I just wrote a long (long!) note to Oscar Munoz detailing every item (by numbers bullet points) every tiny thing they have removed. I said that those of us who are 1k and/or GS are folks that have done way more than just paid UA a lot of very profitable fares but we have shown our loyalty by excusing the past screw-ups all with the hope United will finally one day realize it’s full potential.
I sent it via email to Oscar’s public email address in the morning. About 3pm the same day I got a phone call from a woman claiming to work for Oscar personally and she was so appreciative of the note and she asked me to walk her through each thing were I felt nicked and dimed on a $7000 ticket.
I said basically that “Oscar would know even better than I, that ‘United cannot cut its way to success’ especially when the teeny-weeny cuts impacts their highly coveted premium, super loyal fliers who basically live up front in a United tube. WE SEE AND KNOW EVERYTHING- AND WE KNOW EVERY UNITED DETAIL” - (Delta or AA would love to get us- so when you stop printing rubber treads on the 40 cent pair of socks- we see it and while someone may think ‘nobody will care or even notice- wrong!’ That while they may have saved 9 cents a pair the negative impact to our brand perception of the United and Polaris sub-brand is disproportionately huge...it is penny wise and pound foolish”
This lady was really lovely and extremely and sincerely (I think) engaged in our conversation, she spent a lot of time with me. She said she and Oscar were bent on getting into every point I made and they will investigate each one. She offered me miles but I declined them- I said, I didn’t write to score some miles, I wrote because I want you to fix it. That this petty downgrading in Polaris is unacceptable and will only feed into the narrative of UA being far behind all the other airlines, when they aren’t and don’t have to be. Their reputation is theirs to control.
Clearly when United wants to, they have the resources and style to create something great- EWR Polaris Lounge is one example. But we all fear it won’t last.
Also, I think only GS get to see Polaris Lounge once. But I’m not sure about that. The invite to go before the Lounge opened was the one shot we had to experience it without holding a Polaris international ticket. They are being very, very strict about this.
Good luck. And one day if I get the chance I’ll check out the AMEX Centurion Lounge, I have that metal platinum card, but there is never a Lounge where ever I am. I know Miami has one but it’s far from the UA Gates. I’m going to Miami this weekend, perhaps I’ll try and go early to MIA and check it out?
As for your kids: I will NEVER forget the Pilot’s wings and Lego kits I got on PanAm when I was a kid. I’m almost certain they would have had me for life if they were still here! I’m sure your kids won’t forget LH when they are all grown up!
Glad UA is listening. I always get canned statements from UA 1K desk, but let's see. I tend to fly the same routes over and over again for about two months, so that may not be enough time for them to make changes. I'll revisit some next summer season and positive changes could be there by then. Oscar does strike me as proactive once he is fully informed of things, you, I and others probably do over time. UA can
close that gap. Did you check out Centurion at MIA? If so, did you find it comparable to UA Polaris at EWR?
@ kids wings - I got the plastic ones from UA for my kids, but gave them the six diamond wings instead to make sure that the memory sticks
And I still have my old metal wings from back when I was kid, along with a deck of cards. I make a point of playing cards with the older one while flying. F/As come by all the time to reminisce and share their stories as a result. Sometimes the UA F/As look at the Jet Friends stuff and are like "let's say something to United, we should carry that too". So sometimes it's more than one voice driving the point. To me, United will always be the carrier of choice, just because I have enough memories to practically be like a company retiree/employee.
WE SEE AND KNOW EVERYTHING- AND WE KNOW EVERY UNITED DETAIL”
I'll argue against that. IMHO, it's a conceit perpetuated by a few dozen (hundred?) people on a.net and FlyerTalk. Even among those hundreds there are Diamonds who can't use a lounge locator guide, or who can't use a baggage allowance matrix, or outline the basic elements for earning miles on partner carriers (or have the sense and courtesy to check their line of thinking before they answer somebody's question incorrectly). They know a very small fraction of what they think they know
There's also the Freudian narcissism of small differences
: Does it really matter what mainstream brand of coffee United uses, brewed as it is with tank water and left to sit for hours? Many differences (while they can be observed or quantified) are really immaterial. Lots of people really show an insufferable resistance to change. Think of all the threads about liveries in this forum - not just the ongoing argument about the CO-origin globe... it's just paint. If you can recognize carrier XX from carrier YY, it has done its job.
F/As that have seen me more than once sometimes joke that I fly more than them. While that's undoubtedly not the case, some of us do
notice tiny changes, often because we find them pleasant and appreciate them. So then there's a lot of disappointment if UA back paddles. Don't worry about Starbucks vs. Fresh Poo vs. Illy, you're absolutely right. I don;t like over roasted coffee for example, so I carry my own tea and coffee. F/As almost always get annoyed because they have to go back to the galley for hot water, but that's fairly easy when you don't like the company default. Good coffee would still be a benefit, but maybe offering a basket of premium instant coffee is too tough for UA to figure out.
As for liveries and bringing together companies, one could have chosen to accentuate the commonalities. Both companies had logos designed by Saul Bass, you had lots of impressive historic people there like Walter Varney or Robert Six. A sense of history and a sense of style is a good thing. You brush over Lorenzo or Smisek, even Tilton, and instead focus on a strong vision and a brand that will make people want to fly. Boring battleship grey or the current blue tones aren't it. I would look more towards the Friendship or the Blue Tulip livery, even without the tulip, just look at the different shades of blue that imitate the different tones you can see in the sky or the classic Red, White and Blue befitting any American carrier. Sometimes I get the impression that people care more about easy display on an app or a mobile site than about telling the powerful and wonderful story that can be told about both United and Continental. Look at the retro planes, awesome design work for both of them.
Ok: I notice every frickin detail because 1: I have almost 3 million miles in a United seat, and 2: I am a designer by education and trade and in the branding business for over 30 years. I’m not a snob or conceited or narcissistic, but I’m damn good at my job. Frankly at most other things in life: I suck. Nor am I someone out seeking attention. But I am aware VERY AWARE of “details”- United or otherwise. It’s how I’m programmed. Please don’t try and shrink me via a post.
Also, I think that I am right that “many” folks who have spent a lot of time and money on an airline do and will notice change- both good and bad. It’s why someone selects one airline over another and Freud never covered branding (as far as I know) and how it can influence thinking and human behavior. Although there are plenty of excellent professionals who do study psychographics which helps informing us creatives to create brand preference. Liveries are just one expression.
Branding, the visual and verbal expression of brand behavior must consider the macro to micro is critical for building brand differentiation, relevance and esteem.
The fact that so many here are SO PASSIONATE about it is only proof that people thoroughly enjoy the debate.
That's exactly right, we care because many of us consider themselves part of United's extended family. For those of us who have flown them for more than decade as paying customers, we have stuck with UA through 9/11 and many other downs, and have thoroughly enjoyed the ups, like the "United Rising" campaign. Many of us think automatically of UA whenever Rhapsody in Blue is played. Branding can be very powerful in creating positive memories and help drive present and future spend for years to come.
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