I am totally repulsed by this as well, and I'm a United "Million Miler"!
United was a great airline for most of the 40 yeats I accumulated miles, one flight at a time... The 10 am UA59 "Deli Flight" was my favorite as I flew from IAD to LAX to go to obscure desert test ranges, sometimes with two round trips per week.
When UA and Continental merged a few years ago the United management was fired and the New Jersey Continental executives took charge, and rapidly turned the Friendly Skies into a cash cow to be milked for all it's worth, customers be damned...
I weep for the old United where the customer was king, and not an afterthought.