12 Things United Airlines Does Well

12 Things United Airlines Does Well

43

In the spirit of positive reinforcement, in this post I wanted to share the things that I think United Airlines does well. The airline has quite a few things going for it already, and is no doubt headed in the right direction. In separate posts I’ve written about the things that American Airlines and Delta Air Lines do well, as well as my least favorite things about the “big three” US carriers.

In no particular order, below are 12 things I like about United Airlines…

Route network & ultra long haul flying

Everyone will have different opinions about which airline has the best route network based on where they live and where they like to travel. However, United almost unarguably has the most global route network. Not only does the airline serve so many destinations across six continents, but United also isn’t afraid to experiment with new ultra long haul flights, which American and Delta shy away from.

It really is incredible to see how United’s route network has evolved over the years. From extensive service to Africa, to ultra long haul flights to Asia, to seasonal flights to secondary cities in Europe, United never ceases to impress me with its route network.

United Airlines Boeing 777-300ER

Scott Kirby

Scott Kirby is United Airlines’ CEO, and if you ask me, he’s doing an amazing job. Frankly that’s a sentence I never thought I would have written eight years ago, when he was number two at American Airlines (and US Airways before that, and America West before that).

Personally I think Kirby is a breath of fresh air, and one of the most effective US airline industry CEOs we’ve seen in quite some time. He actually has a vision, he communicates clearly, and he’s leading the airline in the right direction, in my opinion, even if the company still has a ways to go.

A refreshed narrow body fleet

While American Airlines is just finishing the process of ripping seatback TVs off its narrow body jets, United Airlines is going the opposite direction. The airline is in the process of modernizing its narrow body cabins, with 10″ personal televisions at all seats, high speed Wi-Fi, AC and USB power, and even bluetooth audio.

The catch is that as of now only a small percentage of United’s domestic fleet has these features. United claims the entire narrow body fleet will be retrofitted by 2025, though it’s anyone’s guess if that timeline sticks.

United Airlines new narrow body interiors

Bigger business class cabins

Among the “big three” US carriers, United has the most consistently large business class cabins on wide body jets. This is great for upgrades and award availability.

Just as an example, United’s 787-9s have 48 business class seats, while American’s 787-9s have 30 business class seats, and Delta’s A350-900s (the most comparable plane) have 32 business class seats.

United Airlines Polaris cabin Boeing 767-300

Polaris business class seats & bedding

In addition to the sheer size of United’s business class cabins, the airline is finally at a spot where it has a pretty consistent business class hard product. At this point United has finished reconfiguring Boeing 777s, 787s, and 767-300s, with new Polaris business class seats. It’s only 767-400s that are still going to be reconfigured.

The Polaris business class seats are quite good, and they’re especially impressive on the Boeing 767, where you have a 1-1-1 layout (compare that to Delta’s 767s, which have a much worse business class product).

On top of that, United has excellent bedding in Polaris business class, which I think is another competitive advantage over American and Delta. Unfortunately the rest of the Polaris soft product improvements are more or less a thing of the past.

United Airlines Polaris cabin Boeing 787-8

United Airlines app & website

United does a great job with technology. The United app is excellent, in terms of the amount of information it has about flight status, seatmaps, upgrade lists, etc. It’s simply in a completely different league than American’s app (which largely just redirects you to a mobile browser of aa.com).

Similarly, I find that united.com is pretty good in terms of being able to self-service reservations.

The United app is great

Polaris Lounges

United Polaris Lounges are hands down the best international business class lounges offered by any US airline. The lounges are spectacular, with incredible attention paid to design. The lounges also have a la carte dining, custom made espresso drinks, and more. They’re available in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, so it’s also nice how many hubs have these lounges.

The only downside is that United has strict access requirements, as you can only use them when flying Star Alliance first or business class — no status level will get you into these lounges.

United Polaris Lounge Newark

Million Miler status

While I don’t think United MileagePlus as such is a competitive advantage, the United Million Miler program is by far the best lifetime elite status program of any major US airline. There are four thresholds:

  • Lifetime Premier Gold at 1MM
  • Lifetime Premier Platinum at 2MM
  • Lifetime Premier 1K at 3MM
  • Lifetime Global Services at 4MM

That’s great in and of itself, but the icing on the cake is that you can also appoint a companion to have that status. This is better than the Delta Million Miler program, and infinitely better than the American Million Miler program, which is abysmal.

Get valuable elite status for life for you and a companion

MileagePlus miles are easy to earn

United MileagePlus is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, meaning that United miles are easy to come by thanks to instant transfers.

Best for beginners Earn 2x points on all travel and 3x points on dining
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best for premium benefits Earn 3x points on all travel and dining, plus annual travel credits, airport lounge access, and superior trip coverage and purchase protection
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Best for business purchases Earn 3x points on all travel, shipping, advertising with social media, and internet and phone services
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

This is an advantage over American AAdvantage, since the program doesn’t partner with any major transferrable points currency. Meanwhile Delta SkyMiles partners with Amex Membership Rewards, though you do have to pay a federal excise tax when transferring points, and I can’t imagine why you’d want to transfer Amex points to Delta.

United℠ Explorer Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • Earn 2x miles on United purchases
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Two United Club Passes Annually
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
United Club℠ Infinite Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • Earn 4x miles on United purchases
  • United Club℠ Access
  • Earn PQPs Towards Status
  • $525
United Gateway℠ Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • Earn 2x MileagePlus miles on United purchases
  • Earn 2x MileagePlus miles on gas station purchases
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • $0
United Quest℠ Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • 3x miles on United
  • 2x miles on dining
  • Free first and second checked bags
  • $250
United℠ Business Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • Earn 2x miles on United purchases
  • Annual Travel Credit
  • Anniversary Bonus Miles
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.

Same day flight changes

United has one of the best same day flight change policies of any airline, which can be useful if your plans change last minute, or if you’re just trying to find the cheapest fare with the hope of changing your flight later.

MileagePlus elite members can make the change for free (non-elite members have to pay $75), and you can even change your connecting city when making such a change. You can also change to a flight within 24 hours, so you can fly on a different calendar day.

I’d say United’s policy is slightly better than Delta’s, and significantly better than American’s.

United has a great same day flight change policy

Star Alliance

While I prefer oneworld Emerald status to Star Alliance Gold status, Star Alliance is the world’s largest airline alliance, and has the most global coverage. So being able to earn and redeem miles on the alliance that’s the largest is a big draw to United.

United belongs to the Star Alliance

No fuel surcharges on MileagePlus awards

While United MileagePlus redemption rates are steep in many cases, MileagePlus is the only one of the “big three” frequent flyer programs to not have fuel surcharges on any partner award tickets. Both American AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles have these on select partner redemptions, so I appreciate the precedent United has set with this.

Redeem United MileagePlus miles on Lufthansa without surcharges

Bottom line

United Airlines has a lot of things going for it, ranging from the size of its business class cabins, to its global route network, to its solid tech. The airline is headed in the right direction, and I’m excited to see how the company evolves.

Unfortunately noticeably absent from my list are a few major things that make the flying experience better — customer service, high speed Wi-Fi, and the current state of the domestic flying experience.

I’m curious to hear what OMAAT readers think — what do you think United Airlines does well?

Conversations (43)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. St.Jon Clark Guest

    Hi speed wi-fi is included for free for many United flights for those of us with T-Mobile. I love when an airline I like, also works with other services I use. I route out of CLE and they have a great RT rate to LAX direct from here so I think they are awesome.

  2. Steven E Guest

    Longes and “stuff” on the ground may be good or even improving - their onboard business product (Internationally) is appalling from supposed “bedding” and rude and obnoxious Walmart type crew, it’s a fail ., their only good use is being able to travel other carriers on their points programme

  3. Jason Guest

    Since I’m in between IAD and DCA, I almost always fly United. All airlines are going to have their issues with flight delays, cancellations, etc. but I’m pretty happy with my UA experience. I do wish their soft product (read: food) more closely resembled what you’re served on the Asian and ME3 carriers in long-haul business. That’s the one place where I’ll choose to fly on Star Alliance (EVA, Asiana, Singapore, Turkish, etc.) metal when I can.

  4. Ella Guest

    I’m just off a 5.5 hour and 15 hour flights on UA. I have a bunch of negatives, especially compared with a stellar Polaris flight last month Denver to London - but you asked for positives. Nice pajamas, and when my tray table was broken in the shorter flight they immediately offered money or 7500 miles. The miles were delivered instantly.

  5. Julia Guest

    They need to improve the quality of meals, on both domestic and international flights, as well.

    1. Darren C Diamond

      You haven't flown UA in years yet you sing the praises of Scott Kirby?

      Donna, are you really Scott Kirby?

  6. robert Guest

    You're incorrect. Not all their 777's have Polaris seats. They still have some high density 777-200's that they use for cross country and West Coast to Hawaii that are 2 4 2 in business and lots and lots of coach seats. I try to avoid them if they can.

  7. Jim Guest

    I think you’re totally on point with what United does well, especially the functionality of its web site and app.
    Of course where UA falls flat and is well behind the other three is in its catering, especially in international Polaris business class. Post- pandemic, the food is horrible. But even its domestic catering in first class is mostly pretty bad.

  8. Calypsia Guest

    I recently flew two transatlantic Polaris flights. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed, but I was. Three things stood out: 1) I slept better on the Polaris lie-flat than I have in any other business class. It has a lumbar support and the bedding is very comfortable. Plus, there were air nozzles. The ability to sleep is more important than anything else 2) On both flights, there were delays but United rebooked me without any...

    I recently flew two transatlantic Polaris flights. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed, but I was. Three things stood out: 1) I slept better on the Polaris lie-flat than I have in any other business class. It has a lumbar support and the bedding is very comfortable. Plus, there were air nozzles. The ability to sleep is more important than anything else 2) On both flights, there were delays but United rebooked me without any effort on my part 3) The WiFi was incredible, including over the Atlantic. My opinion has completely changed about United, at least regarding their business product

  9. Ivan X Guest

    One thing I'd add to this list is availability of economy Saver awards for credit card holders and elites, at least domestically. Can be very handy for last minute travel. (Business Saver awards, well, that's a whole different, and much sadder, story.)

  10. Christian Guest

    I have to disagree on Scott Kirby. Which items in your list are directly attributable to him? The guy is a soulless bean counter who struggles with anything that’s critical but intangible. I’d be interested to hear what you see as his vision.

    The rest is pretty accurate.

  11. NK3 Member

    Million Miler status on United is a lot more valuable than on Delta, but it is way more difficult to achieve. With United, only paid flights on United count. With Delta, anything that earns MQMs counts, including award flights, partner flights, and some credit card bonuses. I will probably hit Delta MM next year, but if they used UA's criteria, I would be about halfway there.

    1. DCS Diamond

      A more valuable program with tougher qualification requirement. Seems fair to me.

  12. Donna Diamond

    I can’t comment on the 12 points since I haven’t flown UA in recent years. I avoided UA for mostly their slow roll out of Polaris and fleet inconsistency. Now with each passing day there are new reasons to seriously consider giving them a try, not the least of which is their SFO hub and nonstops to the EU which is very convenient for me. High praise for Scott Kirby, he has turned the ship around a lot quicker than I thought possible.

    1. Airfarer Diamond

      They also have non-stops to the UK.

    2. Darren C Diamond

      You haven't flown UA in years yet you sing the praises of Scott Kirby?

      Donna, are you really Scott Kirby?

  13. Syd Guest

    Agree on all points. I've flown United quite a lot past 2 years and I can honestly say - I always look forward to it. Several dozens of airport staff I've dealt with have always been nice fast and efficient + you can really tell the airline invests time and money in making checkins/dropoffs quick and easy at major hubs; lounges are very good; Polaris seats and bedding are great; service is fine, not outstanding,...

    Agree on all points. I've flown United quite a lot past 2 years and I can honestly say - I always look forward to it. Several dozens of airport staff I've dealt with have always been nice fast and efficient + you can really tell the airline invests time and money in making checkins/dropoffs quick and easy at major hubs; lounges are very good; Polaris seats and bedding are great; service is fine, not outstanding, but perhaps I lucked out and never had any big issues or complaints; food is mostly ok, which is not a bad thing for a western carrier. I should also add phone customer service was ok to begin with, but with elite status it became Great.

    Prior to that I had been a loyal Skyteam flyer on Delta, KLM and Aeroflot for 6-7 years, and United is yet to give me a reason to look back in regret (I do miss Aeroflot, but we all know what happened there).

    United is a well-run airline and I hope they can keep doing what they do.

  14. Dave Guest

    If UA fails to refresh all narrowbodies by 2025, that's because Panasonic has trouble supplying IFEs, so that's an external cause.

  15. Will Guest

    I would add Global Services to the list. It’s hands down more valuable than CK or 360. Pretty easy to realize $5-10k in value per year even if you don’t leave upgrades to chance.

  16. DCS Diamond

    From the comments on a post like this one yesterday about AA:

    david Guest
    October 24, 2022, 1:27 pm
    Very helpful and interesting post. Can you do the same article for United?

    Anon Guest
    October 24, 2022, 2:10 pm
    Not really. Ben barely flies United (read the Rolling Stone profile to learn why), and isn't in a position to judge the airline well based on first-hand experience these days.

    ...

    From the comments on a post like this one yesterday about AA:

    david Guest
    October 24, 2022, 1:27 pm
    Very helpful and interesting post. Can you do the same article for United?

    Anon Guest
    October 24, 2022, 2:10 pm
    Not really. Ben barely flies United (read the Rolling Stone profile to learn why), and isn't in a position to judge the airline well based on first-hand experience these days.

    I must concur with @Anon's bolded comment above because a post about things that UA does well that does not mention PlusPoints upgrades must be taken with a huge grain of salt. In this case, I believe that PlusPoints upgrades were not mentioned likely because (a) an old post was simply recycled without a 'refresh' to include new information or recent/latest changes, and/or (b) the blogger lacks direct or personal experience or knowledge and thus "isn't in a position to judge the airline well based on first-hand experience"...

    There is a cautionary tale in there and it should be clear for all to see...

    1. Anon Guest

      Yup. If Ben hadn't abused the system and been kicked out of United's loyalty program, he'd probably have million miler status by now, which is a truly great perk. (My spouse has it, and I'm loving my unearned 1K status!) Failure to mention PointsPlus is a huge omission in this review, which is one of the best parts of the program. We've had great luck getting the Polaris upgrades to clear.

      But Ben was...

      Yup. If Ben hadn't abused the system and been kicked out of United's loyalty program, he'd probably have million miler status by now, which is a truly great perk. (My spouse has it, and I'm loving my unearned 1K status!) Failure to mention PointsPlus is a huge omission in this review, which is one of the best parts of the program. We've had great luck getting the Polaris upgrades to clear.

      But Ben was apparently a teenager when United kicked him out of its loyalty program for a abusing the system, and we all make dumb choices when we're young.

  17. Tim Dunn Diamond

    I will make a few comments that can be applied to any US airline and some that are specific to United.
    First, while this is high end consumer travel forum, every one of the US airlines is first and foremost for-profit businesses and all of the large jet airlines are also publicly traded. They generate enormous amounts of data which do become public for those that know where to find it - far more...

    I will make a few comments that can be applied to any US airline and some that are specific to United.
    First, while this is high end consumer travel forum, every one of the US airlines is first and foremost for-profit businesses and all of the large jet airlines are also publicly traded. They generate enormous amounts of data which do become public for those that know where to find it - far more than other US industries and for airlines elsewhere in the world. Every single one of the attributes that is noted about AA or UA so far are investments in the business and every US airline should be able to come up with a pretty good demonstration of their financial return on investment.
    Specific to United, as much as some people resist any criticism about their preferred airline, UA has done a below average job among US airlines of generating financial metrics not just since the airline industry was deregulated 44 years ago but also since 9/11 (which was a great reset for the industry) and also since the CO merger.
    Second, if Scott Kirby is going to be discussed, then Oscar Munoz deserves as much if not more credit. United was a fragmented, tribal company long before it merged with CO and all of those negative factors got worse. Oscar managed to get the team aligned to go in the same direction which is why anything UA is doing now is working. His health, sadly, has not permitted him to continue in a high pressure leadership role. Third, Scott Kirby has done a lot but it is an indication of how broken UA was. He is also by far the most egotistical leader in the entire US airline industry. He talked endlessly about rebuiding UA's hub structures as if he invented them for the first time with principles that other airlines including AA and DL have used successfully for decades. He fixates on bragging about his own successes. He is also high risk. He absolutely nailed it in terms of having capacity in place for this summer's massive international return of demand but there is no acknowledgement that AA and DL used the pandemic to restructure their businesses for the long term and are still rebuilding. Even if they lost some business this summer, they have to think of assets as 20 year plus investments and chasing a single summer's worth of demand w/ less efficient assets probably won't sense in time. UA already will spend more than twice as much on fleet replacement over the next 5 years as American and Delta and that is before the rumored massive widebody order which means that those other airlines - and others - have had a much better sense of where they needed to go strategically and have made ongoing investments that will allow them to achieve what UA MIGHT do at far lower costs.
    UA is running better than it has for years and that is good for everyone but they have far from proven that they can be a well-run company on a long-term basis as Southwest has consistently done among all airlines and Delta has done among US airlines.
    and many of the product and customer improvements that UA has done have not yet translated into a consistently and sustainably strong reputation or financial returns. Maybe they will get there but words like "best" are not only comparisons not just across the industry but also against time.

    1. Jason Guest

      That all may be well and good but has nothing to do about the purposes of this discussion.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Jason et al,
      It is absolutely relevant what UA has to spend in order to generate its products and services. Every company has to not only work within the constraints of the resources it can support but also what is available for the broader business community.
      example - someone above noted that it won't be United's fault if Panasonic cannot provide enough IFE systems to refresh UA's narrowbody fleet when, in fact, it...

      Jason et al,
      It is absolutely relevant what UA has to spend in order to generate its products and services. Every company has to not only work within the constraints of the resources it can support but also what is available for the broader business community.
      example - someone above noted that it won't be United's fault if Panasonic cannot provide enough IFE systems to refresh UA's narrowbody fleet when, in fact, it is up to UA to come up w/ plans that are reasonable within supply constraints. Panasonic is simply not going to invest the resources to build enough IFE systems for a massive 750 aircraft order for a single carrier over less than years (new and retrofitted UA fleet) and then have those assets sit unused for years because UA created an unsustainable peak in demand that Panasonic is not willing to chase.
      Kirby made the comment that UA was going to take all of growth capacity in pilot supply and leave every other carrier just to be able to replace their pilots. Other carriers, esp those that are willing to pay more, as well as UA's own pilots, will set the pace for how face UA can grow based on INDUSTRY and GLOBAL pilot supply - unless UA wants to pay a dramatic cost premium in order to staff UA aircraft. Given that other airlines including Southwest - are much stronger financially - UA's ability to execute its NEXT plan are highly dependent on the market and not Kirby's desire that he can dominate the supply of labor.
      UA has done a great job of catching up but certainly not over an extended period of time. UA's "greatness" will be defined not just by what it does in one quarter but by what it does over an extended period of time. And, given that the airline industry is highly competitive, UA's success is absolutely dependent on what other airlines do and how well UA's products and services stand up over time and what UA is willing to pay to fix some of its long-standing competitive disadvantages.
      The airline industry is full of "flash and crash" companies that were not run for the longhaul. It is absolutely relevant that UA might end up having spent four times more on fleet renewal than American, Delta and Southwest and the costs of each carrier impact their sustainability over time.
      UA looks much improved over what they were just a few years ago. It is still far from clear how well they will look even in a couple years when their high-growth, high spending model plays out in a recessionary global environment against other airlines which are in better long-term shape.

    3. Jason Guest

      They're relevant when discussing financial performance, but not here. If things change drastically and United falls apart, then they fall apart. This is a discussion about the here and now, this is how United is executing and the experience it is providing for its customers and what they're experiencing now. If they fall apart then they fall apart. But the potentially-fallen apart future United is not what anybody is experiencing now nor what they are...

      They're relevant when discussing financial performance, but not here. If things change drastically and United falls apart, then they fall apart. This is a discussion about the here and now, this is how United is executing and the experience it is providing for its customers and what they're experiencing now. If they fall apart then they fall apart. But the potentially-fallen apart future United is not what anybody is experiencing now nor what they are judging it upon nor what this thread is discussing.

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Jason,
      one more post and then I will give it a rest.
      If the intent is to measure how well a company does RIGHT NOW, then United has the oldest fleet among US carriers, has fewer AVOD equipped aircraft than B6 or DL, has more styles of premium cabins which in total are at a disadvantage to other carriers, and operates more of its network on regional jets than any other US airline.

      Jason,
      one more post and then I will give it a rest.
      If the intent is to measure how well a company does RIGHT NOW, then United has the oldest fleet among US carriers, has fewer AVOD equipped aircraft than B6 or DL, has more styles of premium cabins which in total are at a disadvantage to other carriers, and operates more of its network on regional jets than any other US airline.
      But Ben specifically notes that UA is investing in a massive upgrading and expansion of its mainline fleet - which is forward looking. If the intent is to look forward, then the article is not just about where UA is right now but it also is absolutely fair to note what it will cost UA to pull that off relative to other carriers to reach the same point and note that UA has not achieve 90% of what it says it will achieve with its refleeting.

    5. DCS Diamond

      RIGHT NOW, UA has the oldest fleet among the US carriers, so UA, RIGHT NOW, "is investing in a massive upgrading and expansion of its mainline fleet" -- investment that makes sense economical.
      However, you have no clue about what will happen to that investment. It's conjecture that should not be pushed as an objective fact or a "fait accompli".

      Thanks for giving it a rest.

    6. Jason Guest

      The overall point of these articles is to show the good things that the various airlines are doing and to distinguish them from what other airlines are doing. United has made a commitment to a certain configuration. American is different. AA has this, UA has that. I'm sure we'll see a similar treatise on Delta. That's all this really is - pointing out, in Ben's opinion, what they're doing that he sees as good.

      ...

      The overall point of these articles is to show the good things that the various airlines are doing and to distinguish them from what other airlines are doing. United has made a commitment to a certain configuration. American is different. AA has this, UA has that. I'm sure we'll see a similar treatise on Delta. That's all this really is - pointing out, in Ben's opinion, what they're doing that he sees as good.

      No airline will perfectly align with everybody's needs.

      Where I live, United and American are the two best airlines for my needs, neither is perfect, but both have good and bad elements together and I generally will choose one versus the other based on where I'm going and my schedule. usually one or the other one of these carriers works best.

      Whether or not UA pulls of its investment in the narrowbody fleet on the timeline it has given really isnt relevant, as others have noted.

    7. DCS Diamond

      UA already will spend more than twice as much on fleet replacement over the next 5 years as American and Delta and that is before the rumored massive widebody order which means that those other airlines - and others - have had a much better sense of where they needed to go strategically and have made ongoing investments that will allow them to achieve what UA MIGHT do at far lower costs

      A non...

      UA already will spend more than twice as much on fleet replacement over the next 5 years as American and Delta and that is before the rumored massive widebody order which means that those other airlines - and others - have had a much better sense of where they needed to go strategically and have made ongoing investments that will allow them to achieve what UA MIGHT do at far lower costs

      A non sequitur.

      UA is running better than it has for years and that is good for everyone but they have far from proven that they can be a well-run company on a long-term basis as Southwest has consistently done among all airlines and Delta has done among US airlines.

      Rome was not built in a day. Considering where UA was before Munoz righted the ship, the company deserves more than that sort of grudging credit.

      Since the post was primarily about items that are of interest to players of the miles/points game rather than about soundness the airline's economic model and outlook, a dispassionate observer would acknowledge that even during UA's darkest days following the merger with CO MileagePlus remained the company's bright spot.

    8. Mark Guest

      UA’s Q3 results were on par with DL’s, and they’re only in the early stages of their transformation. Who’s to say the trend won’t continue, remaining even with DL and perhaps surpassing them?

      Many of your points discuss the UA of years ago, back in the Oscar Munoz days or the issues that you admit Kirby has fixed.

  18. MLA Guest

    I disagree on the Polaris lounge point. Other than the First Class/GS lounge in London, I have not seen a Polaris lounge that rivals AA Flagship lounges

  19. XPL Diamond

    I concur. I'll also add that United's customer service and overall soft product has improved quite a bit. It used to be that you could count on being treated badly on United (remember Hunter S. Thompson's "flying United is like crossing the Andes on a prison bus"?) but they've clearly been working on that for a while. They have a way to go yet but credit where credit is due.

  20. Terence Guest

    Agreed on most of the points, except the Bigger J cabin and Polaris seats are a stand-out.

    UA have always had larger hubs in urban metros, NYC, DC metro, Chicago, SF-LA, etc. I am under the impression that their member base, and the premium demand, is higher than AA and most certainly DL's. The bigger J cabin does no necessarily translate into better award and upgrade availability. In fact, if you compare them with...

    Agreed on most of the points, except the Bigger J cabin and Polaris seats are a stand-out.

    UA have always had larger hubs in urban metros, NYC, DC metro, Chicago, SF-LA, etc. I am under the impression that their member base, and the premium demand, is higher than AA and most certainly DL's. The bigger J cabin does no necessarily translate into better award and upgrade availability. In fact, if you compare them with AA and DL, UA's upgrade might be the hardest to get, despite the larger seat count.

    Then, the overhyped Polaris. It is amazing from 2-2-2 or 2-4-2, and indeed a big step forward from Fauxlaris. However, the design is essentially 8-abreast with some makeup, in terms of seat width and footrest space. Head to head, I think AA and DL have better seats on their widebody fleets than UA's Polaris. The only exception might be 767 with 1-1-1.

    1. Dr. Stan Guest

      Just to say that I agree wholeheartedly about the upgrades using PlusPoints being about the most difficult to get or "buy" with the PP. I have almost a 1000 PPs and if I am lucky, I might use 20 - 40 a YEAR because there is never any availability at the moment, though of course you can go on the WAITLIST and end up traveling without the upgrade (except, as I say, for maybe 1...

      Just to say that I agree wholeheartedly about the upgrades using PlusPoints being about the most difficult to get or "buy" with the PP. I have almost a 1000 PPs and if I am lucky, I might use 20 - 40 a YEAR because there is never any availability at the moment, though of course you can go on the WAITLIST and end up traveling without the upgrade (except, as I say, for maybe 1 leg or 2 legs a year.

      They pushed an idea of skipping the waitlist if you are willing to spend 70 PPs on a flight. But in probably 3 years, I have NEVER been offered or able too use that option. So the PPs mount up but have no real worth to me.

    2. Terence Guest

      I recall someone from FT reminding the rest that "CPU" is dead. Even for domestic segments you need PPs to clear the upgrades. For that reason, I am actually "skipping" 1K next year, retaining EP and DM instead.

    3. Brian T Coleman Guest

      I"m happy to take some of your Plus Points off your hands if you can't use them. :-) I've had very good luck in redemption and always run out by the end of the year.

  21. globetrotter Guest

    I am currently poking around MileagePlus to book two flights to Asia. It only displays United routes that offers more layovers in Star Alliance than I care for. But AA/ BA provides more shorter flights with their One World airlines. Unfortunately, they do not availability for my desired routes and departure dates at the moment.

    1. pwirth158 New Member

      Between ANA, EVA, Singapore, Thai, Air China, as well as UA and Air Canada, the route network to/from/within Asia on *A is plenty strong. Finding award availability is always a bit of a game and for any specific day one alliance may have better options than the other, but the possibility is there.

      For what it's worth, UA tends to list bookings with a flight on their metal first, so you may need to...

      Between ANA, EVA, Singapore, Thai, Air China, as well as UA and Air Canada, the route network to/from/within Asia on *A is plenty strong. Finding award availability is always a bit of a game and for any specific day one alliance may have better options than the other, but the possibility is there.

      For what it's worth, UA tends to list bookings with a flight on their metal first, so you may need to expand the entire list first and then sort by lowest award cost to see partner flights. But in most cases UA has just as much access to award seats on partner metal as any other airline.

  22. David Guest

    United reneged on Lifetime United Club access, which I bought. When I purchased it, it permitted access regardless of which carrier is operating the flight. Then United unilaterally changed the terms and now requires a United or United partner flight, which significantly devalues my lifetime membership. By comparison, AA and DL continue to honor all lifetime club membership terms.

    As a result, I direct my company's travel budget as well as my personal travel to...

    United reneged on Lifetime United Club access, which I bought. When I purchased it, it permitted access regardless of which carrier is operating the flight. Then United unilaterally changed the terms and now requires a United or United partner flight, which significantly devalues my lifetime membership. By comparison, AA and DL continue to honor all lifetime club membership terms.

    As a result, I direct my company's travel budget as well as my personal travel to DL and AA.

  23. Jason Guest

    Thanks for doing this in addition to the AA one from yesterday. I concur with what you wrote. This weekend I flew from Frankfurt to IAD in Polaris, booked at the very last minute for 62.8K mileage plus miles. It had been around 397K but last minute space opened up so I took it and switched from a more expensive redemption. Anyway, that was nice. The seat, bedding, and entertainment selections were all excellent. And,...

    Thanks for doing this in addition to the AA one from yesterday. I concur with what you wrote. This weekend I flew from Frankfurt to IAD in Polaris, booked at the very last minute for 62.8K mileage plus miles. It had been around 397K but last minute space opened up so I took it and switched from a more expensive redemption. Anyway, that was nice. The seat, bedding, and entertainment selections were all excellent. And, in my case, the crew on my flight was outstanding. Service-oriented, friendly, and engaging. But yes, the catering was awful. And it kind of shocked me that the menu was only printed in English on a flight out of Germany. I flew to Europe on Lufthansa in Business and the menu was in English, German and French. United should at least have it in German (they use to, for sure). Otherwise, I agree with your overall comments. United isn't great, but they are moving in the right direction, fly where I go, and I live in a city where they make sense to fly.

  24. AnishReddi Member

    Wouldn't deltas most comparable plane to the 789 be the A339 as the A359 is the same size as a 772/78X

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Anon Guest

Yup. If Ben hadn't abused the system and been kicked out of United's loyalty program, he'd probably have million miler status by now, which is a truly great perk. (My spouse has it, and I'm loving my unearned 1K status!) Failure to mention PointsPlus is a huge omission in this review, which is one of the best parts of the program. We've had great luck getting the Polaris upgrades to clear. But Ben was apparently a teenager when United kicked him out of its loyalty program for a abusing the system, and we all make dumb choices when we're young.

4
Jason Guest

That all may be well and good but has nothing to do about the purposes of this discussion.

3
DCS Diamond

A more valuable program with tougher qualification requirement. Seems fair to me.

2
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT