Entries in United Airlines (22)


United Airlines Raises Fee for Changing Flights

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The next time you book a flight on United, you'll want to be very sure about your plans, because changing them just got more costly.

The carrier has increased the fee for changing a flight from $150 to $200. The $150 change fee has become industry standard and is charged by the majority of United's competitors. Southwest is the one notable exception, as it does not charge a fee to change flights.

"We carefully manage our seat inventory and incur costs when a traveler elects not to fly in a reserved seat," United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm told ABC News. "We adjusted this fee to better compensate us for those costs."

Leisure travelers that are most likely to have to pay the increased fee. Leisure travelers are, for the most part, traveling on the economy-class, least-expensive, non-refundable tickets that are subject to change fees. Refundable, flexible tickets, as well as business and first-class tickets, are most often sold to business travelers at a higher price. With that higher price comes the luxury of changing plans -- without incurring any extra fees.

The increase, which took effect April 19, has not yet been matched by other carriers. If history is any indicator, United's competitors will wait and watch for any significant backlash from the traveling public. If there is none, they may too then decide to increase their fee.

Change fees are in addition to the charge for the difference in fare. So, if a traveler were to purchase a ticket for $300 and then want to change the dates of travel, and the price had then increased to $350, the airline would charge the fare difference of $50 plus the change fee. On United, this example would run the customer an additional $250 total.

Like we said, best to be sure about your plans before booking an airline ticket.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


United Airlines Grounds Dreamliners

United Airlines(NEW YORK) -- United Airlines is removing the Boeing 787 from its planned schedule for the time being.

After issues on a number of the so-called Dreamliners, United says that their 787s will remain on the ground for now.

United was planning to launch a new route, from Denver to Tokyo's Narita airport, with the 787 on March 31. That date has been delayed until at least May 12. As of now, the 787 will not fly any other routes until at least June 5.

United's 787s could still take off before those dates, provided a solution to the Dreamliners' problems is found and implemented.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


United Hopes to Improve Flying Experience with Dreamliner

Matt Hosford/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It's the airplane designed to bring back some of the fun in flight.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is finally making its domestic debut this holiday season. It's the passenger jet with swooping wings and a fuselage made primarily of plastic.

"The airplane, in terms of what it's like to fly, is revolutionary," said Capt. Jim Starley, managing director of flight operations for United Airlines.

Boeing has sold more than 800 of the planes around the world, but United is the first U.S. airline to fly the Dreamliner. Service began this month.

"The feeling of space is enormous," said Jeff Smisek, United's CEO.

Airlines are buying the new planes because they're cheaper to fly and more efficient, but they're going to sell would-be passengers on feature comforts such as the air itself.

The Dreamliner's cabin has more oxygen and it's cleaner and less dry than current plane air. The jets also have large storage bins, which, Boeing says, can fit four suitcases.

Because the plane is made of plastic, it is more flexible so air pressure inside the plane can be kept higher. The maker says the improvement in air pressure leads to less jet lag, as well as less dry mouth and skin for passengers.

Blake Emery, the director of differentiation strategy for Boeing, said the Dreamliner offers "significant" changes from today's flying experience.

"The increase in humidity, the pressurization of the cabin, the additional filtration system we put in," Emery said. "It's a very different experience than today's airplanes."

The windows have also changed -- they are a third bigger on the new 787s.

"I can see the horizon from my seat," Larry Coughlin, director of 787 manufacturing for Boeing, said from his aisle seat.

The windows, Emery said, have added controls, with dimming features and tinting so that a passenger will "never lose connection with the outside."

The entrance was not left out of the redesign -- now larger to give passengers the feeling of spaciousness when stepping onboard.

A light show, integrated into the architecture of the cabin, was added on board with different colors for takeoff, cruising, and food. There is a palette of colors to create mood: blue lights for takeoff resembling the open sky and a warmer amber tone for meal service.

"So we go into the warm colors, like candlelight," said Mark Larson, the technical manager for the Dreamliner Gallery at Boeing.

On the flight deck, pilots say the 787 carries the next level of safety.

"It's absolutely a generational step," Starley said.

A security camera shows pilots who is outside the cockpit door. Advanced radar detects potential mid-air collisions miles away and warns the crew. A GPS system can land the Dreamliner on its own, in zero visibility.

Boeing says the plane is so advanced it is moving aviation to the next level -- more efficient and more comfortable than it has been.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


United Airlines 'Lost' Girl Headed to Camp, Say Parents

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Summer is prime time for kids flying alone, whether it be to summer camp or for the annual visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house. While the vast majority of kids flying alone -- called unaccompanied minors by the airline industry -- do so without incident, things do go occasionally wrong.

Such is the case of a 10-year-old girl named Phoebe, who was on her way to summer camp in June. Her flight was on United Airlines from San Francisco to Traverse City, Mich., with a layover in Chicago.

Bob Sutton is a Stanford professor and a friend of the girls' parents. He writes a blog called Work Matters, on which he told Phoebe's story. In the post, he linked to a letter sent to United Airlines by Phoebe's parents. They said the trouble began when no one from United met Phoebe after her plane landed in Chicago. As a result, they complained, she missed her flight to Traverse City. Her parents were only alerted when the camp called to let them know Phoebe had not arrived.

The parents, Annie and Perry Klebahn, began trying to track down Phoebe by calling United. Several phone calls and an hour later, Phoebe was located. The letter says she had asked for help from flight attendants and asked to call her parents, but was told she had to wait.

Phoebe was on a plane to Traverse City a few hours after her original flight was scheduled, but it took several days -- and many more phone calls from her parents to United -- before the bags arrived at camp.

A United spokesperson told ABC News, "We reached out directly to the Klebahns to apologize and we are reviewing their concerns. What the Klebahns describe is not the service we aim to deliver to our customers.

"We are redepositing the miles used to purchase the ticket back into Mr. Klebahn's account in addition to refunding the unaccompanied minor charge. We certainly appreciate their business and would like the opportunity to provide them a better travel experience in the future."

In general, airlines treat any child between 5 and 12 traveling alone as an unaccompanied minor. There is usually an each-way charge for the service, typically between $75 and $100. Some airlines do not allow unaccompanied minors to take connecting flights; on United, a child over seven can take a connecting flight. American and Delta have similar age policies regarding connecting flights.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


United Offering Free Flights to Aurora Shooting Victims’ Families

Joshua Lott/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- United Airlines will provide free flights for families of Aurora shooting victims so they can travel to their loved ones’ funerals.

The airline would only provide a brief statement on the matter: “All of us were impacted by these events, and we want to help in any way we can.”

United told ABC News the free flights are being facilitated through the American Red Cross.

James Holmes, 24, is suspected of killing 12 and injuring 58 others during a shooting rampage at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in the Colorado cinema.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hong Kong for Four Miles and $43: Should United Honor the Mistake?

United Continental Holdings(NEW YORK) -- When Brian Kelly's intern called to alert him to chatter on FlyerTalk, a popular frequent-flier website, about an extraordinary airfare deal to Asia from United Airlines, Kelly jumped on it and booked a first-class, round-trip ticket from New York to Hong Kong.  Total cost?  Four frequent flier miles and $43.

Kelly, a travel expert who runs a website called The Points Guy, is no stranger to "error fares," as they're called in the industry. Typically, an error fare will leave off a zero on the price, or something similar.  But Kelly said errors on rewards tickets are far more unusual.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said.  "I priced out several different routes and it [the rate] was available, not only to Hong Kong but to Beijing and Shanghai."

In recent years, error fares have frequently not been honored by the airlines.  But new Department of Transportation (DOT) rules state: "A purchase occurs when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.  Therefore, if a consumer purchases a fare and that consumer receives confirmation (such as a confirmation email and/or the purchase appears on their credit card statement or online account summary) of their purchase, then the seller of air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a 'mistake.'"

Kelly said he received a confirmation email within 15 minutes of purchasing his ticket.  Still, United said it is not going to honor the tickets.  

In a statement to ABC News, the airline said, "Over the weekend, we discovered a programming error that allowed customers using to obtain Mileage Plus travel awards to and from Hong Kong for as little as four miles roundtrip per person, substantially below published levels, which we disclose to customers.  We have since corrected the error and will be in contact with customers who have tickets issued at the incorrect award amounts.  Customers will be given the choice to redeem at the correct mileage amount or re-deposit their award with all fees waived."

A DOT representative said they're looking into a number of complaints received about United's rescinding the frequent-flier tickets.

"Our rule on post-purchase price increases applies to frequent flier tickets, particularly when they also entail cash payments," the spokesperson said.

Kelly said he still hasn't heard from United regarding his ticket and he still holds his confirmation.

"Reasonable people realize this was a mistake," he said.  "Even so, it will be interesting to see how the new DOT rules play out."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


United Airlines Announces Order for 150 New Boeing Jets

United Continental Holdings(CHICAGO) -- United Airlines is ordering 150 brand new Boeing 737s worth $14 billion at list price, which is good news for workers in Washington State, where the planes are made.

The purchase includes 100 Boeing 737 MAX 9 and 50 737-900ERs, which are said to be 15 percent more fuel efficient than existing 757s in United's short range fleet.

“They're environmentally more responsible and they're very customer pleasing,” said United CEO Jeff Smisek at an event in Chicago.

The new planes, Smisek said, will allow the airline to phase out older, less efficient aircraft like the workhorse Boeing 757.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sticky Situation: Woman Blames Airline for Hair Loss

File photo. Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- It was a very unpleasant flight home for United Airlines passenger Karen Reed that resulted in her filing multiple complaints to the company.

Reed said she had to cut out a chunk of her hair after a maintenance worker dripped super glue all over her while fixing an overhead bin.

Reed says she had just  boarded a flight on June 14 from San Diego to Houston with her two children when a maintenance worker approached her and asked her to get up from her seat.

“He put super glue on a piece of plastic trim and put it on the overhead bin above me and proceeded to drip it everywhere,” said Reed.

Everywhere included her hair.

“He was cleaning the seat and I told him the glue was still dripping from overhead but that’s how careless he was,” said Reed.

The maintenance worker walked away and returned shortly to replace the seat cushion, she said.

“When the flight attendant said, ‘Hey, you got super glue in her hair,’ he totally ignored the comment, wouldn’t look at me, wouldn’t give me any eye contact and turned around, replaced the seat cushion and walked out,” said Reed.

She had a very uncomfortable ride home. The flight was full and with no other seats to switch to, the flight attendant gave Reed a blanket to sit on.

“At this moment I’m sitting on super glue, I can feel the clumps of glue in my hair, I’m tired and I’m ready to get home,” she said.

Once she got home, her hair was so tangled she took a pair of scissors and cut more than 9 inches of it off of her head.

Reed filed a complaint with the flight attendant, the supervisor at the gate in Houston and even sent in a packet that included a complaint form and a picture of her cut off hair.

She said United offered her 40,000 miles and a $100 American Express gift card. She declined the offer.

“For what they offered me, they’re not even giving me a round trip ticket, basically their customer service sucks,” said Reed.

The airline offered an apology.

“We’re sorry about what happened, we reached out and spoke directly to Miss Reed. We appreciate her business and we’d like to welcome her back,” said United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


United Raises Second Checked Bag Fee on International Flights

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Earlier this month, United Airlines quietly raised the fee for a second checked bag from $70 to $100 on some international flights.

Passengers traveling on trans-Atlantic routes between North, Central and South America and Europe, the Middle East, India and selected countries in Africa will see the increase. On those routes, the first checked bag is free of charge.

Passengers traveling from the United States (except Hawaii) will pay $100 for the second checked bag to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, but $70 to South America (except Brazil and Venezuela) and $40 to Central America.

Here’s a link to a chart outlining the new fees on United’s web site.

United raised the fees on these routes from $50 to $70 just one year ago. This latest increase matches the one Delta made earlier this year when it raised second checked bag fees on the same routes.

The new fee applies only to tickets purchased after June 1, 2012.

Summer airfare to Europe is up 11 percent, according to

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chicago 'Million Miler' Sues United Airlines for Taking Away Perks

United Continental Holdings(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago man who has accumulated more than a million miles in United Airlines' frequent flier program has sued the airline in a class action for "immorally" rescinding perks for "Million Milers."

George Lagen flies on average 200,000 to 250,000 miles a year, and achieved "Million Miler" status in United Airlines' Mileage Plus frequent flier program.  He said that the average customer would spend about $273,000 to reach one million miles.

"On the other side of the coin is United Airlines, which reaped millions -- if not billions -- of dollars from Million Miler members," the suit stated.

Elite frequent fliers aren't only battling with United.  American Airlines realized it was losing money from its "unlimited" first class flying program and began to crack down on its AAirpass holders, accusing some of them of breaking the program's rules.

Lagen claims that United's merger with Continental Airlines, which closed in October 2010, led to an "immediate and significant retroactive demotion of benefits to Million Milers."

He said that before the merger, Million Milers were "guaranteed Lifetime Premier Executive status for life" only through the purchase of actual tickets toward one million miles.  Those lifetime benefits included a one-time award of three system wide upgrades, two free regional upgrades a year, a 100 percent bonus for the miles flown each year, and other lifetime benefits, such as pre-boarding advantages, upgrade possibilities and seating priority.

Now, Lagen said his one million miles only gives him second-tier status.

He had to say bon voyage to the 100 percent bonus miles, which is now only 50 percent.  Lagen also no longer has the one-time award of three system wide upgrades nor the two regional upgrades a year, according to the suit.

He has sued for breach of contract, good faith and fair dealing, and has invited other fliers who became Million Milers before the merger to join a class action filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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