Thursday, January 18, 2007

United Disappointments

In the past week my once favorite airline, United, has come to disappoint me twice. I'm not sure what I'm going to do!

First, I get this well typed email (not a letter, but an email) telling me:

Dear Conor P Cahill,

We sincerely value your business and recognize you as one of our most loyal customers. Although we are unable to extend your United Global ServicesSM membership for the upcoming year, we are pleased to present you with 1K® status for 2007.

I knew this was coming, even though I not-so-secretly wished for someone at United to give me a break and let me have one more year of the special treatment.

Given that Intel's policy is to fly coach and coach only, no matter how long the flight is (and from a financial point, I kind of understand it, but not from a but-in-the-seat point of view), I don't think I'll be qualifying for Global Services again anytime soon. I've heard of people who fly 300,000 miles and don't qualify.

This will make it harder to keep up my upgrade consistency, although I do remember the days of being a Premier Exec and wishing I were a 1Ker since they seemed to get all the upgrades, so perhaps this won't be as bad as I fear.

The second disappointment was in United's stinginess. Last year it appeared that I had flown 162,285 miles, crossing the 160,000 level in Dec. Each time you pass a 10,000 mile boundary they are supposed to give you 4 500 mile upgrade coupons. I didn't get mine and so I asked them why. The answer I got back was not impressive:

Hello Mr. Cahill,

Thank you for your loyalty as a 1K Million Mile member.

Elite members earn four 500-Mile e-upgrades for every 10,000 paid flight miles flown during the calendar year on United, Ted and United Express. Partner flights and bonus miles from the high-yield offer do not count towards earning e-upgrades.

In 2006, you flew 159,600 miles on United Airlines. I am not able to credit additional e-upgrades as you did not meet the next 10,000 mile requirement.

I appreciate the time you've taken to contact us.

So, they took off a couple of code-share flights and a few hundred bonus miles I had gotten for the one full fare ticket I had to buy and viola I was just 400 miles below the mark. On top of that, those 9,600 miles toward the 10,000 go away on Jan 1 (the counter restarts).

I'm a bit peeved about it since a) I think I was close enough that they should have just given me the tokens and b) if not give someone credit for 96% of the way there, at least let them carry that clock forward so that the boundary is closer the next year. We are talking about upgrade coupons only good on united on a space available basis and you need one for every 500 miles of flight. No they aren't worthless as I clearly want them, but they aren't $$ either.

Anyway, I'm done venting... back to work..

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Jan said...

See my post on my latest disappointment with United on

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post on Global Status. If you had a chance to travel on other Star Alliance airlines were you provided extra services like use of the first class lounge even when in business class? Free upgrades?

Conor P. Cahill said...

I have flown on other star alliance airlines. There is nothing your status on united gets you other than a) premium checkin, b) premium boardning, and c) basic lounge access. No preferred seating, no upgrades (other than the pay-for star alliance upgrades), no special first class lounge access.

This is the same whether your a Premier Exec, 100K or Global Services (I've been all 3 at different times traveling on star alliance airlines and never noticed a difference).