Skip to main content
Computer Technology

Becoming Angry and Nasty too

By May 27, 20186 Comments

A few days ago, I was unable to update my credit card number in my United Airlines Mileage Plus account. An older number appeared on the screen when I booked my flight, but there was no obvious way to get into my account online to bring it up to date.

There followed a considerable search on my part to speak to a real live caring person to help me correct the error. It began like this:


Hi, View Account Sign Out
Skip navigation
Reservations Travel information Deals & offers MileagePlus®
Contact us
Commonly asked questions
Before you call, we recommend checking our FAQs and Helpful Information page or seeing if your question is answered here. (DECIDEDLY NON-HELPFUL)

How do I change my ticket?
How do I change my seat assignment?
What is United’s refund policy?
Contact information
Select a topic to find out how to contact the right team for assistance.

If you are calling from outside of the U.S. and Canada, please view international contact options.

Flight reservations
MileagePlus® Service Center
United products and services
Damaged, delayed or lost baggage, and lost items
For information relating to: baggage liability, reporting lost articles, damage to checked baggage or missing items from checked baggage, initiating a baggage claim and tracking the progress on an existing inquiry

Phone number 1-281-821-3526
Phone number 1-800-335-2247 (Toll-free if you are calling from the U.S. and Canada; Service is available in English and Spanish only) AT LAST!
Phone number 001-866-563-3244
Phone number Country access code + 800-33-55-2247 (Toll-free if you are calling from Asia Pacific and Europe)

Customer Care
Cargo and animal transportation
Company information
If you have a disability, you can call United’s 24-hour Accessibility Desk within the United States or Canada, or from elsewhere call the United Customer Contact Center and ask to be connected to the Accessibility Desk.


For reasons not apparent, United Airlines makes it challenging to reach the person to person step. The customer is initially diverted to irrelevant pages to see if anything presented there might possibly help them. Maybe they knew from experience that a human to human connection between two humans halfway across the world could be fraught with problems, even if it did save the company some money.  I guess they save hiring more people by diverting as many customers as possible to an online solution.

After I finally connected with someone, I could not have dreamed up a more ridiculous and irritating interaction. It might have led a person less in control of their behavior than myself to violence.

I was connected to a man somewhere across the globe who promised to help me if I would just answer a few “security” questions.
I could feel myself resisting, but I’d gotten this far and I didn’t want to let go. I figured they’d want my mother’s maiden name and the name of my first beloved dog. No way.

Out of Nowhere


He:  “What is your favorite pizza topping?

Me: “You’re kidding, right? ”  I asked him, my mind boggled by the fact that this was an actual security question.

He:  “No, Ma’am,” he matter of factly replied, finding no humor in my question.  This man had a job to do and whether or not it made any sense, he was not to be moved from following his instructions.

Me:  “That’s a ridiculous question,” I answered matter of factly as well, trying to match his even temperament but feeling my anger rise. I was sure I was stating the obvious.  “I have no favorite pizza topping nor did I ever tell anyone at your organization what the answer to that question would be!” Besides, I NEVER answered your so-called security questions.

Me still in disbelief:  “Are you just making up the questions?”

He:  “I’m sorry , Ma’am. Would you like to try another one?”

Me:  “It better not be as bullshit as your first question,” I responded tartly. “Is there some other more sensible way to do this transaction?”

“He:  I’m sorry Ma’am. You must answer the questions. Maybe the next question would ask me the name of my hometown. I hung in there.


He:  “WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO TRAVEL?” he now wanted to know.

Me:  “BY SPACESHIP? ” I queried. My anger had risen to a new high.  My smart – ass self was my only defense.

Me:  “Let me talk to your manager, please, I insisted, thinking this was the only solution and would quickly fix things.

He:  “The manager must ask you the same questions,” he assured me.

Me:  “THIS IS TOTAL BULL SHIT!!” I now shouted into the phone, any attempt at maintaining a semblance of politeness was now completely out of reach for me.

I’d reached my limit.  I’d already spent about a half an hour on this little exercise.  I had to terminate this exchange asap.
I slammed down the phone, not enjoying any satisfaction.  I had failed.

I went back online to the UAL website. There, buried under a stash of irrelevant information, I finally found a link to change the digits required for updating my card.

How have things gotten to this low point? How about a customer achieving security from inanity?


how are we doing?

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


%d bloggers like this: