How to attract premium travelers back to UA.

Old Apr 25, 14, 2:05 pm
  #1  
txp
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Texas
Programs: Former CO OnePass, UA, AA, DL, Starwood & other hotel chains
Posts: 930
How to attract premium travelers back to UA.

I sent this to customer care this afternoon. Please feel free to discuss/debate, but keep it professional (as always)!

_____________________________

In view of the company's continuing deteriorating financial performance, I would like to make four specific suggestions for attracting premium travelers back to United (those who give you the highest yield):

1. The premium cabin product is lacking. Food quality was good under Continental, it is now dismal. Premium cabin passengers should board ahead of Group 1.

2. Pricing for premium cabins should be consistent and predictable. Please have affordable, advance-booking P fares and please release upgrade and award saver inventory far out so that people can plan their trips accordingly. People don't like upgrade lottery. I usually fly premium cabins and am willing to pay extra for it but I want it confirmed at the time of ticketing. Twice this year I took my business to DL and AA. In the first instance, they were able to confirm an upgrade seat on a flight to Europe. UA does not release upgrade inventory early. In the second instance, P fare in first on AA was about 40% lower than on UA.

3. Change MP so that miles are earned in relation to dollars spent, not in relation to miles traveled.

4. Please upgrade the United Clubs. Maybe follow Qantas example on their domestic network within Australia and have a separate class of business lounges for passengers travelling in premium cabins domestically.

If you can attract premium travelers back to UA, everyone else will benefit from it. Profits will go up and with it employee morale will go up. This will eventually convert in higher passenger satisfaction even in the economy cabins.

You should also consider this: you need to empower your employees at the local level to make decisions/exceptions to rules when such exceptions make good business sense to take care of passengers. I had a bad experience recently at the EWR UC with a conference room reservation and nobody could resolve the matter for me. Too many decisions now are made by the computer, and your agents are nothing than a human equivalent of the IT interface.

Please empower your people and you will be surprised to see how far they can take you.
txp is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:09 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Lovely Tahoe City
Programs: UA 1mm Gold. Former 1K and GS.
Posts: 905
2. Sorry to sound flippant, but upgraders are not premium travelers.

Here's my idea to attract premium travelers...

Agree with your point 1.
2. Be nice
3. Be on time
4. Be predictable.
climmy is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:15 pm
  #3  
txp
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Texas
Programs: Former CO OnePass, UA, AA, DL, Starwood & other hotel chains
Posts: 930
Originally Posted by climmy View Post
2. Sorry to sound flippant, but upgraders are not premium travelers.

Here's my idea to attract premium travelers...

Agree with your point 1.
2. Be nice
3. Be on time
4. Be predictable.
Well, I certainly agree with your points 2, 3, and 4.

Please allow me to clarify:

My definition of premium traveler (in addition to the obvious full-F-fare passenger) is someone who is willing to either (i) pay the discounted P fare to fly first, (ii) pay a higher-bucket Y fare to have easier access to upgrade space, or (iii) pay the co-pay and mileage award to get a C/F upgrade international. The target market here is people whose employers reimburse only coach, but who can afford to pay the supplement up to F in one of the ways mentioned. I think there is a lot of money for UA to make in that market segment.
txp is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:19 pm
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: LHR/SFO
Programs: 1K (until 2021), *G for "life", Global Entry, Hertz PC, Cadbury's Rum and Raisin Emeritus
Posts: 15,852
So, all that will suit you will it ? Or were you thinking of the general populace? I can safely say that I would say no to 1,2,3,4. I think your points all seem to have an element of me, me, me. Which is fine but don't expect people to agree with them.
Silver Fox is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:24 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: near to SFO and LHR
Programs: VS Gold, BA Gold, B6, VX, AA, DL (and a legacy UA 2MM)
Posts: 2,053
Actually - it's a pretty good list, and I especially like the straightforwardness and lack of vitriol ! (yes, I would change some items to suit my own priorities) Now, the question becomes: how to make your voice, and many others like it, heard? Perhaps copy each of the board of directors on it for a start (and the CEO of course)

I also would be in great favor of reasonably priced business class seats ("reasonable" is under $3500 TATL), but do understand the balancing act that UA has to play in order to allow folks to get upgrades on occasion. I've been pretty lucky finding confirmable upgrade space to Europe, but usually only far in advance.
StingWest is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:33 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Boston
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 224
Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
So, all that will suit you will it ? Or were you thinking of the general populace? I can safely say that I would say no to 1,2,3,4. I think your points all seem to have an element of me, me, me. Which is fine but don't expect people to agree with them.
I hope you were joking when you said no to 1? You don't want better food in F???
ksingh0311 is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:41 pm
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: West Coast, Best Coast
Programs: Flying whoever is most convenient
Posts: 15,389
along with the product is not just the food, but the consistency of the rest of the package. these days with UA, you never know if you are going to have DTV, AVOD, wifi, etc and whether any of it will work. at least lie flat is becoming a continuously kept promise on intl, but there's still too much inconsistency in the way that premium cabins are delivered. i would argue that the food is actually the most consistent -- albeit consistently bad.
PV_Premier is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:45 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Nashville, TN
Programs: Marriott Lifetime Titanium.;UA 1.5MM; UA Lifetime Gold (whoppee); AS MVP Gold; DL Plat
Posts: 2,028
How to attract premium travelers back to UA.

Take out the slimline seats in Y
boss315 is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:46 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: SFO
Programs: UA GS / MM
Posts: 208
For me, the biggest improvement UA could make is to upgrade their fleet with newer and bigger aircrafts since most of my BIS are on international routes. I've flown the premium cabin on 787 and I am not impressed. I don't mind stuck in E+ on domestic flights and I have no interest in AA or DL. But on international trips, UA aren't in the same league with many foreign carriers that I've spent my $$$ on.
GS8101 is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:52 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Programs: UA-1Kmm, AA-EX Plt mm-, Hilton Diamond,
Posts: 1,047
United does not likely consider P fare purchasers to be a "premium" traveler.
FLYDCA is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 2:53 pm
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 10,582
Anything that will cost UA is about guaranteed to not be done.

For #3, You already get more miles if you pay more. Full Y and B get bonus and premium cabins get COS bonus. If you make so Joe Kettle only get 300 miles for their round trip to Hawaii they won't be flying your airline and UA can't afford to lose any passengers. And they have made it quite clear it is these once a year passengers they can nickel and dime are the passengers they want.

They are working on the clubs. Maybe not the food but at least they are slowly updating the aesthetics.
Baze is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 3:07 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: LAX
Posts: 9,146
Premium cabins are packed as is - how exactly your newly attracted premium travelers will be accommodated? They already reduced upgraded and award space - its not like planes are flying with half empty cabins...
Without expanding UA's goal now is to generate more $ from existing capacity and cut costs..
azepine00 is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 3:59 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: ORD/IND
Programs: UA Platinum, Avis Preferred, Hertz PC, Hyatt Discoverist , Marriott Titanium
Posts: 739
1. Completely agree with you here.

2. This is highly route dependent. UA does release upgrade space (R) and P space early on some routes. For example: In January I booked P fares for flights in September. At the same time I booked confirmed upgrade space for flights in September. In March I booked confirmed upgraded flights to HKG and back for flights in May. In December I booked confirmed upgraded flights to BKK and back via HKG for flights in March, so the space is out there!

3. Not sure I agree with this as it is somewhat already being done via CC spend.

4. They are working on this so I expect to see improvement. I don't think your reference to Qantas really works though. There are almost as many people in the greater NY area as there are in the whole country of AU. Most of the UA clubs outside the US were they are mainly serving premium pax (F and Biz) are similar to the competition. HKG and GRU come to mind. The new club at LHR looks to be very nice as well but obviously haven't been so can't comment more than the pictures from the press release.

I also completely agree with empowering people at the local level to resolve customer issues. It seems UA is trying to centralize this in order to have better control and pick who gets what, but employees should have additional tools to work with when a simple issue arises. I believe the tools are there, because I've seen them used for me before, so I hope the real issue is training. People just don't know what they can or can't do.

Last edited by JDS747; Apr 25, 14 at 4:05 pm
JDS747 is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 4:00 pm
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: LGA/JFK/EWR
Programs: UA 1K1.5MM, Hyatt Globalist, abandoned Marriott LTT (RIP SPG), Hertz PC
Posts: 19,698
Originally Posted by FLYDCA View Post
United does not likely consider P fare purchasers to be a "premium" traveler.
Exactly - they throw the P fares out ther so they can reduce the amount of CPU seats. Of course, this hasn't necessarily worked out in the big picture.

Originally Posted by StingWest View Post
I also would be in great favor of reasonably priced business class seats ("reasonable" is under $3500 TATL), but do understand the balancing act that UA has to play in order to allow folks to get upgrades on occasion. I've been pretty lucky finding confirmable upgrade space to Europe, but usually only far in advance.
$3,500?!?! Don't you know UA has now set the value of these seats at $1,500?
UA-NYC is offline  
Old Apr 25, 14, 4:13 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: near to SFO and LHR
Programs: VS Gold, BA Gold, B6, VX, AA, DL (and a legacy UA 2MM)
Posts: 2,053
Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post


$3,500?!?! Don't you know UA has now set the value of these seats at $1,500?
Yes, I know! (assuming that you're referring to the recent "sale" (aka price match)

I guess my reasoning is this: I generally will pay something like $1000-1400 for an upgradable coach seat SFO<->LHR, and then upgrade for $550 each way (all of this when I'm feeling flush, that is). So I currently pay about $2100-2500 for C (occasionally higher to boost my upgrade priority)

There are usually a Lot of upgraders on these flights. Somewhere there's a price between the $5500 "list" price (P) and what I currently pay that would fill the seats with higher fares on average (I think!)
StingWest is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread