Okay, I’ll admit it, I have been wishy-washy this year when it comes to airline loyalty. It took only 1 international flight on United a few weeks ago to convince me that the grass isn’t always greener!
I blogged earlier about my switch from US Air Chairman status to United Gold Premier w/the hopes of achieving United 1K in 2012. Well, I’ve ditched that idea and I’m actually sticking with US Air. For real this time!
My United trip from CHS – ORD – BRU
On the flight from CHS to ORD, the regional jet had old cloth seats with no first class option. As of late last year, all US Air flights from CHS have leather seats and first class on RJs. At least the United flight from CHS to ORD was on time and uneventful.
Once in ORD, I made use of the lounge while I waited for my flight – mind you – when I told them I was Gold Premier traveling coach to BRU, I was denied access to the lounge. When I showed them my US Airways Chairman Card, miraculously I was granted access. So United Gold Premiers traveling coach on United International flights have no lounge access. Star Alliance Gold members flying international on United who show their membership card can have access. That makes no sense…but whatever…I got in.
Since I was given Gold Premier Status by United, I didn’t have any upgrade certificates (that’s fine, I didn’t expect them) but because of United’s computer software upgrade, Star Alliance Mileage Upgrades weren’t being honored by United so I had no way to upgrade other than to pay cash. They offered an upgrade from ORD to BRU for $859 from coach to business class and there were 4 open seats. Who pays that much to upgrade?
The plane was dirty with a capital D! The flight attendant said it was soda. I”m not so sure….
I was seated two rows behind the bulk head in coach (a huge mistake on an overnight flight – beware of babies in bassinets! ) The child who was seated in front of me spent more than half the flight hanging over my seat and disturbing me. After several requests to the parents to keep the kid out of my row without any success I asked another flight attendant if she could talk with them. Her response – no. Apparently it’s not their job to ask parents to keep kids in their seat. Ironically the seat belt sign was on. Dear Parents, please control your kids!
Next, after service in coach started I needed to use the restroom. Since I was two rows behind the bulkhead, that also meant I was two rows behind the bathroom. I went to use it and a flight attendant had the most unreal reaction. I told her the aisle was blocked by the cart in the back and she didn’t care. She said “I’m going to put a sign on the door saying business class only.” And in fact, she did! She put a hand written sign that said business class only. Never seen that before. Furthermore, she made an extra effort throughout the rest of the flight to keep coach passengers out – even a woman who looked like she was about 90 and could barely walk – a passenger who was in business class actually told her to let the 90 year old use the bathroom. About 5 people applauded.
LHR – IAD – CHS
My flight from LHR to IAD was delayed. Why? Because there was an equipment change. The new plane had a different seating configuration which meant people who paid for Economy Plus exit row seats weren’t in the exit. People who paid for Economy Plus aisle seats were in the middle . It was a disaster. Luckily the crew had a great sense of humor and tried to make the best of things. We sat on the ground for about an hour while people complained and played musical chairs.
The flight was okay – nothing horrible – but the plane was old and needed some TLC! I did hear a ton of the people in Business Class complain about the equipment change because apparently the new plane had really old business class seats and had a 2-3-3 configuration. The original plane would have had the new business class “pods”. That’s a bummer of a change!
There was absolutely nothing good about my flights on United. The Gold status I was given – yes, given – by United did nothing for me. The planes were old and dirty.
So what’s the moral of the story? 1 – US Airways isn’t so bad, 2 – United isn’t so great, 3- if you have the top level of status with one airline, don’t switch.
So the next time I get the crazy idea to switch loyalty – someone please stop me!
P.S. – now I have 9,378 United Miles and no idea what to do with them! Any ideas?
After calling United, I learned that my ticket was ticketed before my Gold Premier Status went into effect. That is why I was charged for Economy Plus. I requested a refund, but was not given one. However, I was given a free club day-pass for all the confusion in ORD at the club. They confirmed that Gold Premier does have access to the Lounge on international flights.
I have sent an email to United asking them to reconsider the refund of the Economy Plus fees. We’ll see what happens.