United Airlines Customer Service

On Saturday, I wanted to call United Airlines to upgrade my seat to an Economy Plus seat. I also signed up for their Mileage Plus (read: an online account) and wanted to get my ticket added to that profile. Simple enough? Not really.

Step 1: Call Mileage Plus.
United was very nice and included the phone for Mileage Plus right in the email they sent me. I called them, pressed 0 a whole bunch of times, and eventually wound up speaking to some lady. She explained that she couldn’t help me, and I had to call Reservations. She gave me the number, a sales pitch for a Visa card, and then I hung up.

Step 2: Call Reservations.
Next I had to call reservations. After a few minutes of trying to navigate their IVR, I gave up. I headed over to GetHuman and got to a human much quicker than the other way. I couldn’t understand what the lady said when she picked up the phone and had to double check that I had actually been transferred to someone at United. I gave the lady my confirmation number and Mileage Plus number and she had no problem adding the flight to my account.

I asked her if I could then upgrade my seat to Economy Plus. Apparently, I wasn’t authorized to do that. The next part of what she said was incoherent, but I managed to get a “I have to do that online” out of what she said. I was in front of a computer, so it wasn’t a problem. I asked her about how I go about doing that. Apparently, she didn’t have that information and I had to be connected to United.com support for that.

Step 3: United.com Support
I was connected to a representative at United.com Support without too much of a problem. I had to push 0 a couple of times, but did manage to get to someone. I repeated my request. After some mumbling and some research, he told me I had to wait until 1 – 24 hours before my flight to do that. Or I could pay something like $300 and I could get an automatic upgrade to Economy Plus every time I fly United (almost never). Useless 5 minutes. End of support interaction.

A common trend that I noticed among the three United Airlines customer service representatives I spoke to: they all had Indian type accents and all of them kept on talking without giving me a chance to talk.

A nice thing that United does, though, is have a message in their IVR that says “I’ll ensure that the representative has all of the information you’ve already given me.” It seemed to work, which was nice. There was also little to no hold time for each department.

I’m hoping my in-air experience with United will be better. I can’t recall ever having flown them before, so it will be a new experience. I was pleasantly surprised with Frontier and really hope to have the same (or better) experience with United.

I didn’t write about it, but I will in the future: I had a good experience with Hertz rental car recently.

7 Responses to “United Airlines Customer Service”

  1. Angry United passenger said:

    Jun 29, 07 at 2:00 am

    late night June 28, 2007. United Airlines customer service guys at Dulles Airport refuse to provide passengers even woment with babies lodging after they are stucked in the airport for 5 hours. The earliest flight out there they can provide is June 30th! Did UA’s customer care people actually care about their customers?

  2. Robert Ramirez said:

    Jul 31, 07 at 4:46 pm

    Today is July 31st 2007 my wife and I are attempting to book a flight for December to Maui. We live in CA so we want to fly out of San Francisco and use our miles. What we are finding out is that we have to fly to Denver then to Maui which really sucks. So after going back and forth online I decide to call for a real person. Sorry for the mileage program you don’t get real alive person. Now isn’t it amazing when they get to fly with them and promise these miles that they just say call us get the flight and of course we are there to help becuase their the “friendly skies”. Not, so it looks like I might be able to get a flight but here is the catch instead of using up 35,000 miles a person we have to use 70,000 miles per person. Now that is something they never bother to mention when your flying with them. Screwed again.
    Well I will let you know if I ever get to Maui on my miles or if I just bite bullet give them all my extra miles and get another miles card.

  3. Jim Rivers said:

    Aug 15, 07 at 10:14 am

    I recently traveled to Eagle Pass, Texas to umpire in the Babe Ruth World Series. I flew into San Antonio. United lost my luggage with all my umpire equipment and the, because Eagle Pass was “more than 100 miles” from San Antonio, they charged me $180 to deliver the equipment that THEY lost! Needless to say, it will be the last time I ever fly the, ahem, friendly skies of United. The baggage handler at San Antonio, who went by the title of “Big John,” tried to make me feel like it was my fault that United had lost my luggage. I am appalled that I had to pay $180 of my own money for their error!

  4. Leon Isen said:

    Nov 20, 07 at 12:01 am

    After a delightful trip November 17, from Kona, Hawaii to Chicago, on my way to Miami, I had a very distasteful encounter with your Red Carpet lounge. After flying all night, and arriving in Chicago at 6:00 a.m., my companion and I decided to await our 9:00 o’clock flight in your Red Carpet accommodations, since we had flown first class, and were scheduled to fly first class on down to Miami.
    We were told because it was a domestic flight (all approximately 4,000 some miles at a cost of $1,900) we were not eligible to use these facilities. The only way we could use the lounge was by being charged 5,000 miles or paying $50.00.
    We left the Red Carpet lounge very disappointed and waited for the flight to Miami, which was on your United Express. The first class section and service on that flight was a joke. There were 6 seats in what was humorously called “first class,” and the plane and service were actually “low class.” I really felt that United could and should have done better.

  5. Service Untitled » Service Untitled Year End Numbers - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Dec 30, 07 at 11:12 pm

    […] United Airlines Customer Service […]

  6. ethan allen said:

    Jan 29, 08 at 12:21 am

    The sooner this terrible company self immolates and disappears the better. UAL has absolutely the most fabulously horrible customer service on planet earth. They need to go.

    As an aside, my company has forbidden employees to book flights on UAL because of their ineptitude.

  7. Jana Love said:

    Mar 16, 08 at 1:51 am

    I am needing a copy of a plane ticket for my husband to get his green card. After all of the phone calls, emails and faxes i have sent the only response i was able to get was 1 email telling me to do all of the stuff i have done more than once.