The title, by the way, is how airlines (all of ’em) see passengers, and it shows.
Now, I know that technically, speaking, that happens to be true: we are just walking baggage — but that doesn’t mean that we want to be treated that way. About 80% or more of my business consists of taking sleepy executives to the airport in the pre-dawn hours, and let me tell you: not one of them has anything good to say about how the airlines treat them — and most of these people are Gold / Platinum / whatever the top rank is called. So if these people hate the airlines, how do you think we Economy-class passengers feel?
And it seems as though United Airlines — or their CEO, at least — understands this, and has talked about it at length.
Munoz acknowledged having to stay competitive with peers and match many of their offers, but he admitted passengers have had enough of paying the price.
He claimed: ‘Somebody asked me what advice would you give other travelers? I said empathy.
‘I think discourse between human beings is lacking, I have always lived by the concept that sharing is caring, and share with us.
Yeah, I’ll wait to see how this pans out. Fine words uttered from on high are all very well, but let’s see how this translates to the flight attendants / ticketing agents / flight cancellation policy etc.
Many years ago, I worked for the Leo Burnett ad agency, who (at the time) had been United Airlines’s agency for decades — possibly even the only ad agency UA has ever had. To say that it was a close working relationship would be a gross understatement, and in fact it was Burnett who had coined the genius “Fly The Friendly Skies” payoff line for United.
Then United decided that they wanted to change the thrust of their advertising, to be more businesslike, and even change the payoff line. Leo Burnett disagreed with the change in marketing direction. How much did they disagree? They terminated a decades-long relationship — in essence, firing the client — because they thought it was the wrong direction to take.
Anyone know what United’s new agency replaced the Friendly Skies line with? Me neither. And when United threw that unfortunate passenger off their plane a while ago, breaking his nose in the process, I can honestly say that while I was shocked at the action, I wasn’t surprised. When they changed their marketing, I made a decision never to fly United again — and other than one (unavoidable) business flight in 2003, I’ve kept my promise. (And just FYI, that flight was the worst trans-Atlantic flight I’ve ever experienced — Connie was actually sobbing with relief when we came in to land.)
I don’t think that United is going to change (despite their CEO’s unctuous words), and their skies will be just as unfriendly as all the other airlines’. Why?
His comments came as United Airlines announced that its first-quarter profit doubled to $292 million as it carried more passengers and limited costs.
In a message to employees, CEO Oscar Munoz said the latest results vindicated a strategy of adding more flights, investing in customer service and managing costs.
United added more flights because the Trump-fueled economic growth has meant more people are flying; not adding more flights would have caused market share to drop.
As for their “investing in customer service”, watch Munoz’s little video towards the end of the article. My bullshit detector went off like an alarm clock. Yours should, too. “Eliminating pre-assigned seating”? The airlines have already done that, with sneaky little algorithms in the online ticketing process which deliberately splits seating assignments when booked together in the same transaction, and charging for the privilege of changing the seats. Bastards. I’m not fooled: “managing costs” means “charging for stuff that used to be free”, or else “not replacing worn-out seats even when passengers are experiencing extreme discomfort”. Feel free to add your own “cost management” examples.
As it happens, I may be flying the New Friendly Skies later in the year, and if so, I’ll let you all know how it comes out. If I do, it will probably involve a stop in O’Hare (I know, I know: I used to do 50-60 flights a year out of ORD). If that isn’t a test, nothing is.
Anyway, you can color me cynical. Right now, I hate all airlines, without exception, and it’s going to take more than fucking “empathy” to change my attitude.