Did United Just Become America's Best Airline?

Photo Courtesy of United Airlines

Photo Courtesy of United Airlines

Last night, I received an interesting email from United Airlines. It seems that they are dedicated to improving their reputation and customer service. Since US based carriers love to take privileges away from their customers, United's only way to rise above their poor reputation is to start giving back at every opportunity, in a big way.

In the email I received, CEO Oscar Munoz announced the following:

  • Incentives for voluntary rebooking will be maxed out at $10,000
  • Permanently lost baggage will have a $1500 no-questions-asked reimbursement
  • Employees will have a new app to be able to provide goodwill gestures to passengers, such as miles and travel credit, when United misses the mark
  • Law enforcement will no longer be removing customers from planes and passengers will not need to give up their seat, unless it is a matter of security

The proof is in the pudding, and actions speak louder then words. I will be interested to see how committed United is to their new policies. I personally have stayed away from this airline for years. My overall generalization (and this isn't true in all situations or of all employees, as I personally know some wonderful United flight attendants), they have rude crew members, they have lousy planes, and they have poor policies. I would love to see this change and for United to be successful. The more competition among the US carriers, the better the policy adjustments will be for consumers like you and I, across the board.

A copy of the email is below. What are your thoughts on the recent airline scandals and United's alleged dedication to improving it's passenger experience?

Dear Ms. Wilson,
Each flight you take with us represents an important promise we make to you, our customer. It's not simply that we make sure you reach your destination safely and on time, but also that you will be treated with the highest level of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.
Earlier this month, we broke that trust when a passenger was forcibly removed from one of our planes. We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words.
For the past several weeks, we have been urgently working to answer two questions: How did this happen, and how can we do our best to ensure this never happens again?
It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.
Fixing that problem starts now with changing how we fly, serve and respect our customers. This is a turning point for all of us here at United – and as CEO, it's my responsibility to make sure that we learn from this experience and redouble our efforts to put our customers at the center of everything we do.
That’s why we announced that we will no longer ask law enforcement to remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board – except in matters of safety or security.
We also know that despite our best efforts, when things don’t go the way they should, we need to be there for you to make things right. There are several new ways we’re going to do just that.
We will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000 and will be eliminating the red tape on permanently lost bags with a new "no-questions-asked" $1,500 reimbursement policy. We will also be rolling out a new app for our employees that will enable them to provide on-the-spot goodwill gestures in the form of miles, travel credit and other amenities when your experience with us misses the mark. You can learn more about these commitments and many other changes at hub.united.com.
While these actions are important, I have found myself reflecting more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to you and the communities we serve.
I believe we must go further in redefining what United's corporate citizenship looks like in our society. You can and ought to expect more from us, and we intend to live up to those higher expectations in the way we embody social responsibility and civic leadership everywhere we operate. I hope you will see that pledge express itself in our actions going forward, of which these initial, though important, changes are merely a first step.
Our goal should be nothing less than to make you truly proud to say, "I fly United."
Ultimately, the measure of our success is your satisfaction and the past several weeks have moved us to go further than ever before in elevating your experience with us. I know our 87,000 employees have taken this message to heart, and they are as energized as ever to fulfill our promise to serve you better with each flight and earn the trust you’ve given us.
We are working harder than ever for the privilege to serve you and I know we will be stronger, better and the customer-focused airline you expect and deserve.
With Great Gratitude,
Oscar Munoz
United Airlines