United Basic Economy Tickets Are Now On Sale (And Being Marketed Dishonestly)


Earlier today American began selling basic economy fares, and now United is selling them as well. This isn’t coming as a surprise, given that both American and United have already revealed the full details of these fares, and we knew they’d start selling them around now.

However, with American I get the sense that they’re sort of embarrassed about introducing them. They realize it’s not good for customers, but they’re going to do it anyway, because money. However, United actually seems to want to convince customers that basic economy fares are good for them. Ironically, United is also being the strictest of any carrier with these basic economy fares, as:

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Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago


We arrived on our United “Polaris” flight from London and had a four hour layover in Chicago before our connecting flight. This gave us plenty of time to check out the brand new Polaris Lounge which we were rather excited about. Unfortunately, it was a few days before they began serving restaurant-style order-off-the-menu meals so those won’t be part of this review. A day late and a dollar short. Or something like that.

We cleared security and headed over to Terminal C through the psychedelic tunnel.

As you come up the escalator, the United customer service counter is straight ahead. And the Polaris Lounge is just to the left of it.

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Review: United Club London Heathrow


This was the first time that we had passed through London since the new Queen’s Terminal opened and we were curious to see it. I don’t remember that much of my last visit to London Heathrow other than the Star Alliance airlines were sharing a common, mostly nondescript lounge that seemed to have few if any windows.

With the opening of Terminal 2, there are now so many choices for Star Alliance flyers at London Heathrow that it’s almost overwhelming. Ben has recently reviewed all of them — Lufthansa, Singapore, Air Canada, and United. That meant there was no need for me to take one for the team and we could just head to the best. Which is considered to be the United Club. That’s not a misprint.

Not only was the United Club rated the best but it was also undeniably the most convenient as it turned out to be right next to our gate. We headed over, though got sidetracked for a long time at the kids play structure as you approach the pier. It’s an impressive space filled with kids, and is even staffed by a Heathrow employee. Judging by the no photography signs posted in the vicinity, the Brits are camera shy, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

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5 Fantastic Uses Of United Miles


There are numerous ways to use United miles, and you can do some really fun stuff with stopovers and open-jaws.

For the purposes of this post I’m going to keep it simple and highlight the one-way prices for some of the “sweet spots” in the United award chart, along with a couple of regions where I find United miles to be particularly useful.

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When (And Where) Will The Next United Polaris Lounge Open?


United recently introduced their new Polaris product which will feature a new business class seat, an improved soft product, and a network of lounges exclusively for premium cabin flyers. The new soft product launched in December of last year, while the new seats won’t start appearing for another month or so and will then take up to five years to trickle out across the fleet.

I had the opportunity fly United Polaris for the first time last month and was reasonably impressed with the enhanced dining and bedding options as well as the new amenity kit.

I also had the chance to visit the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago and will have a review shortly as part of my current trip report. Suffice to say that the Polaris Lounge is the most impressive aspect of the new product in my opinion — I think even the most casual of business class traveler will recognize that it is definitely not a United Club.

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How To Safely Fly With Your Dog


Over the weekend both View From the Wing and Live and Let’s Fly shared the heartbreaking story of a dog who died after being shipped on a United Airlines flight. The owner’s mom checked the dog in to United in Detroit for what should have been a relatively simple itinerary to Portland, Oregon via Chicago.

For whatever reason, when the dog arrived in Chicago they were told he “didn’t fit,” which resulted in the dog being sent to an airport kennel overnight, and put on a flight the following day. When the dog arrived in Portland (20 hours late), he was lethargic, and non-responsive, and died shortly after reaching the vet’s office.

To be clear, this is horrible, and I can’t imagine how devastated the owner is. United is (of course) assuming no responsibility, which I’m sure is maddening, but is consistent with United’s terms for pet travel.

But there are also some things the owner could have done to better insure against this awful eventuality — she certainly didn’t do anything wrong, but she might have made different choices if she’d had better information. I have some experience with pet travel, so figured I’d share some tips, and some of my thoughts on what might have gone wrong here.

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The Real Failure With Last Night’s Unfit To Fly United Pilot…


Earlier I shared the story of a United captain who showed up to work an Austin to San Francisco flight, clearly not in a state to fly. She was wearing flip flops and jeans, which should have been the first clue. She then stood in front of the cabin and made a PA about how she’s going through a messy divorce, how both Hillary and Donald suck, made a comment about the interracial couple in first class, said that the co-pilot would fly since “he’s a man,” etc.

Obviously she’s in a very bad place, and I hope she gets the help she needs.

There’s something I didn’t notice the first time around, though, that makes this situation even worse. Earlier I hadn’t seen a video of what she had said, though some videos are emerging now. Here’s a video of the very tail end of what she said:

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United Captain Kicked Off Flight For INSANE Behavior


We hear of passengers being kicked off flights all the time for exhibiting crazy behavior, and once in a while we even hear of pilots or flight attendants being kicked off planes for being drunk.

However, this story is next-level crazy. The captain scheduled to operate United 455 from Austin to San Francisco yesterday evening boarded wearing flip flops and casual clothing, then stood in front of the cabin and made a crazy announcement over the PA. She allegedly explained that she was going through a messy divorce, talked about how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both a@@holes, and that she’d let the co-pilot fly the plane, as he’s a “man.”

Some passengers felt uncomfortable and got off the plane, and eventually the police was called and the captain was removed from the plane as well.

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Review: United “Polaris” Business Class 787 Houston To Frankfurt


When we booked this trip, United Polaris was still called BusinessFirst. Last summer United unveiled Polaris and our reservations eventually updated to reflect the new branding on our Houston to Frankfurt flight.

We knew of course that United had only launched the Polaris soft product and that the new seats wouldn’t start appearing for another few months, but still felt kind of lucky to get to try the new service within the first month or so of its debut.

Coincidentally, we had flown United BusinessFirst across the Pacific during the last days of November, right before Polaris launched. That was unlucky. But it gave us a recent reference point with which to compare the new offering.

And that’s what I’m going to focus on in this review — the aspects of the flight relating to the new Polaris soft product. That’s why I’ve put Polaris in quotes in the title to reflect the fact that this isn’t the real Polaris, but it’s what you’ll get if you fly Polaris today.

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50,000 Bonus Miles With The United MileagePlus Explorer Card


For a limited time, Chase is offering an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 United MileagePlus miles on the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You can also earn an additional 5,000 bonus miles when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the first three months.

That’s potentially a total of 55,000 MileagePlus miles, which is the best publicly available offer I’ve seen on the card in a long time (though we’ve also seen some bigger targeted offers in the past).

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card is also offering 50,000 United MileagePlus miles after spending $2,000 in the the first three months, though there isn’t a bonus for adding authorized users.

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United Schedules Final 747 Flights


The 747 has long been the queen of the skies. It’s one of the most majestic aircraft of all time and is so iconic that most people can identify it at a glance, even if they’ve never flown on one. United has operated the Boeing 747 since 1970 and currently has 22 of them in their fleet.

The end of the road is near for these old birds, however. United announced a while ago that they were not part of their long term plans and wouldn’t be getting the new Polaris seats. They first said they’d phase them out in 2018, but that recently got moved up to the second half of this year.

And now we might know what the final flights will be.

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United’s Premature Polaris Marketing — Brilliant Or Stupid?


Last June United announced that they’d be eliminating their “BusinessFirst” in favor of “Polaris,” the name for their new business class product. As part of this, United is overhauling both their hard product and soft product.

As of December 1, 2016, all longhaul flights feature the new Polaris soft product, which includes improved pillows, pajamas on ultra longhaul flights, better food, etc.

While the soft product launched on December 1, not a single plane in operation yet features the new seat United has talked so much about. The seat will be debuting on United’s first 777-300ER, which they just recently took delivery of. However, it will be about five years before existing planes are reconfigured with the new seat.

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6 Alternative Facts About Basic Economy

787 overheads

There is a good deal of confusion in the marketplace about basic economy fares, the no-frills tickets that Delta has been selling for several years now and American and United are poised to begin selling this quarter.

My biggest concern with basic economy fares is that there’s no good way to identify them when searching using Google Flights, or really anywhere other than the airlines’ websites. This seems like an easy feature for Google to add and would go a long way toward helping consumers make an informed decision about what they are about to buy. Of course I’d like to see all of the online travel agencies implement something similar, and honestly, I think that is coming.

But it turns out that there’s a lot more confusion about basic economy than just our inability to identify these fares. Let’s look at six alternative facts about basic economy.

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Today Only: Earn 15 United Miles Per Dollar Spent At Select Retailers


Online shopping portals can be a great way to pick up additional miles & points for purchases you’d make anyway. Just for following a specific link you can earn bonus points in addition to the ones you’d earn anyway for credit card spend.

Sometimes it gets even better than that, as shopping portals have promotions with even better bonuses than usual. Well, there’s one such promotion now. On Friday we saw an offer for 15 bonus Alaska miles per dollar spent at select retailers, while today we’re seeing an offer for 15 bonus United miles per dollar spent at select retailers.

Through 11:59PM ET today, Sunday, January 22, 2017, you can earn 15 bonus United miles per dollar spent at select retailers.

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