United Airlines is one of the oldest airlines in the United States, with some of its predecessors going back to the late 1920s. Originally, United Airlines was known as "The Boeing Company," and, in some ways, they still are the Boeing Company since this is the primary plane found in their fleet. United has nine airline hubs throughout the world. Its largest hub is in Houston and handles 16.6 million passengers every year, with 45,413 people getting on United flights every day. Chicago O'Hare is the company's largest hub in terms of departures. United flies Boeing 747s, 767s, 777s, and 787s. They also fly narrowbody Airbus 319s, 320s, Boeing 737s, and Boeing 757s, as well as various Embraer and Bombardier jets for its regional carriers. For its regional flights, United usually uses third-party carriers (such as ExpressJet) to get customers to and from smaller airports when traversing between mainline destinations. United Airlines is also a pretty safe airline. In the past twenty years, there have been 3 fatal flights, including two flights that crashed on 9/11, and one minor incident where some passengers and crewmembers were hurt on takeoff (though there was no structural damage to the aircraft).

 

Rank Chart
Checked Bags
WiFi Price
Our Score
#1
Free
$8/day
8.2
#2
$25-$35
$16/day
7.9
#3
$25
$16/day
7.6
#5
united
$25-$35
$4.95-$49
7.0

The Good

United Airlines has a low price guarantee on their tickets. They have some of the lowest ticket prices for both domestic and international flights. Their prices were often the exact same being offered by other large airlines (such as American Airlines or Delta). Because they are such a large airline, they have the ability to offer many different options for ticket times and connections. With their low prices and flexibility, many customers would be able to choose the flight that best suits them while using United. United also offers different discounts and promotions on their website and for reward club members. Customers can become a part of the MilagePlus program and earn different discounts with their miles. Customers can also have United email them specific discounts or promotions that are being offered.

United Airlines has a similar boarding process to many other airlines. Seats are chosen when purchasing tickets and can be changed or upgraded at the check-in time depending on availability. Boarding times vary depending on the flight locations and specific airports being used. United offers a few different methods of check-in including:

• Mobile check-in
• Online check-in
• Airport kiosks
• Airport check-in counters

Using the United mobile app, passengers can check-in for their flight 24 hours before departure and receive a mobile boarding pass. This speeds up the time at the airport and eliminates the need to keep track of a paper boarding pass. Passengers can also check-in 24 hours before departure on the online check-in and can also ask to receive a mobile boarding pass. If a passenger chooses to check-in at the airport, they have the choice of self-service kiosks (which are always open for use) or check-in counters which have specific hours of operation depending upon the airport.

United Airlines serves 374 different destinations, both domestic and international. This is a large number of destinations for an airline and makes United one of the larger airlines available. Some of their top destinations include:

• Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo
• Ft. Lauderdale from New York/Newark
• In and around California
• New York
• Chicago
• Las Vegas

United flies to Asia, the Americas, Europe, Oceania, and Africa. With all of their destinations, United would be able to serve many passengers on their flights. They would be able to provide a number of different options and because they offer more destinations than many other airlines, they would have more flight choices for passengers to choose from. United Airlines partners with a number of different airlines so that they are able to provide as many destinations as possible. They also continue to grow and their destinations are constantly changing and expanding.

United Airlines offers many of the customary in-flight services that are expected from passengers. Some of the details include:

• Dining: For economy flights, United offers a snack shop as well as an onboard bistro for their domestic flights. For international flights, they offer a complimentary meal. Often this is a three-course meal with a light snack and beverage options. They provide an option of beer, wine, and water. United also gives passengers the opportunity to order a special meal in advance for any dietary restrictions.
• Entertainment: There are a number of different options for entertainment on United Flights. Some of their planes offer personal devices. The passengers can use a personal device provided that it is already uploaded with a number of games, movies, and TV shows. Other planes offer screens on the back of the seats for passengers to view the entertainment options. And some of the United fleet has main screen entertainment. There is a screen at the front of the cabin for passengers to view the entertainment. The type of entertainment viewing option available for each flight can be found on the United website. They also offer magazines and packages of different DirecTV programs for purchase.
• Shopping: On international flights, United offers tax-free shopping for different items such as fragrances, cosmetics, and jewelry similar to many other airline shopping offers.
• Wi-Fi: United is in the process of making all of their planes have the option of Wi-Fi. Currently, 700 of their aircraft’s do offer in-flight Wi-Fi for purchase. The prices vary depending on the specific flight and are not posted to view without specific flight information. Wi-Fi is also not permitted to be used to make any video calls on flights.

United Airlines has been in business for 89 years. They have become one of the oldest airlines, opening their company on April 6, 1926. Since they opened they have been committed to becoming the airline that customers want to fly with. They are currently offering the following to become that airline:

• Most extensive network: United flies 150 customers every year on close to 5,800 flights
• Most flat-bed seats: United offers the most flat-bed seats of any airline
• More overhead space: Passengers enjoy 66% more room
• More leg room in economy: Economy seating on United enjoys extra leg room for their seat

United Airlines also recently received their 5th consecutive perfect score on leading LGBT Equality Index for the Best Places to Work.

The Bad

United Airlines does not allow any checked baggage to be free for most of their flights. In comparison, a number of airlines do allow at least one piece of free checked baggage. A few international flights are free for one checked bag but generally the first checked bag costs $25, the second $35 or $100 for trans-Atlantic, and the third costs $150. Any additional baggage will cost $200 a piece. Additional baggage is also only accepted if the aircraft has room. While the cost is relatively low, it is still a cost while other airlines offer it for free.

The maximum exterior dimension (length + width + height) of standard checked baggage is 62 inches (158 cm), including handles and wheels. Having excess baggage weight or size will come at a fee to be determined by the specific weights and size of the baggage. However, there are restrictions including any baggage weighing over 100lbs will not be accepted (with the exception of assistive devices and musical instruments). Any baggage whose total outside dimensions are larger than 115 inches will not be accepted.

United Airlines flies close to 5,800 flights a year. When examining the daily flights that United flies to the most frequently, they did not have as high of performances when compared to other top airlines. Other airlines close to their size (such as Southwest and Delta) have slightly better statistics of daily flights than United does (as per Flightstats.com). Overall, United had roughly an 82% on time rate, a 7% late, 2% very late, 5% excessive and 1% of canceled flights according to Flightstats.com. Many other airlines have 0% canceled flights, unlike United. When looking at their most active routes, they received ratings lower than average for top airlines. Their top three routes include:

• Washington to San Francisco (3.5 stars, 91% on time)
• Los Angeles to Chicago (3.5 stars, 90% on time)
• Los Angeles to Houston (3.4 stars, 89% on time)

When compared to other airlines that have many high four-star ratings and some five-star ratings, United’s 3.5 stars are low. United’s most active routes are all domestic routes so it is hard to say how they compare with other airlines on international flights. Their lowest rated flight was the route of Houston to Newark with only 1.9 stars and 78% on-time according to Flightstats.com.

The Bottom Line

We recommend United Airlines as a top airline company. They offer very low prices and tons of flights that consistently leave and arrive on-time. They also are improving their in-flight service to ultimately enhance the overall user experience.

When traveling with luggage that needs to be checked with United Airlines, the cost of the checked baggage prices varies depending on a number of different factors. For example, the destination to which a flight is headed can mean a higher or lower checked baggage fee. The ticket type and seat selection can also vary the checked baggage price, as well as whether a passenger is flying as a United Airlines MileagePlus member or not. However, as a general rule, when flying within the United States on a United Airlines flight the first checked bag will cost customers twenty-five dollars. A second bag that needs to be checked will jump in price to thirty-five dollars. Size restrictions on checked luggage is standard and required at fifty pounds or less in weight and sixty-two inches or less in height. Any more luggage that needs to be checked beyond the first two bags, or any bags that surpass the height and weight restrictions will be subject to excess baggage charges that vary depending on flight destination and ticket type. United Airlines also allows passengers to travel with a carry-on bag as well as a personal item such as a purse, backpack, briefcase, or laptop. All luggage that needs to be checked in must be checked in advance at least thirty minutes before domestic flights, and ninety minutes prior to international flight departures. As a benefit to customers United Airlines does have options to check in baggage and to pay any needed checked baggage fees online or at kiosks prior to arriving at the airport to save on time and convenience. Compared to other airline companies, these checked baggage prices (although not the most competitive) are very similar to many other airline companies in the industry. United Airlines also provides insurance that checked baggage will make it to customer’s destinations safely.

Travel insurance is an important component when traveling with any airline. It is important to know what an airline offers in the event that things do not go as planned on the day of travel. United Airlines offers many different insurances on their travel procedures and they can all be found on their online website. One of the most important types of travel insurance is an airlines refund policy. United Airlines allows a twenty-four-hour time period after a ticket is purchased for cancellation or any ticket changes to occur without any consequential service fees. Any changes made to travel plans within that twenty-four-hour time frame can be made quickly and will be fully refunded in the form of the original payment. Changes or travel cancellations after that one-day time period are not eligible for refunds but may be credited for future travel with United Airlines. Of course, all changes (even credits for future travel) will be charged a service fee on top of the original purchasing price. In the event that a flight is delayed or canceled because of weather or mechanical issues, United Airlines insures their passengers that a full refund for purchased tickets is possible and all fees to change tickets will be waived as long as a refund request form is submitted. In addition, customers can request a refund if a medical emergency or immediate family death occurred and prevented a passenger from using a purchased ticket. For lost baggage insurance, United Airlines will provide a twenty-four -hour window wherein all reasonable out of pocket expenses will be compensated. A full refund for any fees charged to transport the lost bag will not be given until a bag is declared fully lost. As a benefit for traveling customers, United Airlines also has a twenty-four-hour customer assistance line that can be reached from anywhere in the world for any questions or concerns customers might need.

The rewards program through United Airlines is called MileagePlus. It is a very standard rewards program in that customers can become members of this rewards program for free and then begin earning points or miles towards future airfare purchases or other gifts and rewards that are available through the program. Some of the best benefits the MileagePlus program has to offer its members is the lack of blackout dates, which are not found on any United Airlines operating flights for program members. Flights through other airline companies are subject to blackout dates and the MileagePlus programs encourages customers to research this possibility prior to purchasing any airfare using awarded miles. Another benefit the program offers is the amount of gifts and awards that are available to choose with accrued reward points. This is possible because of the many partnering companies United Airlines has with their rewards program. Members can enjoy hotels, cars, other vacation deals such as cruises, or rail services. They are also able to enjoy many other everyday activities such as dining, shopping, home or auto and many more options that are available. As standard mileage points, however, the most common use of the rewards program is for future purchases of United Airlines airfare. Awarded miles can be used for this purpose although the MileagePlus rewards program does have quite a few specifications on how the awarded miles can be cashed in. For example, pooling of any kind for a higher number of reward points is prohibited. Members are allowed to buy or donate mile points for extra fees but this is monitored and pooling points in general is restricted. Another rule that is somewhat uncommon for airline rewards program is that MileagePlus reward points or miles can expire. Members should take note that acquired points will expire after eighteen months of non-activity on an account. In addition, not all flight seating is available for purchase through awarded miles and members must first find flights and seats that are eligible for reward purchasing before booking any airfare through the MileagePlus rewards program.

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140 United Airlines Reviews

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  1. User Score

    0

    October 26th, 2016 Essex, MD

    Terrible customer service, I can’t found my baggage when I arrived, called the customer service department many times, every time got different answer, don’t recommend this Airlines company.

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  2. User Score

    8

    September 21st, 2016 Belleville, NJ

    I didn’t mind the flight price or what happened while I was on the flight but I had to pay for all the bags I had. They don’t give you any checked bags. I wasn’t a fan of that. The flight was also an hour late but the weather wasn’t great and it was November in NJ so it happens, there was nothing we could do about mother nature.

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  3. User Score

    0

    August 25th, 2016 Decatur, GA

    The worst customers service flight delayed 5.5 hours missed on connection no one cares at United .Only horror stories from other flyers . Supervisor no help do not use this airline they are the worst. Charged me for first class flew me economy. Fighting for 6 weeks for refund. It go on and on . Please fly with other airline if you value your time.. family

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    1

  4. User Score

    10

    July 29th, 2016 Zapata, TX

    Friendliest staff ever

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  5. User Score

    0

    June 7th, 2016 Omaha, NE

    United Airlines is terrible. We are in the middle of trying to get financial reimbursement for items we had to purchase on a cruise, because we couldn’t get our bags from the airport. After 4 weeks, we called United and were told they are still working on it. Today I called again, and they told me that because we’re not Mileage Plus members, it would take another 4-6 weeks. If we HAD been Mileage Plus members, it would have taken a higher priority. We don’t matter because we’re not members. That’s terrible. United is definitely not the airline it used to be.

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  6. User Score

    0

    August 26th, 2015 Staten Island, NY

    There isn’t enough time and space in here to describe the lies, mistakes, refusal to communicate, admit their errors, discrimination against old and disabled, constant delays with fabricated excuses, total lack of respect and consideration, for UA passengers are a necessary nuisance, and they have one working department, the billing department…

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    1

  7. User Score

    1

    August 26th, 2015 Belmar, NJ

    For a 5-1/2 hour flight to have NOTHING – no food, no wifi, no entertainment, no movies, no jacks for us to use our own devices, no nothing, the flight sucked. Thanks for asking.

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  8. User Score

    10

    August 25th, 2015 Seattle, WA

    Never really liked United, but had to fly them after the merger, I just hope they will get better, liked Continental Airlines much better.

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  9. User Score

    7

    August 25th, 2015 Greenbrae, CA

    Love you guys, but…. gave up my seat so a family could sit together ….got nothing for the effort ….mechanical problems….delayed…..can’t even go on….still love United just tired and frustrated

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    1

  10. User Score

    2

    August 24th, 2015 Matawan, NJ

    The in-flight staff was pleasant and did their job. The customer service folks on the ground at Newark (EWR), Hong Kong (HKG) and San Diego were just plain rude, nasty and very unhelpful. Like we were bothering them.

    Forget the Baggage department, We waited over 45 minutes for our luggage in both Newark and San Diego.

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  11. User Score

    0

    August 24th, 2015 Sidney, MT

    Some time ago, the family took a vacation from Seattle to Florida. The return flight was absolutely terrible. I had never been treated so badly in my life. When I contacted United they claimed to be having contract difficulties. I haven’t flown them since. Now I have opted to give them another try. I’ll update my rating when I get back. Right now they are a Zero.

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    1

  12. User Score

    3

    August 21st, 2015 Millbrook, NY

    I had the opportunity to fly with United to Singapore and most recently to Germany. After much thought, I decided to use a foreign carrier. I was loyal to both Continental and United. When they combined, they became no longer customer centered. Moreover, I don’t particularly think they treat their pilots or flight attendants with the respect they deserve.

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    1

  13. User Score

    2

    August 21st, 2015 Clifton, NJ

    My wife and I went to Cozumel last June. We started the trip with an announce 10 minutes before boarding time that the first officer just called sick and it will take two hours to get another officer. This mean that we were missing our connection in Houston. After a some delays and changed flights, we got to Cozumel but our luggage didn’t. On our way back we also experience delays. Looks like delayed flights and misplaced luggage are very common for United Airlines. We also had a bad surprise with the fees for our luggage.

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    1

  14. User Score

    1

    August 21st, 2015 Scottsdale, AZ

    United formerly was our favorite airline back in the seventies. But it has gone to hell! Contrary to what you found, their treatment of passengers is adversarial. Their terminals are packed with little available seating. They cram you into airplane seats, motivating passengers to pay extra to get a half way comfortable seat and service on planes needs a lot of improvement. We will never fly United again until they improve a great deal.

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    4

  15. User Score

    10

    August 20th, 2015 Charlottesville, VA

    Very good airlines .Comfortable seats and delicious food . I will travel on United again .Thanks for your wonderful service .

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    1

  16. User Score

    9

    August 19th, 2015 Palm Springs, CA

    I love flying on United. They are always my first choice and their affiliation with Star Alliance is perfect for our many trips to Europe. I’ve had a delay or two but that is the rarity and not the norm. I’ve never lost luggage or had rude behavior. The United team has always been professional and addressed my questions and concerns prompty.

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  17. User Score

    4

    August 19th, 2015 Hamburg, NY

    United was always the best in my book. Now the flight attendants for what ever reason are crabby hardly any smiles “forget about asking them for help with anything” I was recently on an almost brand new RJ 700 and the seats were a fake leather wrapped plastic seat. I never usually get up during flights but this 1 hour flight I had to get up twice because it was so uncomfortable. It seems ever since the merge with COA United has gone down bad. I have been really liking JetBlue lately.

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    1

  18. User Score

    5

    August 18th, 2015 Lexington, MO

    We have flown United many times, and have never had a complaint till we flew from Los Angeles in winter to Denver and no one told us we be outside in blowing cold wind and snow to get to the next plain, seems it was really tough seeing elderly people doing this it effected me by catching a cold so United maybe if there is an outside plane you have to get thru let us know, otherwise thank you for safe travels on time,mostly the crew was very nice except should they wear gloves when serving drinks and food , just saying, and maybe see why flying over ocean didn’t have no tv or movies there free only sometimes! other then that your doing ok but hope you read comments and take into consideration of others

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    1

  19. User Score

    3

    August 17th, 2015 Freehold, NJ

    United Airlines is completely focused on their global client as opposed to the average intercontinental traveler. United has limited perks from the middle class and raised prices because they claim fuel is expensive. What about the value of the customer? I have dear friends that were employed with Continental Airlines and truly regret the merger between Continental and United. Outsourcing the MIA crew to work in FLL and outsourcing to Philippines is mind boggling. Just because you’re a large global airline does not mean you are the best. I would like to feel welcomed, appreciated, and not the negative energy of the frustrated employees. Upper management and Mr. Smisek you need to research why patrons and employees were so satisfied with Continental Airlines because I know I was truly happy and took pride flying them.

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    1

  20. User Score

    9

    August 17th, 2015 Honolulu, HI

    As a “FIVE” million actual revenue flown “butt-in-the-seat” mile flier (no credit card charges!)… and someone who is Executive Platinum on AA, 1K on UA, Medallion on DL, and an A-List on SW… I can confirm from years of experience that all of the U.S. major carriers have their problems, flaws, and negative happenings.

    The three items that separate UA from the other U.S.’s major carriers are: (1) Safety – their pilots have had more requirements filled/completed when sitting on the left seat… this is even more so after Continental took over and merged the two companies (2) When UA errors, they absolutely go out of their way better than the other carriers to rectify, accommodate, and/or compensate the traveler, and (3) It is not even close in comparison and in actual reality / happenings when it comes to availability and subsequently receiving complimentary upgrades (e.g. being free [no purchasing of upgrade coupons required like AA], and that all planes with business first and first class seats go out full with upgrades when elite members are on revenue tickets).

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