United Economy Flight Review – a tale of two flights

Posted on April 23, 2015 by in United Mileage Plus

Trip Index (what we have published so far):

United Club Honolulu Airport (HNL) Review

United Economy Class

United Economy Flight San Francisco to Honolulu on a new 737-800

Thanks to my recent Singapore Airlines booking, I had a long weekend in Hawaii booked on United. Both flights were supposed to be direct from San Francisco to Honolulu.

The outbound was on a brand new United 737-800. It was just about 70% full and so I had a whole row to myself. The crew were extremely friendly and professional. I caught up on sleep and before I knew it I landed 45 minutes early into Honolulu. Everything worked too well that day (well, except the internet on the 737 does not work outside the mainland) and one can easily see how competitive United can be.

United Economy Flight Honolulu to San Francisco on an old 777-200

United Economy Class

My return would be 3 days later on a 777 that came in from Guam. Nothing wrong with that, but the plane was very old from the inside. That’s OK, but once we sat down, the flight got cancelled because of malfunctioning AC. This happens and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I immediately called United for a re-booking (since there were several flights on other airlines leaving that same night). While the agents seemed open to the idea, they gave me different excuses reasons why they couldn’t change or reissue my ticket with a carrier that was not United. I got as far as to have a confirmation code with US Airways, only to see the gate closing in front of me because my ticket never issued.

The agents on the ground helped with re-booking on United only, but all the good options were gone by the time I got to the counter after 2 hours of waiting. I was re-booked the next day through LAX. The agent threw in a United Economy Plus seat (with wider seat pitch and IFE). So I ended up with a much longer and less convenient flight – the exact same thing happened to me on my flights to Honolulu last year.

I was also accommodated in Waikiki, given food vouchers and the taxi fare was paid.

United isn’t really one airline company (like Delta) but a rather random agglomeration of planes, crews and people who range from extremely friendly to not very rude and helpless.

Now that United has devalued its loyalty program so much, they need to improve their operational efficiency to be able to compete. Cancelling flights because of old equipment gets quickly tiring.

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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]

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