United Continental Holdings CEO Oscar Munoz recently told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that better communication with passengers, restoring trust with employees and reinvesting in “customer properties” will help United Airlines live up to the longtime marketing tagline “Fly the Friendly Skies” and once again make passengers “feel good about flying us.”
During Oscar Munoz’s tumultuous tenure at the helm of the United Airlines group, the company has faced more than its share of challenges and public embarrassments – from the mishandled response to news of a passenger being violently removed from an overbooked flight, to a string of animal deaths that forced the airline to temporarily prohibit pets on flights and a series of continuing high profile labor disputes. While admitting to some missteps, the beleaguered airline executive says he has a plan, if not to restore the glamour to air travel, to at least to make the experience somewhat less taxing on the flying public.
“We need to de-stress the travel lifestyle,” Munoz told Jim Cramer in an appearance on CNBC’s Mad Money. “How do we keep you informed? How do we keep you focused and directed when something goes wrong? But, more importantly, before you even leave your house, you know your flight’s on time, you know where you’re headed.”
Munoz said that the recent increase of bag fees will help to improve the passenger experience, noting that majority of the company’s revenue is reinvested in the airline. He insisted at least a portion of the money put in the company’s coffers through pricey checked bag fees will be used to develop technology and communication systems which will in turn help achieve the goal a making air travel less stressful.
“It’s important to reinvest in the business,” Munoz told viewers. “I think it’s one of the things about this industry that people, our customers, don’t always understand. All that money that we’re getting back is being piled back into the business… We pile that money back into the business for the right things. We want to make you, as our customer, feel good about flying us. And so our customer-centricity, our customer properties, are something we really want to sort of engage.”
The United Continental Holdings chief went on to say that the airline has, in some cases, failed to communicate effectively with both employees and passengers. He said that restoring the trust of the airline’s workforce and customers is an important first step toward making air travel a more pleasant experience once again.
“Trust is the underpinning of a lot of things that we do and that doesn’t compute, as you know, on spreadsheets,” he explained. “But it’s such an important part and foundation for everything we’ve been able to do. It’s a never-ending project with keeping them engaged and motivated, but we’re doing a good job.”