Opportunity to help change UA

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by 8MiHi, Sep 9, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    The new CEO of UA comes on board at a time when bloggers and posters may actually be in a position to provide informed advice that might foster change that makes the airline better.
    The Executive Team must balance the needs of multiple constituencies. Of these, three can make or break them:
    Shareholders
    Employees
    Customers

    I have little doubt that as a large group of very experienced customers, we can provide UA and its new Team free input and insight on how to better satisfy their customers.

    I personally will start with the obvious: get us where we are booked to go safely, comfortably, on time and for a reasonable fare. If UA does that consistently, I will never leave them.
     
  2. radonc1951

    radonc1951 Gold Member

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    I suspect that any vendor who supplies a good product at a fair price will get business, certainly mine.

    The problem we have here is that many people have no concept of what constitutes "good" at UAL (generally inflated and unrealistic demands) or what a "fair price" is (usually one that is a mistake fare that gives them a GF fare for pennies. :rolleyes:.)

    I doubt that the new CEO or board wants to hear that sort of "advice".
     
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  3. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    I intentionally did not use the word "good". I am hoping this group will consider objective, measurable goals and ideas for improvement. I agree that subjective advice is less likely to be useful.
     
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  4. dayone
    Original Member

    dayone Silver Member

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  5. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Here's what I sent to Senor Munoz and the UAL Board of Directors...

    "Buenos noches, Senor Munoz, and felicitations on assuming the role of CEO of United Airlines.

    New CEOs sometimes present a forward-looking philosophy as you have done, and I will take your invitation for sincere customer feedback seriously.

    First, I would suggest that you listen to the ideas and suggestions of Scott O'Leary, your MD of Customer Recovery. Scott is well known and respected among UA's frequent flyer community because he has sought to be as transparent and honest as possible with the customers subject to UA policy. Scott has worked for a number of years to keep open channels with the community and his role in brokering program improvements that worked for both company and consumers is well known and appreciated. He also responds promptly to responsible customer concerns that are presented after UA's normal consumer-facing channels have failed.

    Second, it would be a great idea to perform an all-stations walkabout and listen to the honest feedback of employees. There has been a reluctance to do this since Mr. Kellner stepped down as CEO in 2011. Reports from onboard various UA aicraft of crew and passenger cheering to greet today's news of the board's action with respect to Mr. Smisek indicate the depth of the problem and the widespread perception that current management was out of touch. I ask the UA GAs and FAs and crew when they last saw their CEO and many of them tell me, not since Mr. Kellner was in charge.

    Third, UA should take seriously the current environment. Consolidation of the airline industry has resulted in raised fares without significant service improvement and customer frustration. Federal entities are investigating these developments as you are well aware, not only the apparent malfeasance with slot allocation at EWR for the NYNJPA Chairman and his shuttle.

    The long-term implications of profound and increasing consumer dissatisfaction with UA and the US airline business in general are clear; for example, widespread consumer support is developing for an Open Skies framework that will permit ME 3 and others to compete for intra-US traffic. Mr. Michael O'Leary and Air Leprechaun are waiting for this moment. So too are Volaris and Westjet and others.

    UA needs a road map for higher service quality and more effective customer-facing product delivery to meet this challenge.

    Last, UA really should acknowledge the long-standing and truly outstanding contributions of Capt. Denny Flanagan and Capt. Molly Flanagan. Their reputations stand in shining contrast to the general low perceptions of airline service, for very good reason.

    I hope you take these suggestions constructively in the spirit intended. You may indeed find that UA has a strong base of loyal customers who have waited for an opportunity to express their concerns and who hope for a better relationship with their carrier of choice.

    Yours truly, Shark"
     
  6. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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  7. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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  8. barryjb

    barryjb Silver Member

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    I have not flown United (except once) after they cut service to Cleveland. Continental had built up what I thought was a good business to a rejuvenated Cleveland metro area with seasonal flights to many places and non-stop to several locations that helped me in my personal and business life. The other issue I had with UA was their lack of high quality customer service for everyone, the ones in the front AND the ones in the back. Continental was pretty good at being responsive to ALL of their customers and the attitudes of its employees showed that the corporate people cared about them also. In my experience this attitude of being a help to the people that are using and carrying out your service/product reaps great rewards. Thanks.
     
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  9. dszpiro

    dszpiro New Member

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    Algorithms Gone Mad: How Oscar Munoz Can Start Making a Difference at United Airlines

    Recently, United Airlines made headlines by replacing Jeff Smisek, the CEO since the merger with Continental Airlines, with a new Oscar Munoz. While the business press and investors were focused on the underlying reasons for Mr. Smisek’s departure and the legal ramifications for UA, I (perhaps like most UA frequent flyers – I have 1K status) was more interested in Mr. Munoz’s plans to address UA customer service policy issues.

    I use the word “policy” to identify the object of my concerns on purpose. I have had the chance to meet and interact with scores of UA employees on the ground, on the telephone, and in the air: overwhelmingly these have been positive experiences. My number one frustration with UA customer service has nothing to do with their staff and everything to do with their inane dynamic pricing model for fares.

    Here’s an example. Recently I booked a return trip from Ithaca, NY, to Ljubljana, Slovenia. This required three flights in each direction: Ithaca (ITH) to Newark (EWR), EWR to Frankfurt (FRA), and FRA to Ljubljana (LJU) on the outbound portion and the reverse on the way home. The trip was scheduled to last several weeks but I after I arrived in Europe I learned that had to move up my return flight by exactly one week. I called UA to make the necessary change. The fee to move all three flights to get home was going to be $300. I then inquired what the fee would be if I delayed the EWR to ITH flight (i.e., the final leg of the voyage home) by one day. A change in itinerary that would now include an overnight stop jumped to $1,700. In other words, to UA computer algorithm designed to maximize revenue decided that there was a $1,400 premium to delay the final leg by 24 hours. The madness of this computer-based decision is that a one-way ticket from EWR on ITH on the same day could be purchased from UA for about $300.

    So here was the choice UA’s computer, as explained by a human being who was subservient to that device and with no power to override a machine, effectively presented to me: change your ticket for $1,700 or skip your final leg on the original ticket and by an additional one-way ticket for $600 (the change fee of $300 plus the new one-way ticket for $300). Even a computer can see which option makes more sense.

    This is hardly the first time UA’s infernal computer has priced a fare for me that makes no sense, just the most recent. I realize that a key element of the return to profitability for many airlines has been the revenue management possibilities offered through dynamic pricing algorithms. That said, computers are not known for their customer service – and customer loyalty – sensibilities.

    So, Mr. Munoz, here is one frequent flyer’s request to make United Airlines a more customer service oriented organization and a recommendation on how to start: allow human reservation agents to override inane computer-based pricing. It would be asking too much, and it is not necessary, to attempt to rewrite the code of the algorithms to make them more humane: you have humans who can fix the problems computers create. In fact, I believe you have great human beings at United Airlines who are keen to help customers and provide great service. Please give them the tools to do the right thing.
     
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  10. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    You're ignoring the part where the fare just to EWR was going to be much higher than continuing to ITH in the first place. Fares are based on markets, not distance traveled. This is not some special "dynamic pricing" thing UA does.
     
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  11. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    While I agree with you, the real complaint is that the change pricing mechanism appears quite opaque and is not easily translated by many travelers. Making it clearer (even if it is logical) and more traveler friendly would go a long way toward making customers feel better about their choice of carrier.
     
  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    All airline pricing is opaque and confusing. That's part of how the industry works. Expecting that to change is foolhardy.

    In this case dszpiro was able to change the day of travel for the return by paying only the change fee, just like the fare rules say is possible. But once they added the stopover in EWR the fare must be repriced as the itinerary is changing, not just the dates. Again, this is actually written in the fare rules but no one bothers to read them.

    The $300 for the replacement of the throw-away segment is a red herring in many ways. If you're willing to go with the theory that fares should be proportional to distance traveled than the original trip to LJU likely would have been many times more expensive than what was originally paid. People want it both ways so long as they win. That's rarely a feasible way to play the game.
     
  13. Pan Am Man

    Pan Am Man Silver Member

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    IMHO they took the WORST parts of Continental and United when they merged. Smisek should have been let go long ago and the package he is receiving is a joke. The first thing they need to do is admit the problems they have in order to move forward.
     
  14. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Did you read the Munoz letter? He admits that reliability is a mess. And that's the biggest problem the company faces.
     
  15. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    Agreed, reliability does go a long way to making happy customers. Improving reliability should be at all times in all ways at the forefront of every transportation company's executives daily to do list. Even for companies with a strong history of reliability, it must remain a priority right with safety.
     
  16. Peugeot78

    Peugeot78 Active Member

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    My needs/desires are perhaps a bit easier to satisfy. I'd like United to go back to Starbucks coffee. They had it, until the merger with Continental, at which point they downgraded to the inferior brand. I understand that I'm not the only one who feels this way.
     
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  17. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Yeah, Starbs coffee onboard does make a positive difference to regular suckitup flyers. Better coffee is not a small improvement.
     
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  18. Flying Machine

    Flying Machine Silver Member

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    Seems to me Mr. Munoz has taken your advice. He is visiting the employees, hearing their concerns, leting them know that thier input is valuable in making decisions going forward and most of all, Mr. Munoz seems like a likable and concerned CEO. I wish him and UA the best. I really beleive that we will see some changes that we will like. I am sure of it Thanks and Safe Travels
     
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