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United Airlines just made a big move this week. It’s bringing back its best known ad tagline, ‘Fly the friendly skies,’ to television after a retirement of almost 20 years and calling itself ‘Flyer Friendly.’
We hope it means United will be more friendly, but we all know ads aren’t reality – it’s not all smiling faces out there, and flying an airline can be a complicated, frustrating experience if you don’t know the system well.
From a frequent United flyer, here are 6 tips to make United more ‘flyer friendly’ the next time you fly them:
1. Get the app
United’s mobile app is one of the most helpful things you can have when flying them, even if you don’t fly often. It lets you check-in, change seats even while you’re at the gate, gives flight status as fast or faster than the airport monitors, and lets you change your flight the day of departure for a small fee. A great trick is to try and snag a seat in a row that looks empty or has no one adjacent close to departure time. You can see that and change your seat instantly with the app. And checking in with the app, even if you have a bag, can help keep you safer from an airport agent giving your seat away if you hit a delay on the way.
2. Check where your prior flight is coming from
You can often tell in advance that your flight is at risk of being delayed before it actually shows it’s delayed. Use the United app or website to check your flight status, then click ‘Where is this aircraft coming from?’ link. If that inbound flight is late, and the gate it’s coming into is your gate, there is a very good chance your flight will be delayed. That’s a good time to start checking for other flights using the United app or website in case you need to rebook. Good to check with the agent if you see that, and get a sense of whether they plan to find another plane, or it will end up delayed.
3. Avoid fees and lines with a card
Baggage fees of $25 for the first bag each way on domestic flights are annoying. So is having to check your carry-on bags at the gate. You can get around both of these problems by holding a United MileagePlus® Explorer Card. It costs $95 a year (none the first year), but you don’t have to pay the $25 first bag fee for yourself and a companion when you use the card to buy tickets. That can save you $50 or more every roundtrip. You also get to board in ‘Group 2’ with some of United’s most frequent flyers.
4. Know the numbers
If your flight has to be rebooked at the airport you can stand in line to get help in person. But you can get access to the very same help by calling United directly, which may be faster than waiting in a long line. Phone numbers you can use are: 1-800-UNITED-1 and 1-800-300-1547.
5. Skip the aisle seat
If you decide not to get a United credit card to earn priority boarding, you can still board just after that group in Group 3. Do it by selecting a window seat. That’s because United orders boarding by what kind of seat you’re in, with Windows first, Middles second, and Aisles the very last to board.
6. Ask for extra legroom….free
Many times United has more people not willing to pay extra for Economy Plus extra legroom seats than it has regular seats available. That means some people will be seated in Economy Plus for free. So check the app and if the regular seats are full, but you see empty Economy Plus seats, politely ask an agent if they need to move people into Economy Plus. Usually they move people who don’t have a seat assignment yet, but if you ask they may pick you instead. Just make sure you stay out of a middle seat and don’t accept that if it will bother you.
Our favorite thing about United is its frequent flyer program and how easy it is to earn and redeem miles for great rewards, especially international trips. Here are some tips to earn them faster.
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