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So how does UA win back the flying public? (Beyond the obvious)

So how does UA win back the flying public? (Beyond the obvious)

Old Apr 11, 2017, 4:38 pm
  #181  
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Originally Posted by nli007
My United friend told me today United Gate agents can ONLY go up to $800 for VDB vouchers. Meanwhile, airlines like Delta and Air Canada have no real firm cap and that's why sometimes they will offer $1300-$1500 even.

So ya, this is 100% a United problem. Raise the damn cap!!
ITA. They need to raise the cap. Everyone has a price, as the old saying goes.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 4:43 pm
  #182  
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Originally Posted by sk8er
He hit his face on the arm rest across his seat when they first dragged him out.

I am appalled by the way they treated this passenger.
Wow. Did anyone realize he needed medical attention? This could have been a serious injury (and UA is lucky if it wasn't). You're quite right: this is appalling. I understand that this situation escalated, but it didn't have to. And there were people at UA -- GAs, FAs, maybe even the pilot -- who could have (and should have) cooled this down. Instead, everyone chose to escalate until a passenger was injured and all the others were horrified.

Fly the friendly skies!
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 4:49 pm
  #183  
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Originally Posted by ysolde
Wow. Did anyone realize he needed medical attention? This could have been a serious injury (and UA is lucky if it wasn't).
Of course. Have you seen the video? He's covered in blood and appears in shock.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 4:59 pm
  #184  
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Originally Posted by aoumd
.....So, for the sake of this thread, let's assume that this is the start of a large and disproportionate shift of the angry flying public away from UA. If you're UA, what do you do to win fliers back?

......

Beyond "the obvious" (and assuming "the obvious" actually happens), what do you think UA needs to do to get the rest of the flying public, HVF and occasional/price-sensitive fliers alike, back on board?

I think nothing short of a world-class doubling down on customer service, spending money on things AA and DL won't, will move the bookings needle back. But what specific customer-friendly steps does that entail, to not just fix the overbooking/deadhead policies to prevent Sunday's fiasco from repeating, but to win back the flying public?

Thoughts?

Well, this should be one group of customers and/or potential customers that UA will need to respond to:

.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 5:00 pm
  #185  
 
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At minimum UA will have to make amends to this passenger (and possibly his legal team). And of course the rest of the traumatized passengers on board. Other than that it will blow over pretty quickly. The bar on customer service is so low these days, I don't think anyone is surprised.
But what was the UA gate crew thinking? I've been on overbooked flights with UA, and it was always handled at the gate, and with little drama.
Why didn't they offer the full $1350 to get volunteers for a later flight? I've heard that they offered $800 or $1000. Once you are in your seat, you don't want to give it up, it's going to cost more.
And where did this crew that caused the overbooking come from? Didn't they know about them before the plane boarded? I guess it could have been an exigent situation.
But in that case, they need to offer the max to get 4 people out of their seats.

Legislatively, I think it's time to up the $1350 involuntary bumped max. There are so few empty seats these days that overnight delays are pretty common. Actually, why is there any max at all, other than to give the airlines cover? Everybody's got a number, right?
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 5:01 pm
  #186  
 
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United should give Sean Spicer free tix for life. Only person dumber than them
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 5:06 pm
  #187  
 
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Originally Posted by mizanne
At minimum UA will have to make amends to this passenger (and possibly his legal team). And of course the rest of the traumatized passengers on board. Other than that it will blow over pretty quickly. The bar on customer service is so low these days, I don't think anyone is surprised.
But what was the UA gate crew thinking? I've been on overbooked flights with UA, and it was always handled at the gate, and with little drama.
Why didn't they offer the full $1350 to get volunteers for a later flight? I've heard that they offered $800 or $1000. Once you are in your seat, you don't want to give it up, it's going to cost more.
And where did this crew that caused the overbooking come from? Didn't they know about them before the plane boarded? I guess it could have been an exigent situation.
But in that case, they need to offer the max to get 4 people out of their seats.

Legislatively, I think it's time to up the $1350 involuntary bumped max. There are so few empty seats these days that overnight delays are pretty common. Actually, why is there any max at all, other than to give the airlines cover? Everybody's got a number, right?
Max VDB United staff can offer is $800. Source - Friend who works at United.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 5:18 pm
  #188  
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Originally Posted by 24left
The question asked in the thread title is different than the general discussion taking place in the other thread where posters are discussing/debating legalities, validities, customer service and so on.

Is this thread wandering because I think the question asked here is actually a good one and a few posters have offered some thoughts/ideas/answers.

Admittedly, neither UA nor their PR and ad firms have asked anyone for "advice" but in the spirit of FT, it seemed like an interesting question.

There may not be one answer.
There may not be one correct answer.

I would hope however that the posts here stick to the topic and the others comments might be more relevant to the main thread.

IMHO, and thanks.
OP here (back from being at work all the live long day).

Thank you for helping better state my original intent for this thread.

IMHO the legalities and "compliance" debates really belong in the main UA3411 discussion. I figure that at some point, UA would actually start to apologize (that happened today), and address the issues which led to Sunday night's mess (which Oscar now sounds committed to doing).

OK. Then what? Thousands of high-value status frequent fliers and millions of occasional fliers may now be boycotting United. Many won't want to come back simply because United apologized and fixed some of their policies. What proactive customer service steps can United do, on a larger scale, to win back the masses? Or, for that matter, win back those who already left United for other reasons in the past, who UA needs to win back to make up for those who boycotted and will never come back?

And maybe I need to ask this question both for the US market and the Asian market, as UA has more Asian exposure than pretty much any other US-based airline.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 5:38 pm
  #189  
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Most of their problems, as usual, seem to be gate agent related, so they need to move away from them as much as possible. They need to automate the majority of the overbooking process by updating their site AND app with an oversold mode that will automatically offer an option for an alternate flight and compensation if the flight is oversold (and maybe put more kiosks around the gates for people who don't have the united app so that they can bid to get bumped from the flight).

I'm sure a lot of people would be willing to be bumped for compensation, but some newer flyers may be unsure of the process/connections/outcome, while others that are willing to but don't want to waste time sitting around the gate, waiting for the announcement, and having to line up only to be told that they found someone/don't need anyone.

They can then automate the whole process with a bot so that they can predict if a flight is oversold and automatically start offering people money and maybe a free upgrade on an alternate flight until someone accepts an offer (maybe even offer cash if no one is volunteering since they'd have to offer cash if it becomes an involuntary bump). The winning pax can then go up to the gate agent and have them finish up the process and issue the new boarding passes and vouchers/cash.

I always volunteer, but am usually in the lounge so forget about the whole situation, so I think something like this could help them find more passengers willing to give up their seats.

If they wanted to go to even further, they could make it into some sort of game/lottery so that people who might be willing to be voluntarily bumped can enter to win some sort of prize package if they "win" and get bumped to a different flight.

tl;dr - They need to update their app and site so you can 'bid' to get bumped, and *probably* never have to do an involuntary bump.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 5:47 pm
  #190  
 
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Originally Posted by nli007
Max VDB United staff can offer is $800. Source - Friend who works at United.
So the max they can offer is a voucher that the airline values at around 200 real dollars?

Great.

That's an easy fix. Since the IVBD rate is 1350, and UA values its vouchers at 25 cents or so, then the voucher limit should be 4000 USD, if the airline is really looking to avoid IVDBs.

Heck, I think vouchers have very little value....but even I'd get out of the plane for that.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 6:10 pm
  #191  
 
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Honestly and I don't think it will happen but here are my thoughts anyway.

Oscar goes an apologize to the man personally in person.

Someone is going to get reprimanded maybe the crew that handled the flight.

It's too soon to fire Oscar since he just started about a year and a half ago and an airline this size doesn't change overnight.

UA should go over to VX, AS and JetBlue and see how they run their operations and see if they can bring some of their fine customer service and culture to United.

Retrain crew and ground staff on customer service especially gate agents: give them the leeway to go above and beyond for inconvenienced passengers like rebooking on a competitor flight or something. i.e. if there was an earlier flight to Louisville on a competitor airline on the same day.

I don't have status on UA but sometimes they go above and beyond to get me there same day on economy when I missed my flight or weather delays.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 6:31 pm
  #192  
 
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Originally Posted by lazard
Until they find that the cheapest fare to their destination is with United.
Maybe not....In 1999 I was treated (IMHO) outrageously poor by American Airlines, I have not paid to fly them since. In 2009 I was sent to Chicago on business on American, but I did not pay for the ticket. I've stuck to my guns.

I think all the jaded flyers here should be slightly understanding that people are not generally aware they can be denied boarding once they are on the plane. That coupled with the fact that this was caused because the Airline did not plan to have a local crew in place....kinda reeks of superiority on behalf OF UA.

There is an article on the Flyer Talk sign-in page regarding this incident, there is an attorney that commented there that once boarding has taken place, they cannot legally kick a person off.....

I doubt this is the last we will hear of this issue.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 6:37 pm
  #193  
 
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Originally Posted by aoumd
OP here (back from being at work all the live long day).
...
OK. Then what? Thousands of high-value status frequent fliers and millions of occasional fliers may now be boycotting United. Many won't want to come back simply because United apologized and fixed some of their policies. What proactive customer service steps can United do, on a larger scale, to win back the masses? Or, for that matter, win back those who already left United for other reasons in the past, who UA needs to win back to make up for those who boycotted and will never come back.
What would you do if on the UA management team? First stem the bleeding. PR only goes so far. I think a mileage bonus will fill a few seats. The customers UA wants are full fare business travelers who get pulled into the status race. Miles matter to these folks. Price matters too and price cuts can fill seats, but unlike miles price cuts are expensive and will entice pax bottom fishing. They are are less likely to excite ff's - especially with a revenue baed status system.

My guess is that this will settle down after a few news cycles, and it might be wise to wait before engaging in expensive measures to attract business.

I do think, however, that this presents Oscar with an opportunity to aggressively pursue change at UA. Morale is still lousy. An engaged team wouldn't have let this happen. I am 1k on UA and airport services are usually indifferent at best. No one seems to have, or want, authority to actually do anything but what the computer tells them to do. A smile is a rarity. Cabin crews are better, but spotty. It is all about culture and now is the time to fix it. That's what I'd do. Wade in with the team and roll up your shirt sleeves. Fix the culture and you've fixed the airline.

Last edited by misdirected baggage; Apr 11, 2017 at 6:40 pm Reason: Typo
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 6:57 pm
  #194  
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Originally Posted by misdirected baggage
I do think, however, that this presents Oscar with an opportunity to aggressively pursue change at UA. Morale is still lousy. An engaged team wouldn't have let this happen. I am 1k on UA and airport services are usually indifferent at best. No one seems to have, or want, authority to actually do anything but what the computer tells them to do. A smile is a rarity. Cabin crews are better, but spotty. It is all about culture and now is the time to fix it. That's what I'd do. Wade in with the team and roll up your shirt sleeves. Fix the culture and you've fixed the airline.
This. x1000.
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Old Apr 11, 2017, 6:57 pm
  #195  
 
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Originally Posted by lazard
Until they find that the cheapest fare to their destination is with United.
Thats the most likely outcome. Not just for chineese but for Americans too.

a) There is not much competition
b) All airlines work on "scre-the-customer" service model because customers have comoditized domestic air travel.

Unless there is some external incentive (need 4 more segments) or pressure (need to fly client's contract carrier), it is usually
i) most convenient direct flight (when paid by someone else)
ii) cheapest among majors (when paid out of pocket)
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