Why I’m weaning from United

Hello.  This is my last week as a 1K flyer, and I felt it made sense to give you feedback as to why this is the case.  First and foremost, this is a deliberate effort on my part.  While I absolutely maintain the Mileage Plus program is probably the best of all frequent flyer programs, the flights themselves are simply no longer worth the effort.

I am not exactly sure how many times, but I used e-upgrades to fly first or business class numerous times last year.  In no uncertain terms, I find your “elite” seating is simply not worth the effort to maintain status or even keep loyalty with the airline.  With the exception of the P.S. flights, I don’t recall more than one flight in all of 2007 having working power adapters in the first class seating. This is at the same time as many airlines have put standard AC outlets across all coach class seats.

While the meals and free drinks in the upgraded sections is nice, I’d rather pack a sandwich and buy a $5 vodka than have to deal with running out of power while crossing the Mississippi ever again.  And considering your fares are barely competitive with upstarts such as Virgin America, I have neither the feature nor financial incentive to remain active with the airline.

In 2007 it took me a few months to make these realizations, although I did come to appreciate the P.S. service.  Accordingly, in 2008 whenever I fly to New York it will likely be via United.  However for international destinations or other domestic needs, I’ll be flying on another carrier.

As parting advice, I strongly urge you to start modernizing your airplanes.  When comparing the quality of the planes, the seats, the service, the food, and virtually every offering, I believe United has slipped far below its competition.  Specifically:

  • Install AC outlets at every seat.
  • Consider more in-flight entertainment options.
  • Stop featuring “fancy sounding” food (Italian herb roasted chicken) and do the basics better (turkey sandwich).
  • Upgrade all the seats in the upgraded cabins, they look like they are leftovers from Braniff’s fleet.
  • Give the flight crew and reservations staff a new training lesson on the notion of customer service, and how it is not the same as “answering a question as curtly as possible”

It might be ironic that it’s taken me 500,000 miles before writing to you, and that the first time I do so it is a note of complaint and departure.  I’m not really sure, but I do know the airline operates today the same way it did before I started accumulating my 500,000 miles.  And at this pace, I am probably not the only one abandoning the quest to drive that number into the skies.

(sent to United’s 1K customer feedback email)

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