22 Responses

  1. Ben
    Ben at |

    “The iPhone app has seen an update to better match the new UI coming to the website later in 2013 and the airport kiosks have seen similar updates as well.”

    I think you mean 2014.

  2. Danielle J. DeCerbo
    Danielle J. DeCerbo at |

    I’m queued up to get you a Friendly LAX amenity tin on 1/27. That is unless AA 32 saver first opens up.

  3. mike murphy
    mike murphy at |

    I have to say their web online booking with miles ( for overseas flights in our case) is the best of the lot.

  4. Reformed Flyer
    Reformed Flyer at |

    Since the Mileage Plus changed were announced, I already shifted my travel away from UA so that I will no longer be a 1K in 2014, but a mere Platinum. Now, considering the number of UA IRROPS (mechanicals, mice on planes and so on) that I experienced, along with the cavalier way in which UA treats affected passengers, I decided that I will fly even less on UA in 2014, and aim to barely reach 50K flown miles, whereas in the past I regularly achieved 135-160K for several years consecutively.

    I would rather just say NO to that douchebag $mi$ek

  5. Nick
    Nick at |

    They may be more friendly towards the occasional traveler, and I do think they are trying to have more broad appeal and improve the average travelers interactions. This is good. However I feel they have got unfriendly towards actual frequent fliers. I may sound like a broken record but selling upgrades to infrequent customers rather than giving them to those who spend a lot will hurt them in the long run. CO may have got away with it when they had a few fortress hubs, but it’s just not going to work for UA. Their GPU policy is also unfriendly where they do the same thing while people are waitlisted, having already paid for a higher fare for that privilege.
    I suspect they will feel the effect of this in ’14. I have probably spent well over their 1K target spend of $10k a year for the last several but ’14 is a burn year, and I’m just going to fly what is cheapest when I have to pay. I have already spent $5K on other airlines.

  6. Mike
    Mike at |

    Hi Seth,
    First, wanted to mention that I had the pleasure of meeting you a couple of years ago at an FTU event and have always appreciated your blogs and willingness to share your vast knowledge with others on frequent flyer items.

    I definitely agree that United has become less customer friendly. My latest and (final straw) incident was having my luggage heavily damaged (pull handle ripped off and zipper ripped apart at the seams on a roller bag) when I checked it while flying on a 1st Class flight on UA.

    The old “friendly” United would have taken steps to fix or replace my bag. The current United stated that “they are no longer responsible for any damage to checked luggage”. Only when I pointed out that I happened to be an elite member (lowly Silver but one nevertheless), would the person in the baggage claim office give me a UA Baggage Damage claim number. From there started a time eating exercise where I emailed twice and snail mailed once only to get a form letter after 2 months stating that they were reimbursing me for the shipping cost I had incurred to ship my bag to be repaired ($28) and they considered the “matter to be closed”. I guess I should feel lucky that I got anything at all.

    Contrast that to the handling of baggage damage issues (hey damage to luggage does happen) at US or AA (even during their bankruptcy) and it’s obvious to me that things have taken a turn for the worse at UA. It is pretty clear to me that the staff at UA are overworked (over 2 months to reply) and trying to do the best with what they have.

    It’s a real shame, United used to be such an excellent airline. I’m hoping that US/AA don’t go the same way after the merger is completed. Thanks for the opportunity to comment/vent.

  7. Ted S.
    Ted S. at |

    This is kind of old news, but also, Channel 9 is slowly disappearing from United. Some may not care, but for us aviation geeks, that’s a big deal. And unfriendly.

  8. Scottrick
    Scottrick at |

    I would like it if they did not force the whole “Flyer Friendly” message quite so much. I can understand reading from a script when they do the safety briefing. Reading from a script about how they are trying to make the world’s most flyer friendly airline sounds disingenuous.

  9. Ezra
    Ezra at |

    I fly ~50k miles/year on United out of NYC and find myself considering a switch to Delta. The changes at United that you and others mention are concerning to me, but I’d be more interested in learning how the changes at United compare to the alternatives (eg, Delta). For example, it’s easy to hear about PQD spending requirements on United and think that it’s terrible and I should switch…but it appears to be a new industry standard as others such as Delta are implementing the same change.

  10. Ryan E
    Ryan E at |

    I think UA’s Friendly Skies campaign is very much tone deaf and disingenuous, in light of how things are with the airline lately. Not that its competitors haven’t disappointed me in some ways either. But UA has really gone off the rails, IMHO.

    Though its FFP isn’t great, I feel I’m treated better and have a superior flight experience on Delta. I’ve recently flown WN for the first time in 15+ years and I can’t say UA has anything that much more compelling for short domestics, aside from an FFP where I can redeem for international travel.

  11. Carl
    Carl at |

    Two things bother me about the direction in which UA is headed.

    The first is that virtually ever change they are making is focused on cost cutting, virtually without regard for its revenue impact or its customer impact. While you say not all of them are flyer friendly, reality is that virtually every change has been flyer unfriendly. Other than ancillary revenue efforts, it doesn’t seem like UA is doing much if anything to attract higher fares. UA once was clearly superior in product compare to NW on Asia flights. It’s like they are giving up on trying to compete with DL on product quality.

    The second is that UA behaves like it has a lack of candor, forthrightness and integrity. I can cite dozens of examples, whether it’s the communication regarding removing Singapore Airlines inventory from the website or the communication when they replaced the decent tasting Starbucks with the dreck from Freshbrew and told us it has won a taste test. But it seems to go on and on. It even feels like internally UA doesn’t listen to front line employees or customers. It’s as if the emperor has no clothes but everyone is afraid to tell him the truth… Even if they still win a Mileage Plus contest, UA is coming out in last place on every consumer survey. Then you have to discount to fill you seats. Downward spiral. Really seems like they need a wake-up call. They’ve only been spared because of the industry-wide capacity discipline. Maybe they’ll get another gift if the AA-US merger goes badly, but if it goes well, UA will continue to have revenue problems based on the path they are on.

  12. Blake
    Blake at |

    For me, it’s the worst form of advertising today (and a slap in the face of Mr Burnett): advertising your product without regard or coordination of what the product is.

    I’m a 1K and a marketing exec. The Burnett campaign came to frame what the legacy United was: great people doing their best for you in every way, backed up by a pretty good hard product. This relaunch tries to put that legacy against a backdrop of unhappy employees (it’s now sport to find the smiles on the PMUA crews), regressive policies and practices (from a UA standpoint). It was shocking to me to see this campaign launched, with pretty nice execution, followed in a few weeks by MileagePlus devaluation and other changes. That pointed out how marketing is just a label at UA now.

    See Delta: Keep Climbing

    Ezra, I may be following you.

    1. Unable to discloseName
      Unable to discloseName at |

      You have mentioned an interesting point. I was also thinking as, why UNITED chose to re-define the meaning of Friendly Skies with old marketing music and concept, and devaluated products, when it could have instead “re-invent” itself as a new global airline.

  13. Walter Palmer
    Walter Palmer at |

    I’m leaving tomorrow for an international itinerary and only discovered that my opening leg is canceled because I looked to see about on-line check in. No notification from United and no option for rebooking options online. I’ve tried calling in 7 times now and been disconnected because they are “having technical difficulties.” I’ve submitted web form and email but no response as of yet.

    Is this how United typically operates? I’m a Delta flyer and not used to this level of service. I’m flying business class on Star Alliance but cannot imagine the difficulties I’m going to have getting there given what is going on now.

  14. Dimitri
    Dimitri at |

    Not very friendly in MHO

  15. Unable to discloseName
    Unable to discloseName at |

    Here is another flyer-friendly skies improvement: UNITED has completely eliminated pre-meal coctail snacks (small pretzel) on all international flights effective immediately.

  16. Nw
    Nw at |

    All of these negative changes started at the top. JS is not an Airline friendly guy. He’s bean counter who appears clueless on what it takes to make the customer and the employee’s happy, and manages with an Iron fist. Does this sound “Friendly”

  17. SAM
    SAM at |

    Mr Seth,
    as a retired employee of UA it pains me to read what you wrote and the ensuing comments from loyal former UA customers, not because they are not true, but because they are.
    YOU, the travelling public are the only ones who can change this spiral decline and possible demise of what was once a great company.
    From the way the new management started treating the retirees from the moment they took over, we knew that it was going to be a VERY bumpy ride for all, most of all for YOU our customers.
    Yes their words have not matched their actions since the takeover – takeover is correct because merger is another word that does not match the action-, this is a very autocratic leadership that has made it clear that any idea that do no match theirs will result in the departure of the person holding and expressing those ideas, a sure blueprint to failure.
    Thank you for speaking up, hopefully the BOD will hear you loud and clear, I hate to see my dedication and hard work of 36 years being erased by an inept leader with a golden parachute.

  18. Andrea
    Andrea at |

    I would say not – in fact, everyone I talk to says service has gone downhill since the merger. We flew United First domestic recently and were astounded at how little our status got us. The flight attendant in our cabin was so rude and snarky. And my father is a Premier 1K member and not impressed either with their staff onboard. I agree with you, false advertising only drives up expectations and makes things worse when they aren’t met. I’ve actually received better service in economy class – in terms of friendliness – but to me the real mark of an airline is what you get as a premium customer.

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    […] I’m mostly convinced that the “Friendly” campaign is failing right now because the company policies are either unpublished, internally inconsistent, asinine or some combination thereof. And with such a combination the employees either don’t understand them or don’t care enough to use them in a “friendly” manner. And that mostly sucks as there was a pretty good opportunity for this to be a successful recovery from the rather unfortunate operational debacle the carrier had gone through over the prior year. […]

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