United Downgrades Their Upgrades

I’m in Utah this weekend for the glorious wedding of my sister, Jana. In typical Mormon fashion, when the deal was signed, the date gets set, and then you have anywhere from two weeks to six weeks to lock in all the details. Including flights. So I hopped on Travelocity to land some budget airfare, and succeeded with a cross between Frontier and United — neither of whom I fly frequently (remember Delta? yeah…).

So today I went to check in on United as soon as I could, knowing that my seating options would be miserable if I didn’t get on as close to 24 hours prior as possible. This whole notion of with-holding seats never made sense to me. Until today. Today? It made cents. You got to check in, and you are immediately met with an option to spend $139 to upgrade your flight to premium status — “because it’s worth it,” according to the United website. So, of course I decline. What’s the point of the discounted airfare in the first place, right?

So, I move to the seating assignments, only to find that there are no available seats, except for the premium seating, and the back of the plane is blocked from view, with no scrolling features or links to get you there to view availability. I hate air travel as much as the next guy, so the thought of middle seats was too much. $19 gets me front of the plane in premium seating. Done. Added to shopping cart. Then I move to the second leg of the flight (yes, connecting flights… remember the discounted fare?), and again, nothing available, same lame trap. But on this flight, the cost of the premium seating is $39! I contemplate a bit… remember the incredibly large people on all sides of me (and no, I would NOT let them leave the middle arm rests up!), and gave in. Done. Added to shopping cart.

$58 later, I’m now trying to check out. And, of course I’m met with yet another offer to “fly through the airport security lines” for an additional $19. Are you kidding me? Enough already. I click on “skip this for now” (like they really think I’m going to scroll back after a few moments’ thought?) and  move to the next screen. ANOTHER OFFER! This one is to upgrade my mileage secured on the trip through a purchase of, you guessed it, $19! Ridiculous. All I wanted to do was check in for my flight, and I’m bombarded by one financial upgrade offer after another. Was I checking in or checking out? Give me a break. Focus on flying, United. Leave the web shopping to Amazon.

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