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The TOP 5 Things You'd Tell Jeff Smisek Of UA  
User currently offlineVC10er From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 2896 posts, RR: 10
Posted (1 year 8 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4687 times:
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If you got the chance to have lunch with Jeff Smisek the CEO of United, and make 5 recommendations or ideas that you felt fairly confident were viable business ideas (not like put a hot tub in first or a sports bar in the back of economy) that would improve the overall experience of flying United, domestically or Internationally what would you say? In rank order from 1 to 5. Keep in mind 75 new widebodies are coming and 150+ new NB's, so "buying new planes" don't count, but perhaps looking at other ac...or what can even been done on the new birds to help further advance United's poor reputation of late.

I have mine, but I decided not to list them so I don't cover any ideas others may have!


The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineRushmoreAir From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 8 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4668 times:

As a frequent UA/UAx flyer, I definitely have a few pet peeves I think would be worth fixing.

1) Bring the UAx outstation ground handling back in house (to UA, OO, EV, etc). While this may not seem like a big issue to those who fly only mainline, for the folks in 80%+ UAx stations it makes all the difference in the world. OO just recently lost the ground handling contract at my airport to DGS/Regional Elite as part of a 16 airport group in the inter-mountain west. The ground experience has went completely downhill. Not ONCE since the contract switch has boarding been conducted properly (with zones/priority etc.) - in fact, once the agent actually said "cattle call" and boarded all seats/rows on the first announcement!! In addition, many (50%+) agents do not seem to be sufficiently trained on SHARES, and the slightest issue takes way too long to resolve (printing out baggage tags has taken 15+ minutes). Priority baggage handling - forget about it! I've even had an agent announce a UAx flight as DL Connection! This is completely unacceptable in a station with 6-12x daily UAx departures.

All these issues are not the agents' fault - in fact, some do not even receive flight benefits on UA, only on DL - and get $7.25-$8/hr for their work. How is that supposed to incentivize employees to be loyal to UA? None of these errors were made when OO agents (properly paid and incentivized) were doing the job. I understand that it may have been cheaper on paper to farm out the regional ground handling, but the customer service has tanked. Bringing the ground handling back to agents that live and breathe United will improve the experience dramatically.

2) Upgrade the IT systems. You made the boneheaded decision to go with SHARES which you'll have to live with for awhile at least, but put some effort into bringing it up to speed. For instance, Miles+Money award tickets (which were quite convenient) are no more - please bring them back. The system handles sales awkwardly - "United Specials" (formerly e-fares) are especially difficult to find/book. Lastly, get rid of the 90's website styling! Even some 3rd world airlines websites' (BG comes to mind) are more visually pleasing that www.united.com

3) Streamline pmCO vs pmUA routing to a new, simple system. I know that you're working on it, but it could probably happen faster. For instance, I fly to Michigan frequently, specifically to FNT. FNT gets DH8s from CLE (meaning 3 flights for me), where LAN & MBS (each 1 hr away from FNT) get multiple ERJs from ORD. If you split the difference (1-2x CLE, 2-3x ORD) at each station, it would make it worlds easier to seamlessly connect.

4) Get rid of the recorded safety messages. I know that flight attendants already have a lot to deal with pre-departure, but when the safety spiel is manually delivered (currently on the CRJs), it adds that much more personality to the flight (it would be a way to set UA apart from the other majors), and I'm more likely to pay attention, since the speech might be varied. I'm not asking for singing (like on WN), just a little more personality.

5) Sort out your fare bucket/class structure. Even as an A-nutter, GlobalFirst vs. First vs. BusinessFirst vs. Business . . . is tough to sort out. Especially when dealing with upgrade policies.

Now that I've complained enough, I have a few compliments to share (which are the reasons why I usually fly UA):

1) Your customer service during IRROPS shines through. Although things turn to sh*t more frequently now at UA (a statement backed up by on-time statistics), I've always had an easier time getting re-booked/-routed at UA than on other airlines. In addition, when the situation is truly hopeless, UA has been able to provide appropriate compensation (I've gotten a refund on a non-refundable ticket) rather than having almost worthless food vouchers thrown at me (like on some other airlines . . . ahem).

2) Your regional flight crews are great (and nearly always full of positive energy) - especially on OO and G7 - which makes the flight experience that much better.

3) Domestic food and beverage service is outstanding (compared to other legacy carriers), especially when catered by Chelsea Food Services. The Asian Noodle Salad is almost restaurant quality! In addition, I really love the multiple drink/water runs that are made on longer flights - and thanks for giving me the whole can!

4) Thanks for keeping your non-alliance partnerships alive (like ZK and EI) - it makes it easier when traveling to more unusual destinations.



UA DL F9 CO WN LO QF FI AC MU CA EU LH
User currently offlineaklrno From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 941 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 8 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 4556 times:

Quoting RushmoreAir (Reply 1):
4) Get rid of the recorded safety messages. I know that flight attendants already have a lot to deal with pre-departure, but when the safety spiel is manually delivered (currently on the CRJs), it adds that much more personality to the flight (it would be a way to set UA apart from the other majors), and I'm more likely to pay attention, since the speech might be varied. I'm not asking for singing (like on WN), just a little more personality.

I think the FAA should make prerecorded safety announcements mandatory whenever possible. How many flights have you been on where the FA attempts to make the announcement as fast as possible, essentially one long word, pausing only to inhale occasionally? I know what is being said because I mostly have it memorized. Infrequent travelers learn nothing. I think about the worst offenders are the (almost always) young ladies on United Express flights I take in and out of Reno.

Southwest is sometimes better, but often guilty of the as-fast-as-possible delivery. Leaving T-1 at LAX that might be necessary, but not all the time,

I took 6 flights in 25 days on NZ last month, so I'm getting a bit tired of the Hobbit video, but I did watch it intently several times in order to see all that was going on. That is a much better outcome.

Some of the strangest announcements I've ever heard were on an internal Chinese flight (forgot which airline) where I was the only non-Chinese onboard. All announcements were in Cantonese, Mandarin, and some third language I couldn't recognize. By the end of the flight I figured out that the third language was English! Recoded would have been much better!


User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 3, posted (1 year 8 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 4543 times:

Great topic, can't wait to see the posts on this thread.

I'm certainly not a Smizek fan, never have been but. I did get to stop him at IAH as he left the UA Club to tell him what I thought of his endeavour, even being polite in the 20 second one sided chat. He didn't say a word and just walked off toward his ORD flight.

I however; applaud RushmoreAir on the thoughts and items addressed. Living in Houston I don't have to fly USx often now days, but you hit the nail on the head by bringing the ground handling back in house. I love the days when sCO and ExpressJet were just about a seamless product.

Skywest IMHO is a great addition to the mix and every one of their crews as well as the ExpressJet folk, so Jeff please continue to work those contracts and hold on to them.

My biggest complaint would be to bring the sUA aircraft particularly the B752's up to speed for the passenger experience or store them fast......of all my flights last year on sUA the 752's were the worst. I'm not an Airbus fan but the A320's have been pleasant except I miss my TV!  

Let us not turn this into a bashing of Smizek, rather a productive thread as the OP intended.  



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineDFWHeavy From United States of America, joined Jul 2011, 560 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 8 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 4502 times:

The United website is very nice. It's very clean, easy to navigate and use. It's also very easy to find out any information you may need.


Christopher W Slovacek
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23010 posts, RR: 20
Reply 5, posted (1 year 8 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 4494 times:

Quoting RushmoreAir (Reply 1):
The ground experience has went completely downhill.

I think that's more a function of the particular handler chosen than of the fact of outsourcing. Some of the stations in my part of the country that have been outsourced for a long time do a really good job, and lately I've noticed some Regional Elite stations that have dramatically improved the quality of their work.

Quoting RushmoreAir (Reply 1):
Not ONCE since the contract switch has boarding been conducted properly (with zones/priority etc.

I prefer this approach. No need to call zones on a half full DH2. It gets us off the gate faster, which is my number one concern.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlinekurtjeter From United States of America, joined Feb 2011, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 8 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 4370 times:

Quoting aklrno (Reply 2):
I think the FAA should make prerecorded safety announcements mandatory whenever possible. How many flights have you been on where the FA attempts to make the announcement as fast as possible, essentially one long word, pausing only to inhale occasionally? I know what is being said because I mostly have it memorized. Infrequent travelers learn nothing. I think about the worst offenders are the (almost always) young ladies on United Express flights I take in and out of Reno.

I agree. And, so many times, what flight attendants--and pilots--are saying is incomprehensible. Granted that PR-ing is not the priority for flight crews, couldn't they be given a half-hour public speaking course? Like, "how to talk into a microphone, parts 1 and 2?"


User currently offlineaklrno From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 941 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 8 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4362 times:

Quoting kurtjeter (Reply 6):
Quoting aklrno (Reply 2):
I think the FAA should make prerecorded safety announcements mandatory whenever possible. How many flights have you been on where the FA attempts to make the announcement as fast as possible, essentially one long word, pausing only to inhale occasionally? I know what is being said because I mostly have it memorized. Infrequent travelers learn nothing. I think about the worst offenders are the (almost always) young ladies on United Express flights I take in and out of Reno.

I agree. And, so many times, what flight attendants--and pilots--are saying is incomprehensible. Granted that PR-ing is not the priority for flight crews, couldn't they be given a half-hour public speaking course? Like, "how to talk into a microphone, parts 1 and 2?"

A simpler fix. Figure out how long it should take to deliver the safety briefing correctly. Have the FA's time each other once in a while. If they beat the clock they are doing it wrong.


User currently offlineANITIX87 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 3305 posts, RR: 13
Reply 8, posted (1 year 8 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 4331 times:
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I fly exclusively UA, and I try to be on pmCO aircraft whenever possible (my new favorite aircraft is the EMB-145 I frequent from PIT to EWR).

I, really, have incredibly few complaints. I like everything about every flight I've taken with them, but here are my only issues.

1) Make E+ cheaper (or even free) if checking in on a ticket purchased through UA directly or for a full-fare economy fare.

2) Update your Android app more frequently. It freezes more than any other app I own (especially when accessing Boarding Passes, which slows me down at security and at the gate) and is slow to respond to most requests. Not all flights are available when booking via the app, either, which is frustrating.

3) This complaint is more with Chase than with United, but I hate that paying $500/year for the MileagePlusClub card doesn't get me any access to upgrades. I have severe kinetosis (motion sickness) and I require a seat on the wing. I signed up for the MPC card after reviewing the benefits and realizing that it put me somewhere between MP Silver and MP Gold in terms of baggage allowance, boarding/security access, and lounges. I presumed (incorrectly) I would also get access to upgrades (all I ask is E+, I'm not greedy for Business or First) and have been livid ever since that I didn't get them. I will be canceling the card next year (I am willing to forego proprity boarding and security to save the money)

TIS



www.stellaryear.com: Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 5DMkII, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Canon 100mm 2.8L, Canon 100-4
User currently offlineFreshSide3 From United States of America, joined Nov 2012, 213 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 4038 times:

Quoting RushmoreAir (Reply 1):
Priority baggage handling - forget about it! I've even had an agent announce a UAx flight as DL

At some stations, Skywest operates express flights for other carriers.......as in Delta Connection....or as an express carrier for Alaska. I can understand that error, but can't excuse it.

Quoting RushmoreAir (Reply 1):
Sort out your fare bucket/class structure. Even as an A-nutter, GlobalFirst vs. First vs. BusinessFirst vs. Business . . . is tough to sort out.

Global First is the First Class cabin on 3-cabin planes. Business First is a holdover from the Continental days, and is still used for the premium cabin on 2-cabin planes.

Quoting RushmoreAir (Reply 1):
Get rid of the recorded safety messages.

Smisek often gets booed by passengers when he is on the recorded messages,as well.

Quoting VC10er (Thread starter):
I agree. And, so many times, what flight attendants--and pilots--are saying is incomprehensible. Granted that PR-ing is not the priority for flight crews, couldn't they be given a half-hour public speaking course? Like, "how to talk into a microphone, parts 1 and 2?"

I was on MUC-ORD a few weeks ago and peacefully listening to tunes.....and they had to make an announcement. Which is fine......but it was excessively loud.

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 5):
I think that's more a function of the particular handler chosen than of the fact of outsourcing. Some of the stations in my part of the country that have been outsourced for a long time do a really good job, and lately I've noticed some Regional Elite stations that have dramatically improved the quality of their work.

If I recall correctly, UAX is handled by actual United agents in both ORD and SFO. Most other stations, it's a different story.


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