United Airlines, or how to seriously p… off your customers

Now granted this is a ranting blog post not a culture blog post  – having said that, there is a bit of culture (or lack thereof) involved – and also I just need to rant about this.

So, for as long as I can think of I have been a United frequent flyer.  I never amounted to more than a Silver status but what kept me is Star Alliance which also includes Lufthansa and Swiss, which I fly regularly and the fact that San Francisco is a UA hub.  Now, for the first time I exceeded 50,000 miles and felt more than entitled to my Gold status, after all I had chosen United to fly to Australia recently over, say Qantas or Virgin.  I flew back Air New Zealand, a Star Alliance member, for one reason only, the flight was about a thousand dollars cheaper (I flew business).

My account now shows 51,000 some odd miles and Silver status.  Wait, Silver status???

So I called, politely inquiring when my status will be updated.  Call me a status hog but part of the reason I did this was to get to Gold and therefore into the Lounge and to more frequent upgrades.

However, I was informed, that I do not qualify for Gold as I have not satisfied an new requirement, namely that one flies 4 segments with United per year – not any old stupid alliance partner.  The reason being that the administration of the mileage program costs money and obviously I am not worth that money.

To put this in perspective: had I flown to LAX from SFO twice for under $200 I would qualify but having had just one measly business class flight to Australia plus a cross country flight to New York makes me inadmissible?  Which genius did think that scheme up?  Was it developed with the expressed purpose of annoying the hell out of loyal customers?  Does United seriously fell that they have to many frequent flyers and therefore need to treat them badly to get rid of them?

Somebody should write a Harvard Business School case about this classic imbecility.

I for one will take my business somewhere else.  Virgin offers a status matching program, American might, too.  Then I am going to get myself a Lufthansa Miles and More card and will henceforth avoid flying United at all cost.

Bye bye, United, it was a long and unhappy marriage and now it is over.  I am divorcing you!




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