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UA Brand Identity Question  
User currently offlineAA77W From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 40 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 7771 times:

When UA & CO announced the merger I started wondering what the new UA's product offering would entail, specifically would International First still be around. For months I checked the UnitedHub.com website for clarification, and now that the merger is complete I am still baffled by United's product identity.

Here's what I don't get:
Wide-body/Long-haul fleet integration: UA & CO shared the 757, 767, and 777 a/c types (albeit differing versions). The new UA decided to keep Biz/First as the premium product on the CO a/c, but retains First on the UA a/c (yes, I know there are exceptions). That MIGHT be ok if the PMCO and PMUA a/c didn't serve the same long-haul destinations (ex. EWR-NRT & IAD-NRT).

As a consumer, I am looking for consistency in a brand. For example:
1.) I know that all AA 777 a/c are fitted with First, Business, and Coach (same seats, same number of seats, same layout -- although they might sell the flight as 2-cabins depending on the route).
2.) I know that no-matter what, on long-haul, wide-body a/c DL will offer Biz-first, Y+ (yes, I know they're still adding them), and Y.

To add to the confusion, I read in another post about UA charging for liquor on trans-pacific flights. The caveat being former UA f/a's wouldn't charge, while former CO f/a's would.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, it seems as though UA doesn't have a consistent product offering or brand identity. There is a lack of uniformity across the board, and it's sort of a guessing game for consumers. I'm not a marketing professional, but one would think that when you go through a HUGE M&A and rebranding campaign that you want to send a clear message to your customers and have as little ambiguity as possible. I get the impression that UA is still unsure of how they want to project themselves and what their product should be.

IMO, Delta and (I hate to say it) US did quite a good job post-merger with determining their product and rebranding themselves. I realize that there were struggles, but overall each achieved its goal rather quickly and effectively.

I'm looking for more uniformity from UA. As a consumer I don't want to have to memorize routes or create a booking in order to know what products and services are offered. Does UA plan on standardizing its products and services among its aircraft and destinations, or will they continue, for the foreseeable future, to operate a mixed bag?

27 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5943 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 7645 times:

While new UA has successfully pissed off the bast majority of their elites- myself included, I will do a little defending of them here.

First of all, tailoring onboard classes to meet the demands of a variety of destinations (heavy premium routes, VFR routes, somewhere in between, etc.) is hardly that big a deal. You make it sounds as though you never know what you're gonna get, and I disagree. BizFirst is BizFirst, and routes that warrant get GlobalFirst. Then there's domestic first, just like any other major carrier.

Quoting AA77W (Thread starter):
IMO, Delta and (I hate to say it) US did quite a good job post-merger with determining their product and rebranding themselves.

Delta has had two more years to integrate their products, and USAirways didn't have a product to begin with. They had Envoy, which remains, and First, which they couldn't even be bothered to remove from their A333, so they just sold it as Envoy in bigger seats. AmWest didn't have an international presence to contend with, as did CO and UA.

So, while the system UA chose is a little bit convoluted, it's hardly a big deal, in my formerly-elite (and now working on elite with other carriers) opinion.


User currently offlineVC10er From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 2982 posts, RR: 13
Reply 2, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 7496 times:
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Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 1):

As a UA GS member, if I want GlobalFirst I always take a 747 or 777 and ask at booking if this AC has GlobaFirst. They can tell only by seat count sometimes on a 777 (should you get a CO 777 or a United 777 that has yet to be refitted)
Same for 767's.

Yes, you are correct. A clear chart should be provided on UA.com - and it's not.

Big Corp accounts need First Class and should be made easy as pie to find them. Sometimes I have taken the 767 from EWR to ZRH then connect so I can get F. I think the same holds true for Brussels. But you will find the most 3 class birds out of ORD.

I have a gut feeling that Smisek isn't fond of First, even though UA has one of the best F seats internationally. If so I think we would see at least 8 GlobalFirst seats on the 787. Given competition around the world on F class designed uber seats, UA needs much more. CO's lie flat is good, but only good. It does not earn the sub brand name of "Business First". It's just a good business product. Had they gone with LX's new business seat then I believe their would be less concern. You are alone in every seat except 2 I think!



The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
User currently offlineavek00 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4415 posts, RR: 19
Reply 3, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 7367 times:

Quoting VC10er (Reply 2):
Big Corp accounts need First Class

This is increasingly not the case, which is why major airlines the world over are steadily ripping out international F cabins or significantly reducing their size.

[Edited 2012-04-28 15:17:05]


Live life to the fullest.
User currently offlinegigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 85
Reply 4, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7195 times:

Quoting VC10er (Reply 2):
As a UA GS member, if I want GlobalFirst I always take a 747 or 777 and ask at booking if this AC has GlobaFirst. They can tell only by seat count sometimes on a 777 (should you get a CO 777 or a United 777 that has yet to be refitted)

There are no planes being refitted other than the IPTE.

They can see clearly if the plane has F or not. The new products are named GlobalFirst and BusinessFirst, and BusinessFirst is C.

NS

[Edited 2012-04-28 16:01:57]

User currently offlinechristao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 942 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 6242 times:

Quoting AA77W (Thread starter):
I guess the point I'm trying to make is, it seems as though UA doesn't have a consistent product offering or brand identity

On one level, I see your point. When I initially read their marketing material about their new, standardized classes of service, it took a few reads to understand. But at the same time, it makes sense that they can better tailor their equipment and product to the needs of the route.

Especially as their international fleet is retrofitted to ensure lie-flat seats in business class, they will have a competitive product. On routes with minimal demand for first class, using a plane with only business class makes perfect sense.

The one area that I still find confusing is the name of the front cabin on two-cabin aircraft on domestic and near-international routes. On domestic routes, it is called "United First" but on near-international (Canada, Caribbean, Latin America, and former CO Mike routes) it is called "United Business".



Keeping the "civil" in civil aviation...
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2127 posts, RR: 10
Reply 6, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5144 times:

Quoting VC10er (Reply 2):
even though UA has one of the best F seats internationally


  

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Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: SQ SYD-SIN-DEL-SIN-SYD | VA SYD-DPS-SYD
User currently offlineflyhossd From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 975 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4980 times:

Quoting AA77W (Thread starter):
...and now that the merger is complete...

That's far from the case. The greatest issue - most problematic issue of all - LABOR seems to be devolving.

Further, almost two months since a single passenger service computer was implemented, there are still significant problems, especially in "service recovery," IMHO.

As far as looking for a consistent onboard product at this point, you're premature. I believe the combined companies will get there, eventually. I do agree that the web site could be more helpful, though.



My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
User currently offlinerichiemo From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4824 times:

is there anyway to tell what flights are being flown under PMUA aircraft and which are PMCO aircraft based on flight number? I believe US Airways uses different flight numbers (1-700 is PMAW, 700 and above is PMUS). Just curious. I understand that UA is shortly going to be using PMUA 757s out of EWR. Would be great to know which is which.

User currently offlinekgaiflyer From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 4324 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4351 times:
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Quoting AA77W (Thread starter):
To add to the confusion, I read in another post about UA charging for liquor on trans-pacific flights.

Okay -- I know nothing about overseas travel ( my 1-K status comes from 120,000 domestic miles ). But yesterday I flew United PSP-IAH-IAD with both segment being CR-7s -- 2454 sm total. Departing PSP on UA-5193, the six F passengers were offered drinks and rather cheesy "free" snack boxes. Since it was lunch hour, my seatmate and I opted for the more substantial "Tapas" snack box that the FAs were selling to Y and Y+ in the back. However, we were asked to pay for the Tapas boxes, just like Y, even though there was no other food on the plane (So we did - no problem). My seatmate told me she sometimes flies NK and that's the way NK runs service on their few planes with business seats.

Is NK (rather than CO or UA) the model for UAX ?


User currently offlinejetblast From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 1232 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3871 times:

Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 9):
Is NK (rather than CO or UA) the model for UAX ?

I think even more than that it's embarrassing that United is essentially doing transcons on CR7s.



Speedbird Concorde One
User currently offlinelaca773 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 4064 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3788 times:
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Quoting kgaiflyer (Reply 9):

Okay -- I know nothing about overseas travel ( my 1-K status comes from 120,000 domestic miles ). But yesterday I flew United PSP-IAH-IAD with both segment being CR-7s -- 2454 sm total. Departing PSP on UA-5193, the six F passengers were offered drinks and rather cheesy "free" snack boxes. Since it was lunch hour, my seatmate and I opted for the more substantial "Tapas" snack box that the FAs were selling to Y and Y+ in the back. However, we were asked to pay for the Tapas boxes, just like Y, even though there was no other food on the plane (So we did - no problem). My seatmate told me she sometimes flies NK and that's the way NK runs service on their few planes with business seats.

This is something UA needs to fix immediately! This is beyond frugal and tacky! I remember when COex used to serve cold meals, snacks whatever you like to call them on there ERDs. Since they started BOB, that disappeared and now even on a longer UAex flight, i.e. PSP/-IAH, LAX-OKC/TUL/DSM/SAT, etc.. a proper cold meal needs to be offered to those sitting in the front cabin, if only from a competitive standpoint. Even DL offers this on their longer CR7/CR9/E75 flights and they are still having issues getting their mainline F product decent and consistent across the board.


User currently offlineVC10er From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 2982 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3212 times:
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Quoting Coal (Reply 6):

Agreed. International First Class on many or most international airline are far more elaborate, beautiful and sexy versus United. (or AA) But, First Class on SQ LX EK and soon to be LH are a totally different animal. I have been a very lucky person to have flown some and I refused to sleep so I could enjoy every minute of my 16 hour flight in a seat I will not often (if ever) sit in again. But I find the picture you posted of UA's Global First seat unfair. It's a much better product than that. We are now talking USA airlines. It is, upon closer inspection extremely comfortable, and complaining about sitting in a UA GF seat you should be smacked given how the folks in economy are sitting. The seat is over 6 feet long, (I am 6 feet tall and when I stretch out my head or feet dont even touch the ends!) plus the details of the seat are beautiful (not LX) but designed by "Pentagram" and really nice. Also...the one of the BEST storage space ever. The cabinet next to you is fab and if you get a bulkhead seat there is a cabinet with a leather lid that you could put a Great Dane in AND a whole overhead often all to yourself. And enough privacy.

So under the headline of "snob" it is perfectly fine for me. I am GS on UA, I have been in that seat many times and I am in heaven. NO it's not F on Swiss or Singapore, but it is cheaper.

As for BRANDING I think UNITED needs to brand the bulkheads like LH and now Delta. It says "we have pride in our airline" something fliers need to see in UA again as pride at UA has been gone for a decade!



The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
User currently offlineVC10er From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 2982 posts, RR: 13
Reply 13, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3162 times:
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Quoting avek00 (Reply 3):

I think during this period of belt tightening some execs who had First Class Tavel in their contracts are getting bumped down to business, that's true. But when things turn around, and it will, it is a very important tool to attract top talent. And as for today, I can write a list of at least a dozen of my clients and some at my company fly full fare First Class. There are just some SVP's and CEO CFO CMO COO etc who fly First exclusively. In fact I once met a client in Tokyo for a meeting. He and his entourage arrived on Swiss in First and I showed up in biz.

And Swiss IS NOT CHEAP!!! And they do very, very few comps to First. They also like to fly F on LH so they can go to the fabulous First Class lounge, although they complain about F on board.



The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
User currently offlinecal From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 499 posts, RR: 9
Reply 14, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2994 times:

Quoting VC10er (Reply 13):
As for BRANDING I think UNITED needs to brand the bulkheads like LH and now Delta. It says "we have pride in our airline" something fliers need to see in UA again as pride at UA has been gone for a decade!

I agree with this %100 percent... Pride and making your employees feel special and important again will automatically spill over on to your customers.



CAL........Continental Airlines....... Work Hard, Fly Right
User currently offlineCONTACREW From United States of America, joined Feb 2012, 424 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2952 times:

Quoting richiemo (Reply 8):
is there anyway to tell what flights are being flown under PMUA aircraft and which are PMCO aircraft based on flight number? I believe US Airways uses different flight numbers (1-700 is PMAW, 700 and above is PMUS). Just curious. I understand that UA is shortly going to be using PMUA 757s out of EWR. Would be great to know which is which.

1-199 is sCO metal
200-999 is sUA metal
1000-1299, 1400-1744 is sCO metal.

Another easy easy to tell if your flight is an sCO metal 757 or sUA metal 757 is to check your flight status. If the aircraft number is 31xx then its an sCO 752, if its 5xxx then its an sUA 752.



Flight Attendants prepare doors for departure, cross check verify straps standby for all call
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2127 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2454 times:

Quoting VC10er (Reply 12):
Agreed. International First Class on many or most international airline are far more elaborate, beautiful and sexy versus United. (or AA) But, First Class on SQ LX EK and soon to be LH are a totally different animal.

Fair enough. I think you meant to say that United's int'l F, vis-a-vis other US airlines, is very good, and perhaps it is (I have only flown AA in int'l F and although the seat is quite old, I do love the 90 degree turn it can make).

Having said that, I disagree with putting a big logo of UA in the bulkhead. I don't like it. Just as I don't like the globe at the gates, but that's just me.

Perhaps the crew could start by wearing their uniforms with pride? I flew UA last night on UA 117 HKG-SIN and one of the GUM-based FAs, a younger guy, had the top button of his shirt undone and his tie was very, very lose. Not a professional sight at all. Too bad, because the rest of the GUM and NRT based crew were good.

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: SQ SYD-SIN-DEL-SIN-SYD | VA SYD-DPS-SYD
User currently offlineEaglePower83 From United States of America, joined Oct 2011, 283 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2357 times:

Agreed.
I don't know what the H-E double hockey stick .... UA's identity is other than "this isn't United anymore, it's really Continental, but not even "good" CO like a few yrs ago."

Everything just seems to be getting cheaper. Less customer friendly, staff is angry..........luckily all my routes have been PMUA and not much has changed on-board yet.
It's before and after the ride that's really sucking.
I'm sure it won't be long before the ride starts to suck too, the way things are going.

Back in 2004, the classy, sophisticated Pentagram identity is what lured me to a few United flights from my Chicago base.
I got to know the airline and really liked their super friendly staff, reliable systems and operation, and great IFE.

Now that's all gone. They are essentially "KIA" with wings.


User currently offlineUALFAson From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 741 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2215 times:

Quoting EaglePower83 (Reply 17):

Couldn't agree more with everything you wrote, especially this line: "UA's identity is...'this isn't United anymore, it's really Continental, but not even "good" CO like a few yrs ago.' "

Even before the merger, UA was always the airline people loved to hate, yet I almost always had good experiences--sometimes great experiences--and I'm not just saying that as the child of a former employee. In fact, if it weren't for my mom, I'm not sure I would have started flying UA in the first place, but I'm glad I did.

With this merger, it feels like I'm losing "my" airline and all the things I liked about United and the resulting product/merged entity isn't new and improved to me in any way.



"We hope you've enjoyed flying with us as much as we've enjoyed taking you for a ride."
User currently offlinecatiii From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 3091 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2206 times:

Quoting AA77W (Thread starter):
I guess the point I'm trying to make is, it seems as though UA doesn't have a consistent product offering or brand identity. There is a lack of uniformity across the board, and it's sort of a guessing game for consumers.
Quoting AA77W (Thread starter):
IMO, Delta and (I hate to say it) US did quite a good job post-merger with determining their product and rebranding themselves. I realize that there were struggles, but overall each achieved its goal rather quickly and effectively.

I would agree on the international side, but on the domestic side that isn't the case. The only commonality on the domestic product is onboard wifi. Even within fleets, the 757 and 737 for example, there is mish-mash of onboard products in terms of IFE, seating, etc.


User currently offlineSonomaFlyer From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 1888 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2167 times:
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UA could've done a much better job communicating the brand changes more clearly. That being said, if there was a big demand for Global First (not via upgrades and comps but paying passengers), UA would've retrofitted the sCO a/c with a First Class cabin.

Their decisions are similar to the "right sizing" done overall on the capacity front. They don't want to fill their F cabins with mileage/comp upgrades. If they can't fill them with paying passengers, it makes no sense to have F on certain routes (and on certain frequencies on premium routes.

The 788 initially received by UA will be sCO birds. They will open up new thin routes and possibly supplant 752/762 routes which aren't premium heavy. There's no need to outfit F cabins on those a/c.

The 359's will likely have F given their role replacing the 744's on premium long haul routes.

The 777 fleet is split currently and will remain so unless demand for Global F really picks up warranting conversion of sCO birds.

The 767 fleet is also split with the 764's staying C only and the 763's generally keeping F though they are converting domestic birds to international which I think will have C.


User currently offlinePHXA340 From United States of America, joined Mar 2012, 900 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2064 times:

I know UA has isolated many customers (As a formed UA Elite I feel the pain) but take a look at current and prior mergers :

US Airways + America West - Labor Mess , East Vs. West Pilots
Southwest + Airtran - Technology Mess, won't even codeshare until 2013-14

So While UA has its problems , other mergers aren't the joy they appear to be either. DL seemed rather smooth but recent mergers seem to be struggling and I am not sure they are getting the synergies they thought they would.


User currently offlinecaptainstefan From United States of America, joined May 2007, 433 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 1784 times:

Quoting AA77W (Thread starter):
. I get the impression that UA is still unsure of how they want to project themselves and what their product should be.

I get the feeling that the CO bigwigs really really pushed for their way with everything in the merger, and are now realizing that just because it worked for them doesn't mean it works with an airline twice the size. Unfortunately it will be very costly to right the ship IMO.

Quoting VC10er (Reply 12):
It is, upon closer inspection extremely comfortable

I sat in DL's BusinessElite herringbone seat (found on the 777s) yesterday for the first time and was appalled at how uncomfortable it was, especially compared to UA's First and Business seats. It was like sitting on a very bad desk chair. Conversely, UA's First seat is so comfortable that I forget I haven't reclined it at all sometimes.


Regarding product commonality, however, at least all UA aircraft will have Channel 9   



Long Live the Tulip!
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2127 posts, RR: 10
Reply 23, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 1645 times:

Quoting captainstefan (Reply 22):
Regarding product commonality, however, at least all UA aircraft will have Channel 9

Not the CO 737s, AFAIK. Certainly not the CO Mike 737s.

Big shame.

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: SQ SYD-SIN-DEL-SIN-SYD | VA SYD-DPS-SYD
User currently offlinecaptainstefan From United States of America, joined May 2007, 433 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 1552 times:

Quoting Coal (Reply 23):
Not the CO 737s, AFAIK.

Can you give a source? Smisek didn't specify any type would be excluded in his initial release, but since I live under a rock that may have changed. I understand not doing it for the older ones that will likely be retired soon, but the NGs wouldn't be more of a challenge than any other plane, seeing as they already have in-seat IFE.



Long Live the Tulip!
25 kgaiflyer : I'd had the same experience on AC. AC's herringbone-pattern 763 business seats are *less* comfortable the UA's 757 Biz1st seats.
26 United1 : Unless something has changed UA had announced that channel 9 will be outfitted fleetwide as well as WiFi.
27 catiii : In addition to being a horrible layout for traveling with a partner.
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