Airline Reviews: United Airlines

26 Aug





United Airlines (United)–Domestic (1 flight) from DEN to IAD.  


Boeing 737

Pre-flight Interactions:

My university paid for and arranged the flight tickets, so I have no idea how that process went down.  We just got the e-ticket confirmation and got ready to go.  I will say that when I got to the airport, I had’t had time to check my baggage weight.  Since I was there all night, the attendants at the Check-In counter allowed me to weigh my bags on their scales while no one was in line.  They also looked up our flight information during off hours because we were concerned about when we had to check our luggage.

Baggage Allowance:

First/Business Class: 70lbs and 62 linear inches per bag

Economy: 50lbs and 62 linear inches per bag

You can find all the rules here, but generally you get a personal item (I always make it a backpack because it counts as a purse but is bigger), a carry-on, and 0-1 checked bags.  United pretty much screwed us on this one though.

There were three problems with how they handled everything. First of all, everyone was charged $100 per bag for all second bags.  However, their website states that the same flight should charge $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second.  It should only cost $100 for “oversized bags.”  We did not have oversized bags (remember, I weighed them on their scales).  This means they cheated each person out of $40.  NOT OKAY.

Second, The deal is usually that if you are flying internationally (and we were), all airlines  honor the baggage requirements/allowance of the airline with the longest flight (if tickets are all bought together–not separately).  For contracted airlines, this is often a rule. For unconnected airlines, it is typically a courtesy.  We were flying Air China, which allows 2 checked suitcases for our international flight. United refused to abide by the traditional courtesy even after we explained that we were all moving to China and needed the expected courtesy extended. They were very uncooperative.

Third, United attendants in Denver agreed that United would pay for our carry on suitcases clear through to our final destination. However, when we reached the transfer point in DC, they suddenly didn’t want to stand by that promise and we were looking at additional charges from Air China because United had backed out.  It was only after we spoke with Air China, that the Air China attendants called up a manager who worked it out and got the carry-ons checked clear through—another area where Air China pulled through when United failed.  Read on for the rest of that debacle.


The flight attendants and staff were alright, but they began quickly requesting that flyers check their carry-on suitcases.  Apparently they ran out of room in the plane itself, so they were warning economy passengers that they may not get to take their carry-ons if they didn’t check them.  This goes against their own policy which states that you get to take your carry ons with you, and was annoying.  We ended up agreeing because we couldn’t afford for them to be left behind, but it left us without a lot of our items on the plane itself.  

In Flight:

Service was okay. . . thanks to turbulence we didn’t get a whole lot of it, but what there was ended up fine.  I was seated next to a lovely lady and had a wonderful conversation, which made the time pass faster.

The flight itself was so-so.  There was a lot of turbulence, and we were of course all smashed up against one another. The seats were tiny and no entertainment was provided. There certainly wasn’t room to read or pull out a tablet.  It was slow, boring, and dratted uncomfortable.  

Luggage Retrieval:  

SUCKED!!!  Come to find out, three of the four people had left their passports in the carry-on suitcases that had been checked earlier upon United’s request.  Two didn’t realize they didn’t have theirs until they reached the Air China desk.  We quickly discovered the problem (about 5 minutes after leaving the plane) and raced to United’s customer service.  They took forever asking someone to check the plane to verify it wasn’t there (it wasn’t), and then spent forever attempting to track down the suitcases.  We were told that the baggage claim area would have them ready for us to grab our passports from the bags.  

This meant leaving the secured area and going back through security later.  But we did as we were told and headed down to the baggage claim area.  There the attendant ignored me for about 3 minutes, despite me asking him questions and standing right in front of his box. Then he finally slowly called over the manager, who promised “oh yes, of course, just a couple minutes.”  He took our luggage tickets and wandered off. A while later he came back asking for the luggage tickets, which we informed him that he had taken from us.  He finally came back and said, “don’t worry, it will be here in about 15-20 minutes.  We have them!”  We waited and waited.  I went to ask the attendant and he got up and walked away right as I stepped in front of his desk, he then went over to greet another attendant and talk about the weather while I stood there obviously waiting.  Finally, I hailed the manager who said again, just wait a few more minutes.  Waited . . . no bags.  Returned to the manager who now informed me that he hadn’t found the bags in their locker, but they knew right were they were and it would be no problem, just wait a few more minutes.  2 hours went by in this fashion, until finally I went back and he informed me that he was so sorry but he simply couldn’t find them; they must be with Air China.  He sent us running (we had 1 hour left on our layover) to Air China’s baggage, which was closed.  We returned to tell him this, and he just said to go find someone upstairs “somewhere” to talk to, he couldn’t do anything.  

We finally got ahold of the passports on our own by going through Air China (you can find out more about how they handled the situation in this review; Air China was highly commendable in the situation)  The point being, United was not only worthless, they wasted our time, upset my mother, and almost made us miss our flight when they had been part of the original problem.  Considering that they had already cheated me out of $40 on my checked luggage, they should have been going out of their way to help us.  NOT OKAY.

Overall Conclusions

This is definitely not my favorite airline to fly with.  I’m not sure how the ticketing process went, but if it was anything like the rest of the flight I’m guessing there were problems.  United’s customer service in Denver was questionable at best, in DC it was the worst.  The flight was bumpy and cramped, they charged me too much money, they lost my luggage, and they weren’t going to uphold their free baggage allowance. I would avoid United in the future if possible.  It was not a good experience.

2 Responses to “Airline Reviews: United Airlines”

  1. Harold Delk August 30, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    I have refused to fly United and Delta for many years. If I had to choose between one of them and Malaysian I’d be hard-pressed to agree to leave the ground.


  1. Arrived at Last! | Deceptively Blonde - September 6, 2014

    […] Air China. Mom and I realized it immediately and then spent the next three hours being given the run around by United Airlines who kept making a lot of promises about having the bags on hand, but then gave us all sorts of […]

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