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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:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – I’ve had this card for years. Points transfer to United and other airlines like Southwest and British Airways. This our #1 pick for beginners to using travel points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® – fantastic credit card for folks who travel a lot
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card – huge sign-up bonus, points transfer to United, our #1 card for small business owners
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.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card — all the Southwest cards are great for earning the #1 deal in travel, the Southwest Companion Pass
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
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:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card
- Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
- Chase Freedom®
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.
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!