Tuesday, January 11, 2005

United rant

I had to take a trip to a funeral on Sunday that I found out about on Thursday.  In order to try and get the best deal, my dad who is a United Premiere Executive and I called the Premiere Executive special number and spoke to a customer service representative.  The customer service rep provided us with a bereavement fare discount and told me that I could change the departure date back from my destination with no fees.  After I paid for the ticket I went and checked out Expedia -- the "bereavement fare" was double some of the low-cost carriers.

Anyway, the United ticket was not refundable, so I arrived at the airport on Sunday 2.5 hours early and asked for a different seat assignment, which I was denied because the "plane is full, sir."  I then asked for an exit row seat and was asked for my Premiere card.  Since when is first class in the back of the plane?  Every time I fly Frontier, if you show up early and they still have them available (and you meet the qualifications to sit there), they will give you an exit row seat with pleasure.  I explained this to the check-in person who told me that there was nothing she could do, but that I could check at the gate.

So I arrive at the gate and am the first person in line.  I explain that I want an exit row seat and that they refused to assign me one up front.  I was told that all of the seats were now assigned.  Amazing, between the time that it took me to leave the front desk and walk through security, some number of people (they must have all been Premiere members) had checked into all of the exit row seats.

Does it sound like a little bit of jealousy that I'm not a Premiere member?  It's really not.  I'm pissed off.  United is in bankruptcy; they are getting killed by other carriers.  While I can appreciate the fact that they are taking care of Premiere members, not taking care of customers that don't fly enough to be Premiere is not the way to go to get new business.

United flys old airframes; Jet Blue and Frontier have new aircraft.  United provides limited television service; on others you can pay for 26 channels of DirecTV.  United gives you a miniscule package of peanuts and almost never hands you the can for your soda; other provide normal size bags of chips, hand you the can, and provide food for sale on flights.

Pretty sad.  I wish I could sell or trade my mileage -- I now have 200,000 miles in my account.


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