"Why don't you ask Smisek that."

Old Jul 17, 14, 7:32 am
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"Why don't you ask Smisek that."

Yesterday I was flying out of ORD and I walked up to my gate a few minutes before boarding. No GA. Ug, I hate that. Now what???

I walk over to the neighboring gate and said "do you know what's up with this flight?" "Not sure, I think its delayed."

Board says on schedule. Status online says on schedule.

11 minutes later, the GA appears.

I said "Why doesn't United staff the gate such that when there is a delay there is someone to answer questions?"

"Why don't you ask Smisek that." was the response.

Good, customer driven, airlines like to keep people informed. Since the status stayed "on Schedule" until well after departure time and we hadn't boarded, no alerts were sent out.

So I asked Smisek and got a phone call this morning, they blamed the UX carrier. Obviously confusion about a flight status isn't something anyone cares about.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 7:41 am
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They will often tell you that the big departure boards are controlled by the airport not them.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 7:44 am
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I have no idea what Jeff Smisek is like as a real person. But I would imagine that he would be greatly displeased to hear this. As CEO of United Continental Holdings, he still oversees United Express. And those planes carry the United name and globe logo. He also owns an awful lot of shares in the company.

I think it's worth sending something specifically to his office. If your tone is diplomatic, I think one of the most important messages is, "This is how your name is being used in ordinary conversation with passengers." It's used in much more derogatory ways, but it should be a, "Mr. Smisek: I think there is a big problem."

He may be such an egomaniac that he doesn't care at all, and he's just happy that is name is being mentioned. I tend to lean on the generous side of things, so I'm going to suggest that he would want to take a second look. It would be a tough one to fight; he can't exactly sound out a memo that says, "Do not use my name like that." But perhaps his advisors can come up with ways to mitigate this for him.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:00 am
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Originally Posted by Akulashark View Post
Yesterday I was flying out of ORD and I walked up to my gate a few minutes before boarding. No GA. Ug, I hate that. Now what???

I walk over to the neighboring gate and said "do you know what's up with this flight?" "Not sure, I think its delayed."

Board says on schedule. Status online says on schedule.

11 minutes later, the GA appears.

I said "Why doesn't United staff the gate such that when there is a delay there is someone to answer questions?"

"Why don't you ask Smisek that." was the response.

Good, customer driven, airlines like to keep people informed. Since the status stayed "on Schedule" until well after departure time and we hadn't boarded, no alerts were sent out.

So I asked Smisek and got a phone call this morning, they blamed the UX carrier. Obviously confusion about a flight status isn't something anyone cares about.
I'm not calling you a liar, just that I find this highly improbably.
Any embellishment, OP? Maybe, "Why don't you ask our CEO?"
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:08 am
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Originally Posted by scottsam66 View Post
I'm not calling you a liar, just that I find this highly improbably.
Any embellishment, OP? Maybe, "Why don't you ask our CEO?"
I've heard many UA employees refer to "Jeff" or "Smisek". More often it's the former though. I'm based out of ORD so maybe it's more prevalent there with a lot of pmUA employees. But in my experience, it's not highly unlikely at all.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:11 am
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I hear FAs refer to him all the time, never with any admiration or respect.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by Akulashark View Post
So I asked Smisek and got a phone call this morning, they blamed the UX carrier. Obviously confusion about a flight status isn't something anyone cares about.
This may be a dumb question, but how were you able to ask Smisek?
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:31 am
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Originally Posted by juansequeda View Post
This may be a dumb question, but how were you able to ask Smisek?
His personal email is all over the internet and, I have heard from UA mgmt members, that he actually reads and responds to emails. I have tried it a couple of times and gotten responses that are clearly not written by a PR person or EA.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:37 am
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Totally unprofessional. I have my own opinions, but am not paid to express them. As an employee, I represent UA, good, bad or ugly. I wonder if the OP would have felt the same way if the agent had said, "I'm sorry, they've scheduled us pretty thin today." The not having a delay update, again unacceptable. Reliability, needs to be a constant focus, if we can't get people where they are going on time, we can't wonder why they are choosing another carrier.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:42 am
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Originally Posted by COGal View Post
Totally unprofessional. I have my own opinions, but am not paid to express them. As an employee, I represent UA, good, bad or ugly. I wonder if the OP would have felt the same way if the agent had said, "I'm sorry, they've scheduled us pretty thin today." The not having a delay update, again unacceptable. Reliability, needs to be a constant focus, if we can't get people where they are going on time, we can't wonder why they are choosing another carrier.

Just my 2 cents.
No doubt it's unprofessional. But not uncommon in poorly performing companies, particularly coming from unhappy union members. During college, I worked summers in a heavily unionized company where the unions had been beaten down and at the time were actually working without a contract after their strike was broken. They would bad-mouth management to anyone who would listen.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 8:57 am
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Bad information displaying for UX flights has been an issue for years. The systems don't seem to talk to each other well. Why they haven't fixed it? Well, ask Smisek.

I also got the "we don't control the boards" excuse at LAS a couple weeks ago.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 9:13 am
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The boards at ORD are controlled by automation fed by whatever time the UA controllers quote the dptr time at. Take the inbound time, add the minimum ground time for that aircraft, subtract a few minutes in case the inbound picked up some time. If this is before the published dptr time, stick with it, if after, requote. No city involved. 10:1, if you looked online, it would have mirrored the screens for dptr time.

Not an excuse, but with the runway construction and the new north runway, taxi in times are highly variable and accurately quoting a late (or almost) late turn at a low numbered F gate is far from an exact science.

As for staffing flights, when you add flights and reduce manpower, the amount of time agents are working each flight decreases. Perhaps the "operation quality" numbers/manpower matrix are not known to front line employees and the reasons are only known in their entirety to people at a higher level.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 9:33 am
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
I've heard many UA employees refer to "Jeff" or "Smisek". More often it's the former though. I'm based out of ORD so maybe it's more prevalent there with a lot of pmUA employees. But in my experience, it's not highly unlikely at all.
Fair enough. I find it humorous, ground level employees, not giving their CEO the respect of Mr. Smisek, etc.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by scottsam66 View Post
Fair enough. I find it humorous, ground level employees, not giving their CEO the respect of Mr. Smisek, etc.
At my company, with ~60k employees, everyone refers to the CEO by his first name. Of course, it's not derogatory, it's the culture in this company.

It would actually seem odd to me to call a CEO "Mr/Ms X". I also have worked with about 50% of the Fortune 250 companies, maybe more, and I'd guess about half of them are that formal.
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Old Jul 17, 14, 9:46 am
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I agree the about the problem but it sounds to me based on what the OP wrote that they got an answer in the same tone they asked the question. Not professional on the GA side for sure, but if went down as written not very courteous on the OP's side either. But I wasn't there so have no first hand knowledge of either side of the conversation.
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