Before I start praising United for how awesome they were yesterday, I wanted to mention what happened to me this morning (March 1) on UA7679 from JFK to IAD. There were five other FlyerTalkers on this flight (all 1K and Global Services), and while I originally wasn’t going to upgrade, the fact that there were four FlyerTalkers in first class and two open seats in first class on the E170 was enough reason for me to upgrade.
In the Red Carpet Club I added myself to the waitlist, and I was number one. As we were getting ready to leave the Red Carpet Club for our 9:30AM departure, we all got EasyUpdates saying the flight was delayed until 10AM. We asked the Red Carpet Club agent to confirm, and she said the flight was still on-time. She even phoned the gate to ask about the departure time, and they said 9:30AM as well. We decided to go to the gate, and lo and behold the departure time is 10AM. Gotta love how customers have more information than the gate agent working the flight, apparently.
Anyway, they were rebooking passengers from the earlier flight (which was a one cabin aircraft) to our flight since it was delayed by over an hour and there were several passengers with international connections. We eventually start boarding and as I walk to the podium I ask the agent to check on the status of my upgrade. She said it didn’t clear, but I didn’t care too much.
We get aboard and I’m in the bulkhead row of the E170 (row three), while there are four FlyerTalkers in first class, along with two other people. One of the other people is obviously a United employee, given that he was standing behind the counter, had three carry-ons, and was helping people “gate check” bags. He sits down for a while and talks to the seatmate as well, so he wasn’t just working the flight.
I started talking to the other FlyerTalkers about the situation since we all agreed something wasn’t right, but we were relatively discreet about it given that they were seated right in front of me. We agreed I would write a letter to United about the situation but wouldn’t push it further at JFK since our flight was already delayed.
As boarding finishes up the guy that we suspect is a non-rev points to me and motions for me to take his seat in first class, I assume because he overheard our conversation. He gets off the plane, and moments later the gate agent comes aboard with my new boarding pass. The guy never reboarded.
While I won’t report this to UA, I suspect foul play.
By the way, I find it interesting that they serve hot towels on a United Express non-meal flight but don’t do so on most United mainline flights, even when there’s a meal.