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TWA772LR
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Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:43 am

Jeff Smisek is quite the character in the world of a.net. He is largely seen as a Frank Lorenzo-esque figure by both aviation buffs and UA employees.

This thread is not to bash Mr. Smisek, but to laud him. Could the merger have gone smoother? Of course it could have, but you had United (the airline that was the laughing stock of the US based airlines, but was *slowly* starting to be reborn) and you had Continental (the pride and envy of the US based airlines for the better part of a decade, which was starting to decline towards the beginning of the merger). As we all know running a merger of two extremely large and recognizable global brands is a daunting task. Look at US Airways, thanks to their merger with HP, their brand was saved from extinction, and is even in the top few places in airline rankings from the US.

Smisek is like Doug Parker in some ways. Leading a very hard merger and was the CEO of the better airline (CO) as Parker was the CEO of his respective better airline (HP).

Both mergers were tough on employees, management, and unions from their respective airlines. UA is starting to show the signs of a massive rebound, like how DL, US, and now AA are going through after their mergers., for example posting consecutive near-billion dollar profits and starting to move up *slowly* in pax opinion polls and rankings.

I'm not trying to be a suck-up, I'm just noticing some similarities in the mergers; also, I've noticed that since UA posted such high profits for the past 2 quarters, the UA bashing has slowed.

One last thing, UA is also starting to park those damned 50 seaters in droves now and replace them with 70-seaters and possibly smaller mainline aircraft. Everyone likes that.  

Flame away ladies and gentlemen!  flamed   flamed   flamed 

[Edited 2014-11-07 18:50:14]
When wasn't America great?


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B737900ER
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:27 am

A lot of things are moving in the right direction. The partisan emotions that were strong among employees at the beginning of the merger have died down, and people are moving forward. The airline is at least stable, and most of the major problems have realistic solutions. I don't know if you can attribute this to Jeff Smisek or not, but he has been a steady influence, and an advocate for moving forward and creating something new, for better or for worse.

However partisan emotions on this website have not settled down, so expect this to desend into chaos by reply 10

[Edited 2014-11-07 19:30:07]
 
SonomaFlyer
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:33 am

A CEO isn't alone responsible for all the good or bad about an airline or any other company. He did set a tone and the issue with the UA merger was that it appeared they tried to do it on the cheap and easy. I don't think comparing AA and UA's mergers at this point is a good idea because they are at very different stages.
 
UA444
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:36 am

Jeff literally was handed to him a golden opportunity at the onset of the merger. UA employees did not like their management and had heard all the hoopla about CO and their supposedly good management and were ready for a change. Glenn Tilton wasn't popular at all, he had the difficult job of taking an airline almost on the brink in 2002 through a very long and tough bankruptcy, but a bankruptcy that had saved the company. He unfortunately had to be the "bad guy". Smisek quickly squandered the opportunity to do well with an open minded employee base, while simultaneously ruining relations with the ex-CO employees, especially the pilots union. UA in 2010 was making great strides operationally and in terms of profits, and if Smisek had objectively taken the best of both carriers, instead of slapping "UNITED" on literally everything CO did, they would've never had nearly as many headaches as they did. A good manager leaves emotion out of important corporate decisions. Jeff Smisek did none of this and instead went with the "not invented here" strategy of a smaller airline.

I can think of several US based airlines that were better than CO. By the latter part of the decade they were no more the "pride and envy" of USA carriers than anybody else. I couldn't care less how many "awards" they won, they were coasting on their reputation for years and the decline was only going to accelerate under Jeff. The free meals at meal time, blankets, pillows, coffee, etc all went downhill or out the window fast when Jeff took over, who only ran CO for 5 months before coming to UA for a merger. UA was no laughing stock and it's hilarious how some will defend them now post merger, saying they're posting profits and turning it around, but refuse to acknowledge that's the exact thing they were doing prior to the merger and the merger with CO completely threw that off track, in large part thanks to Smisek and his "leadership". He needs to go and take John "over-entitled" Rainey and Jim Compton with him.

As for the comparisons to Doug Parker, Parker has the unique experience of having the US/HP merger, along with DL/NW and UA/CO to use as a template. He actually has respect for what AA was and could be, unlike Jeff's attitude toward United, and he was quick to reverse course to very aunpopular ideas t AA/US, where as Smisek and his team went full speed ahead with doing the cheap, lazy, half-assed strategy for almost everything, including outsourcing many non-hub stations. Only 4 years later have they finally started to give some back, like dumping 50 seaters and having slightly better meals for shorter flights.

One of the few things I'll give Jeff his due for is that he is very passionate about a modern ATC system for this country, and is rightfully calling out the unfair laws airline have to adhere to, which hampers their competitiveness against foreign competition. He's also been vocal about calling out the ME3 for having governments subsidize them.


[Edited 2014-11-07 20:24:11]

[Edited 2014-11-07 20:24:59]

[Edited 2014-11-07 20:32:26]
 
JAAlbert
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:53 am

Vilifying Airline CEOs is a hallowed tradition here on A.net. It's like baseball in summer, flying the Stars and Stripes on the 4th of July. Everyone who's run an airline has been skewered at one time or another on this site, some for good reason. Lorenzo comes to mind. Others, I'm not so sure.

Doug Parker was ridiculed and called "DUI Doug" or something to that effect when he attempted to merge or take over Delta. He was then seen as the savior of mankind when he took over AA from the despicable Tom Horton, who should have been imprisoned for his actions. But recently Doug's halo is slipping on this site - I recall two unions were squabbling and an A.netter or two attributed it all to Doug's incompetence, with a warning that the dispute was just the beginning of the horrors to come. Same with his unforgivable act of reducing the quality of first class meals on AA flights - which it Doug personally prepared. He's been spared - somewhat - by the rapid retreat of that incredulous act of madness. But it's only a matter of time before we see his true stripes and AA is destroyed ....

I've never quite understood the rancor against Smisek - CO was a wonderful airline. Decent planes, nice staff, good fares - which Smisek must have had something to do with. I loved flying CO. But jeez, he is a buffoon, incompetent, a laughingstock of the industry as head of the new UA. But, I actually enjoy flying UA too.

I often wonder after reading some of diatribe posted on this site against one airline CEO or the other if the anger says more about the person complaining than the guy with the bulls eye on his back.
 
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AVENSAB727
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:56 am

Quoting TWA772LR (Thread starter):

Good points. I think UA is finally leveling off and about to start catching up to Delta. The only thing they need is to get those pesky remaining contracts to be signed.
Always look on the bright side of Life!
 
UA444
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:35 am

Quoting JAAlbert (Reply 4):
Everyone who's run an airline has been skewered at one time or another on this site, some for good reason. Lorenzo comes to mind.

Lorenzo is vilified by many who were at CO at the time, and a lot of it justified, but the irony is that if TI hadn't acquired CO, they were a sure bet for going under.
 
Beardown91737
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:08 am

Quoting UA444 (Reply 3):
As for the comparisons to Doug Parker, Parker has the unique experience of having the US/HP merger, along with DL/NW and UA/CO to use as a template.

Not when he pulled off HP/US.
135 hrs PIC (mostly PA-28) - not current. Landings at MDW, PIA, JAN.
 
FlyHossD
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:22 am

Good things Smisek had done...?

Increased his bank account - well, that's good for him and his family.
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
strfyr51
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:07 am

I don't think CO was anybody's "BEST" of anything airline. They knew what they knew but even THEY didn't Know it all.
if you look at the internal systems . you might find that the UAL procedures are now coming into play more and more as Senior management finds out that we had and have some superior practices.
They've spent Bundles of money to try and replicate S-UA's Electronic log book to no avail after 4 years which keeps our Maintenance information systems separate.
But!! they've adopted the SUA MEL format. They've adopted our Dispatch procedures and Training Regimen and a lot of other tings we had and have that were excellent.
True, we had some LOUSY CEO's but the people of UA WERE , and are STILL "top drawer".
The Pendulum swung FAR to the "south" in this merger., and is now swinging back toward the middle because Not everything SCO did was great and Not everything SUA did was bad.
If one were to judge by the number of Bulletins that have come out since the merger in Maintenance alone.
Many of the bulletins were to get SCO to following the procedures of SUA . And?? It's Now appearing that a LOT of SCO senior management VP's and SVP's seems to be "heading for the door" as former SUA Senior management were "shown the door".
So I think we're coming to a happy medium as UA is Here in Chicago and Here we shall Remain.
Especially since it's sunk in that there's no way in Hell We're going to IAH..
I think that was the hardest corner to turn as the SCO guys were led astray in that assumption .
New Blood is coming in the door and they're neither SCO nor SUA. They're United.
Now if Smisek would settle the Flight Attendant and Maintenance contracts. We might REALLY show people "How it's done" because we Have the people and systems in place to do it
It takes time to build an EMPIRE. Not everything will be done in 10 minutes. And the United - Continental Merger is getting to BE a "Merger of Equals".
The Internal struggles will remain for a while until it's discovered which direction is superior. My only real complaint with the whole thing is that SCO seems to think Micro Managing is the way to go and have a LOT of SILO'S maintained to protect Directors that don't Do much or KNOW much.
We've got Directors Doing Not Much where before we had Senior managers running entire Departments.
I think we've now got over 1000 directors. And at least 600 of them are redundant. In the future we'll need to adopt the Lean and Mean principle where Accountability is the word. Because in the present regime?
I do NOT see a lot of Accountability.
 
B737900ER
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:08 am

Anyway we can keep this about the topic on hand this time? CO is dead. What they did doesn't matter now. Old UA is dead. What they did doesn't matter now. What we have is an airline that has a different way of thinking than the previous two. Are there some similarities? Yes, but for the most part the airline is moving forward in new directions in a lot of areas.
 
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atcsundevil
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:08 am

Well...at least there seems to be less of him in the pre-safety video ads? That's a positive, right?   
 
F9Animal
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:17 am

I wouldn't shed a single tear if Smisek was booted, or just retired. He has hurt thousands of my counterparts, and I have zero forgiveness for that. He never flinched once when making decisions that would seriously hurt those who gave everything they had to this company. Instead of fixing what was broken, he aimed at labor to satisfy the bottom line. He has done little to fix the real problems. Rest assured, this industry is infamous for downturns. He has already squeezed the workforce dramatically. When the downturn comes, he will have no choice but to address the real problems.

There is no comparison between Doug Parker and Smisek. Parker has always tried to keep the workers intact, and has been vocal about not outsourcing. When he got US Airways, almost every US station that was outsourced was brought back in house. He has proven that the airline will be successful with having its own workers there. Instead of going after workers wallets, he and his team addressed the issues that needed fixing to make the airline successful.
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B777LRF
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:48 am

Quoting UA444 (Reply 3):
One of the few things I'll give Jeff his due for is that he is very passionate about a modern ATC system for this country, and is rightfully calling out the unfair laws airline have to adhere to, which hampers their competitiveness against foreign competition.

Quite right. The Chapter 11 practice of the US is grossly unfair, and I think it's about time someone did something about it. Oh, hang on, was that not what he meant?
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brilondon
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:06 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 18):

Quite right. The Chapter 11 practice of the US is grossly unfair, and I think it's about time someone did something about it. Oh, hang on, was that not what he meant?

I don't think you understand the logic behind Ch. 11. It was put in place for a company to reorganize its debt so it could keep operating and not have to shut down completely. It allows for the company to keep the majority of its employees employed and to be able to come up with a debt repayment schedule that is approved by its secured creditors.
Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
 
andrew50
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:49 pm

HE HAS DONE NOTHING RIGHT! Flying on United is horrible, especially if you get an old United crew in the cabin. And people talk about how bad Spirit is!
 
brilondon
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:02 pm

Quoting andrew50 (Reply 22):

HE HAS DONE NOTHING RIGHT! Flying on United is horrible, especially if you get an old United crew in the cabin. And people talk about how bad Spirit is!

They have done somethings right. Not that any come to mind but I am sure there are a few things that they are doling. Mind you it is not just the man at the top, it is the whole culture at UA that breeds these hapless incompetent people who work there from top management to the front line employees that make UA the worst airline to fly.
Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
 
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cosyr
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:17 pm

I think he has done a remarkable job with the transition of the brand. First it was brilliant to keep the Continental livery for cost savings and a nod to Continental employees that just because your company name will not be the banner of the new airline, it is not a case of United 'taking over' Continental. As far as cost savings, United was half way through repainting their fleet anyway, so if they went with rising blue, they would have had to paint 75% of the new fleet, if they went with a new livery, they would have had to paint 100% of the new fleet, this way they only had to paint 50% of the new fleet and retitle the rest. Plus, it got all the planes at least saying "United" on them faster.

For customers, many familiar United themes survived, like Hemispheres and Mileage Plus, many Continental themes survived, the logo and the website, and still some new things were born like the United Club. Very egalitarian in general.

The really intelligent part about all this is not just the significance to both employee groups that neither was simply being steamrolled, but the acknowledgement that mergers are messy. Introducing a new brand would have thrown away all brand equity from the start and would have also made a promise that would have been let down from day one.

Now once United is running smoothly, employees are joined together and there is a unified airline, United can introduce a new brand for the future and they can legitimately say "try us out, we're not the merger mess of an airline you remember." Forcing that too soon like Chrysler did can leave a sour taste in consumer's minds. Chrysler said, we're out of bankruptcy, we need to win customers back, so they put out ads with a new logo and said, 'try us again, we've changed,' but literally all they did was rebadge the cars that existed befor bankruptcy. Big mistake in my opinion. Don't promise change if you can't deliver, customers will only try you again once.
 
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jetblastdubai
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:00 pm

Quoting Boeing778X (Reply 27):
Secretly, I hope CO is revived one day.

And with CO's revival, you could once again enjoy the COALPA scope clause that allows only 50-seat regional carriers. That will help the bottom line and I'm sure passengers would be flocking to those E145s when all the competition has 2-class regionals.

Face it, United filled some big holes in the CO domestic and Int'l route map and CO did the same for UA. Together UA/CO is stronger than the sum of each carrier as a stand-alone.

I think UA/CO merger has been complicated because Mr. Smisek and Co. tried to create a "merger of equals" and they squandered a lot of time and energy trying to pacify each side instead of simply making a command decision and going with it. Allowing 3-4 years to go by without a signed union contract is a bit foolish IMHO. Stephen Wolf would have set a firm date and things would have be settled long ago.

Looking at the other mergers, there is literally no remnants left of NW or AirTran and it appears that the HP/USAir identity will be gone once the AA/US merger is complete. I don't see any animosity (publicly) from anyone in the new DL or WN and I haven't heard of any "we're better than you" spats from the AA/US side either.

What is so different with (some) UA and CO people that they can't just bury the hatchet and all pull in the same direction?
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TWA772LR
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:36 pm

People, please, this is not a bash UA and/or CO thread. Keep it civilized and keep it on track.
When wasn't America great?


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lpdal
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:08 am

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 19):
People, please, this is not a bash UA and/or CO thread. Keep it civilized and keep it on track.

I know, right? These PMCO and PMUA employee groups need to cease their behavior akin to people my age (19-early 20s) immediately. Who cares what Tilton or Smisek or Bethune did, it's over and done. No sense crying over spilled milk. These petty squabbles between the employee groups aren't doing anything but hurting UA as a whole and impacting the customer experience. Please, put your differences to rest already and work together in harmony!  

-LPDAL
All of my views and posted content are mine alone, and should not be viewed as official communication from my employer, its subsidiaries thereof, or any other entities or airlines.
 
TonyBurr
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:49 am

My mother taught me if you cannot say something nice about someone don't say anything, so I will not say anything about Smisek. Mom owuld be proud.  
 
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RyanairGuru
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:06 am

Quoting jetblastdubai (Reply 18):
Together UA/CO is stronger than the sum of each carrier as a stand-alone.

HALLELUJA!!!!!

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 20):
hese PMCO and PMUA employee groups need to cease their behavior

As noted upthread, in many cases the employees have settled down. Most of the real firebrands are nothing more than "loyal" passengers who aren't happy that they didn't get an upgrade when they always did on the old carrier, etc.

"Over-entitled" was one of the most painfully accurate descriptions of anyone/thing I have ever heard.

Quoting brilondon (Reply 14):
I don't think you understand the logic behind Ch. 11. It was put in place for a company to reorganize its debt so it could keep operating and not have to shut down completely

Precisely, and it is something fairly unique to the USA, at least among its largest trading partners. That means that it unfairly distorts the global economy in favor of US interests, as in most other jurisdictions the failing company would be liquidated whereas in the US it can "reorganise its debts". This doesn't just apply in the airline industry, but it is a good example due to its global nature. AFKL and LH would love a good bit Ch11 right now, but [rightly] they have to deal with their creditors and labor on the open market.
Worked Hard, Flew Right
 
ThePinnacleKid
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:30 pm

United has cheapened their product and brand post merger at every corner. If there was an opportunity to waste, they took it. If their was a chance to cut costs on the backs of their labor, they did. What's left is a shell of an airline that operates more as a ticketing agency than an airline. Most of the ground staff has been outsourced, The flying is greatly outsourced. The product quality control destroyed. The management pockets, lined. The only reason you seem to see division among CO/UA declining is because they're unifying against what a horrid place it is to work. The only work group they treat decently is the pilots.
"Sonny, did we land? or were we shot down?"
 
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LAX772LR
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:57 pm

Quoting JAAlbert (Reply 4):
Tom Horton, who should have been imprisoned for his actions

Which particular actions, and why?
(I'm not disagreeing, just genuinely curious).



Quoting B777LRF (Reply 13):
The Chapter 11 practice of the US is grossly unfair, and I think it's about time someone did something about it.

When people say such a thing, the first thing I think is:
"Do you even know what Chpt 11 actually is, and why it exists?"

Far more often than not, the answer is "no."
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil
 
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TWA772LR
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:50 am

Quoting LAX772LR (Reply 24):
Quoting JAAlbert (Reply 4):
Tom Horton, who should have been imprisoned for his actions

Which particular actions, and why?

I think he was being sarcastic.
When wasn't America great?


The thoughts and opinions shared under this username are mine and are not influenced by my employer.
 
bobnwa
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RE: Things Mr. Smisek Has Done Right

Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:56 pm

Quoting JAAlbert (Reply 4):
He was then seen as the savior of mankind when he took over AA from the despicable Tom Horton, who should have been imprisoned for his actions.

Please list a few of Horton's actions that should have resulted in him bring jailed, or are you grossly over exagerating

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