I flew first class…. but I didn’t

There’s something United does better than any other US airline. Specifically, they know how to coddle their elites. Let’s use my flight today from Washington to San Diego as an example. This was an Airbus 319 and unfortunately my upgrade didn’t clear. I was kind of dreading the flight, although in reality I did end up in first class. No, I didn’t actually sit in a first class seat, but based on the way the 1K’s aboard were treated, we might as well have been. I got to the gate with my boarding pass for seat 6D, which is a great seat in the first row of Economy Plus with ample legroom. One of the nicest agents at Dulles happened to be working the flight, and I asked whether I had an empty middle seat next to me. She responded “yes, I changed around a few seat assignments to make sure everyone in Economy Plus has an empty middle.” Yes, you heard right, that’s proactive customer service.

Then I get aboard. As expected, there are four people seated in row six. As the flight attendant comes through the aisle with the menu consisting of all the food options, she asks those of us in row six if we’d like anything. I asked for a southwest chicken salad and the person seated across from me asked for a snack box. When we pulled out our credit cards to pay she said “you’re all 1K’s, it’s on us.” Wow! When the purser finished her service in first class she came back to the four of us in row six (the only 1K’s in coach), addressed us by name, thanked us for our loyalty, and asked if she could get us anything to drink. Again, that’s what I call taking care of the customer.

So I really am in first class here. I have more legroom than first class, have an empty middle seat, and had a salad which is the same thing they serve in first class.

Add to that the fact that Channel 9 is on, the aircraft is in pristine condition, and our flight arrived early, and I have to give United huge thumbs up. And best of all, this isn’t a one off. It’s a trend I’ve been noticing lately.

Anyone else?

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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. Wow, that’s terrific service. I particularly love that the gate agent was so proactive. This is the type of service I’d love to see in other businesses as well.

  2. All I can say is that you’re lucky to experience that. I flew IAD-LAX in E+ and didn’t get the same treatment at all, despite also being 1K.

  3. That is luck. You got a nice crew and agent. Your service isn’t a written benefity of 1K and to expect such service again is setting yourself up for disappointment.

  4. I have noticed lately that United is at least trying to show some appreciation to its frequent fliers. As a 1k on my last flight, the Pilot actually hand wrote thank you notes for all the 1ks and Premiere Execs and the FAs passed them out during the flight.

    I’ve also got several unexpected bumps to First on non-full flights and was told it was for my continued patronage.

    I wonder if there was some internal memo from United to beef up their customer service.

  5. Just made 1k this year I have yet to have an FA come and thank me for my loyalty. But I have had consistently good service.

  6. Yes, yes yes! I was flying ORD-DCA yesterday, and as a 1K in E+, was approached by the purser mid-flight with an offer of a First Class fruit plate, which I happily accepted. As has been said many times, United can be quite an airline with the right people.

  7. As a 1K who does around 80 flights per year on United, I can say that I have never, ever been given any kind of preferential treatment while sitting in coach – ever! While not expected, it certainly would be nice to get a little something extra from time to time.. I guess I just need better luck!

  8. I wish I saw this level of service on United. Sounds like a great crew, but all things considered, I think this should be a standard practice for 1ks. AA does the same for their EXPs as a standard policy and SkyTeam does unlimited complimentary upgrades. It’s great to hear of isolated examples of this, but I think this should be a standard policy for all 1ks on UA.

  9. I got a ‘thanks for your business’ visit from the YYC station manager as i was departing last week as well as a very grateful agent while processing a schedule change on the 1K line. She said something like, I see you have already requalified for 1K this year, thanks for your business, and for keeping my job for another year.
    Coincidence? Maybe, but I’ve noted better than normal service lately as well

  10. I had 6A and an open middle seat on CO PHL-IAH last weekend. The in-seat power was working, and I wasn’t particularly hungry (and the chicken wrap “snack” that we got was totally fine). I burned a couple of the complimentary drink coupons, and had an absolutely lovely and productive flight.

    Then again, I didn’t clear on the return leg and it was hands down one of the most horrid flights I’ve been on in a while…

  11. That ROCKS! As a Platinum Medallion on Delta in ATL, I feel like I get next to no consideration at all. I think it’s great that United offers such great service, and wish I was in a market that was served well by them.

  12. I just returned from a quick weekend JFK > SFO and was surprised that channel 9 was on both ways. Keep it up, United!

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