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The Core of UA's Problems: No Innovation, No Creativity

The Core of UA's Problems: No Innovation, No Creativity

Old Aug 8, 13, 2:27 pm
  #1  
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The Core of UA's Problems: No Innovation, No Creativity

Since the UA/CO merger was announced, I have watched the new UA turn into a company that routinely fails to deliver and that has a fundamental lack of creativity and innovation. The travel industry, particularly, lends itself to innovation, creativity, and imagination--after all, I can get on a United plane and be on the other side of the world. So many other companies in travel industry, be it hotels, other airlines, or rental car companies, execute and innovate at the same time. United fails miserably at both.

For the record, I'm not at all saying a company HAS to be innovative or creative. Many companies choose to focus on execution instead of innovation. My electricity company, for example, doesn't seem very creative or innovative, but it delivers 99.99% of the time (and that makes up for its lack of innovation). If United chose to focus on and succeeded at execution, I would not be opening this post.

Delta has it. JetBlue has it. Heck, even Southwest seems like it has more spark that United these days. Innovation excites customers and employees. From the awful branding and blah uniforms, to the poor decisions with technology, to the lack of exciting partnerships, United has turned into a boring mess that can't deliver. That mess continues to take a toll on formerly loyal customers, the general public, and employees. No one gets excited about United.

I can't think of one innovative thing that United has done that positively impacts the customer or employees, since the merger has occurred. (Scimitar winglets are certainly innovative, but we know who those please...)

What happened? Where's the creativity? Where's the innovation? Where's the fun?
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Old Aug 8, 13, 2:30 pm
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Like them or not, they tried the uniforms - they were different. It's still something to try.

What would you have said if UA, I dunno, bought a refinery?

I don't disagree with you - I like how cheeky JetBlue and Spirit are in their travel deals (the recent PED from Spirit really hitting home). But I don't think that is the message UA wishes to convey. And if UA wishes to be "boring", yet efficient, that's fine too.

What you're saying, though, in general, UA is boring.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by aacharya View Post
Like them or not, they tried the uniforms - they were different. It's still something to try.
You're proving my point. UA tries a lot of things. Trying is not innovation.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 2:37 pm
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FareLock doesn't count? Or gold bag handle wrappers?

(agreed on all your points BTW)

One could argue that the Marriott deal was kind of innovative...but of course Delta did the exact same thing first (w/*W) and just showed UA the way

Last edited by iluv2fly; Aug 8, 13 at 4:37 pm Reason: merge
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Old Aug 8, 13, 2:40 pm
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My thoughts exactly. ^
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Old Aug 8, 13, 2:49 pm
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I don't necessarily need or want innovation or creativity. I would settle for a decent hard product throughout the network, reliable IT, and competent, pleasant customer service.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 2:53 pm
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Sometimes it feels like the new UA is just going through some motions to see what sticks.

We've seen several iterations of boarding passes.

The Mobile App has been updated many times and does some things that it didn't do before, and better than some competing airlines. There is investment in the app.

But telling us you're adding WiFi and power and then doing it EXCEEDINGLY slowly is not reflective of innovative/creative ways of solving problems with real solutions.

Taking delivery of aircraft and putting them in the sky "dark" isn't innovative or creative.

Refitting United Clubs - only one is done in Denver. Why? Fix that!

Get behind your brand, what you are to your customers, what they can DEPEND ON and EXPECT, that would go a long way.

Right now, they aren't creative or innovative and they aren't reliable from a product perspective. Yes, it takes time to spend $500M in upgrades but by golly when you get started on something figure out HOW TO DO IT SWIFTLY, EFFICIENTLY and then GO GO GO.

This is something we could count on in the old United. It's just plain gone. That's a management problem, pure and simple.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 2:56 pm
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First US carrier with the 787? Definitely a forward thinking, risky move (as we have all seen).

Use of biofuels to reduce carbon footprint?

Pioneering the capacity discipline that is leading the industry (maybe) back into the black?

RewardsPlus partnership with Marriott?

Continued focus on having the most/easiest to use Award availability in the industry?

Adding a PQD/spend requirement to MP Premier qualification?

Best in class Mobile App? (I really appreciate the mobile app! Great features and functionality, really makes many things more efficient.)



What is innovation?

What is boring?

Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
One could argue that the Marriott deal was kind of innovative...but of course Delta did the exact same thing first (w/*W) and just showed UA the way
RewardsPlus is a far more valuable partnership program than the program that DL/*wood offers.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 3:00 pm
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Originally Posted by LarkSFO View Post
RewardsPlus is a far more valuable partnership program than the program that DL/*wood offers.
How so? With the DL/*W partnership, you can double dip everytime you stay with one of the two partners. RewardsPlus doesn't offer that.

I grant you though that Marriott Gold is much better than SPG Gold.

I wouldn't say conclusively that one is far more valuable than the other however.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
How so? With the DL/*W partnership, you can double dip everytime you stay with one of the two partners. RewardsPlus doesn't offer that.

I grant you though that Marriott Gold is much better than SPG Gold.

I wouldn't say conclusively that one is far more valuable than the other however.
OK, I'll agree.

Both are valuable, but in different ways.

Which, by the way, means UA (and Marriott) are innovative in offering a program with clearly different benefits than the competition!
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Old Aug 8, 13, 3:45 pm
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It's early in merger process, I'm not sure chasing anything too excessive would be a good idea.

Aircraft
There are now lots of different aircraft types and configurations. With that being as mixed up as it is, chasing some commonality and balance is probably more important than chasing something new. It would be great to get some consistency of product soon so that someone flying Business, or First, or E+ gets the same product no matter what aircraft they find themselves on. Right now it's a crapshoot if you get direct tv, wifi, channel 9, or nothing at all.

Employee Groups
This merger despite all the nonsense we talk about is very heated between the employee groups (long before any influence of management started). The seniority issue is red rag to a bull for the FA's and the Pilots.

The UA FA's are still harping on that no Continental FA (no matter their seniority) will go ahead of even the most junior UA FA. It's this sort of childish nonsense that needs fixed before any employee progress gets fixed.

The logical step is that seniority is merged by date of hire, end of story, but if you look at the merger of AA and TWA, the TWA employees were shafted to the bottom, and within 2 years, most of them had lost their jobs.

Right now, the employee bases are being ripped apart, FA's who have been flying long haul for 30+ years have found their base ripped apart and given to the other company. Houston International base now only has a few longhaul trips, with the majority now being flown by UA employees on UA planes. The same in reverse, the LAX base for UA has lost the majority of it's longhaul flying to CO employees. Everyone is a little frazzled. People forget the massive change of lifestyle that a lot of these folks are going through. It's not an excuse for their behavior, but it's not all roses for them.

Eventually it will balance out.

Livery
I know many were dismayed at the choice to use the Continental livery, but this choice was actually made to achieve the fastest way to get UNITED written on all aircraft. All that was required was changing the text from Continental to United on all Pre-merger CO aircraft, and right away, every single plane in the combined fleet said United.

I'd rather UA just managed to get control of what they have than get too innovative. If they can get the employees smiling, and working for each other, they will achieve much more than adding a product here or there.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 3:45 pm
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Originally Posted by LarkSFO View Post
First US carrier with the 787? Definitely a forward thinking, risky move (as we have all seen).

Use of biofuels to reduce carbon footprint?

Pioneering the capacity discipline that is leading the industry (maybe) back into the black?

RewardsPlus partnership with Marriott?

Continued focus on having the most/easiest to use Award availability in the industry?

Adding a PQD/spend requirement to MP Premier qualification?

Best in class Mobile App? (I really appreciate the mobile app! Great features and functionality, really makes many things more efficient.)



What is innovation?

What is boring?



RewardsPlus is a far more valuable partnership program than the program that DL/*wood offers.
All the things you listed were either occurring before the merger or were copied/in response to Delta.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 3:52 pm
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Originally Posted by CO_Nonrev_elite View Post
Livery
I know many were dismayed at the choice to use the Continental livery, but this choice was actually made to achieve the fastest way to get UNITED written on all aircraft. All that was required was changing the text from Continental to United on all Pre-merger CO aircraft, and right away, every single plane in the combined fleet said United.
I respect your contributions immensely and value all the background you share. I do disagree on this point.

All the sUA planes already said United; had they kept that livery they could have painted the CO planes to match UA.

Without quibbling over which carrier had more total planes in service, either way only 1/2 the fleet needed a paint job if you kept UA's planes AS IS and changed CO's planes. The livery decision meant ALL planes needed something done to them, and that's not faster.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 3:54 pm
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Folks. UNITED is a business. Apparently not an airline.
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Old Aug 8, 13, 4:00 pm
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Branding is the problem

Originally Posted by anc-ord772 View Post
Folks. UNITED is a business. Apparently not an airline.
Copying everything from sCO such as BusinessFirst in 3-class sUA international aircraft. CS altitude of "cannot help you," instead of "going beyond," is another major problem of the new United.
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