United International First Lounge at SFO…. will they ever learn?

So my brother is flying PS F today from SFO to JFK, and had a substantial delay out of SFO. It was due to “air traffic control” (everyone knows why I’m putting that in quotes), and ultimately turned out to be a four hour delay, pushed back 30 minutes at a time. Eventually I convinced him to try his luck and visit the IFL, which is located in the international terminal.

At many airports that wouldn’t be allowed, but SFO has a specific policy that you can enter a different terminal than your BP is for if you have a legitimate reason to be there. Of course half of the motivation for him to visit the IFL was the fact that the SFO IFL dragons (and I usually wouldn’t use that term, but they really are massive dragons) continuously deny PS F passengers IFL access, despite the fact that they’re clearly entitled to access, so being the good brother I am I wanted to check up on how they were doing recently.

So he took the connection bus to the international terminal and went to the IFL. I asked him to have me on the phone as he entered, but not be talking to me, just so I could hear what they were saying. I should say I briefed him with the two most important words before he entered, namely “supervisor” and “profile.”

I could hear as he entered that the dragon said “sorry honey, you can’t wait here if you’re flying PS first, this is only for international first” (“honey,” talk about a great way to talk to an F passenger). I then heard the other agent (who my brother thought was a supervisor) say “no, PS first passengers can use the IFL.” With that he was allowed in.

He then asked the agent to let him know when his flight would actually board, since the flight time was constantly being pushed back. The bad agent once again said “sorry, I have no way of doing that, you’ll have to check the status yourself.” The other agent (the one my brother assumed was a supervisor), said “don’t worry, I’ll check on the status for you and keep you updated.” I was about ready to jump through the phone when the agent said she had no way of finding out the flight status, considering she has both a computer and a phone with which to call the gate!

Well, on the plus side he got in and loved the lounge, but on the negative side one of the agents was a complete bitch, and sadly she deals with United’s premium passengers.

So what’s the point of my ramble? Well, I’m no fan of the ACLU, but I’m encouraged to start something similar for the simple rights of passengers. Ultimately the key is to say “screw United, I’ll take my business elsewhere,” but I really love United and feel bad for all of the great employees at United who have their images sent right to the dumpster thanks to these morons.

I’ve had a “battle” at the IAD RCC which I think ultimately resulted in one agent either getting fired or relocated (I haven’t seen her since, and I’m at the RCC’s several times a month), and I’m determined to continue. Without going into too many details, my plan is simple– bring to the attention of United’s upper management as well as airport management the clear problems they have.

How? Well, it involves tickets, be it PS F tickets ex-SFO or coach tickets from most of the gateways that deny Star Gold members in coach drink chits. My goal is to help United, not by being rude to the front line employees, but by getting the station managers and supervisors to talk to me when these problems arise. I’d love a straight answer about what the problem is, whether management is encouraging the agents to not give out drink chits as well as deny access (which I can’t imagine is the case), whether the agents are all rebels from the 60’s (seems likely), or whether they’re just not training the agents properly.

This is only the beginning. I might sound radical here, but I want United to be a better airline, and I ain’t stoppin’ till the RCC’s are with some consistency giving drink chits to Star Gold members in coach (WITHOUT making a “one time exception”), and also specifically to make sure the PS F policy ex-SFO is properly enforced.

Whew, I feel better. Thanks for listening to my ramble.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. What’s your problem with the ACLU? They tend to fight for rights that are much more important than those of UA premium class passengers trying to enter a United lounge…

  2. Oliver, I’d prefer to avoid discussing my views of the ACLU too much, other than to say that I think they take civil liberties to an extreme, and are the exact opposite of the TSA (not necessarily in a good way). They’ve no doubt done some good things though. In a way I view them similar to modern day unions, good in theory, but often not so good in practice.

  3. Who is protecting your rights, if not organizations such as the ACLU or the EFF? Certainly our elected representatives and the administration aren’t… (see the recent debacle with the FISA act)

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