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CrankyFlier: Blaming United's problems on Continental (and v.v.) is the problem

CrankyFlier: Blaming United's problems on Continental (and v.v.) is the problem

Old Jul 10, 14, 9:13 am
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CrankyFlier: Blaming United's problems on Continental (and v.v.) is the problem

A well-informed article on the state of United today

http://crankyflier.com/2014/07/10/bl...y-the-problem/
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Old Jul 10, 14, 9:27 am
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Cranky nailed it. ^^
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Old Jul 10, 14, 9:47 am
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Good read. I think the cultural issues are critical and often overlooked as we focus on all the cutbacks and bewildering business decisions.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 10:47 am
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An excellent read.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 10:53 am
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A few others posting in this Forum, myself included, have discussed in the past about the difficulties posed in merging two different corporate cultures.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 10:54 am
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
Good read. I think the cultural issues are critical and often overlooked as we focus on all the cutbacks and bewildering business decisions.
I would revise that to say that the cultural issues are, in part, because of the cutbacks and bewildering business decisions. Employees are pretty much always to play ball when they know they're part of a winning team. Winning teams don't constantly play the blame game and scatter-shot course changes across the backs of their employees and customers... Cultural issues like this may not have their ultimate roots in operational problems, but the endemic existence of such problems definitely makes the cultural problems almost impossible to resolve.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:02 am
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All the problems they discuss about pre-merger United were basically internal, and did reflect badly on United, but had nowhere near the impact on passengers that the issues do today. The complete abandonment of the most loyal United customers came after Continental took over. Keeping the United name while basically making it Continental Airlines in practice only made matters worse, as it demonstrated that any desire to keep the United customers or employees happy would be a mockery.

No, only a clean sweep of ALL management, and a decision to make it either Continental or United Airlines in reality would have been far more effective. Pretending to be the Brady Bunch of airlines, and make one big happy family wasn't going to work, and was an insult to long time customers of both airlines.

Both sides are right. It was the fault of a crappy merger.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:11 am
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Originally Posted by flyinbob View Post
All the problems they discuss about pre-merger United were basically internal...
The old, breaking down, filthy planes? Here it is again - UA vs CO.

I was waiting to see who'd be first...

I also thought the article was spot on.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:11 am
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United was still an airline that had dramatically under-invested in itself. Planes werenít well-maintained (not unsafe, but they werenít reliable) and sub-par onboard products ruled the day. Anyone who thinks United was a truly great airline is smoking something.
This hits the nail on the head for me.

Too many people (a lot on here) seem to forget how bad United was most of the past 10 years.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:13 am
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The article is spot on. Great read.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:16 am
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Originally Posted by flyinbob View Post
...The complete abandonment of the most loyal United customers came after Continental took over.....
I'll say it again: Continental was abandoning its own elites pre-merger after Mr. Smisek took over. My upgrade rate plummeted as TODs/FC buyups of some sort became more and more prevalent. The article points out that UA was improving as the merger neared; CO was getting worse. It pains me to hear blanket condemnations of CO, because throughout most of the 2000s it was a damn good airline.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:21 am
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It's very simple.

What's UAL's name?
United Continental Holdings

AAL?
American Airlines Group

DAL?
Delta Air Lines.

Notice anything? Yes - Jeff is still living in CO land while Parker and Anderson are at least smart enough to abandon the NW and US names.
This is emblematic of the problem.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:26 am
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This:

"If you listened to many pre-merger United employees, youíd think that United was the greatest airline of all time until Continental came in and ruined it. Talk about seeing the world with rose (er, uh, tulip?)-colored glasses. Letís be realistic here.

United was a mess for a full decade or, arguably, more leading up to the merger. Awful management, bad labor relations, and a lack of interest in preparing the airline for long term success led United to the bottom of the industry several times. Had things gotten better in the last couple of years before the merger? Sure. But thatís because they couldnít get any worse."


There is so much retroactive romanticizing of the old United, by employees and passengers alike. It's nonsense; CrankyFlyer is right.

But the pmUA / pmCO distinctions and cross-culture blame-placing are killing the airline, and Smisek is spraying kerosene on the bonfire when he stands up and blames "undertrained" pmUA employees for today's crisis.

The writer is absolutely correct about the culture problem. I don't think management knows any other game but blame-placing and moat-digging, however.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:30 am
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I agree that the article is a worthwhile read and a thoughtful (though by no means new) take on what ails United. I recall, for instance, the "Glenn Must Go" buttons from the pre-merger years, reflecting the poor employee and (to some extent) customer morale.

Still, I think Cranky buries the lead and underplays some other problems:

1. Most of all, the fundamental problem is not the clashing corporate cultures but the lousy management team now ruling the roost. The failure to integrate and reconcile those corporate cultures is but a symptom of the much bigger issue of lousy management.
2. I'd also rank retaining SHARES as an even bigger problem than failing to integrate the two cultures.
3. Similarly, lousy employee morale is not just a matter of different cultures - it starts with lousy management that gives staff lousy systems to work with, little leeway to handle problems, short-staffed situations and apparent disincentives that prioritize penny-pinching over customer satisfaction (certainly but not only during IRROPS).
4. The cascading deterioration of UA's formerly decent FF program has little to do with different corporate cultures.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:33 am
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Nailed it. ^
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