How United Airlines makes flying a miserable experience

United Airlines works extra hard to make flying a miserable experience. That’s why I stopped flying them about ten years ago. To use up some previously acquired miles I recently used United to fly my family to Europe. Every step of the way United and their employees did everything possible to make our experience a negative one.

How United made our recent International flights a miserable experience:

Everything listed below happened on a recent flight from Los Angeles to Europe and back.

Notice there are no restrooms in the rear of this United 767.

  1. Oversell the flight and then offer passengers $300 (on a $1750 ticket) to take a later flight. Make sure there are no flights until the next day.
  2. Change planes so that some passengers who upgraded to Economy Plus no longer have seats. Try to sell an upgraded seat to the same person who already paid for an upgrade and then tell them no upgrades are available.
  3. Make sure there’s only one gate agent available when there are 20-30 people in line with seat problems.
  4. Do not help the passenger you screwed over and fail to refund the $340 they paid for their seat upgrades. We were told they couldn’t do this at the airport and we needed to fill out a form on their website.
  5. Remove all of the rear restrooms so you can sell more seats. This isn’t the case on all United flights, but we encountered this on our 767 flight from Paris to Houston. I checked SeatGuru and found the seat configuration for our plane. Apparently United got those planes from Continental. They might be O.K. for short flights, but should NEVER be used on a sold-out 11 hour international flight.
  6. Remove any standing area around the restrooms in the center of the plane so people have to either block the aisle or stand in the bulkhead aisle seating area.
  7. Make sure all of your flight attendants working in coach are old and grumpy.
  8. Allow the coach seats to recline so far that passengers can hardly view a movie when the asshole in the front of you reclines.
  9. Have people at the gate who have no idea how to board an airplane.
  10. Board passengers from the front of the plane to the rear to ensure a massive traffic jam in the aisle.
  11. Make sure families are not allowed to sit together. We were scattered all over the plane. Two of our three passengers were forced to sit in middle seats, even though we paid extra for aisle seats.
  12. Turn up the pre-flight announcements so loud that deaf passengers can hear them.
  13. Pride yourself in creating the worst meals in the air. Our meal on this flight was unbelievably bad.
  14. Move the headphone jack to the headrest in front of you so the cable dangles in your food (This is a Boeing 767 flaw)
  15. Use a touchscreen to save money so passengers have to bang the headrest to change channels (Other airlines including British Air and Virgin allow you to change channels from the armrest. (Another Boeing 767 flaw)
  16. Do not serve free alcoholic beverages with meals on International flights (British Air and Virgin continue to do this along with most other airlines).
  17. Don’t offer Wi-Fi on 10-12 hour flights (in regions where it is available)

United was bad before they merged with Continental, but they seem even worse now. I will never fly them again and I recommend that you think twice before doing so.

Note: A week before publishing this article United was contacted and given a chance to try to address some of these issues, so far, no response.

– Rick

Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

About Rick E. Schwartz
Rick Schwartz is blogger from San Diego. You can learn more about Rick by clicking on the "About" tab at the top of

5 Responses to How United Airlines makes flying a miserable experience

  1. les says:

    Luckily, I stopped flying UA a long time ago. I couldn’t stand their domestic service so luckily other alternatives became available. Every time I go to Europe, I do everything in my power to avoid a US owned airliner – including paying a higher fee. European and Latin airline companies, from my experience, are much more successful in achieving higher levels of customer service and efficiency for that enjoyable flight.

  2. Kristen Billings says:

    I’m laughing, not with glee, but with complete empathy for you. My travel experiences on United have been so bad that it was almost comical. Unfortunately, it’s no laughing matter when you’re traveling from Beijing to Seattle regularly with a 5 year old and a 5 month old and United makes everything just as hard as they can and then treat you like crap because you deign to ask for a little leg room or a glass of water or, *gasp* a bassinet for the baby to sleep in so you don’t have to hold her for 12 solid hours. they are truly a horrible airline and getting worse by the minute. I honestly can’t believe some of the crappy policies they have come up with recently. They actually charged me 200 USD to take an extra bag back on a recent trip. Two hundred dollars? Really? I can understand charging people to take an extra bag, but 200 bucks? Most other airlines charge a resasonable 50 bucks or so but not United. They charged me 200 bucks and then treated me like I was dirt on their shoes when I dared to complain.
    That’s just robbery and they should be ashamed of themselves to have such audacity.

  3. Coco Loco says:

    You are really dumb… You think UNITED are bad? I fly over 100k miles a year. Trust me, when you see American Airlines, you’ll be thankful you flew united the first time…

  4. Olga Lefort says:

    United Airlines’ staff @ San Francisco CA airport have ZERO CUSTOMER SERVICE – Flight 821 to Mexico City was cancelled today blaming “Mexico City’s weather conditions” they were rude and did NOTHING for the 200+ passengers left there w/o any options….I am furious! My daughter was 12 hours at the airport before we were able to find another flight and a hotel room for tonight….LOOKING for others affected by this flight cancellation….UNITED SUCKS!June 24, 2013

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