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).

 

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.

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User Reviews

Star Rating

2.9
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381 Reviews

Review Breakdown

5 star
19%
4 star
25%
3 star
14%
2 star
12%
1 star
30%

Sentiment Criteria

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Jacquie Boyer

June 22nd, 2015 Montrose, CO

We flew from Denver to New Orleans on United Airlines this month, and were very pleased.There were NO delays nor were there any problems there nor on the return flight. The fares were very compatible. We will fly them again.

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Casandra Farley

June 22nd, 2015 Mountain Home, ID

We missed two full days and a half on our Alaskan Cruise thanks to United. We had a plane break down in SF. Plenty of time to catch another to make boarding on our ship but they kept saying the plane would go. We were not the only ones their were 11 other couples who missed it as well. My husband a retired Sr.Mgst Sgt saw the seal blow out at the back door of the plane and knew it would not go. We tried to get another flight but both SF cust. svs desk had hundreds of people in line ahead of us so no way to get out in time. I was lucky enough to have cruise insurance but several others did not and they had to pay their way to catch the ship in Katakana, Alaska. We were given a $7.00 voucher for a meal at the 5 star hotel in Vancouver, That would not even cover a cup of tea. United Airline had cancelled our return flight as well even though we had paid for it. I spent the last night in Alaska on the phone with United's Cst Svs who did get us a flight home after a 3 hour phone conversation. Sucked so wrote them a letter and never got a sorry or anything. Will not fly them ever again unless I have no other options at all.

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Jim Bresee

June 22nd, 2015

Virtually every change made by this airline since the Continental merger have been at the expense of their customers. The new skinny seats they've outfitted the 737's and 319 / 320 aircraft with are extremely uncomfortable. They've devauled the miles in the mileage plus program, and reduced virtually every benefit for being a high dollar customer. Their phone support was outsourced, and the training of the outsourced staff is pathetic. Their answers are often wrong, and delivered in a rude and disdainful way. I could go on, but the bottom line is this airline is competing to be the most unpleasant in the air. Not that it matters, we've allowed the market to consolidate to the point that there is virtually no competition in air travel, so airlines can charge what they want, and treat customers like cattle.

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Chuck Brimmer

June 22nd, 2015 Portland, OR

United use to be a good airline. Now, they are just the worst in every category. I used to have all my miles on United (one time a 100K flyer), now I do everything I can to avoid them. The CEO does a video at the beginning of every flight telling how United is the best customer service airline. I say you are a liar.

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Stan

June 22nd, 2015 Emeryville, CA

Whatever you do, don't have to cancel a flight with these guys. They have rigged there policies to extract as much money from you as possible. I recently had to cancel a first class ticket at $1260. United tells you can reuse the funds for the ticket and just pay $200 change fee. What they don't' tell you till you go to book the next ticket is, that $200 dollar change fee is addition to what you already paid regardless of the money they already have. Use your funds for a cheaper or coach ticket, you still have to pay $200 cash upfront for the privilege of using your money. That's right I used my $1260 to buy a coach ticket for $640, and they wanted $200 additional so I could use my $1260. When I asked for an economy plus upgrade, I was told I'd have to pay another $179. So to go from First Class to Economy Plus Coach I had to pay $379 in addition to my $1260. That's right an economy plus coach ticket for $1260 + $379. To make the whole thing really ridiculous, the United told me they'd issue me a travel voucher form my remaining funds. 1260- $640 for my coach ticket. That's right, I got another credit for $620. So let's do good customer relations math here. $1260 – $200 = $1060. Change fee. $1060 – $640 = $420 Coach Ticket $420 - $179 = $241 If they had straight forward (non-loan shark, mob rules in fine print) they would still be $241 ahead. In the end I just changed if for another first class ticket and was only out the change fee of $200. But United is out a customer who regularly pays first class fees for most flights. I can't imagine the hell they put coach passengers through.

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Dermot Duggan

June 22nd, 2015 Kailua Kona, HI

Despicable way to treat a lifelong "valued customer" - Due to change of business plans I miss a leg of my flight. I'm on my way to the airport 2 days later and guess what, United have cancled the remaining leg back home I'm stuck in California trying to gat back home to my family in Hawaii. United has abandoned me and then forces me to buy another $731 ticket on the same plane I am already booked on (In first class). On the phone to United they basically call me a cheat suggesting I was deliberately trying to find a cheaper way home (What???????) Thanks United for abandoning me, potentially placing me in danger with no way of getting home... I've spent the last 30 years working hard to be able to fly first class and this is the way I'm treated??? BE WARNED everyone.

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Juan Bustos

June 22nd, 2015 Daly City, CA

My bags were missing in Nicaragua, United found ALL of them and had them delivered to my hotel. Nothing but greatness.

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John

June 19th, 2015 Canon City, CO

I do love United but my rewards credit card is not s good as AA they gave me 50 k miles to start united was only 30 . the domestic flight attendants are always polite and nice but the international flight attendants are rude and lazy . I have only noticed this since the Continental merger . I avoided Contented at all cost and closing JFK for that old run down Newark airport is a huge mistake . HOU and DEN are the best places to connect and I love the new international flights out of both hubs

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Ted

June 19th, 2015 Scottsdale, AZ

The only flight I have had on United was from Singapore to Chicago with a stop in Tokyo. It was the worst flight in my 70+ years of flying. I was served one small snack between Singapore and Tokyo and absolutely nothing between Tokyo and Chicago. The flight attendants were rude to say the least and the plane was filthy. Overall, the flight was miserable to say the least. On my flight to Singapore (on another airline) I felt that I was in First Class, even though I was in economy. I was treated with respect, I was fed delicious food, and more food than I could eat, plus an almost endless supply of snacks and drinks. The next time I fly, no matter what, I will NOT fly on United even If there is no other airline to fly on.

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Jen

June 19th, 2015 Midvale, UT

I have flown United for over 30 years. I have noticed a HUGE change in the airline since the merger with Continental. Jeff Smisek is ruining the airline. United used to be a very customer friendly airline, but now you are hard pressed to find it. I recently flew first class to Alaska and was singled out by the gate agent for my bag(which is the standard carry on) and essentially humiliated by the gate agent. I had to spend the 6 hour flight without my medicine because instead of letting me get my medication out, she simply took my bag and gate checked it. I have been an elite member for 20 of those 30 years and have NEVER been treated as badly as I was on that flight on any other airline that I have flown without status!!! The whole airline needs a customer service class and Jeff Smisek needs to gooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I complained but still have not received a response. I choose to fly United when Delta is more convenient.

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Debra A.

June 19th, 2015 Colorado Springs, CO

In the past 2 months I have unfortunately taken 2 round trips on United. Very bad experiences and very disappointed!!! The counter clerks give terrible customer service at the Chicago OHare airport, the travel insurance is a rip off!! Timely departures and being thrown in to the street when your flight is missed because of the airline is not a good impression! I will not be flying United at least through Chicago OHare again and it will be a long time before I fly United at all!!!!!!! Oh and I get miles on their program but it sure doesn't get you better service!!!

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Steve

June 19th, 2015 Ashland, MA

I use United extensively to fly to Asia, I have been using them for 20 years with my work, as I my primary carrier of choice. This has gained me an elite status with them of a "Million Mile" flyer... This give both my wife and I lifetime gold status. With that status comes free luggage up to 70lbs and free economy plus seating and few other important perks for us traveling long distances. I have had my luggage damaged in transit with them, but to fair I have had that happen on all airlines that I use... Their on-time status with me has been good... My wife had a bad experience this year where the plane broke down and they just left her in O'Hare at 1:30 in the morning after a very long day. NOT cool at all... I have an overall good experience with UA and will continue to use them.. Mainly because of the free baggage and economy plus... Hard to beat that when you add up the additional cost...

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Dean Chou

June 17th, 2015 Sugar Land, TX

getting worse and worse!!!!

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Leora Almstrom

June 17th, 2015

love united airlines..my fav! great planes, great service personnel, always accomodating..great rewards program

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Mike Horan

June 17th, 2015 San Antonio, TX

Trash airline.

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Olivia

June 17th, 2015 Houston, TX

Mechanical problems way too much. I wish they would stop allowing people to load up when they know the aircraft is not in good working order. I have had to stay overnight in places more than once. My son just had to do the same thing on a trip to singapore. He lost a whole day of his vacation. My certain the plane works first. SMH

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Monty anderson

June 17th, 2015

I went from lax to Quito ecuador. My luggage was 2 days late and damaged. It was like it was underwater. I had everything I needed for a project there. I filled a claim. It was what I thought to be very fair. Laptop etc. I had to change my plans. I was told I would get a check on a date so I could replace my equipment. Ecuador taxes all electronics double so I would lose money. I talked to the head man and he said on this day the check would be mailed. Well a few calls well after the date the head man quit returning my calls. The check came in 3 weeks later. Way to late for projects. My friends moved on without me as needed. I had to pay for a hotel for a very long time and the flight was for nothing. I ask for more money and they said NO. After complaining they gave me a $200 voucher I lost over $4,000 plus my project.

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Tom Wilson

June 16th, 2015 Lake Worth, FL

Since UA bought out Continental, the resulting merger has gone downhill. Many employees point to the current CEO as a leader in name only. Flights to and from South Florida to Houston and Newark have been cut to about a quarter of what they used to be; those times now cater to the vacation travelers with the business travelers moving their business to other airlines. I really miss Continental!!!!

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Barbara Gibbs

June 15th, 2015 Murfreesboro, TN

We will nor fly United again. On a flight back from Alaska, we had a connecting flight in Chicago for our last leg back to Nashville, Tn. We only had a 35 minute layover in Chicago. Our plane circled over Chicaho for 20 minutes. When we finally landed we ran to the gate for our connecting flight to Nashville. We arrived 5 minutes before the flight was suppose to leave. The gate was closed, no attendants were there, and the plane was pulling away from the gate. We found out that while we were in the air United had reassigned us to another flight to Nashville the next morning. They sold our seats to 2 people while we were in the air circling to land. They did not offer a hotel room or anything to compensate their delay in our getting home. The clerk did say that there was a flight to Knoxville boarding at that time. So we flew into Knoxville and rented a car and drove home late that night. Our baggage did not make the flight with us, so my husband did not have his cpap machine and medicine. United sent our baggage on the flight they had reassigned for us to take the next day. The next day we returned our rental car and picked up our baggage at the airport. We will never fly United and have warned our family and friends about the NON-customer focused airlines

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Scott Wilson

June 15th, 2015 Sidney, MT

Well it was some time ago, but the family and I were on our way home to Seattle from Florida, got stuck on the runway due to some thunder storms. It's OK, no big deal weather happens. However the flight attendants were absolutely horrible. So much so, that I have never flown United again. So much disrespect and anger, why would anybody put up with that. My advise is to fly Alaska

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Felix

June 15th, 2015 Watertown, CT

In my recent experience with United I was mostly disappointed with it. During my recent flight to San Juan for cruise, I was met with very cooperative people. They could not be more friendly & assisting. However I had problem with flight back. Unfortunately we had medical emergency on return from cruise. My friend ended up hospitalized in San Juan. When I called to inform you that we couldn't fly out due to medical situation my agenda was quickly put on hold with promise that we could just make new arrangements when we were ready to fly. We were told that we would merely have to show that medical situation happen & would only be charged $200 change charge.. While they were quick to put my flight aside, it was quite a different story trying to make my way back to Newark. When my friend was finally about to be released from Hospital in San Juan it was quite a different story trying to get flight back. While they were willing to 'waive' the $200 change fee, they wanted us to shell out an additional 350 per ticket. I thought this was very callous & cold approach. They made it feel like they were doing us a favor. I didn't feel like I had favor being done. We ended up flying back with someone else. They were more understanding & very accommodating because of experience we just went through. I cannot remember the last time I was treated so coldly & I really do not believe I would even thing of looking to United for anything in the future.

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Regina Igel

June 15th, 2015

Flight 861, Dulles -Sao Paulo, June 11, 2015. Business class. All service of superior quality. "Commodore" John Davis (I asked for his name), excellent, attentive to our needs, thoughtful, cordial, friendly. - Food of excellent quality, as well as drinks. Smooth flight, no disturbances, nice landing. All went well.

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Dave C.

June 15th, 2015 Peachtree City, GA

Horrible airline. Worst customer service I have ever encountered. I spent over 30 yrs as an Air Traffic Controller. I thought only their pilots were bad. Boy was I wrong.

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kumar

June 15th, 2015 San Jose, CA

I prefer United over other airlines. I have more options with united. UAL.com is a great website that helps me to find flights to fit my budget and convenience and even allows me to choose my seat assignment. The announcements are very clear and easily understandable. Flight Attendants: I have encountered really rude attendants. At the same time I have seen several awesome flight attendants too. I have seen this trend in other airlines too. Entertainment: reasonable. UAL can add more selections to all 747 flights. Food: ok. Overall I prefer United over other airlines.

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Jonathan Bolthouse

June 12th, 2015 Grand Rapids, MI

Every time I have flown United in recent memory, there have been horrible inconveniences caused by delays and cancellations. The planes are constantly delayed by "mechanical issues". I had a four hour gap between my airport of origin and my connecting flight from Chicago to Mexico City and I missed the flight because flight from Grand Rapids to Chicago was delayed. United schedules their routes with no room for error which inevitably leads to delays and cancellations that I have never experienced with other airlines. In my opinion, United is the worst airline in the United States. I will try to avoid United at all costs.

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Hugo Vides

June 12th, 2015 San Leandro, CA

As always United never let me down, I won a bet with my fellow passengers, rude flight attendants, flight late (during round trip) United is one if not the worst Airline ever...but hey I wond $5 bucks with my friends... Hugo

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Vlad Mazelis Sr.

June 12th, 2015 Kent, WA

I'm gasping for words. First plane from LAS to SFO was two hours late (that's on a sunny, beautiful summer day throughout the USA). So I missed my connecting flight to SEA in SFO. I also missed another connecting flight in SFO, to which they had me rescheduled. Because we were stuck on the tarmac in LAS for 20 minutes before the takeoff. The reason, as the Captain announced: "We've received improper maintenance documentation, we are now waiting for correct ones". Unbelievable! In San Francisco I've reqiuested a food voucher, so reluctantly they gave me one - worth $7. What can you get for $7 in SFO? A small 6-inch cold sandwich costs $12.99 plus tax. So basically for $7 I purchased a 3-inch part of a sandwich. And I was traveling First Class! My travel from Las Vegas to Seattle took more than 12 hours. Enough said......

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Nelson Goodreau

June 11th, 2015 Littleton, CO

I have been a member of their MileagePlus program for nearly 20 years. In that time, I have witnessed the steady decline in their customer service to the point where I would be hard pressed to chose between flying UA and Spirit. I truly believe they have a genuine contempt for their customers.

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Frank Hucke

June 11th, 2015

Just 4 words: CA-TAS-TRO-PHIC It was a shared flight with Lufthansa - I will ignore EVERY connection with United for the future if ANY possible!

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Jose E Nascimento

June 11th, 2015 Newark, NJ

had a bad experience with these guys... (bought the tickets thru Orbitz, ) would not fly with them ever again. have flow places, here in the US, and to South america where they fly, but always choose another companies !!! bad customer services ever....

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Anand Anandan

June 11th, 2015 Palatine, IL

I am a Million miler with United. I started using United as I was travelling all over the world and I wanted to depend on one airlines for that. Now I am addicted to them as they are doing such a great service. All in all my experience with their Star Alliance partner has been great! I highly recommend!