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
, 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
- 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
) - it makes it easier when traveling to more unusual destinations.