January 9, 2009

United.com Fail Again

I really love this one. Forget that when I go to the main site my browser already knows how to fill the Mileage Plus number and the password in already. OK, so they are using another domain to try to get me to pay ($1,400+!) to upgrade to Premier status. This is just so wrong. Why can't I put fricking spaces or dashes in the account number if it helps me? Are they really so hard to ignore? Give me a break.

Don't people realize it's this kind of obtuseness (in the middle of a journey, under great stress) that makes people go berserk? Over ten years ago I wrote some web callback software for a small but customer friendly 'phone company (with a fabulous domain name). I asked them what they wanted to do about number validation, and they just said "Throw anything away that isn't a digit". Is it really that hard for large companies like United to understand?

The ironic thing is, United are trying to sell me access to their lounges. I am sitting in Atlanta airport, waiting to fly United, and I am in the Delta lounge, because Delta take the Priority Pass that I buy annually for around $300. On the way down from DC I upgraded to first class, one of the reasons being I had plenty of time at the airport and thought it would be nice to use the lounge. Foiled again: only United international first class passengers get to use the lounge. So all I get for my $79 is a little extra legroom on a 2-hour flight. On only one occasion in the last five years did a friendly United staffer grant me access to the lounge because I was traveling with them even though I didn't have the right card with me. I will love her for ever - she treated me like a human being.

I am left wondering why on earth I bother to be a United frequent flyer. It's not that I fly that often any more, and I know all airlines suck, but I can't help feeling that United have this inbuilt self-destructive ability to suck harder than anybody else while they think they are succeeding. No wonder Untied.com is going from strength to strength. I am convinced the United management never fly incognito as economy passengers. If they did, they would realize what a crappy airline they are running.

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