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SumChristianus
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What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:01 pm

This could get controversial quickly, but what if Jeff Smisek were still at United?
I assume UA would be smaller, I (with the possibility of this getting heated) think labor relations would be more toxic, and that IAD, LAX, or ORD would be dropped as hubs.

Another interesting possibility...what if Smisek had gone to NW/DL say in 2007 and Anderson/Bastian had gone to UA/CO that same year?

ATL.....RJ heaven...... :D no mainline?
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wrongwayup
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:06 pm

... he'd be in jail for influence peddling?
 
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:41 pm

SumChristianus wrote:
This could get controversial quickly, but what if Jeff Smisek were still at United?
I assume UA would be smaller, I (with the possibility of this getting heated) think labor relations would be more toxic, and that IAD, LAX, or ORD would be dropped as hubs.

Another interesting possibility...what if Smisek had gone to NW/DL say in 2007 and Anderson/Bastian had gone to UA/CO that same year?

ATL.....RJ heaven...... :D no mainline?

ORD would have never been abandoned. LAX would have been further downsized and yes, labor relations would be a mess.
SFO
 
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SumChristianus
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:47 pm

flyguy84 wrote:
SumChristianus wrote:
This could get controversial quickly, but what if Jeff Smisek were still at United?
I assume UA would be smaller, I (with the possibility of this getting heated) think labor relations would be more toxic, and that IAD, LAX, or ORD would be dropped as hubs.

Another interesting possibility...what if Smisek had gone to NW/DL say in 2007 and Anderson/Bastian had gone to UA/CO that same year?

ATL.....RJ heaven...... :D no mainline?

ORD would have never been abandoned. LAX would have been further downsized and yes, labor relations would be a mess.


Sorry meant DEN...
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:40 pm

I don't think you'll get much argument that he was even more awful for new UA than he was for old CO.

But at the same time, people seem to forget that a CEO doesn't single-handedly run an airline.
Take the current UA.
I think Oscar seems like the right guy for that job.
And yet UA is still a pretty crappy airline. Granted, I'm pretty outspoken on that viewpoint, and the UA cheerleaders will slaughter me.
They're better than they were at their worst, but.... I mean... have you flown them? 'Cause it's pretty rough. Especially if you're a dog.
 
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millionsofmiles
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:50 pm

Oscar seems to be a figurehead and Kirby is certainly no prize, but I still think they are better off than with Smisek.
 
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:53 pm

Smisek was more about shaving nickels off costs rather than growing revenue. His approach was not working. I don't miss him at all, and neither does Houston.
 
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ua900
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:19 am

SumChristianus wrote:
This could get controversial quickly, but what if Jeff Smisek were still at United?
I assume UA would be smaller, I (with the possibility of this getting heated) think labor relations would be more toxic, and that IAD, LAX, or ORD would be dropped as hubs.

Another interesting possibility...what if Smisek had gone to NW/DL say in 2007 and Anderson/Bastian had gone to UA/CO that same year?

ATL.....RJ heaven...... :D no mainline?


1. SMI/J wasn't a CO fanboy either. sUA hubs would not have been chopped without IAH and EWR taking a hit as well. If you doubt that, look at CLE. UA and CO labor relations are ok with Oscar, but with Jeff it would have been completely messed up, as it was. Customer relations as well btw. Fish stinks from the head, once again, Oscar is vital there.
2. Had SMI/J left to NW/DL around the time of the merger, DL would be in the potty now and legacy CO mgmt that went to DL to escape CO might have fled to AA or even the new UA after NW/DL passed regulators. Game of musical chairs. Maybe we'd still have outfits like Aloha, ATA or AirTran in the air today without the genesis of the US3. ATL could have been an RJ heaven a la CVG ;-)

IMO none of this would have been a guarantee that UA didn't follow the bean counter path once more through someone like Kirby though. Glenn didn't want to run UA, he was just looking for a way out and the merger provided that. Enter Jeff the accountant, happily doing the customer intro videos on "changes, and I think you'll like them" while customers were treated to "operated by Continental" announcements and drawn curtains. Oscar seems to genuinely like UA and introduced some good improvements.

Then comes Kirby and little things like the plastic champagne flutes for pre-departure beverages disappear due to renewed bean counting. Next thing you know the UA brand becomes known for people getting dragged off planes, dogs start dying, all kinds of things happen, morale takes a hit once more. DL keeps rising, in part because Smisek isn't there and a number of Gordon Bethune's ex-Cons are. UA still seems to do well on the balance, but here and there rifts start showing in the relaunch of the brand after Smisek nearly destroyed it. Lots of work for Oscar, who will hopefully stay on and in good health for a long time to come, and maybe a learning experience for people like Scott that bean counting isn't the only thing in life.
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LOWS
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:28 am

AA737-823 wrote:
I don't think you'll get much argument that he was even more awful for new UA than he was for old CO.

But at the same time, people seem to forget that a CEO doesn't single-handedly run an airline.
Take the current UA.
I think Oscar seems like the right guy for that job.
And yet UA is still a pretty crappy airline. Granted, I'm pretty outspoken on that viewpoint, and the UA cheerleaders will slaughter me.
They're better than they were at their worst, but.... I mean... have you flown them? 'Cause it's pretty rough. Especially if you're a dog.


And it's INFURIATING to watch when CS agents STILL don't have the tools they need.
Or the Polaris rollout/cheapening.
Or IAD's doublewide trailer terminal (my home airport now).
Or flying full CR7s on 3+ hr missions.
Or whole trips with no mainline even on major routes.
Or watching Scott Kirby damage labor relations with that bonus lottery nonsense.
Or Kirby demanding more scope without something in return, e.g. some smaller mainline.

Really, at this point I want Mesa to just start painting their awful logo on the planes and stop pretending I'm on a UA flight. It'll feel more honest.

And it's infuriating to watch this go on as someone who put up with Smisek for years and didn't have much choice because my then home airport is almost exclusively OS/LH for non-leisure travel. So I built up status and eventually got the UA Explorer Card when it seemed like Oscar was making things better.

At least I don't have to risk ever seeing those awful welcome videos of Smisek again.
 
Cointrin330
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:44 am

I think the problem with United is a combination of years of labor-management issues that plagued PMUA, long before bankruptcy and stretched back into the 1990s. Relations were never good, and often acrimonious. The pilot deal in 2000, just before 9/11, raised labor costs to a premium, well above the rest of the industry. Legacy United had a lot going for it though. A strong brand, an enviable route network, including a sizable TPAC operation, a reputation for strong maintenance despite the post-bankruptcy practice of putting off some non-essential maintenance to keep costs down to the point where the fleet was a hodgepodge of liveries, interiors were dated and dirty, and flights were delayed due to maintenance issues. The merger with Continental was very badly executed and seemingly, done in a hurry. Granted airline mergers on that scale had only been done once previously with DL/NW (I would not count US/AW as a template) but UA/CO management were clearly not on the same page a lot of the time and focused on costs, not getting the painful parts of the integration done first, and the result, is well, we know what happened. Smisek was focused on cost cutting long before he assumed the CEO role. His tenure at CO wasn't stellar. Continental's brand did decline under him, considerably. CO itself was, for a period of time, a successful, well run airline, but also highly leveraged, which is something probably not looked at in the right manner at the time of the merger, or overlooked, or perhaps the focus of getting the costs in order early in the integration process. Post merger, the airline has an even bigger and more competitive route network with hubs in top US business markets, but it competes with at least one other big airline or a LCC or both in every single one of its hub markets (including NYC). Just look at the premiums DL charges to fly in and out of DTW, MSP, ATL, SLC....it has a large share of the market in each. UA does not dominate any of its hub markets. For instance, in DEN it has WN and Frontier, in SFO, it has AS, in ORD it has AA but they can and do coexist, in Houston, it has WN across town at HOU...Post merger, United was slow to swap out 50 seat regional jets, which were suited for the CO operation, but not the UA and expanded Post-merger UA network. Smisek miscalculated capacity cuts and the entire management team was slow to unify pilots and flight attendants under joint contracts, exacerbating the problem. Low morale, a botched merger, and the lack of a unified product are the heart of the customer service issues, along with a perennial lack of focus on customer service that resonates with employees and builds trust in them. Today, UA has a better operation overall, but it has a long way to go. The incidents of the last year are probably overblown in the media but they are truly horrendous, but not unique to UA. DL and AA have their fair share of those too, but they seem to manage the PR a bit better. UA is slow to roll out an over ambitious premium product and AA and DL continue to run circles around UA in terms of presenting the illusion of a unified brand / product. Oscar Munoz doesn't get it. If he did, he would not respond to the dragging or pet death incidents the way he did. He's just a bit better at labor management communications but the company needs a large brand overhaul and a re-engineered platform from which labor and management work together. Until that happens, United will remain what it is...
 
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:56 am

What eventually happened with Smiseks
legal problems?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
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ua900
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:19 am

Max Q wrote:
What eventually happened with Smiseks
legal problems?


http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Da ... 23661.html

"United Airlines employees won't face charges in the case, but the company will have to pay a financial penalty of $2.25 million and step up compliance on its anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies. "
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:33 am

This has been nearly 3 years since he left and if he stay, he probably still made a poor customer service to me?
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:35 am

Smisek did some things right:
* Added Economy Plus on the pmCO planes quickly to standardize with the pmCO fleet, ultimately forcing DL and AA to add extra legroom seating on their planes
* Moved quickly on installing lie flats on their long haul planes. UA was the first to offer lie flats on NYC-LAX/SFO transcons.
* Prioritized updating the website and app - as a result United has by far the best website and app.
* Began development of Polaris (which many credit to Oscar Munoz)
 
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LOWS
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:42 am

Austin787 wrote:
Prioritized updating the website and app - as a result United has by far the best website and app.


Did he? The home page looks better, and no doubt it's certainly functional. But some parts of it look and work like the old CO site. With all of its old annoying quirks.
 
rwsea
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:56 am

LOWS wrote:
Austin787 wrote:
Prioritized updating the website and app - as a result United has by far the best website and app.


Did he? The home page looks better, and no doubt it's certainly functional. But some parts of it look and work like the old CO site. With all of its old annoying quirks.


It may not be as pretty as the others, but it's certainly the most functional and the easiest to find what you're looking for. As a former UA FF, I could do just about anything online or on the app, and I could easily find information like real-time seating charts, obscure policies and rules, see where the plane was coming from and anticipate delays, easily search for fares using a certain fare code, and find the answer to just about any question or one-off situation. Delta's site is a lot prettier, but very difficult to find useful information (for example, I recently joined SkyPesos - out of necessity - and can't find basic information about MQMs or MQSs).
 
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:01 am

AA737-823 wrote:
'Cause it's pretty ruff. Especially if you're a dog.

Fixed it for you :D
 
ltbewr
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:23 am

Smisik had to go after allowing the money losing bribe of the 'charman's flight' for the board chairman of the Port Authority of NY and NJ to get favorable treatment at EWR including a new hanger. That was just totally wrong by both parties and I presume UA and the PA both had to change their culture to prevent such stupid acts in the future. There must be zero tolerance of any bribery or influence of anyone in government agencies to get favorable treatment as well as the official accepting it. Its too bad he got any severance pay, he should have been required to give back most of his pay and any successor paid a lot less.
 
727LOVER
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:28 am

LOL...did UA EVER have a beloved CEO ?
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:33 am

727LOVER wrote:
LOL...did UA EVER have a beloved CEO ?


Yes, Oscar! :D :champagne:
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United Airline
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:10 am

UA would have turned into a low cost carrier. Just kidding
 
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:59 pm

Smisek made mistakes no doubt and labor hated him, but he did some good things as well. Oscar is great, but his greatness is mucked up by Kirby's shenanigans behind the scenes. The sooner UA's BOD dumps Kirby the better for everyone.
RIP McDonnell Douglas
RIP US Airways
 
T5towbar
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:51 pm

ltbewr wrote:
Smisik had to go after allowing the money losing bribe of the 'charman's flight' for the board chairman of the Port Authority of NY and NJ to get favorable treatment at EWR including a new hanger. That was just totally wrong by both parties and I presume UA and the PA both had to change their culture to prevent such stupid acts in the future. There must be zero tolerance of any bribery or influence of anyone in government agencies to get favorable treatment as well as the official accepting it. Its too bad he got any severance pay, he should have been required to give back most of his pay and any successor paid a lot less.



Well, I wondered what happened with that, and why the fees (landing/departure) at EWR for UA are exorbitantly higher than JFK/LGA? The other carriers are paying much less. I've read on this forum (can't remember which poster or topic) explaining about this. You would figure UA would get much more favorables besides the hangars; the inline baggage building attached to Terminal C; and some of the re-do of C. (which UA fronted the money for this work)

I guess Jeff didn't pay off the right people at the PA.......... :shock:
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millionsofmiles
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:19 pm

Super80Fan wrote:
Smisek made mistakes no doubt and labor hated him, but he did some good things as well. Oscar is great, but his greatness is mucked up by Kirby's shenanigans behind the scenes. The sooner UA's BOD dumps Kirby the better for everyone.


Many at AA celebrated when Kirby left. I wonder if UA lets him dress up as a woman on Halloween the way he did at the US Halloween parties.
 
739er
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:55 pm

727LOVER wrote:
LOL...did UA EVER have a beloved CEO ?

Yes...William “Pat” Patterson and Oscar Munoz.
 
FermiParadox
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:52 pm

millionsofmiles wrote:
Super80Fan wrote:
Smisek made mistakes no doubt and labor hated him, but he did some good things as well. Oscar is great, but his greatness is mucked up by Kirby's shenanigans behind the scenes. The sooner UA's BOD dumps Kirby the better for everyone.


Many at AA celebrated when Kirby left. I wonder if UA lets him dress up as a woman on Halloween the way he did at the US Halloween parties.


Sure, the legacy AA people who didn't know a damn thing about running an airline.

Kirby is easily one of the brightest minds in the industry right now. He may not have the tact, but he has the brains
 
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Super80Fan
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:25 pm

FermiParadox wrote:
millionsofmiles wrote:
Super80Fan wrote:
Smisek made mistakes no doubt and labor hated him, but he did some good things as well. Oscar is great, but his greatness is mucked up by Kirby's shenanigans behind the scenes. The sooner UA's BOD dumps Kirby the better for everyone.


Many at AA celebrated when Kirby left. I wonder if UA lets him dress up as a woman on Halloween the way he did at the US Halloween parties.


Sure, the legacy AA people who didn't know a damn thing about running an airline.

Kirby is easily one of the brightest minds in the industry right now. He may not have the tact, but he has the brains


Source? I have multiple that say Kirby ruins everything he touches. He is everything wrong with the industry right now. Passengers hate him. Employees hate him. Management hates him.
RIP McDonnell Douglas
RIP US Airways
 
FermiParadox
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:48 pm

Super80Fan wrote:
FermiParadox wrote:
millionsofmiles wrote:

Many at AA celebrated when Kirby left. I wonder if UA lets him dress up as a woman on Halloween the way he did at the US Halloween parties.


Sure, the legacy AA people who didn't know a damn thing about running an airline.

Kirby is easily one of the brightest minds in the industry right now. He may not have the tact, but he has the brains


Source? I have multiple that say Kirby ruins everything he touches. He is everything wrong with the industry right now. Passengers hate him. Employees hate him. Management hates him.


How about a source for what you're saying, certainly employees hate him. Management revers him, passengers don't care.

More or less everything Doug Parker has gotten credit for was the work of Kirby, with the exception of the mergers. Commercially, Kirby is the best play out there in the industry. He probably single handedly saved US through aggressive pricing strategies and an advanced RM system, while solidifying the airline's flying into and out of core hubs. Without Kirby, US goes out of business.

At AA the problem was there was too much "industry leader" ego throughout management to prevent valuable changes going forward. Kirby mostly stuck to his game of capacity discipline, which is something unheard of at AA... Remember, they were the ones who wanted to grow 20% post-bankruptcy, which would've likely been suicide.

Doug, Robert, and the board all got sucked into the "biggest airline" trap and started chasing prestige projects instead of fundamental strengths which is why AA never got to DLs level. Kirby at UA is moving more in DL's direction than AA
 
grbauc
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:57 am

Cointrin330 wrote:
I think the problem with United is a combination of years of labor-management issues that plagued PMUA, long before bankruptcy and stretched back into the 1990s. Relations were never good, and often acrimonious. The pilot deal in 2000, just before 9/11, raised labor costs to a premium, well above the rest of the industry. Legacy United had a lot going for it though. A strong brand, an enviable route network, including a sizable TPAC operation, a reputation for strong maintenance despite the post-bankruptcy practice of putting off some non-essential maintenance to keep costs down to the point where the fleet was a hodgepodge of liveries, interiors were dated and dirty, and flights were delayed due to maintenance issues. The merger with Continental was very badly executed and seemingly, done in a hurry. Granted airline mergers on that scale had only been done once previously with DL/NW (I would not count US/AW as a template) but UA/CO management were clearly not on the same page a lot of the time and focused on costs, not getting the painful parts of the integration done first, and the result, is well, we know what happened. Smisek was focused on cost cutting long before he assumed the CEO role. His tenure at CO wasn't stellar. Continental's brand did decline under him, considerably. CO itself was, for a period of time, a successful, well run airline, but also highly leveraged, which is something probably not looked at in the right manner at the time of the merger, or overlooked, or perhaps the focus of getting the costs in order early in the integration process. Post merger, the airline has an even bigger and more competitive route network with hubs in top US business markets, but it competes with at least one other big airline or a LCC or both in every single one of its hub markets (including NYC). Just look at the premiums DL charges to fly in and out of DTW, MSP, ATL, SLC....it has a large share of the market in each. UA does not dominate any of its hub markets. For instance, in DEN it has WN and Frontier, in SFO, it has AS, in ORD it has AA but they can and do coexist, in Houston, it has WN across town at HOU...Post merger, United was slow to swap out 50 seat regional jets, which were suited for the CO operation, but not the UA and expanded Post-merger UA network. Smisek miscalculated capacity cuts and the entire management team was slow to unify pilots and flight attendants under joint contracts, exacerbating the problem. Low morale, a botched merger, and the lack of a unified product are the heart of the customer service issues, along with a perennial lack of focus on customer service that resonates with employees and builds trust in them. Today, UA has a better operation overall, but it has a long way to go. The incidents of the last year are probably overblown in the media but they are truly horrendous, but not unique to UA. DL and AA have their fair share of those too, but they seem to manage the PR a bit better. UA is slow to roll out an over ambitious premium product and AA and DL continue to run circles around UA in terms of presenting the illusion of a unified brand / product. Oscar Munoz doesn't get it. If he did, he would not respond to the dragging or pet death incidents the way he did. He's just a bit better at labor management communications but the company needs a large brand overhaul and a re-engineered platform from which labor and management work together. Until that happens, United will remain what it is...



This wall of text is really hard to read.

Please break up your points a bit it will be easier to follow and read.
 
grbauc
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Re: What if Smisek had stayed at United?

Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:09 am

ltbewr wrote:
Smisik had to go after allowing the money losing bribe of the 'charman's flight' for the board chairman of the Port Authority of NY and NJ to get favorable treatment at EWR including a new hanger. That was just totally wrong by both parties and I presume UA and the PA both had to change their culture to prevent such stupid acts in the future. There must be zero tolerance of any bribery or influence of anyone in government agencies to get favorable treatment as well as the official accepting it. Its too bad he got any severance pay, he should have been required to give back most of his pay and any successor paid a lot less.


Nice dream, and I mostly agree with you, but its not a isolated issue. Its happening and has been in all kinda of industries. Many businesses are held hostage from government regulations and must resort to this kind of activity. Dammed if you do and screwed if you caught or don't do it. "UA and the PA both had to change their culture to prevent such stupid acts in the future."


Lots of times things don't get done unless these bribes our done. They might me wrong but the real world is full of them.

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