So I just got an email from United Airlines…

Good news, everyone. Everything is under control!

I just received an email from United Airlines updating me on the progress the company has made in the migration to a single PSS platform which occurred four weeks ago. I cannot help but think of a couple movie scenes that seem rather apropos:

To be fair, I think the situation is a bit more like the latter, than the former, but I’m not really sure that it matters much one way or the other.

Here’s a chunk of what the message includes:

As a Global Services member, you have come to deserve and expect a dependable, rewarding experience from United from end to end. We want to keep you up to date following our recent conversion to a single passenger service system, a single website and a single loyalty program. We know that our customers have experienced various issues since our system conversion. We are working aggressively to resolve the remaining issues promptly. Here is a progress update on key subjects about which we’ve heard from our customers.

  • Customer Service hold times. If you have called or sent us an email recently, you have more than likely experienced delays, in some cases for extended periods. We sincerely apologize for this. We are addressing these high volumes with a combination of system solutions and additional staffing. Be assured this is our top priority, and we are steadily reducing wait times and email backlogs.
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades. Over the past few weeks, we experienced difficulties with our Complimentary Premier Upgrade process. We have stabilized our systems to ensure that upgrades are being processed in a timely manner and in the appropriate order. If your flight is eligible for a Complimentary Premier Upgrade, be assured that you will be automatically added to the upgrade list. Once you have checked in for your flight, you can see where you are on the list by going or our mobile app. Those familiar with the old will notice that this procedure is different from before our system conversion.

    Later this year we will enhance the upgrade process so that at any time you can see your pending upgrade requests. This will take us some time to accomplish, but we know that upgrades are an important Premier benefit and appreciate your patience while we refine this experience.

  • Mileage credit and redeposit. When you take an eligible flight on United, the mileage credit and Premier qualifying activity will appear in your account approximately 72 hours after departure. Flights on a Star Alliance member airline or another airline partner may take a bit longer. If a flight is missing from your account, you can call the MileagePlus Service Center to request the credit, and it will appear in your account approximately three weeks later.

Well, the good news, I suppose, is that they have identified the problems. Hopefully the solutions are coming soon. For what it is worth, my experiences actually haven’t been all that horrendous, though I suppose that’s partly because I understand the underlying platforms pretty well having been using (and abusing) them for many years now. My biggest frustration is actually CSRs who don’t understand the new policies and who are unwilling to do the leg work to figure out the changes when confronted with them. Fortunately, that resistance seems to be lessening.

Oh, and there is the bit of news that they plan to being back the bit about pending upgrade status in the future. Personally I don’t see much value in it, but I suppose enough people kvetching about it missing will see it return.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. A couple days ago I was inquiring about standing by on an earlier flight (1p->7:47a), and I talked to three CSRs, all who thought there was a $75 charge for Golds. On the 3rd, After telling her like 3 times I know it’s free for golds, she still didn’t believe me, but the agent next to her said he thought golds got it for free. He called someone and confirmed that, one minute later I had a ticket for the flight. That experience made me wonder how many Golds paid that fee without knowing they get to standby for free.

  2. The email was insulting, and further proof this company is completely out of touch with reality. Upgrades aren’t fixed, his non-status friend was offered a buy-up to C on an award ticket for $250 less than he was, and when you figure in baggage charges for 2 bags it was $54 to upgrade to C for a lie flat bed, not to mention $7 for 1 drink and $10 for food, that’s a $37 buy up for a GM compared to $369 for a 1K.

    They are in denial or hope we are too stupid to realize the system was not ready and is still not ready and they cannot come to terms with it to admit it.

  3. the old emails I used to get from united airlines always had “Dear Andrew….”. It seems like they don’t care anymore about personality !
    I understand that a ticketing agent at an airport recently said that the continental shares system is a 1968 version of DOS. The co system may have been cheaper to use but I think looking back the apollo system was probably the better system to use . at an airport gate recently I was told by a united gate agent that the continental shares system is not particularly user friendly toward premier reservations
    . One I would think that they would have seen these problems ahead of time …and where is MR. jeff smizik in all of this…. notice on the airline website, the last press release was about hispanic journalists on march 15th. The old UA would have released more press information about the continuing computer system integration issues !

  4. Why wouldn’t you want to see your comp upgrade go from pending to waitlisted once you reach your upgrade window? Much more transparent than reservations magically going to R.

  5. The poblems with the transition suggest a lack of due diligence before hand. I imagine the tech folks could see this coming. I suspect that there was institutional (top down) unwillingness to recognize the costs of doing a proper job of a transition. Fingers crossed, lets wing it and put it of problem fixing until the next quarter. I can hear the mileage plus can being kicked down that bumpy road.

  6. No email for the ‘squeezed middle’ better known as 1Ks. Tends to suggest the suspicion that UACO is no longer interested in us is true.
    For the first time in 20 years I won’t fly 100,000 with them.

  7. As a 1K I got the email too.

    The two people that signed off on the email can be searched via Google and LinkedIn.

    I encourage everyone to go to their LinkedIn profile and “InMail” them and send polite, SHORT to the point emails with your concerns. Keep them SHORT! Nothing says “delete & ignore” like a page long email.

    Jeff Foland
    Executive Vice President
    Mileage Plus

    Martin Hand
    Senior Vice President
    Customer Experience

  8. Let’s not mention that Group Tickets are still horrible. 3 hours on hold to tell me that, not only can they not apply the $100/seat deposit to the ticket price because it was pre-merger, but I should call back in 4 weeks if they haven’t processed my refund.

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