Smisek: Better Service This Summer

Old Jun 5, 13, 6:24 am
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Smisek: Better Service This Summer

United CEO Jeff Smisek delivered a major address at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

From the Chicago Tribune:

United CEO vows better airline service this summer

The CEO of United Airlines' parent company on Tuesday vowed better service for passengers this summer compared with the problem-plagued season last year.

"It’s been a long runway, no question about it," Jeff Smisek told the group of about 1,000 business people at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce annual membership meeting. “Mergers are tough, but we’re doing well.”

He cited United’s first-quarter on-time performance, which was below some competitors but marked United’s best in a decade, and customer satisfaction scores “that have gone up by a factor of five from where they were a year ago."

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Jun 5, 13 at 9:07 am Reason: US Copyright Law/FT Rule Violation http://www.flyertalk.com/help/rules.php#q91
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:01 am
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Originally Posted by pauljacobson958 View Post
"We're using the very finest World War II ground-based radar technology to guide our airplanes," Smisek jabbed.
So since SHARES is technically post-War technology, I suppose that gives Smisek room to talk?


Frankly, this is just same ole same ole from Smisek. I've been flying and have not seen a CS improvement. Fundamentally, the airline has a handful of gems who try to do the right thing, but the system can't execute. They fail themselves in service recovery, repeatedly.

I always talk about IRROPS, but I'll talk about a bag issue this time. UA misconnected a bag on a 1:40 connection (no excuse, no delays, it was a mistake). Problem was, now they wouldn't be able to get the bag to me before I left the final destination.

File the claim, and the guy realizes the same, and we request redirection back home to SFO. I verify this is the instruction on the phone as well. UA fails on the intercept and sends it to the final destination anyway the next day. Once I know it's on a plane, but I'm leaving from an alternate airport, there is still technically time if they turn it quickly to get it back to me around the same time at SFO, so I go to the bag office on my way out and ask them to call the other airport to alert them to it. No, they won't call.

A gem at the receiving office sees everything and says the fastest way to get it to me is to put it on AA, and authorizes that. It should meet me in SFO within minutes of my UA arrival (this is the occasional gem in the company who wants to do right), I get a voicemail advising of such.

I get to SFO, the bag is not on AA, and now UA has no tracking on it. Even though someone saw the VIP bag and tried to take care of the customer, whomever wrote the bag tag routed it through IAH and wrote down that AA flight number which was not applicable out of IAH. So the bag arrives well after me on UA.

After all this is said and done, I ask for comp for these various stumbles. We agree on an amount, and since it was two of us traveling on one PNR iwith a jointly packed bag, we agree that UA will provide a voucher for each of us (again, another gem, who's trying to do right). One voucher shows up. Have to call back and follow-up for the other one since they stumbled on the comp as well.

It's sad when you break down a process like this and see how they stumble and continue to stumble, on every attempt at service recovery.

If Smisek is serious about customer service, he needs to work on execution, not the superfluous training he's been giving staff on smiling and eye contact. That's important, but if the system can't deliver, what's the point in the first place?
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:13 am
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I've got another one... My flight from ORD to MSP was scheduled for 4:55 yesterday. I get to the gate a couple of minutes before our 4:30 boarding (it was a 170). No plane.

I check online, and sure enough, our inbound plane was SCHEDULED to arrive at 4:29. In a perfect world, that leaves 1 minute for offloading and cleaning the plane. The kicker? The plane was coming from Newark- not exactly a place immune to delays itself.

Needless to say, it didn't come in on time, and of course it took more than 1 minute to deplane, meaning we missed our takeoff slot, so a 20 minute ground delay became about 40 minutes total delay. Flawless execution, guys...
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:20 am
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Originally Posted by pauljacobson958 View Post
...he cited Unitedís first-quarter on-time performance, which was below some competitors but marked Unitedís best in a decade..."
[email protected]
Does this include delaying the express flights so that the mainline frames can get in/out on time? This is a disingenuous claim, unless you don't consider flying United Express flying United.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:26 am
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Originally Posted by paulyras View Post
I've got another one... My flight from ORD to MSP was scheduled for 4:55 yesterday. I get to the gate a couple of minutes before our 4:30 boarding (it was a 170). No plane.

I check online, and sure enough, our inbound plane was SCHEDULED to arrive at 4:29. In a perfect world, that leaves 1 minute for offloading and cleaning the plane. The kicker? The plane was coming from Newark- not exactly a place immune to delays itself.

Needless to say, it didn't come in on time, and of course it took more than 1 minute to deplane, meaning we missed our takeoff slot, so a 20 minute ground delay became about 40 minutes total delay. Flawless execution, guys...
The aircraft shown on the flight status is the one currently scheduled to operate the flight, not originally. Look at the same flight today - the inbound flight arrives from BOS around 40 minutes before the flight to MSP departs, plenty of time with an E170.

In your case, it appears the aircraft was switched to resolve another issue somewhere in the system. But because you have more information than you did before, you assume it's idiotic planning.

It's a delay - but the 1 minute between the flights that eventually got scheduled clearly wasn't the original plan.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:41 am
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paulyras and star_world,
I think you've hit the nail on the head.

My experience has been that mainline service has been okay. There are still some grumpy crews, meals have improved in some ways and declined in others, I have done very well with upgrades, we're now starting to see WiFi, upgraded cabins on intercontinental aircraft, and long-awaited updates to United Clubs.

A lot SHARES problems are getting better as s-UA staff get used to them. I now hear s-CO employees use words like "1K" and "GS," there aren't as many struggles with changes, etc.

The new boarding process isn't working yet, but they'll keep working on it.

The problem is with Express.
This isn't unique to United. I've done long tours of duty on troublesome American Eagle, Northwest Airlink, US Airways Express, Air Canada Jazz/Express, and Delta Connection flights. (Goodbye, Comair!) But that's not an excuse.

I'm forever grateful to Scott McCartney for making the Newark United Express delays national news.

I got stuck with one a few days ago (not weather-related). This is a mess.

Newark has a lot more connecting traffic than Delta out of JFK. Although they're competing, Newark is a different operation. Although they have plenty of O&D traffic at Newark, United has huge masses of connections, and so many of them are on United Express.

I've been stuck many times with Delta Connection at JFK before or after an international flight. Instead of competing on flat bed seats and DirectTV, I would like United to compete by saying "we've got a smooth, on-time operation at our East Coast hub." What happened to "Work Hard, Fly Right?" I feel like the United crews still want to fly on time; the Express crews seem to lack any incentive.

Of course it's not isolated to Newark, but that is the focus of the problem.

After 3407, I felt like United might switch to more mainline flying out of Newark. Nope. Their operation depends on smaller aircraft and thus decreased costs.

No wonder Southwest and Hawaiian do so well with on-time performance. They're not relying on constantly-changing contract operations to do their flying for them.

After Sunday's incident, I went back and pondered my options of switching to America or Delta. (jetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin don't fly where I fly.) After weighing all of the options, I realized that I'd still end up on ramshackle American Eagle or Delta Connection flights... nothing would really change.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:42 am
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Originally Posted by pauljacobson958 View Post
United CEO Jeff Smisek
"We use to serve you a pizza with all the toppings, and thatís all you got," he said. Unbundling allows passengers to pay for only the services they want, he said.
One has to wonder if he thinks he is running Spirit after reading this comments.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:45 am
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Originally Posted by ric_wx View Post
Does this include delaying the express flights so that the mainline frames can get in/out on time? This is a disingenuous claim, unless you don't consider flying United Express flying United.
FWIW in my recent experience, United CSRs have repeatedly told me United Express is not United . This has come up repeatedly when I cannot book last minute Standard awards that include various UX carriers -- and the reps ALWAYS say "There are no seats available because THAT IS NOT A UNITED FLIGHT. It is operated by another carrier doing business as United." OMG
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:48 am
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Originally Posted by star_world View Post
The aircraft shown on the flight status is the one currently scheduled to operate the flight, not originally. Look at the same flight today - the inbound flight arrives from BOS around 40 minutes before the flight to MSP departs, plenty of time with an E170.

In your case, it appears the aircraft was switched to resolve another issue somewhere in the system. But because you have more information than you did before, you assume it's idiotic planning.

It's a delay - but the 1 minute between the flights that eventually got scheduled clearly wasn't the original plan.
This is one area that I think you have to give UA, well United.com, some credit. UA is generally very late to post delays, e.g. if your inbound aircraft is 30 min late UA won't post your flt as delayed until ~30 min before departure when they can't board. I feel like other airlines do this as well.

However, at least you can view where your inbound aircraft is coming from and it's status. I don't know of another airline that does this so unless you look at 3rd party flight trackers you won't really know the situation. It is not perfect and has it's bugs but at least it's something as opposed to nothing.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 7:49 am
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Originally Posted by SJOFlyer View Post
One has to wonder if he thinks he is running Spirit after reading this comments.
Or Pizza Hut.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:05 am
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i am so sick and tired of hearing Smi/J moaning and b****ing about government regulations and taxes and blaming the incompetence of his IT systems and lack of empowerment of his employees on these regulations. every time he gets a mic in front of his face that is the first thing out of his mouth, after 787. now the letter from the CEO in the latest hemipsheres mag, more of the same. truth be told, $mi$ek, a healthy chunk of that is passed directly on to the consumer (passenger) in the form of taxes on their tickets, and what chunk isn't directly taxed is captured in rising fares.

furthermore, all the carriers are operating in the same regulatory environment, and do you hear any of the other brass complaining about it? not nearly to the same extent as our beloved Smi/J.

dude needs to go already.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:05 am
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Originally Posted by Mats View Post
I'm forever grateful to Scott McCartney for making the Newark United Express delays national news.
haha i still take UA4352 regularly (mccartney's claim of the most delayed flight ever) and i'm scheduled to take it within a week or so again... flight gods, please be merciful.

i'm on the same boat, all the improvements seem to be incremental and they seem inherently like band aid solutions. nothing seems to fix the inherent systematic issues going on with the airline, which to me isn't really a long term sustainable solution. who knows though.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by ric_wx View Post
Does this include delaying the express flights so that the mainline frames can get in/out on time? This is a disingenuous claim, unless you don't consider flying United Express flying United.
You would rather them put a smaller number of customers ahead of a larger number of customers? This seems insane regardless of whether you're on the airline OR passenger side.

Of course, what we all want is for OUR flight to go first...
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:08 am
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It's the details Jeff!

Plane delayed June 3, 2013 IAD to DEN, 5 hours, with plane replacement. Getting off, every passenger received a shinny glossy voucher. 1 beverage voucher and 10% off next flight.

Fine print: voucher expires 1/31/2013

June 2, 2013 Plane cancelled MDT to IAD to DEN. Agent re-books me next day MDT to ORD to DEN. 1st leg scheduled to arrive ORD one hour after second leg departs. I saved the printed boarding passes went to hotel and made changes on the phone.

Yes, there are gems in United ranks; Unfortunately, they are too few.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:12 am
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See

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...-annually.html

for more improved service we'll like.
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