Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gross Nickel and Diming by United Airlines

It's that time of the week! Time to do a post based on a letter of the alphabet. This week's letter is the letter "G." I think. It's been a couple of weeks so I've lost track. Anyway, I hope it's the letter G because that's what I'm writing to. For me, G is for United Airline's gross nickel and diming policy. Check out the other G (I hope) posts at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday link-up.

Okay, before I get a bunch of angry comments (or maybe one if I'm lucky) about how I'm picking on United Airlines, I'll be upfront and say I am picking on them. I'm sure almost all airlines nickel and dime their passengers. I don't fly much anymore--maybe just one trip a year, so United is my only experience over the last few years.

I just had a wonderful winter vacation, visiting family in Illinois, then flying to New York City to take in the holiday sights. One thing that struck me about flying is how much the airlines charge for the nice little extras, like sitting closer up on the plane or having a little extra legroom, or checking in your luggage, or carrying on your luggage. You name it, United Airlines has found a way to charge you for it!

Imagine the scene at the airport: my husband has checked us in using the airlines automated check-in station. After we check in, the computer kindly shows us some extras we can get. For a mere $100 each for one leg of our journey, we can sit further up in the plane and have some extra legroom. Um, no thanks. United also offered an option where you could pay a fee (something like $50 or $60, I can't remember) to board the plane earlier. These extras can sure add up very fast for a family that flies.

When we were waiting to board the plane at JFK to return to Los Angeles, the gate agents started to do "pre-boarding." They started with the standard call for first class. They also allowed military personnel to board early without paying. This is new to me and one thing that I did find really nice! They then went through a long litany of other people who could board early including their Premier 1K members, Premier Platinum, Premier Gold, and Premier Silver. At some point, they made the "pre-boarders" go in slightly different way. One passenger observed that this was so they wouldn't go down the "red carpet" entrance, which consisted of about 1.5 foot red carpet that only the people with the most miles were allowed to walk on. Seriously!

After all that, they allowed people with children to pre-board. We excitedly got in line, but the gate agent glared at us and qualified the statement to parents traveling with children under 4. My daughter yelled out, "I'm almost 8! We need to get out of line!" This caused everyone within earshot to laugh. We also started making fun of the stupid pre-boarding procedure: "Anyone under the zodiac sign of Aquarius may now board the plane!"

At the end of the flight, my husband noticed that the overhead luggage compartments were marked with signs that said something along the lines of "For Premier Plus Passengers Only." The flight crew didn't enforce this on our flight, but apparently, in the future, if you want to use the overhead bins, you're going to be paying for that too.

So much for flying the friendly skies.

My husband found this Mad-TV video on no-frills flying. It was made in 2007, but really captures the current nickel and diming environment perfectly! Enjoy!

17 comments:

  1. I don't know why somebody would want to pay extra to have to sit inside a stuffy tin can longer!?!

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  2. Why would anyone criticize you for criticizing the airlines????

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  3. On international flights last time, they charged us an extra $10 per head [there were six of us] to sit together - daylight robbery.

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  4. Wow! I didn't fly back east this holiday season and I felt bad about that, but not so much now!

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  5. We are flying our family of 5 to New York this summer and I'm already dreading it. As if the airfare itself wasn't so expensive, we have to pay to take our luggage? It's completely insane.

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  6. I think people should protect by not flying these airlines! It is sad UA use to be one of the better companies to fly with! So much for that! Good post.

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  7. No criticism here - I applaud you and respect your perseverance in sticking to such an arduous journey between LA and JFK...and the pioneers thought they had it rough crossing the prairies...give me a covered wagon any day - I have entered the No-fly zone...

    A great post...wishing you a Happy New Year.

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  8. My husband was leaning over trying to watch the video from behind the steering wheel cuz I was laughing so hard. Think I should charge him extra for it? Heehee.

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  9. We were lucky on our flight to Arkansas because, we did get to walk on the red carpet in Chicago. I don't think there was a red carpet in Arkansas to walk on.

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  10. Don't talk to me about air lines -when we got to the KLM boarding line 2 mo. ago, our carry-on was one inch too big (they have a metal measuring line where it needs to fit in) - and the flight attendant started a long lithany about why. After flying from L.A. plus the 5 h.lay-over, I interrupted her, "It's only one hour to Amsterdam, I can part with my carry-on, no problem!" To my glee she "got" it:)

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  11. I agree. Why pay more to sit in the plane longer? My hubby is always the very LAST one on the plane, just for that reason.

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  12. Joey and Aimee flew Southwest out to Tucson for Christmas, and there was NO CHARGE for their luggage as long as no bag weighed over 50 pounds. The carseats for the twins were free as well!

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  13. Thanks for reminding me why I fly Southwest:) The video was a hoot!

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  14. Hello.
    I'm with you on this one. A few months back, my wife & I recently went on a trip to the Caribbean to celebrate her mom & dad's 50th Wedding Anniversary. Before we could even board, we ended up paying $165.00 because not only were our bags just over the weight limit, but we had to pay extra because we checked 3 pieces of luggage instead of 2. This was with US Airlines. Had a good laugh at the video.
    Thanks for sharing & visiting. I appreciate the comment.

    Golden Footprints

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  15. The video was hilarious, and a perfect ending to your post!

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  16. Ah.

    Don't get me started on air travel. It is so maddening. I am always loathe to get on a plane at all.

    Your daughter's comment cracked me up and I admire your sense of humor dealing with this crazy stuff.

    Thanks for a great link for the letter G.

    G is for travelling by gazelle in the future. Or giraffe.

    A+++++

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  17. a traveler, the purer form, someone who collects impressions, dense anatomies of feeling but does not care to record them.

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