How much is your “free” award ticket costing you?

It can be fun to dream about cashing in all those frequent flyer miles that you have been saving. That’s the day that your dedication to your favored airline will finally pay off in a free flight to somewhere fabulous. Read more “How much is your “free” award ticket costing you?”

I didn’t get upgraded, but United won’t return my $1,100

Susan Nordstrom Lopez prepaid for two seat upgrades on a United Airlines flight to London. The upgrade didn’t come through, and neither did her refund. Can our advocates help her obtain her refund from United Airlines? Read more “I didn’t get upgraded, but United won’t return my $1,100”

A happy ending from our A-Team, thanks to these United executive contacts

As Hannibal Smith, the cigar-chomping colonel on the ’80s TV show, “The A-Team,” famously said, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
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Is United’s new frequent flier program created for wealthy rocket scientists?

Frequent flier programs have always been complicated and at times seemingly irrational, even for frequent fliers and travel agents.

But United’s new MileagePlus program takes it to a whole new level, since travelers who care about both Elite Status and award tickets now have to consider three different numbers for each trip.

No joke. And two out of three of those numbers are not obvious.
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Do seductive frequent flier programs hurt competition?

If you’ve ever done something for the miles, like Rick Brown has, you probably know the dilemma.

Should you shrug off a higher fare, a less convenient routing or consistently bad service for the promise of a “free” flight?

Brown, who runs a trading company in New York, has done all that — sticking with his preferred carrier, United Airlines, even when the airline struggled. He’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on airfares for himself and his family during his career, “more than on any other airline,” he says.

Research suggests many consumers are similarly seduced, and that the siren song of loyalty programs can lure them into booking a substandard product. The debate is particularly intense now, with United’s’ controversial loyalty program changes taking effect this month. It becomes the latest airline to reward customers based on money spent instead of miles flown.
Read more “Do seductive frequent flier programs hurt competition?”