United Airlines Informative - UA/Ted apparently playing games with seat assignments for passengers not using united.com
Just returned from round trip on United/Ted from Denver-Orlando-Denver and noticed an unusual number of people waiting for seat assignments before boarding at both ends of the trip--so many people with preprinted "Boarding passes" were standing in line at the gate, and received passes reprinted by the gate agent with alternate seat assignments. the agents called people to the podium and handed them alternate passes right up to the actual boarding time.
Although I checked in on line, my husband was not able to check in online for the same flight because his company bought his seat through an agent who didn't get him an advance seat but did give him a "letter aka boarding pass", and thus he could not find out if he had a seat assignment, or even if his ticket would be honored. He could not get anyone on the phone or online at United to give him answers. I was able to check in on line since I got my ticket at united.com, and in the boarding pass process the day before the flight, I was offered "preferred line status" for $45 and an upgraded "economy plus" seat for $40, and baggage check in for a discount. At the Denver airport, my preferred status enabled my husband to also get preferred status and also get a seat in the economy plus seating for no additional fee.
Arriving 2 hours before flight time must have helped, plus we had a very nice main terminal counter agent. Note: the best bet with United is to buy your ticket through united.com, go online exactly 24 hours before flight, review your itinerary and ask for seat upgrades, at least confirm that you have a seat! Be early, smile at the gate agents, and be very very agreeable, and you might get this kind of good service. I felt sorry for all those standing and waiting as if they were on standby when they had clearly purchased their tickets in advance of flight date. perhaps they also bought through a travel agent or another online site like my husband's company did, and UA/Ted was making them wait for seats because they didn't use United.com?
My husband was lucky I was flying with him! (we did pay for the privilege of getting seats without standing around at the gate, you'll note, so United is clearly making money by holding out the good seats until you pay extra for them) on return from orlando, I checked in on line again about 22 hours before my flight, bought an upgraded seat, but that airport doesn't have "preferred status" lines