Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SAY "NO!!!" to United Airlines MileagePlus Credit Card!

SAY "NO!!!" to United Airlines MileagePlus Credit Card!

Today we discuss the pitfalls of the United MileagePlus Credit Card. This is based from both fact and many disappointing experiences. The last place you want to find out the small print is at the check-in desk where you will be charged extra. So please read and do not become a victim of these so called club "benefits"!

First Checked Bag Free (Save $100)

Small Print: There isn't one, but you will be told it's for Domestic US flights only!
Bad Experience: We arrived at the check-in desk at London Heathrow with an extra luggage case. They informed us that a MileagePlus card free checked bag does not apply on international flights. We presented the United Representative with an email confirmation which clearly outlines the fact that we are entitled to a free checked bag (It doesn't mention domestic or international at all!). She demanded $200 for the 2 extra bags or they would not let us fly. This seems to occur on every international United flight we take. We have been denied to fly twice out of ten times. See a copy of the MileagePlus free checked bag terms and conditions below.

Source: United In-flight Magazine (Hemispheres) - November 2013

You must pay for the flight using the MileagePlus card to receive this free checked bag benefit! I wish they would have mentioned that on the United/MileagePlus website beforehand.
Despite having the card in your possession, you must wait TWO WEEKS to be eligible for the benefits. I overheard an angry lady at LAX forcing over $100 for a checked bag despite the booking system allowing her to pay for the trip using her MileagePlus card. Wow!

Priority Boarding

Small Print: Basically before the first economy passenger.
Bad Experience: That is, after First Class, Business, Elites, Special Needs and every other sole (aka Boarding Group 2) but directly in front of economy. You might as-well fly economy and sit next to the desk at the gate, you are no better off.

30,000 miles after spending $1000 in the first 3 months

Small Print: True. However, see below for the BIG CATCH!
Bad Experience: This will get you a ONE WAY flight to Europe. Don't even think about purchasing your return journey separately! The reason being is that United Airlines are typical for charging MORE for a one way flight than a complete round trip! CRAZY!!! See a classic example below...

$1,245 For a ONE WAY TRIP from US to Europe
Source: Booking Website

$1,027 For a ROUND TRIP from US to Europe
Source: Booking Website

$1,245 For a ONE WAY TRIP from US to Europe
$1,027 For a ROUND TRIP from US to Europe
This doesn't add up!
This is very typical for United. They charge more for one-way trips over round trips, so if you have 30,000 miles saved up (like the nice introductory offer for example!), you really need to boost that to 60,000 so you can book a round trip with your miles. This is 60,000 MINIMUM! (Of course, that DOES NOT include the booking fees and taxes!)
So 60,000 miles will get you a return to Europe on SOME select dates (You need to get lucky with those dates!) and those extra 30,000 miles take a LONG TIME (AND MONEY) to build up!
Also, these introductory 30,000 miles DO NOT allow you to qualify for Premier Silver Membership at 25,000 miles (Priority Seating benefits etc). You actually have to accrue these miles yourself by paying for flights.
Last but not least... When booking a flight using your hard earned miles, you must PAY EVEN MORE TAXES AND FEES! So what is actually free United? Anything!? Take a look at the example fee breakdown below. For a round trip from USA to UK, you are paying $272.40 IN BOOKING FEES AND TAXES!!!

US to Europe Round Trip Example: Outbound: 30,000 miles + $80 in taxes and fees

Source: Booking Website

US to Europe Round Trip Example: Inbound: 30,000 miles + $192.40 in taxes and fees
Source: Booking Website

2 United Club Lounge Passes

Small Print: True. However, see below for the catch!
Bad Experience: The MileagePlus website boasts many benefits of the United Club Lounge. These benefits include: Meeting rooms, free Wi-Fi, workspaces, refreshments and more! However, this largely depends on the airport you visit! United give the impression in their advertising that all Club Lounges include all these amazing facilities. However, this is simply not the case. When you land in Vermont with nothing but a chair and a lemon water dispenser, you would naturally feel a little ripped off.
The United Club Lounge is located past security, meaning you require a booked flight to use the facilities. The club is closed overnight, so useless if you are waiting for an early morning flight. Furthermore, to really benefit from the lounge, you should arrive for your first flight transfer really early. Wi-Fi is also NOT free in the club at certain locations. At other locations, LAX for example, there is no club network, you are using the airport Wi-Fi alongside everybody else!

The card is operated and managed by Chase Bank. If you wish to dispute any of the United Airline benefits at the check-in desk, they will simply tell you to contact Chase. It appears nobody will take responsibility and will pass you between companies and departments. This is a VERY common trait of United Airlines. They will generally refer you to their EMAIL ONLY CUSTOMER SUPPORT You CANNOT call for ANY reason regarding a complaint. VERY POOR customer service indeed! United will simply stop replying to your emails and there is no number to call, just a voice mail inbox. This is why United was named was placed dead last in customer service poll of all major airlines, naming them 2013's worst airline.

Message To United

You can reach me here, leave a comment, I am still waiting for your response from a complaint I submitted last year. In the meantime, I am sharing my experiences with your airline as I fear for anybody else in my situation. See my blog post about my complaint here

Blog Updates
As of the 1st of April 2014, United has not responded.

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