Why would anyone willingly subject themselves to United Airlines in its current state? That’s a fair question, and one I ask myself on occasion. (Including on this site almost 2 years ago). I’ve discussed my thought process about United before, and we even discussed this on a recent podcast.
As it stands now for 2015, I already re-qualified for American Airlines Executive Platinum status. I had some trips that wouldn’t work well on American, and United had some easy routing options (such as business trips to Brussels and Dubai). I still had United Global upgrades to use from what I earned last year, so I was able to upgrade all of these trips (in advance!) to business class. I have even more long trips planned, including to Malaysia, which is approximately 20,000 Elite Qualifying miles, so with this in mind, I started to consider the possibility of trying for 1K status again.
I still consider American my primary airline, and strongly prefer to fly with them, especially domestically, but my current situation has all of my travel on United as I strive to get to 100,000 miles. With my business travel, I’m currently ahead of pace for the premier qualifying dollars component of qualification, so I don’t anticipate that will be a limiting factor. I don’t know if I will have enough miles, but that’s what I’m trying for. Well, that and actually spending some time at home with my family…
I have been fortunate to clear each upgrade I have applied for on United. So far all GPUs have cleared in advance (6 out of 6), which beats my record in 2014; where I missed multiple upgrades I requested. I’ve even had a few regional upgrades on mid-continental flights clear. Not the best value, but living in the middle of the US, I very rarely fly trans-continental.
So, I’ve had an easier experience of flying United in 2015. I will give a little credit and say things have improved compared to past years, but the whole experience is still inferior to other US airlines. The bar is still low at United, especially when flying domestically. It is just not a pleasant experience. A recent trip to Jacksonville had 4 flights, all on Canadair jets, all in economy. It really made me miss flying American.
After my trip to Malaysia, I will be close to 70,000 EQM for the year. I will likely have another long haul trip (or trips) on United, but until I can confirm those, I’ll keep putting my domestic flights on United, as painful as that can be with the goal of getting over 100k for the 6 Global upgrades for next year. Business Class on United is still miles better than economy, especially with the fancy new amenity kits. I kind of hate myself for flying United, but it seems like the best option given my travel patterns. Having options is always a good thing.
What do you think? Do you have other better ideas for how I should plan my travel?