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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

United Airlines Credit Card Bound to Be Impacted By The Airline’s Customer Service Failures — Like Allegedly Forcing Passenger to Sit In Seat Soaked In Puke

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United Airlines Credit Card Bound to Be Impacted By The Airline’s Customer Service Failures — Like Allegedly Forcing Passenger to Sit In Seat Soaked In Puke

Scott LiebermanUnited Airlines Credit Card Bound to Be Impacted By The Airline’s Customer Service Failures — Like Allegedly Forcing Passenger to Sit In Seat Soaked In PukeMillion Mile Secrets Team

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United Airlines… does it ever end with them? A customer on a 4-hour flight from Vancouver to Houston says he was compelled by United to take his assigned seat even though his chair and the back of the seat in front of him were covered in vomit.

As a miles and points traveler, my thought is, this must be making the general public less excited about the United℠ Explorer Card. Chase, the bank that issues the United Airlines credit card, can’t be too thrilled their airline partner is picking up bad publicity yet again.

I say “general public” because if you’re reading Million Mile Secrets you know the trick — United miles aren’t just for United flights.

In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve even flown on United. I use my United miles strictly to fly to Europe on their partner airlines like TAP Portugal, Lufthansa, Air Canada, LOT Polish and so on.

I think the United card is going to lose ground with most people to travel credit cards like:

And the United card may even lose market share to the popular Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for those who want to keep travel rewards dead simple.

I think people will begin to look at other airlines known for better customer service, like Southwest. At first I was hesitant to try this airline but once I did, no regrets. Two checked bags free for all passengers and they’ve got the best deal in travel, the Southwest Companion Pass.

A United Airlines passenger told news outlets a flight attendant handed him paper towels to wipe the vomit himself before a cleaning person boarded. He said the vomit was not totally cleaned when he had to sit down.

United Airlines Customer Disservice — Will It Reduce United Credit Card Sign-Ups?

Sadly, sitting for 4 hours in vomit isn’t even close to the worst bit of United customer service in recent times. There was the French bulldog that a United flight attendant pressured a woman into storing in the overhead bin. It died. United issued an apology.

You probably remember the passenger — a physician no less — who was dragged off a plane and bloodied by airport security after he refused to give up his paid seat.

Then there were the two teenage girls who were not allowed on a flight because the attendant decided their leggings were inappropriate clothes for “pass travelers,” people who are traveling for free because of a family connection with the United. United said the girls were representing the corporation and must dress in a way represents the company best. I’ll pause a moment so you can laugh at the hypocrisy.

Maybe This Will Be an Opportunity for United Credit Card Fans

Remember, regular folks don’t all know that United miles can be used to fly on other airlines. So I wonder if that’ll cause a serious drop in new applications for the United Explorer Card. If so, maybe we’ll see limited-time offers with big bonuses?

For me, I’m staying focused on flexible cards that allow me to flip my Chase Ultimate Rewards points into United miles whenever I want, if I want.

For this reason I hold the following credit cards:

I collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points with all these cards and move them to my Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Chase Sapphire Preferred allows me to then transfer to United. When not flying, I like to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for epic hotel stays like the two times I stayed at the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara in Cancun for free.

In any case, if this sick report has merit, it represents truly “gross” misconduct. I hope the passenger, Sam Trail, and his wife didn’t get ill from coming in contact with the substance or breathing it in.

To add to the insult, Trail revealed to Click2Houston News he was given a one-way guilt trip by an attendant! “I was told, ‘Oh, yeah, we can get a cleaning crew, but you’re going to be the reason this flight is delayed.'”

Click2Houston reports that United released a statement:

“We’re disappointed that this aircraft did not meet our standards for cleanliness. Once the issue was brought to our crew’s attention, cabin cleaners were called on board to clean the seat prior to departure.”

But the passenger says it wasn’t cleaned properly.

Bottom Line

I use the United loyalty program to fly exclusively on their partner airlines because United will kill your dog and make you sit in vomit. I jest — sort of. However, the United loyalty program is great because the taxes and fees on award flights are very low and they’re easy to book.

Last summer I flew Business Class to and from Europe on their partners Air Canada and Lufthansa. It was great!

Previously I flew on Brussels Airlines to have delicious seafood in Belgium and to visit Paris and Amsterdam.

The best perk of the United Explorer Card in my opinion is that it gives you access to more award seats.  People who don’t have the credit card see fewer award seats than those who do. Other good perks are the lounge passes and priority boarding.

If I had to choose, I’d go for cards like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. These have very lucrative bonuses right now. You can also turn these points into United miles if you want.

But you can also transfer the points to JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, and many more. You can even take cash back with your points. I love the flexibility!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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i have been living in Chicago for 65 plus years. . i ve been on hundreds of flights. . all over the world. . i have only been on united once due to a northwest airlines cancellation and it was horrible . . i love Southwest. . and avoid united. . as a retired pilot and marketing guy. . i cant understand the old dinosaur airlines tack on things?

Scott many of us abandoned United years ago after we experienced crappy flight after flight — even as premium flyers. Polaris has been a sad joke. That said last year I got a bargain-basement fare on their new 787 between Europe and SFO off-season and it was great — great because the planes were only about 55-65% full. Even got a $100 credit due to late take-off on the return flight that I’ve yet to use after 10 months because I honestly just don’t wanna fly the unfriendly skies.

But the 787 off-season, that was fine.

Plus, united breaks guitars.