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
8.4
#2
$25-$35
$16/day
7.7
#3
$20-$35
$9/hour
7.4
#5
united
$25-$35
$4.95-$49
6.7

The Good

  • Ticket prices
  • Boarding
  • Check-in
  • Destinations
  • In-flight services
  • Time in business

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

  • Baggage
  • Flight statistics

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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153 United Airlines Reviews

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  1. User Score

    7

    June 11th, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    We flew United to California and our flight was on time with no delays. The customer service was outstanding.

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  2. User Score

    4

    June 11th, 2017 Orem, UT

    i was recently a customer on a united flight. The flight attendant was very pleasant but the flight was late and i missed my connecting flight which missed up my trip, next time i will book with someone else,

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  3. User Score

    10

    June 9th, 2017

    Me and my wife were returning from our Honeymoon, and we noticed that our seats were not right next to each other. We talked to the gate agent, and the next thing we knew they had upgraded us to first class at no extra cost. I know that United as a whole gets a lot of bad press lately, but I can say that I actually had a great experience and they went above and beyond for us.

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  4. User Score

    2

    June 5th, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    United Airlines is one of the worst airlines I have flown. The only time I will choose them is when their price is significantly lower than all of the others. My last time I flew with United they were extremely late. When we did land we sat on the ground 45 minutes waiting to taxi in. I literally had to run to barely catch my next flight.

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  5. User Score

    4

    June 1st, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    I have never been much of a fan of United Airlines. I’ve tried to avoid them, and only end up choosing their flights when they are the cheapest. But you get what you pay for in this case. My flights are usually late, service is subpar, the planes seem old and smell unpleasant. I’ve just never had a good experience with them.

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  6. User Score

    0

    June 1st, 2017 Wayne, NJ

    Not only was the flight delayed but also the passengers were forced to get off with all there bags and re-board hours later.

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  7. User Score

    5

    May 31st, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    Flying United has been an okay experience for me. Their prices are average and so is their service. They are not my first choice when I’m looking for tickets to travel.

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  8. User Score

    10

    May 27th, 2017 Salt Lake City, UT

    I’ve never had a problem personally with United nor talked with someone who’s had a complaint about the company.

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  9. User Score

    6

    May 25th, 2017 Ogden, UT

    I try to avoid United as much as possible, due to their constant mistakes in the media. The last time I flew United our flight was delayed an hour and then the flight attendants weren’t very nice. I have flown with them in the past and it was an okay experience.

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  10. User Score

    6

    May 23rd, 2017 San Francisco, CA

    Typical United ORD-SFO flight on 777. Very narrow seats, as comfortable as city bus ride. At least it was on time. 1K United customer, but almost impossible to get upgraded on this route. Exit row helps, as usual, but it is not something most of the people, including me, look forward to…. spending 4.5 hours on the plane under these conditions.

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  11. User Score

    8

    May 17th, 2017 Half Moon Bay, CA

    Entire crew extremely polite and friendly.

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  12. User Score

    3

    May 15th, 2017

    Hello,

    I traveled yesterday with my wife and two young sons. There was a long line at security with only one TSA agent working, then a long pat down which caused us to get on just before boarding. We were not late arriving.

    We needed to gate check 3 bags and the agent working the gate in Greenville, SC, said our bags would be checked to our final destination. We didn’t even think to question it.

    Upon arrival at our connection, walking quickly to a train to our terminal for our next flight, we were made aware that gate checked bags were to be picked up plane side.

    Now really rushing, I send my wife and 2 boys to our gate, while I go back to get our bags. No one there and our bags are gone.

    Customer service says the bags are going to baggage claim, there (HOU) and if I went to try and get them, I would miss my flight.

    So I ran to the gate and joined my family since there was nothing we could do.

    We’re still awaiting a phone call to inform us our bags have arrived in LAX so that I can go get them.

    It’s been 24 hours.

    Point being, don’t tell a family of 4 that your gate checked bags will be sent to your final destination if you’re not absolutely sure. When traveling with young kids (4, 1 yrs old) you trust what the employees say.

    Now we’re without bags and have to go get them, whenever they happen to arrive.

    Dustin

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  13. User Score

    1

    May 15th, 2017

    United has taken a mediocre product, economy and come up with an even more heinous version, basic economy. Start with the already tight seats, luggage restrictions etc and turn those into no seat choice, no option to upgrade, no pre check in if you don’t check a bag and you come away with the feeling you’re lucky you’re allowed the plane. Don’t even think about basic economy and honestly consider other airlines like Southwest before taking this worst of the worst airlines. I’m not a frequent business traveler, but I’ve flown all over the globe on a variety of domestic and international carriers and United really does suck.

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  14. User Score

    1

    May 14th, 2017 Providence, RI

    I don’t want a United voucher for poor service I want the cash so I am done with them I will not use United unless it is the choice of last resort.

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  15. User Score

    5

    December 29th, 2016 Edited

    UA818 emergency landing in Santiago Chili! Where are the star ratings? First let me say, Thank you to the pilot for landing the plane in Santiago after a violent thunderstorm and lightning strikes and a circuit board that caught fire. Thank you to the crew for trying to keep all of us from puking and passing out. NOW here is where United HAS A BIG PROBLEM! United has hands down the WORST phone support ever! After landing there was not a number to call in a foriegn country with a representative that was nice. The first man hung up on me, said he wasn’t going to talk to me because I was upset. No kidding I was upset, I just had a terrifying flight. The 1800 number is not a free call on top of that, 2 bucks per minute international rates. The second time I call, the automated machine sends me on minutes of a run around only to get half the time a person that really does not understand English. OMG! Too make matters worse United will NOT provide a corp number to file a complaint. You hear the same thing from the phone people over over like little robots. “We are sorry for the inconvenience:” It is not an “inconvenience” It was a life threatening event. Too make matters worse yet again, my next flight UA846 had a person on the plane have a medical emergency! This person needed to be taken to a hospital. They did not land the plane in Lima. They made that poor person fly the entire 9 hour flight before getting medical attention! Horrified I am. Again I get the same no-answers from United. File an online complaint and sorry for the inconvenience. No we do not have a corporate number you can call. OMG. If I needed medical care , I can not believe they would make me stay on a plane for a 9 hour flight and not land for medical care. Not inconvenience, but huge issues here!

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  16. 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

  17. 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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  18. 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

  19. User Score

    10

    July 29th, 2016 Zapata, TX

    Friendliest staff ever

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  20. 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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