It is interesting to note that United Airlines has dropped the slogan, "Fly the Friendly Skies of United." Either United knows that they cannot keep tdhis promise (of "friendly skies") or they simply do not care. I believe it is the latter.
Throughout the 80's and early part of the 90's, I was spending a lot of time on planes flying for work. While it was difficult spending time away from my three pre-school children and my wife, it was some consolation to know that at least I was racking up frequent flyer miles. United had built my loyalty with the promise that if I flew with them I would some day be able to treat my family to a nice vacation after years on the road.
I did my part. I flew almost exclusively on United Airlines. This was before the days of "expiring miles." Later, my miles were broken out separately on my statement as "non-expiring" miles.
Now my kids are in their teens, and I wanted to take them on the trip I had EARNED by trusting United Airlines (i.e., that if I did my part by spending thousands of dollars with them they would provide the trips promised me). You must be able to imagine my surprise when I called to find out my balance. Instead of the 165, 000+ miles, I was told that I only had 5, 000 miles in my account. I was stunned and assumed that there must be a mistake. I was later to find that the mistake was in ever trusting United Airlines.
United made the decision that they would, in fact, expire the "non-expiring" miles. Since I hadn't traveled over the past few years they would wipe away all of these miles. I do want to point out that American, Delta, and Alaska airlines had similar classifications of miles, i.e., those that expired and those that didn't. I had much lower balances on these other airlines, since I had used United for most of my travels. This is important to bring up because (unlike United) American, Delta, and Alaska air kept my "non-expiring" miles intact.
I made frequent calls to both Mileage Plus and United. Each pointed the finger at each other. The response that I got was consistent. They needed me to fly with them over the past few years and since I didn't they didn't consider me to be a loyal customer. I pointed out that I wasn't flying with anyone during that period. Apparently, they expected me to rush out and buy a ticket that I didn't need just to keep their airline afloat.
United has made it very clear that they do not intent to live up to their promise of giving me ticket rewards for my loyalty in the 80's and 90's. I feel as though my bank account was wiped out by a criminal. The bank account was my mileage account, and you know who the criminals are.
Read the complaints of others, regarding United Airlines. Don't let this happen to you. Make a conscious choice not to end up like me. I urge you to trust your flying dollars to airlines with integrity, such as American, Delta, and Alaskan Airlines.
You will undoubtedly see many complaints that United Mileage Plus members find it impossible to use their miles (i.e., planes don't have seats available for rewards travel). I find it interesting that I had little trouble getting reward travel on American Airlines to and from Miami for a cruise that I have planned. United believes airline travel is a commodity. I disagree, and I appreciate the service provided by other customer-focused airlines.