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But this sort of situation isn’t exactly unique to United - it can happen with any airline.
I've already stated that United's premium coach (Economy Plus) product remains worst-in-class with no benefits beyond pitch, but here are some additional factors that seem unique to United, at least among the various airlines I've flown over the years.

Back when I first signed up for airline points programs your name did not have to match your documents exactly. When that rule changed every other airline let me modify the common short version of my first name to the full legal version without issue. United alone refused to allow this and told me to submit an official change of name or marriage document showing both my previous and changed names. I calmly explained the problem with this demand and they responded by adding SSSS to my active reservations. I honestly have no words for the way United manages to turn what should be a minor inconvenience into a major recurring headache.

United still holds the record for worst food I've been served on any plane, bus, boat, train, you name it.

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United's soft service for intrastate Texas flights is basically water on request while the other airlines still run a full drink service.

The international connecting service at UA's TX hub is so annoying and tedious that I end up driving to/from IAH instead.

For me the last straw was how United handled the David Dao incident. The event itself was pretty bad but what really turned me away was how United's top brass attempted to control the narrative by initially praising their staff and blaming everything on their paying customer.

Recap of events: https://www.cnn.com/2017/04/13/trav...ight-lawsuit-family-attorney-speak/index.html

Moreover, I’ve never had an issue with my violin on United.

There's a Harvard Business School study on the fallout of United's treatment of Dave Carroll. It's not so much that the guitars were broken, that could happen to any airline, but the way UA chooses to respond to everyday adversity is absurd to me and many others.



Current day article: https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/...s-guitar-15-year-anniversary-music-video.html

I've flown all legacy airlines, and multiple international airlines and while airline "misadventures" can occur on any carrier, I 've only encountered the lying and gross incompetence on United.
Like you I've flown numerous airlines and while many failed to provide excellent service United seems to excel at providing poor service.
 
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I've already stated that United's premium coach (Economy Plus) product remains worst-in-class with no benefits beyond pitch, but here are some additional factors that seem unique to United, at least among the various airlines I've flown over the years.

Back when I first signed up for airline points programs your name did not have to match your documents exactly. When that rule changed every other airline let me modify the common short version of my first name to the full legal version without issue. United alone refused to allow this and told me to submit an official change of name or marriage document showing both my previous and changed names. I calmly explained the problem with this demand and they responded by adding SSSS to all my reservations. I honestly have no words for the way United turns what should be a minor inconvienence into a major headache.

United still holds the record for worst food I've been served on any plane, bus, boat, train, you name it.

View attachment 37137

United's entire service for intrastate Texas flights is basically water on request while the other TX airlines run a full drink service.

The international connecting process at UA's TX hub is so annoying and tedious that I end up driving to/from IAH instead.

For me the last straw was how United handled the David Dao incident. The event itself was pretty bad but what really turned me away was how United's top brass tried to control the narrative by praising their staff and blaming everything on their paying customer.

https://www.cnn.com/2017/04/13/trav...ight-lawsuit-family-attorney-speak/index.html



There's a Harvard Business School study on the fallout of United's treatment of Dave Carroll. It's not so much that the guitars were broken, that could happen to any airline, but the way UA responds to adversity is just absurd to me and many others.



https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/...s-guitar-15-year-anniversary-music-video.html


I've flown dozens of airlines and while many failed to provide excellent service United alone seems to excel at providing poor service.

Most of this is still more or less anecdotal. It definitely sucks, but it’s not really evidence to suggest UA is a uniquely bad American legacy carrier. They have other, tangible, non-anecdotal things that make them a uniquely good carrier.

I’ve done a lot of flying, and United always seems to be a decent experience.

Regarding the guitar incident:

Violins and guitars have a lot of differences with regard to flying. They are quite a bit larger than violins, and therefor have trouble fitting in some overhead compartments. Violins are also worth quite a bit more than guitars on average - that is to say nothing other than violinists simply won’t take the flight if we are forced to put our instruments below. It’s a non-negotiable, so this story simply wouldn’t happen to most violinists. I suppose, in a way, I’m sympathetic to UA on this one. If I’m to be blunt and crude, who’s dumb enough to allow their extremely valuable belonging to be checked by an airline? I have nearly disembarked from a plane when I was told I couldn’t bring my violin. Thankfully, the captain intervened and put the case in the coat closet. Nowadays, I carry a copy of the law that allows musicians to carry appropriately sized instruments onboard and store them in overhead compartments. It helps.

In terms of the treatment of Dave - well it’s certainly a uniquely bad situation. I remember when it happened - It occurred well before I began flying the amount I do. Perhaps this helped me because United learned?

Edit:
The doctor dragging incident is one situation that I will concede is uniquely bad and not anecdotal. The way they handled that was unacceptable.
 
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Most of this is still more or less anecdotal. It definitely sucks, but it’s not really evidence to suggest UA is a uniquely bad American legacy carrier. They have other, tangible, non-anecdotal things that make them a uniquely good carrier. I’ve done a lot of flying, and United always seems to be a decent experience.
What are these "non-anecdotal things" that make United a uniquely good carrier? Does buying Asian routes from a bankrupt Pan Am make an airline good? Does selling cheaper business upgrades make an airline good? To me what makes one airline better than another is the standard of service they provide, how they deal with adverse events, and how they treat customers without status.

If I’m to be blunt and crude, who’s dumb enough to allow their extremely valuable belonging to be checked by an airline?
Canadians, apparently. I guess they were not up to speed on what to expect from US service standards. Although to be fair I do my best to avoid Chicago on American also since that city seems to struggle with showing customers respect or kindness. I previously said United was the "Amtrak" of airlines because they share a lot of the same attitudes around customer service. I do not think United is a good airline but that does not mean every UA flight is horrible. Some UA flights are fine and if I lived or traveled somewhere else my experiences might be different, but for people who live where I live and travel where I travel I cannot recommend them.
 
What are these "non-anecdotal things" that make United a uniquely good carrier? Does buying Asian routes from a bankrupt Pan Am make an airline good? Does selling cheaper business upgrades make an airline good? To me what makes one airline better than another is the standard of service they provide, how they deal with adverse events, and how they treat customers without status.
The only thing I can help with United is the fact that they have been retrofitting their aircraft with IFE screens, bigger overhead bins. They've been known to have really good technology (their app especially), if not the best among the big three. Not necessarily not status, but their Polaris experience (lounges, seat, bedding, amenity kits, -- but not the catering) has been praised quite a bit.

I will say I'm an avgeek but rarely have the opportunity to fly domestic, so these are not my experiences, just what I've heard commonly and seen.
 
What are these "non-anecdotal things" that make United a uniquely good carrier? Does buying Asian routes from a bankrupt Pan Am make an airline good? Does selling cheaper business upgrades make an airline good? To me what makes one airline better than another is the standard of service they provide, how they deal with adverse events, and how they treat customers without status.
Keep in mind you’re arguing United is uniquely sub-par as a legacy carrier, and I’m arguing that they’re all about the same, but especially in economy.

Reasonably, one can value different things in an airline. You speak as if what you value (while simultaneously brushing off what you seemingly assume I might value) should matter most to everyone.

Well, in my opinion, where an airline flies may be the single most important aspect of their product. So yeah, buying routes from a bankrupt Pan Am does make them a good airline - especially to anyone who flies from America to Asia with any sort of regularity. They serve more Asian destinations than any other American carrier.

Having an attainable business class, as well as low level status, is also valuable in my opinion - but again, I’m not the one claiming anything here other than the big 3 being more or less the same.

Canadians, apparently. I guess they were not up to speed on what to expect from US service standards.
Nope - no matter what airline, or airport worldwide, you should never put a valuable instrument down below. I’d laugh at trusting air Canada with an instrument.

PS - I much prefer United’s food to American’s. Delta is a step up in my opinion.
 
Keep in mind you’re arguing United is uniquely sub-par as a legacy carrier, and I’m arguing that they’re all about the same, but especially in economy. Reasonably, one can value different things in an airline. You speak as if what you value (while simultaneously brushing off what you seemingly assume I might value) should matter most to everyone.
Here's what people who responded to JD Power think of United's Basic and Premium Economy.

The North America Airline Satisfaction Study was redesigned for 2024. It measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in seven core dimensions on a poor-to-perfect 6-point rating scale. Individual dimensions measured are (in alphabetical order): airline staff; digital tools; ease of travel; level of trust; on-board experience; pre/post-flight experience; and value for price paid.

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Link: https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2024-north-america-airline-satisfaction-study

Well, in my opinion, where an airline flies may be the single most important aspect of their product. So yeah, buying routes from a bankrupt Pan Am does make them a good airline - especially to anyone who flies from America to Asia with any sort of regularity. They serve more Asian destinations than any other American carrier.
By that logic Ticketmaster would be the best booking experience that ever existed because they are absolutely everywhere, but that's a rare view to hold.

Having an attainable business class, as well as low level status, is also valuable in my opinion - but again, I’m not the one claiming anything here other than the big 3 being more or less the same.
Except you repeatedly waive away the lived experiences of others as anecdotal hearsay so I guess it's just a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
 
By that logic Ticketmaster would be the best booking experience that ever existed because they are absolutely everywhere, but that's a rare view to hold.
That’s a dubious comparison to say the least - even you’ll have to admit that if you think about it for a little bit.

Interesting survey metrics however. Thanks for sharing.

Except you repeatedly waive away the lived experiences of others as anecdotal hearsay so I guess it's just a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Nope - just your experiences 😉
 
The only thing I can help with United is the fact that they have been retrofitting their aircraft with IFE screens, bigger overhead bins.
While AVOD made a big difference to me back in the 1990's and early 2000's I rarely use them today. Mostly because the selection seldom includes the content I'm into, is often edited to remove who knows what, is displayed on older screens with wonky ratios, and riddled with advertising. Even the best IFE systems force everyone to stop and wait for every second of PA use, including announcements unrelated to safety like duty free sales repeated in multiple languages. A personal tablet with noise cancelling headphones gives you the content you want the way you want it with no advertising or unwanted interruptions. I know AA gets some flack for lacking seatback IFE on many aircraft but I'm personally unbothered by this tradeoff.

They've been known to have really good technology (their app especially), if not the best among the big three. Not necessarily not status, but their Polaris experience (lounges, seat, bedding, amenity kits, -- but not the catering) has been praised quite a bit.
US airlines seem to truly excel in tech and app functionality. I feel like all the legacies are pretty good with app and web tech except for maybe Alaska; much better than most foreign airlines in my experience. Polaris is pretty good for an international business class lounge but I'm not much of a lounge geek so that probably means less to me than most people. I do hope you're right and that United is getting better even if I avoid them these days. Quality competition is good and sometimes United is the only practical option available.
 
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I have nearly disembarked from a plane when I was told I couldn’t bring my violin. Thankfully, the captain intervened and put the case in the coat closet. Nowadays, I carry a copy of the law that allows musicians to carry appropriately sized instruments onboard and store them in overhead compartments. It helps.
But the law and regulations probably draw the line at the viola. ;)

(For non-musicians: viola jokes are a genre of musical jokes, directed at the hapless instrument and its subtalented players. And yes, that's a viola case in my profile photo, why do you ask?)

https://www.mit.edu/~jcb/viola-jokes.html
 
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