Am I thick or is United Airlines Mileage Plus awards program complete bullshit?

Dear United Mileage Plus program customer service rep,

I just learned something very disturbing while investigating why I’m unable to book a hotel with my MileagePlus award miles.

Every month I receive an email newsletter with info about how many miles I have, when they expire, and how I can possibly use them – for hotels, cars, etc.

United Airlines MileagePlus bullshit awards program

When I tried booking a hotel with the miles through your MileagePlus section of the website, I kept getting an error where after trying to check out I get looped back to the search page. I tried three different browsers until I finally realized there was an error text:

“You are not eligible to use miles for Hotel and Car Awards at this time. You may be eligible for other options such as newspapers, magazines, dining, and air awards. Please visit our <a href=”” title=”MileagePlus Use Miles page” target=”_blank”>Use Miles</a> web page for more information.”*

*By the way, work on your browser layouts and compatibility; that error message shouldn’t be off to the right at the bottom of the page. Ever.

I called Mileage Plus reps who transferred me to web support – it turns out I need some kind of special specific credit card in order to use my MileagPlus points for this booking?!

For years I get these newsletters and promo emails, and I spent hours researching the website and NOWHERE is it indicated I cannot use the miles without some additional criteria involved. I just see links to book hotels and cars.

By the way, knowing this info, I STILL cannot locate further details about what is required to be ‘eligible’ to use my earned awards.

I’m an email marketer/website content writer myself, and this is absolutely unacceptable. I spent years flying United accruing these points, weeks researching through your site in order to choose the hotel destination for my family, and now I find out at the last minute they are worthless – I can purchase ‘newspapers, magazines, dining’? Really? With 45,000 points?

This is the second time I’ve complained to United about something and I don’t expect a helpful response this time either, though I’d love to be proven wrong.

Flight service feedback for United Airlines.

Dear United Airlines customer service department,

I never write letters like this, and I’m usually very easy going, but this experience left me pretty upset, and I figured the customer feedback will be valuable for United Airlines.

I was on flight UA84 from Newark to Tel Aviv which departed on Wednesday, August 22, 2012. I was at the back of the plane, row 35, the JKL side. One of the flight attendants was servicing this section and from the start, was fairly rude. I gave her the benefit of the doubt; maybe she was working overtime or was having a bad day.

But as the flight continued, it only got worse… She snapped at passengers with a tone of frustration after being addressed the first time. She seemed constantly on the defensive, even if no one started with her first. Or as if she was constantly being purposely annoyed, even when people made modest requests or had questions.

After a kosher meal mix up between my son and the young woman in our row, which she didn’t seem interested in pointing out while it was happening, I went back to clarify the mistake and got a curt ‘yes’ and her back instead of an offer to try and work it out. When my row-mate tried to ask for another kosher meal, she got a quick ‘there are no more.’ I found it all odd that there was no proactive offer to accommodate until a different flit attendant stepped in.

Other points throughout the flight displayed the same sour attitude. But what made me realize it was more disdain than frustration was when I heard her speaking with a passenger near my seat. To the best of my memory, I heard her answer him with, “They pay more to work this route.” The man answered, “Surely because of the long distance.” Her reply was, “Hong Kong is also a long distance. But *that* flight is just so different.”

It was difficult to hear a blatant insult, (spoken in the tone of an insult) delivered so casually to a customer. Is that acceptable practice?

Whether the assertion is true or not, I don’t care. I’m an American expat living in Israel. I completely understand cultural differences, and challenges for a flight staff. But it was inappropriate to speak to a customer about seemingly internal company matters, and loud enough for other patrons to hear it. If this route is so problematic for this flight attendant to the point where she is continuously rude and disdainful the entire flight, she should probably not be working on it.

I chose United this time, when I usually prefer to fly El Al (I find it more child-friendly and appreciate the staff’s service efforts) because the schedule was more convenient. I even paid slightly more to do so. While the flight got me where I needed to go, I can’t say I felt it was as pleasant from the staff treatment point of view (though other attendants were, in fact, helpful and even borderline friendly).

I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but as a marketing professional I do believe strongly in quality customer service making all the difference. I hope this helps improve your US/Israel program.