I received the following e-mail this afternoon from United Airlines reflecting on its progress since 03 March in making Continental and United a single airline:
As a Premier 1K member, you have come to deserve and expect a dependable, rewarding experience from United from end to end. We want to keep you up to date following our recent conversion to a single passenger service system, a single website and a single loyalty program. We know that our customers have experienced various issues since our system conversion. We are working aggressively to resolve the remaining issues promptly. Here is a progress update on key subjects about which we’ve heard from our customers.
- Customer Service hold times. If you have called or sent us an email recently, you have more than likely experienced delays, in some cases for extended periods. We sincerely apologize for this. We are addressing these high volumes with a combination of system solutions and additional staffing. Be assured this is our top priority, and we are steadily reducing wait times and email backlogs.
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades. Over the past few weeks, we experienced difficulties with our Complimentary Premier Upgrade process. We have stabilized our systems to ensure that upgrades are being processed in a timely manner and in the appropriate order. If your flight is eligible for a Complimentary Premier Upgrade, be assured that you will be automatically added to the upgrade list. Once you have checked in for your flight, you can see where you are on the list by going to mobile.united.com or our mobile app. Those familiar with the old united.com will notice that this procedure is different from before our system conversion.
Later this year we will enhance the upgrade process so that at any time you can see your pending upgrade requests. This will take us some time to accomplish, but we know that upgrades are an important Premier benefit and appreciate your patience while we refine this experience.
- Mileage credit and redeposit. When you take an eligible flight on United, the mileage credit and Premier qualifying activity will appear in your account approximately 72 hours after departure. Flights on a Star Alliance member airline or another airline partner may take a bit longer. If a flight is missing from your account, you can call the MileagePlus Service Center to request the credit, and it will appear in your account approximately three weeks later.
On a related topic, you may have noticed that mileage redeposits for unused travel and upgrade awards are, in some cases, taking longer than normal to credit to your account. We are working to expedite this. Be assured that while it may take longer than usual right now, all mileage credits will post accurately to your account. The standard timeframe will be 10 days. We aim to systematically reduce these posting times as we go forward.
- Signing in to united.com. We hope you’ve had a chance to sign in to the new united.com, but if you haven’t, visit the United Hub at united.com/hub first, where you can learn about MileagePlus PINs, passwords and other topics designed to increase your familiarity with united.com. There are some features we know you’ll enjoy about the new united.com, such as fewer steps to book a reservation (including award travel on United and more than 30 of our partners); Alex, the united.com guide; and more. Over the next year, we will be improving the functionality of our website and adding new features.
Based on customer feedback, we are continuing to address a range of other subjects concerning our post-conversion travel procedures. Visit the United Hub for specific updates. Plus, we are intensifying our training process for customer service agents at our airports and contact centers, to focus particularly on the issues that we’ve heard about from our customers since the system conversion.
We thank you for your patience while we complete our transition and apologize again for any problems you’ve had. Your business matters to us, and we look forward to seeing you onboard soon.
Jeff Foland, Executive Vice President / President, Mileage Plus
Martin Hand, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience
I miss the personalized letters United used to send out to MileagePlus members, but that is not what concerns me here. Rather, the “Complimentary Premier Upgrade” section raises alarm bells. If the system truly is fixed now, we have a big problem. Mosey on over to Flyertalk and you will see repeated instances of non-elites being offered paid upgrades at check-in for a fraction of the cost quoted to Mileage Plus elites. Furthermore, even people in the same fare class are being offered substantially different buy-up pricing.
The problem is two-fold. First, the whole concept of rewarding transactional loyalty over long-term loyalty, by which I mean selling upgrades when elites are still waitlisted, is deeply problematic to me. But it is what it is. I may hate the policy, but that is what Smisek and Co. want and I will have to learn to get used to it. Second, though, is the total lack of transparency in the system. Why is it that a 1K and a general member can buy the same $300 transcon fare, but the general member is offered an upgrade for $109 while the 1K is offered the same upgrade for $379? That indicates to me that the the system is broken.
So yes, I have still have some grave concerns which this letter does not address to my satisfaction.
I do have some good news to end on, though–I got my first upgrade today since the merger, from Chicago to San Francisco on a T-fare I purchased this morning. Odd that all the upgrades I expect to get, I do not, and the ones I expect to miss, I get. I’ve got a Los Angeles to Philadelphia flight on Monday on an A319 that is now showing Y0, F8 (eight first class seats total) and even has some R (free upgrade) space. But despite my upgrade window opening tonight, I was not willing to take a chance and burned a confirmed regional upgrade on the flight. With the system acting the way it is, it was not worth the risk.