United’s Possibly Priority Luggage and Lesser-First Class Services

My Latest Letter to United Airlines

It’s odd that I haven’t yet received the perfunctory follow-up email asking how we enjoyed our recent trip (#535 from San Francisco to Newark) on 18 August. I think I know why:

Priority luggage was once again a mess: three bags had PRIOITY tags added when we checked in—and the plane left an hour late. Two pieces arrived with our flight but the third arrived over two hours later on flight #2248. We had to wait for that third piece because no United employee would take be responsibility for it when it arrived. In both luggage deliveries, bags was preceded by countless bags with no Priority tags.

To be helpful, I suggest you replace PRIORITY tags with POSSIBLY PRIORITY tags so that people like me won’t be able to hold you to a performance standard beyond your means.

Also: This is not the first time United has been picky about on which plane to load our Priority luggage. Since you must know when a bag is not loaded, why not tell passengers immediately after the plane departs when their luggage is left at the airport? Does United withhold that info to avoid unhappy passengers making a luggage fuss during the flight? Waiting until arrival is unnecessarily inconvenient and hardly in passenger interests.

Food choice in 1st Class was limited by flier status. Although all first classers are handed menus with three dinner choices, a “second choice” is required for those first class passengers who are less first classier than others. When a lesser-first classer’s favored choice is ordered by too many more-first classers, a second choice must be chosen or no meal will be served—which is what the steward warned would happen to us when we said we both wanted chicken as our first or second choices. When pressed, he revealed two choices were needed because getting first class meal choices are determined by passenger “status” in the calendar year. He showed a list that indicated our status this year. Although we paid for first class seats, sure enough other first classers were more-first class than we were. Would you be good enough to clarify who at United thought that up?

In case you think I am complaining, you are wrong. Actually I am apologizing for having high expectations when we clearly do not deserve them as lesser-first classers unworthy of having every Priority bag handled as a priority or getting the meal choices described on the menus. Although I have 963,000 United points and my wife has around a half million, we have flown less this year and realize that years of loyalty to United do not count, only the current year matters, if at all. By the way, how does United decide who is more-first than others at the beginning of a calendar year? (And does that also affect Priority Luggage? Just asking.)

In accordance with United’s treatment of luggage and meal choices, we are lowering our expectations of getting full value for the price of our tickets. With that in mind, what dollar amounts of our ticket price were for meals and luggage handling? That’s a good place to begin a discussion of compensation.



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