On frequent flyer frustration

United Airlines Customer Service

Can we just talk for a second about how much I hate United Airlines? I would really like to buy a ticket from them. And I want to do it right now. They send me personalized eMails with special discount rates because I’m a “Mileage Plus” member. But y’know what? I can’t. Do you know why I can’t? I can’t because I don’t know my “Mileage Plus” account number. That is just idiotic.

If you try to join the “Mileage Plus” program you are required to enter:

  • your full name,
  • your full address (including country),
  • your phone number,
  • your eMail address,
  • your password,
  • your (I’m not kidding!) dad’s birthday,
  • your favorite sports team,
  • your city of birth,
  • and the $#%@^ name of the last school you attended.
I want to buy a damn ticket!

And it saves all of this information. So if you don’t have your #%^@& “Mileage Plus” account number, you can’t re-register, because it will say, “Sorry, but you’re already a member.” When you go to the password retrieval screen – y’know, like, on a whim, for funsies – y’know what you have to enter? That’s right. Your “Mileage Plus” account number is required. (Special note to the web designer at United.com: Hey! You f*&#% idiot! You’re telling me that if I tell you my account number, you’ll tell me my password, but not the other way around? That makes tons of sense.) And y’know what else you can’t do with United? You can’t telephone someone to get your account number. Not on the weekends at least. No, that department is only open on weekdays. Look. I want to buy a damn ticket! I even want to fly on United.

But y’know what? I already have 6,000 numbers memorized and I wasn’t about to bother to commit my United.com “Mileage Plus” account number to memory; so I’m going to click over to Delta.com. Y’know what they have there? (Amazing but true.) A genius who thought to give me a cookie that remembers my Delta SkyMiles number. And y’know what else? The greater genius to enable me to retrieve that number – on line! – if I delete the cookie or am on another computer.

There are 12 comments on this post

  1. Hmm, I must be on a different Internet than you. Not only does united.com have my United Mileage number saved so it’s there every time I visit, they sent me a plastic card with the number impressed on it. But I agree, when I was first a member I forgot the number and it was a pain in the ass to remember it. Fortunately I had saved the eMail they had sent me when I signed up, which conveniently had the number in it. You know, you can also have it added to your ticket when you go to the airport and get your boarding pass. You don’t -have- to do it online. Although it would be nice. My 2ยข.

  2. You think that’s bad? Try to find their customer service address so you can send them a nasty letter. Instead they have that “customer service” online form which is worthless. I put my gripe in there 3x (yes, I retyped it) and each time I tried to send I got an error.


  3. I just hate that whole damn airline. Their booking agents are rude. They’re absolutely no help and have no pity if a booked flight needs to be changed. A **** ing $100 change fee? Give me a goddam break. That’s robbery. I hope that airline never recovers from bankruptsy and I hope all those **** s who work there starve on the street.

  4. That’s interesting. Try this: United lost my baggage two flights in a row and then repeatedly lied to me in order to avoid liability or confrontation. After losing my bags the second time, they cheerily informed me that they would send my bags early the next morning. That’s nifty, right? It was a lie — no bags, no apologies, and when I call customer service, no actual live voices. Instead I get an automated voice — Simon — who informs me that my bags have already arrived. Thanks, Simon! Now where the #$%# are they? Can I speak to a live person? Nope. Can I get a status update? Nope. Can I get my law school notes, my wife’s birth control pills, my MP3 player, my nephew’s favorite teddy bear, my clothing, my wedding photos, or at least an answer? Nope. Can I get reimbursed? Well, gee, the website says so, but no one seems willing to actually admit that my bags haven’t arrived, talk to me, or tell me anything.

    Unlike others here, I don’t want to send United a letter; I want to send them a subpoena.

  5. I need help with my mileage account. I went to Portugal last July at this same time of year and I don’t see that I was given credit for my miles. I filled out a temporary membership on the plane. #02002990272
    I have copies of all my tickets. How can I contact someone to help me get mileage? I want to make reservations again but want mileage.

    Beverly Simpson

  6. The staff at united airlines are useless. I was lied to by staff at San Francisco and Boston about getting a free hotel room for the night because of delays which resulted in me getting to San Francisco at 1am after spending 6 hours in boston airport and another 6 hours flying to find out that they wouldn’t give me a free hotel room like they promised and then where rude and arrogant about it. They also made mistakes booking my connecting flights TWICE on the same flight resulting in more delays.

  7. Okay, I’m laughing pretty hard of a couple of the posts. Let me add my misery to the thread on ‘United Lies!!!!’ In August of 2007 I was flying from Durango to Austin via Denver. When I tried to check-in online and print a boarding pass about three hours before my flight the United online system indicated that there was a problem with my flight and I needed to talk to someone on the phone. After three calls to the suggesed 800 number and not being able to find anyone that could do anything more than try to sell me a ticket to a flight that I already had a ticket for, I went on to the airport. At the Durango airport I was told there was previous crew/mechanical issues and I was not going to make my connection in Denver since my flight out of Durango was going to be two hours late. I was offered either leaving 24 hrs late from my original flight or taking the delayed flight to Denver and having United put me up in a hotel for my trouble. They would then rebook me on a Frontier flight to Austin the following morning as that was the first flight out that had available seats. I confirmed with the gate agent what paperwork I needed for my hotel room. He assured me that all I needed to do was go to Customer Service in Denver and they would see from my flight record that the problem was crew/mechanical and they would promptly issue a hotel voucher. You see where this is headed? Yes, I got to Denver to find that according to their records I wasn’t on the plane that I just got off of. Then, once I convinced them that I couldn’t fly 325mph without a plane they decided that the system that locates hotels and provides vouchers was down. Oh, and that my flight delay was weather related so I was entitled to a hotel room. The really sick thing is that there are 30 passengers standing at the alleged ‘customer service’ counter and two or three of those people from the same flight were given papers in Durango that showed it was a crew/mechanical problem. Three hours later a couple of us were able to convince them that the weather related dealyed passengers were on the same plane as crew/mechanical delay passengers. At this time the voucher printer still wasn’t working so we were given the ‘appropriate’ paperwork to get a refund from United for the hotel stay. When I made it back to Austin the next day I went to pick up my luggage. It turns out that they have only a ‘skeleton’ crew in Austin so everyone had gone home even though it was before their posted closing time. Another call to the 800 number I get the run around on my luggage. They tell me that it was probably at the Austin airport. I told the baggage person on the phone that I saw my bag, put my hand on in it, and that it was chained up with a bunch of other bags. They tell me again that bag is probably in Austin. I try to explain in vain that I know where the bag is and I just want a United person to unlock the chain so I can get the bag. After about an hour and talking to three different people I tell them my bag was lost and I want to file a claim for $2100. Lo and behold, my bag was discovered to have been processed into their system shortly after the first flight in that morning. Yes, this is long and it gets worse. I finally made a second trip to the airport to get my bag the next morning. Oh, did I tell you that no one could help me until the next day? Well, when I returned the next morning all of that bags that were lashed together with mine had been rearranged and rechained. After this was all done I sent in my very brief refund request. And, after three weeks, my request for hotel refund was denied!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No, I don’t plan on giving United another chance with my travel needs.

  8. I was on the same flight as Bruce from Durango to Denver then on to DFW and have never had such a terrible experience. I wanted to use miles from my United account to upgrade on the leg from Denver to DFW, but the young man at the gate in Durango couldn’t figure out how to do so. So when he backed out of the ticket system, he deleted my filght from Denver to DFW, but forgot to re-enter it. So, when we were in Denver trying to get things straightened out, they would tell me from time to time that I HAD NO ticket from Denver to DFW. United finally conceded their error, but when they “transferred control” of my ticket to Frontier (yea Frontier!!) that somehow got lost in the translation–but thank the gods the Frontier rep. realized what had happened and knew how to fix it. And, of course, the whole time we kept hearing the “your flight was delayed due to WEATHER–not our fault” crap over and over when several folks had written documentation from United in Durango that it was either a crew or a mechanical problem–WAS their fault! But they wouldn’t admit it and they are sticking to that story, apparently.

    Not only that, but my wife and I flew to Singapore last year on United. Our flight from DFW to Chicago was late taking off so we barely made our connection to go from Chicago to Hong Kong. But our bags didn’t make it. When we arrived in Singapore, of course our bags weren’t there yet and United wasn’t particularly concerned. My wife called them several hours later when the next United flight arrived from Hong Kong and our bags were on that flight, but United would not bring the bags to us (this was like around 3am Singapore time). They wouldn’t bring the bags until noon the next day. Well, my wife was there to give a lecture and she was freaking out (makeup, hair stuff, you know). So we were trying to figure out how I’d get back to the airport to pick up the bags and, lo and behold, SINGAPORE AIR called and said THEY’d bring the bags to us!! We didn’t even fly Singapore Air–but they evidently share adjoining offices or something with United, and the rep. said they couldn’t believe United wouldn’t bring us our bags–they arrived within the hour and my wife made her meeting.

    I think United should pay particular attention the poor attitude uniformly shown by all the employees I/we delt with–they just flat didn’t care that they had caused us to have a problem and weren’t the least bit concerned about getting the problem fixed. No wonder United has such financial woes.

  9. United Sucks Period. They lie they don’t care about employees, passengers, or the price of tea in China. They will &*^! over you any and every chance they get. They will delay a flight tell you there is weather and the plane will be right outside at another gate while they tell those people their flight is delayed because the plane is on mechanical, when their plane is really in Boston….. you catch my drift. I have tons of horror stories so the next time tou think you need to fly after the www. put in American or Delta, hell Southwest, because if an employee like myself is yelling you to run you should run.

  10. I work at United. I’ve been with them for 15 years. They put my kids through high school and helped with my mother’s nursing home expenses. I am eternally grateful.

    To be honest, our friendly skies are much more pleasant without you and your negativity. So go ahead and fly on Delta or US Airways. I just pray that your plane stays in the air. But then again, I might laugh if it didn’t…cuz you had it coming.

    Harold Watkins
    Airport Supervisor, United Airlines

  11. Wow–can anyone verify if the e-mail from Harold is legitimate or not? Perhaps this is a excellent demonstration of some of their atrtitude problems…

  12. Wow. If that Harold is indeed legitimately a United Employee, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to report him to someone. Such an obvious disregard for humanity has no place in that type of position.

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