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United Airlines Review: Customer Experience, Prices & Baggage Size

United Airlines Review: Customer Experience, Prices & Baggage Size
Nicolle Harwood-Nash
Last Updated: April 22, 2024

Welcome to our in-depth analysis of United Airlines, a foremost aviation company in the United States. Here at AirAdvisor, we pride ourselves on being a team of dedicated legal experts committed to assisting you in simplifying the intricacies of air travel.

Throughout this article, we provide a thorough assessment of United Airlines, encompassing its array of services, fare options, seating arrangements, overall customer satisfaction, and baggage policies.

Whether you're a frequent flyer or embarking on your first adventure with the airline, this United Airlines flight review aims to equip you with vital insights to ensure informed choices for your upcoming travels.

About United Airlines

united airlines planes at terminal

Established in 1926, United Airlines has become a significant global player in the aviation industry. The company's headquarters are located in Chicago, Illinois, and they manage a comprehensive range of national and international flights, offering transport solutions to more than 350 locales spread across over 50 nations worldwide.

United Airlines is committed to ensuring its customers enjoy dependability, convenience, and a high level of comfort during their journeys. With a modern fleet of aircraft, the company endeavors to deliver excellent flight experiences to its several million annual passengers.

As a participant in the Star Alliance, United Airlines extends a variety of travel alternatives and transitions to countless destinations globally. Its strategic hub locations, including major metropolises such as Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, and Newark, provide practical travel options to accommodate the needs of both corporate and holiday travelers.

Based on the most recent AirAdvisor Ratings for 2023, United Airlines has achieved impressive scores in various categories:

  • Top 3 Airline Overall in the US: United Airlines has secured a position among the best airlines in the United States in terms of overall performance.
  • Number 3 Most Reliable Airline in the US: United Airlines holds the third spot in terms of reliability among airlines in the States. To explore the complete list, you can visit the US’ Most Reliable Airline Rankings page.
  • United Airlines is recognized as the 7th most affordable airline in America. For a comprehensive list of budget carriers and their rankings, you can refer to the US Budget Carrier Rankings 2023.

United Airlines Rating by Passenger Reviews

Average star rating
Total Reviews


3.0 out of 5
1.5 out of 5
1.6 out of 5
3.2 out of 5
1 out of 5

Ticket Purchasing and Check-in

a screenshot of the ticket purchase page on United website

United Airlines strives to make the ticket acquisition process as smooth as possible, presenting various easy-to-use options. Their official website is the most preferred platform, thanks to its intuitive interface, in-depth flight information, and secure transaction facilities. You can typically schedule your United Airlines flight, regardless of your location, with a few simple steps.

You can also purchase United Airlines tickets through certified travel consultants and United Airlines ticket sale points.

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For a smooth journey, the airline provides a proficient online check-in feature. This facility permits you to check in digitally from 24 hours before your intended take-off time. For domestic voyages, online check-in usually closes 45 minutes before the flight, while for overseas journeys, the window typically shuts 90 minutes ahead.

You can make use of the online check-in option either on the airline's website or the United Airlines mobile application, selecting your desired seat and comfortably obtaining your boarding pass beforehand.

United Airlines App Ratings

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4.8 out of 5
5571597 total
Download Wizz Air from Google Play
4.7 out of 5
491366 total

United Airlines

Airport experience

a screenshot of the available checin options from United Airlines website

The check-in and airport experience may fluctuate based on the particular airport, but United Airlines is committed to efficient check-in procedures at their service counters. It's typically recommended that passengers arrive at least 2 hours ahead for domestic flights and a minimum of 3 hours for international departures with United Airlines. This provides sufficient time for check-in, security clearance, and gate location.

United Airlines features a variety of lounges, including the luxurious United Club and the premium Polaris Lounge. Entry to these exclusive spaces is enabled by means of memberships, hierarchical ticket classes, and elevated frequent flyer status. Additional benefits include access to Star Alliance lounges and diverse membership plans for enhanced travel privileges.


United Airlines typically board their flights directly from the terminal via a jet bridge linked to the aircraft. For smaller or remote airports, passenger transportation to the aircraft may be done by bus. To maintain structure and efficiency during the boarding process, United Airlines commonly uses a group boarding system prioritizing ticket categories and frequent flyer tiers. This method aims to decrease overcrowding and ensure a smooth boarding procedure.

Boarding typically starts about 30 to 50 minutes before the planned departure time, usually ending 15 minutes before take-off. Timeliness is stressed to prevent potential seat allocation to another passenger if you're not present within the specified window.

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Airplane Interior

Each aircraft within United Airlines' fleet showcases a unique interior setup and design, influenced by variables such as the plane's age and model.

United Airlines leans towards a gentle color scheme inside their aircraft, using tones of blue, white, and silver that encapsulate the airline's unique brand identity. Cleanliness is a top priority, and consequently, the restrooms are mostly well kept and stocked with necessary amenities.

For extended flights, United Airlines typically features personal entertainment systems in all cabin classes. For recently upgraded or newer aircraft, you might also find in-flight Wi-Fi options, allowing you to remain connected during your trip.

Seat Space

United Airlines prioritizes passenger comfort and personal space across its varying cabin classes, although specific seating dimensions and legroom can fluctuate depending on the aircraft model. As such, reviewing the detailed specifications of the aircraft and its cabin classes is recommended when booking your flight.

Here's a rundown of each United Airlines cabin class and a general description of the seating space they offer:

Economy Class

Economy Class is the standard offering available on all United Airlines flights. Passengers can anticipate comfortable seating with sufficient legroom and seat recline. Though seat dimensions may vary based on the aircraft model, Economy Class provides a satisfying travel experience. It remains a favorite among travelers looking for an economical and convenient travel solution.

Average seat pitch: 31-32 inches (79-81 cm)

Average seat width: 16-18 inches (41-46 cm)

Economy Plus

Economy Plus, available on most United Airlines flights, serves as a good alternative when Premium Plus isn't an option. This cabin class offers passengers more legroom and extra seat recline compared to the standard Economy Class seats. Especially on longer flights, Economy Plus can make the journey significantly more comfortable. Like Premium Plus, it's a solid choice if you desire a bit more room without the cost of a premium cabin ticket.

Average seat pitch: 35-37 inches (89-94 cm)

Average seat width: 17-18 inches (43-46 cm)

Premium Plus

Premium Plus is offered on select international and domestic flights. Passengers enjoy broader seats with extra pitch, delivering additional legroom and comfort compared to Economy Class. The seats also feature enhanced recline, providing a more relaxing experience. Premium Plus is the ideal choice if you're seeking superior comfort and space without upgrading to a premium cabin.

Average seat pitch: 38-40 inches (97-102 cm)

Average seat width: 18-19 inches (46-48 cm)

United Business

United Business is available on select long-distance international routes. Passengers can expect spacious seating with generous legroom and additional privacy. The cabin features seats that convert to flat or angled beds, assuring comfort throughout the flight. Combined with high-quality amenities and responsive service, United Business brings a good dose of elegance and comfort.

Average seat pitch: 58-60 inches (147-152 cm)

Average seat width: 20-22 inches (51-56 cm)

United Polaris

United Polaris, available on select long-distance international flights, offers passengers a spacious and luxurious seating experience with ample legroom and enhanced privacy. The seats can convert into comfortable flatbeds, providing a restful journey. Accompanied by exclusive amenities and attentive service, United Polaris exemplifies premium air travel.

Average seat pitch: 78-80 inches (198-203 cm)

Average seat width: 20-22 inches (51-56 cm)

United Airlines Service

dinner options for economy passengers

While opinions regarding customer service may vary among passengers' United Airlines reviews, common trends have been identified. Several passengers have commended the airline's personnel for their professional and amiable approach, highlighting their willingness to assist and maintain courtesy throughout the journey.

However, occasional feedback points towards inconsistent service quality, with some passengers voicing dissatisfaction about delays, communication shortfalls, or customer service concerns.

In general, numerous passengers commend United Airlines for their efforts to facilitate a pleasant travel experience. Nevertheless, it's crucial to acknowledge that personal experiences can diverge based on a variety of elements, including flight routes, specific interactions with staff, and unexpected incidents.

Food & Drink

list of drinks available on united airlines flights

United Airlines provides an assortment of food and beverage choices with an aim to satisfy passengers' diverse palates and dietary preferences. For international long-haul flights and select domestic flights, the airline usually offers complimentary meal service across all cabin classes.

The meals commonly comprise a selection of main dishes, complemented by side servings, salads, and desserts. Passengers can also relish a variety of complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, including sodas, juices, coffee, and tea.

For certain flights, United Airlines presents an array of snacks and light meals available for purchase. For a more refined dining experience, the premium cabin classes are likely to offer a broader array of gourmet meals and upscale beverage selections.

United Airlines Business Class

Reviews on United Airlines' Business Class experience often share common themes. Many travelers express satisfaction with the comfortable seating, which frequently encompasses flat or angled lie-flat seats, providing improved relaxation during long-haul journeys. Passengers appreciate the attentive service from the dedicated flight attendants, who are committed to fulfilling the preferences and needs of Business Class travelers.

Yet, sporadic feedback may allude to fluctuations in service quality and the necessity for enhancements in specific areas, such as a more varied and upscale dining selection.

On the whole, United Airlines' Business Class delivers a high-end travel experience, marked by comfortable seating, privacy, and personalized service, although personal experiences may fluctuate.

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Flight Disruptions

United Airlines, like all air carriers, can sometimes face flight disruptions that might affect their operations. These include flight delays, cancellations, or overbookings, and are caused by various factors. In such situations, it's crucial for passengers to follow United Airlines' instructions, approach their customer service for guidance, and understand the process of claiming compensation in the US.

In scenarios where you're wondering, "Can I claim compensation for a cancelled flight?", it's essential to know your rights. For United Airlines flights departing from the US, passenger rights are protected by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. These regulations clearly outline the obligations of the airline in situations of flight disruptions, including guidelines for refunds and provisions for United Airlines' delayed or cancelled flight compensation.

For flights leaving from an EU member state or the UK, passenger rights are governed by EU Regulation 261/2004 (EU261) or the corresponding UK legislation. These laws include the eligibility for compensation of up to $670 for delayed or cancelled flights.

Furthermore, if you're wondering "how to get a refund for a cancelled flight?", upon eligibility for a refund, you typically need to request it from the airline. Always be aware of your rights and consult with legal professionals if you're unsure.

How to make a complaint

If you encounter a flight interruption while traveling with United Airlines and need to lodge a complaint, you can do so directly via the airline's official website. The United Airlines complaints procedure typically involves filling out an online form where you can explain your issue, provide relevant flight data, and attach any required documentation. It's critical to keep records of all communications and have your flight details at hand as they'll be necessary for the complaint submission.

The claims procedure can sometimes be lengthy and demands extensive knowledge of traveler entitlements. For a more efficient process, our team at AirAdvisor can provide assistance by managing the procedure on your behalf, which includes evaluating your eligibility for compensation, filing the complaint, and advocating for the claim with the airline.

In addition, our operations abide by a 'no success, no charge' approach, ensuring you only pay for our services if we successfully obtain your compensation.

United Airlines Review – Conclusion

an united airplane taking off

United Airlines offers a variety of services and amenities to meet passengers' requirements, delivering a comfortable journey. The airline's cabin classes, including Polaris Business, United Business, Premium Plus, Economy Plus, and Economy Class, offer different levels of comfort and amenities to cater to a range of preferences and budgets.

While there may be occasional feedback about service uniformity or certain areas needing improvement, United Airlines strives to facilitate a pleasant journey with its dedicated staff, in-flight entertainment offerings, and commitment to passenger comfort.

FAQ / Common Questions: United Airlines Review

To conclude this article, we delve into a comprehensive FAQs section related to United Airlines:

Is United Airlines a reliable airline?

United Airlines is generally regarded as a trustworthy airline with a long-established record in the aviation sector. Nonetheless, like any other airline, occasional interruptions or setbacks might occur due to various unforeseen circumstances.

Are United Airlines flights really cheap?

United Airlines provides a spectrum of ticket prices, inclusive of economical choices, although pricing can fluctuate based on factors like destination, booking period, and demand. It's important to compare prices and explore various fare categories to secure the most cost-effective deal for your travel requirements.

How uncomfortable is United Airlines?

The comfort level of United Airlines can differ based on variables such as the specific aircraft servicing the flight, the travel class, and individual preferences. United Airlines offers various cabin classes, some with enhanced comfort features like extra legroom and recline. In terms of Economy Class, passengers may perceive the seating to be relatively standard for comfort.

Does United Airlines give free water?

Yes, United Airlines typically provides free water and non-alcoholic drinks to passengers during flights. It's recommended to verify the provision of specific beverage choices on your flight, as the options might vary depending on the flight duration and route.

Can I take a 10kg bag on United Airlines for free?

United Airlines permits passengers in all classes to carry one piece of hand luggage and one personal item, such as a laptop bag or purse, onboard. United Airlines doesn't prescribe a specific weight cap for hand luggage but mandates passengers to lift and stow their luggage independently and comply with size limitations.

For hand luggage: the overall dimensions should not exceed 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm), inclusive of wheels and handles. These bags should fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat before you.

For personal items: each passenger's permitted onboard personal item should not be larger than 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) and must easily fit beneath the seat.

For checked luggage: each passenger's checked baggage allowance varies according to the service class and ticket type, typically ranging from 23kg for Economy, Economy Plus, and Premium Economy passengers to 32kg for United Business and United Polaris passengers.

Make sure you check the specific details on United Airlines' official website prior to your flight, as baggage policies may vary.

Why do people not like United Airlines?

Different people may have divergent reasons for expressing discontent with United Airlines. Usual grievances voiced by passengers encompass intermittent issues with customer service, flight delays or cancellations, insufficiency of in-flight amenities on specific routes, or instances of lost or mishandled luggage.

With this being said, it's crucial to note that these views can differ, and numerous travelers have pleasant experiences with the airline.

Has United Airlines ever crashed?

Yes, United Airlines has been involved in several accidents in its history, with some resulting in fatal crashes. Here are a couple of notable incidents:

  1. United Airlines Flight 232: On July 19, 1989, a United Airlines DC-10, Flight 232, suffered a catastrophic failure of its tail-mounted engine, which led to the loss of all flight controls. The plane crash-landed in Sioux City, Iowa, resulting in the deaths of 112 people, but remarkably, 184 passengers and crew survived.
  2. United Airlines Flights 175 and 93: On September 11, 2001, two United Airlines flights were hijacked by terrorists as part of a series of coordinated attacks on the United States. Flight 175 was flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, following the heroic efforts of passengers and crew to wrest control of the aircraft from the hijackers.

These and other incidents throughout aviation history have spurred many improvements in aircraft safety and security measures. Despite these tragic events, air travel remains one of the safest forms of transportation. United Airlines, like other major carriers, have rigorous safety protocols in place and continually work to improve its safety practices.

Does United Airlines fly Boeing or Airbus?

Yes, United Airlines operates a mixed fleet of both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The specific aircraft utilized for a particular flight can vary based on factors such as the route, demand, and scheduling logistics.

United Airlines operates a variety of Boeing models, including the 737, 757, 767, 777, and 787. Additionally, they also operate Airbus models, such as the A319 and A320.

Does United Airlines cancel flights often?

Like all major airlines, United Airlines occasionally have to cancel flights due to a range of factors such as weather conditions, mechanical issues, air traffic control instructions, or other unforeseen circumstances. However, widespread flight cancellations aren't typical under normal circumstances.

The airline will generally try to rebook passengers on the next available flight in case of a cancellation. Passengers might also be entitled to compensation under certain conditions, depending on the cause of the cancellation and the regulations in the region where they're flying.

It's always prudent to verify your flight's status beforehand, either on United Airlines' website or through their mobile app. Keep in mind, though, that situations can change rapidly, especially in the case of severe weather or other emergencies.

Will United Airlines automatically refund Cancelled flights?

United Airlines doesn't automatically issue refunds for cancelled flights. When a flight is cancelled, they typically try to rebook passengers on a new flight. If this isn't suitable for the passenger, or no alternative flights are available, the passenger would need to request a refund manually, typically through the airline's website or customer service. It's important to check with United Airlines directly for the most current policies and procedures.

Is United Airlines food free?

United Airlines typically provides passengers with complimentary snacks and soft drinks on the majority of their flights, no matter the seating category. On longer journeys, or when seated in the premium sections such as Business Class or First Class, passengers can expect a wider variety of meal options tailored to the flight's duration and time.

How can I avoid United Airlines baggage fees?

As mentioned, the standard policy for United Airlines is to allow passengers to bring along one piece of carry-on and a personal item at no extra charge. Depending on the fare type, passengers are also usually entitled to a checked baggage allowance. To avoid extra baggage costs, it's essential to stay within the permitted weight and size guidelines.

Joining United's frequent flyer program can potentially yield perks, including reduced or waived luggage charges, depending on your membership tier. Additionally, purchasing premium fare classes or seating in higher classes can result in a more generous baggage allowance.

Where is the best place to sit on a United Airlines plane?

Choosing the best seat on a United Airlines flight can be subjective and depend on various factors. Some passengers might favor seats at the front of the aircraft for the convenience of quicker boarding and deplaning, while others might prefer the typically quieter seats at the rear of the aircraft. Seats in the exit rows can provide additional legroom, while window seats offer picturesque views.

Before choosing a seat, it's advisable to refer to seat maps and read seat reviews online to gather insights about the most suitable options for your specific needs.

How old are United Airlines planes?

United Airlines operates a diverse fleet of aircraft, both young and old, with an overall average age around the 15.7 years mark. However, the age of individual aircraft can vary considerably, depending on the model and specific unit within the fleet. This mix includes a variety of both state-of-the-art, modern planes and older, well-maintained aircraft that have proven their reliability over the years.

Every aircraft, irrespective of its age, undergoes routine maintenance checks and updates to guarantee they meet rigorous safety protocols and deliver a comfortable experience for passengers. United Airlines is continuously assessing its fleet, replacing older planes with newer ones when it becomes necessary, to enhance fuel efficiency, and flight reliability, and to ensure passengers have the most comfortable and up-to-date in-flight experience possible.

Does United Airlines run on time?

United Airlines consistently aims to uphold punctual departures and arrivals. However, there can be instances of delays due to factors outside their control, such as adverse weather conditions, air traffic congestion, and operational issues. Hence, punctuality can sometimes fluctuate.

How to get a good seat on United Airlines without paying?

If you're looking to nab a desirable seat on a United Airlines flight without parting with extra cash, one effective strategy is to utilize the online check-in facility as early as you can. This window usually opens 24 hours prior to your flight's scheduled departure time. By checking in at the earliest opportunity, you'll have access to the widest range of available seats at that time.

Another aspect to consider is the flexibility of your travel schedule. By demonstrating adaptability with your travel schedule and timings, you can potentially have more choices. This is because flights that aren't at full capacity often provide a broader range of available seating options.

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