United Airlines: You're Hard to Leave!

Back from Cuba early on Friday, I received word that a family member had died and I had to travel to Colorado...the next morning. Once again, I found that giving up United will not be easy.

For the second trip in a row, my intent was to fly American Airlines. Yet a quick search on ITA Software revealed that AA was hundreds of dollars more per ticket than United! Not only that, they only operate American Eagle service to Denver from Los Angeles. Actually, I would have been happy to try it, but I doubt my father and uncle--who were traveling with me--would have been appreciative of the diminished legroom for the two hour flight (I've spoiled them with exit rows and first class on United for years).

So I booked on United instead--out of Santa Ana and into Los Angeles. The upgrade cleared overnight for me from Santa Ana to Denver and for my uncle and me from Denver to Los Angeles. I then used a regional upgrade to confirm my father in first class as well, so all three of us returned home in first class.

Despite my best efforts to give my father or uncle the first class seat on the outbound, they both insisted I take it and they actually wound up with more legroom (and an open middle seat) in the exit row.

Crews were great, meals were good, and though the return flight was delayed by an hour, the United Club in Denver was a decent place to pass the time.

All in all, a very smooth trip on United. More importantly, another missed chance to fly on American. I tried, but United just worked out better...again.


Andrew June 4, 2012 at 02:45 pm

Hello Matthew,

Sorry for your loss in the family.

I agree with you - I am based in DEN and through a few not-so-good recent experiences with United (missed upgrades, missed GPU/W-fare upgrade while there was space, lost bag for my 3-day trip to SXM and not getting it back for 7 days after departure... etc.). As a result, I "tried" to book my future flights on AA.

Being in DEN, AA just doesn't have comparable route and schedule coverage as United and their tickets are always hundreds more $$. Plus, it seems to me they are flying the CRJs a lot to the west coast as opposed to United flying actual jets to the same destinations.

Unfortunately I am left with no choice but to continue to accumulate United miles and hoping to redeem them on SQ one lucky day! Please keep us posted if you find a way to switch to AA!

And please keep new articles & pics coming - I enjoy reading them very much! I even have upgrd.com as my homepage now!


Funny how these things work out sometimes. I have had similar experiences trying to go YYC to FRA wanting to do Lufthansa First Class but the times/cost just did not make it worthwhile.

azm June 5, 2012 at 12:51 am

I flew United over the weekend with the original itinerary EWR-ORD-MSP and return MSP-ORD-DCA. My upgrade for the EWR-ORD leg cleared after I had boarded the flight and had settled into my exit row, but I was still happy. I was offered a chance to buy-up until the very last minute as I was checking in at the airport (last offer was for $89), so I understand why frequent fliers are frustrated. As a 1K I was thinking the ORD-MSP upgrade was the one that would clear, instead of the hub-to-hub route, but it was the opposite.

In spite of the upgrade frustrations, service was decent, and the meal consisted of warm nuts, mushroom soup, entree (cheeseburger or chicken salad), fruits, and warm cookie -- quite good!

The reason I was most impressed, though, was the incident with my return leg. My MSP-ORD was delayed and I was going to miss the ORD-DCA leg. Even though there was a later flight from ORD to DCA, the agent at MSP, without any requests by me, just booked me on a Delta flight that was going direct MSP-DCA. She even tried to get me upgraded to first on the Delta, but it was full, and I got an Economy Comfort seat instead. That's what I call service - proactively looking out for me, going out of the way to book me on a different carrier so I can get home on time. Well done, United!

Matthew, sorry for your loss, and thanks for your posts.

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