Why was CO preceived as a good airline

 
Old Mar 19, 12, 11:01 am
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Why was CO preceived as a good airline

Hello,

I am not trying to say one airline is better then the other, but I have been flying many United flights lately and all I hear is complaining from UA workers and passengers about the merger. It seems CO operated off systems that takes the gate agents of United back 20 years. PMUA flyers do not apprecitate the "enhancements" of CO.

Did CO receive so many awards because of their isolated, fortress hubs where people didn't know any better? Were they able to manipulate their frequent flyers into thinking they provided decent service?

The service levels on UA have done nothing but drop since the merger from pillows to discontinuing much widebody service on key routes. It just shocks me to think CO won awards in the past, but their service levels do not seem to match the awards they won.

Why was CO able to create this myth in the 2000s that they were a great airline? And I had a gross, free meal on CO in the 2000s and would rather have the choice menu on United so surley a unhealthy free meal in coach was not the reason was it?

In reality most people I have run into over the past few months miss the United service and system. Maybe United actually had to comepete and provide proper service over the past ten years as their hubs were more exposed to competition.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 1:06 pm
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CO has had some great leaders--Robert Six, Gordon Bethune. But just as surely as night follows day....
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Old Mar 19, 12, 1:46 pm
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I have been Elite on Continental for years and I have to say I thought the customer service was outstanding (and I'm pretty hard to please). I dreaded that the United culture would taint the Continental, customer-oriented service I was used to, and from what I've seen, my fears were well founded.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 1:59 pm
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At one point, CO was a very good airline. Customer service was better, airplanes were new, food was good and the amenities were nice. That was then, this is now, and the industry has changed.

Years of cutbacks have eroded some of the perceived benefits of CO and policy changes have made it difficult for employees to deliver a high level of customer service. There are still some very good people at the airline (from both sides of the fence) but integration-related problems have strained everyone's patience, from top-to-bottom.

In the meantime, other airlines have improved, the revenue environment has changed, and all carriers have adapted their business models dramatically, which means the customer-facing experience had to evolve.

Finally, nobody likes change. For UA flyers who had grown accustomed to the United way of doing things, the transition to the merged carrier has taken them out of their comfort zone, which is never a pleasant experience. I'll caution that the grass isn't always greener, though.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 5:05 pm
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Has anyone given any thought to the fact that maybe it's the "great treatment" of FF's that is why ever US airline with a FF program has been broke and in and out of bankrupcy in the last 15 years?

I don't like the changes either, but maybe the reality is there is no choice?
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Old Mar 19, 12, 6:05 pm
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Originally Posted by twocoasts View Post
I have been Elite on Continental for years and I have to say I thought the customer service was outstanding (and I'm pretty hard to please). I dreaded that the United culture would taint the Continental, customer-oriented service I was used to, and from what I've seen, my fears were well founded.
this is one of the interesting dichotomies of the merger -- CO folks claiming the UA employee/ management cultural has been a negative to customer service in this merger and the UA folks claiming the CO employee/ management cultural has been a negative to customer service in this merger.

Without getting into who is right or wrong on this or who took over who or who was going to fail or not -- items which have been debated endlessly and position are mostly related to where you came from -- it is clear the merger process have stress many and few would call this the best of the best outcome so far.

As EWR764 stated, the world has changed, the airline has changed and change is unpleasant -- the real issue is 2-3 years from now (and unfortunately it will probably take that long) will all of this have been worth it -- for the stockholders, for the employees, for the customers,....
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Old Mar 19, 12, 7:44 pm
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I don't know how I missed all the terrific PMUA and PMCO merger that each side keeps ranting and raving about that's now gone... But in all my flying I've thought to myself throughout the 2000's, "it's amazing how domestic airlines here manage to stay in business treating their elite customers with inconsistent mediocre service and their non-elites as complete garbage."

IMO the airlines here in the US are a matter of choosing the lesser of evils and squeaking out whatever marginal benefits you can. In comparison to any other service industry the airlines are a ginormous pile of steaming poo.

So don't understand the fuss with who was better pre-merger - they both kinda sucked, but same can be said for Delta, AA and certainly US. As for post-merger yeah it's continued it's downward spiral and I suspect with less competition and consolidation you can certainly expect more of the same changes we will like.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 8:10 pm
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Just as CO BusinessFirst used to be an industry-leading level of service, CO itself used to have industry-leading service levels. Internationally, airline service levels have stepped up. Domestically, CO service levels were eroded. Where are my meals at mealtimes? Where are the pillows and blankets? Where are the two free checked bags? Where are the state-of-the-art ear-conforming headsets? (oops)

Since the merger, service levels have dropped below that of either company pre-merger. This is not unexpected as employees and customers are forced to adjust to change and, to greater or lesser degree, resist or become unhappy.

Also, Plats would always be upgraded on transcons and had a reasonable shot at EWR-IAH. Silvers were upgraded to leisure destinations. Standard awards were plentiful. You could upgrade international itins without a copay. Flight attendants were younger. I was younger.

The list goes on and on!

Last edited by Ocn Vw 1K; Mar 22, 12 at 10:28 am Reason: Merge consecutive posts of same member.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 8:29 pm
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another related point:
why good airlines are always eaten? northwest, continental, pan american...
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Old Mar 19, 12, 9:30 pm
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Originally Posted by twocoasts View Post
I have been Elite on Continental for years and I have to say I thought the customer service was outstanding (and I'm pretty hard to please). I dreaded that the United culture would taint the Continental, customer-oriented service I was used to, and from what I've seen, my fears were well founded.
To me it seems they are actually forcing the CO culture on United. CO was so isolated before and could do waht they wanted with their passengers. Now that their culture is being applied to a larger system its failures are becoming evident. I have had some okay and poor flights on CO in the past two years, but the hype around them from loyal flyers never seemed to live up to the service I was and have been provided on CO flights.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 9:57 pm
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Continental didn't treat occasional, non-status passengers like crap (once we got into the 2000s - not talking about the 1980s and 1990s when they most certainly did.) Legacy United did. It's as simple as that.

Note that you don't hear regular people bewailing how much better United was than Continental. Au contraire.

At 50K/yr/Premier Executive vs OnePass Gold Elite and up, United gave better treatment. Below that, United was horrible compared to Continental (or Delta, PMNW or PMDL, AA, or even US). Worse call centers, longer lines both telephonic and airport, bigger distinction between haves and have-nots.
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Old Mar 19, 12, 10:25 pm
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I think what kept me coming back to Continental after many years at US was the consistency I found with them. I fly out of a small airport (CHS), and the employees at the CO counter took it upon themselves to get to know people and faces. It was like a second home for me to see all the gals each week.

My bags arrived on time, every time. I was treated with the utmost respect once in air whether I was in first or in coach. I have an outgoing personality so I strike up conversations with the crews whenever I could. It seemed to be a welcomed exchange given what they have to put up with these days. I was never told no by an employee at Continental. Of course, my requests were reasonable and I felt the people I interacted with met my expectations every time I opened my mouth. I did fly other airlines including the old UA and US and all I got was the cold shoulder, lost baggage and canceled flights.

If you are a DYKWIA type, then of course, Continental wasn't for you. But if you wanted a relaxing flight with good people, then Continental was the only way to go. I was a Plat on CO and a 1P on UA and it was appalling how the old United treated the lower tier elites. I felt Continental valued business whereas the Tilton era did not.

Everyone has different experiences. If you flew in and out of EWR, then I bet you would sing a different tune. But, for a guy who flew from a small airport into mostly small airports, I enjoyed the Continental experience and a I miss it a lot.

Just my .02
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Old Mar 19, 12, 11:08 pm
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Without baiting each other. As a 10 year+ United 1K. I can summarize my view.

United: Was excellent when I started flying them and achieved basic elite status, even better as I went up the ranks. An excellent domestic product (think 1995+) went to hell by 1999, International was really good till about a year before 9/11. Penny pinching on silly things while my fare were going up. I stuck with United out of the mere fact they went where I needed to go without going out of my way to get there. The loyalty to Star carriers and MP kept me on UA. Other Star carriers were on par with United (LH, OS, NH, etc) - but they over time kept GOOD service and an acceptable product offering. United though declined more and more and more. For those I suggested to fly UA whom had no status it always sounded like misery and toil - so I even stopped suggesting friends, family, co-workers to fly UA. I'm still with them; but I do fly more flights now on NH/ANA and when I was covering Europe on LH

Continental. Never had elite status but had 4 paid flights in premium cabins starting from 1999 to 2003 that made be re-evaluate CO. The last time I flew CO prior to those 4 paid flights in BF was 1988!. To me CO was what UA wasn't - still a quality airline; even my limited exposure to CO made BF feel on par with what LH was offering at the time. From the cabin service, to the onboard food, everything just felt better than UA - not as good as UA in the mid 90's but MUCH better than UA was at the time. Once CO joined Star I switched MANY flights to CO and didn't look back. Still credited to my UA account but found the times I had my company paying for premium cabin travel I picked CO (if not NH or LH).

Which would I tell family/friends with no status to fly: Continental
Which would I tell co-workers who mirrored my travel to fly for FFP program: United
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Old Mar 20, 12, 9:07 am
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Did CO receive so many awards because of their isolated, fortress hubs where people didn't know any better? Were they able to manipulate their frequent flyers into thinking they provided decent service?
CO got a lot of awards because they relished the publicity and paid for awards (you think you get those Conde Nast awards just for quality of service?).

They had a great story: worst to first. CO literally was duck-taped together, and then they got their act together under Gordon. Created BF (innovative at the time), made OnePass a very rewarding program (Plats would be RELIABLY upgraded). Then all the morale boosting cheerleading went to their heads; employees thought they were the best under all circumstances; that led to worse CS (how could they do wrong? blame it on the weather!)


Its pretty classic hubris on their part, alas seems to be the natural order of things. United in the mid-00s was suffering from image problems and they implemented changes to try to improve service quality (IPTE), slightly better meals. But they always ensured that employees treated the people who paid their checks well. The 1K and GS program kept high and frequent spenders feeling valued, generally in spite of the sorts of hiccups that befall an airline with a large network and aging fleet.
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Old Mar 20, 12, 9:21 am
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as mentioned...either way, CO or UA it's a U.S. flag carrier, so in this unfortunate era it's going to be crap. Arguing which one was "less crap" doesn't seem particularly constructive. I will continue flying UA because I live in a hub and because I want to accrue *A miles and UA have a pretty decent award table so I can redeem and fly on quality carriers when I want to be comfortable. It would just be nice if they could sort this nonsense with the phones out so you can get an agent on the line in less than 2 hours.
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