance. Scott Kirby is doing a stellar job making people nostalgic for Jeff Smisek. As much as UA continues to stain their brand, I doubt AA will make it past the Summer unless they get really, really small, really, really fast.

Lucas March 10, 2020 - 9:26 pm

Same here. Was one a top tier freq trav with United and many times I was treated as they didn’t care about keeping me as customer. Returned my credit card and used the miles. Never again I flew United for the last 4 years. I am now a executive platinum with AA. They are not much better but at least you can see they try harder when you are a frequent traveller.

Christian March 10, 2020 - 10:30 pm

The management team from AmericaWest was fine for a smallish regional airline but they’ve proven to be monumentally inept at managing large global airlines. In a terrible way it’s actually kind of impressive just how much damage Kirby and Parker have managed to inflict on USAir, American and now United as well. When you’re making Delta look (more or less) good by comparison, you know you’ve got some major problems. Maybe if any of the Big 3 airlines had a CEO who actually considered having an airline people actually want to fly as the number one priority, they’d get somewhere. Instead they view customers as self-loading cargo at best and an adversary that they’re forced to do business with at worst. Good thing that way too much consolidation and gigantic subsidies have made it almost impossible for any of the Big 3 to disappear or they’d have gone away years ago.


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