I have not flown United since retaining Premiere Executive status (thanks to United’s 2009 Triple EQM offer), and now I know why. I was recently on a United flight from America’s worst airport (IAD) to JFK. I got to the airport a few hours early and wanted to go standby for an earlier flight. After checking in at the kiosk, I tried to get on the standby list via “get on an earlier flight option” from the kiosk. The kiosk requested I swipe my credit card and notified me that I would have to pay $50.00 if my standby was confirmed. As an United Premiere Executive for many years, I stood there staring at the screen in disbelief.
After getting through Dulles’s horrible security checkpoint and train, I finally got to the United Customer Service desk. When I inquired about standing by for an earlier flight, I was told that it would cost me $50 if I get on to the flight. When I told the United Customer Services agent that I was never informed of this new policy, she informed me that it was put in place February of 2010. The United Customer Services agent was also shocked that she had to ask for my credit card when she noticed that I was a United Premiere Executive.
Still in disbelief, I rang United Customer Services’ number and was connected to their Indian call center. The offshore United Customer Services agent told me United began charging $50 for taking an earlier flight and the only way around it is if you’d a full fare ticket - not even Premiere Executive members are spared of the fee. I dug through United.com and found this article (link for your reference). I believe Premiere Executive 1K and Global Services members can get the standby fees waived.
I now know why I have stopped giving United my business as being a loyal customer doesn’t pay. United’s learned from USAir by charging their customers for standby when their planes are empty (perhaps charging for water on a flight is next - see previous post about USAir). United’s latest customer gouging approach makes Delta’s poor customer service and trying to squeeze every penny from you at JFK seem harmless. Now I understand why I have been flying Delta more and more, especially when they offer “confirmed” standby within 4 hours of the flight. Yes! If you’ve Delta Medallion status, they’ll give you a seat on the flight 4 hours in advance or within 4 hours of the next flight if you’ve missed your earlier flight. No wonder I wrote this previous article (Delta’s Medallion Program puts them above other airlines).