Christopher Elliott visits United and files an interesting report.
- The number of elite passengers on a flight factors into the flight’s priority during weather and air traffic delays. (I believe that generally the number of connections, and whether connecting passengers can be re-accomodated, takes on a greater importance.)
- The flat tire rule still exists, if you miss your flight but show up at the airport within two hours of your scheduled departure, you can stand by for the next flight at no charge. No guarantees you’ll get on to that next flight, but there’s no charge to be re-accomodated if you can. Of course it might still be worth making a same-day confirmed change before missing your flight.
- United keeps Economy Plus because it’s profitable. Unsurprising, but has been interesting to watch the evolution. When Economy Plus was introduced, airline partner elite members got access to the seating for free. Then they took it away even from full fare paying passengers. Combined with one-class planes operated by TED such as Washington Dulles – Las Vegas, you had surreal situations such as full fare first class London – Washington Dulles passengers being asked to ‘buy up’ to economy plus for their DC – Vegas segment.
- Dehydration affects taste buds more than altitude, but since different people drink different amounts of liquids onboard catering can’t fully adjust. And they don’t test how meals taste inflight before introducing them.
- United claims telephone hold times, which were truly awful after the March 3 reservations system cutover, have settled down:
Super-elites phoning United have their calls answered within 10 seconds. Elites wait about 45 seconds. Regular travelers? About 80 percent of the time, their calls are answered within two minutes.