“Certain Groups Were Over-Entitled” Says United CFO Rainey

John D. Rainey, the executive vice president and chief financial officer of United Airlines, reportedly said during his presentation at the Bank of America Transportation Conference on May 17, 2012 that:

(W)e also changed our Mileage Plus program, some of the benefits that, uh, accrued to the members. Uh, we, uh, we had certain groups in this group were over entitled if you will. Uh, and now, uh, we have realigned the benefits of that program with what the, the, the customers and, and, program, um, um, the participants are actually providing to the airline, and, and this is a good change going forward…”

…and FlyerTalk members are furious.

FlyerTalk member chinatraderjmrwhose company had already refunded approximately $132,000.00 in airfare due to allegedly poor customer service by United Airlines a week before the conference — had this response: “I wonder if he feels $3,000,000 a year makes him “over entitled”,” while FlyerTalk member demkr posted: “UA was ‘over entitled’ to the 2K I was about to spend for a flight to London in Y.” FlyerTalk member scottish_colin posted: “This ‘over entitled’ 1K just finished booking all of my travel through the end of July. On AA… I’ll ‘re-qualify’ EXP on July 25th most likely (78 days after my first AA flight) – that’s about $30,000 that COdbaUA would have gotten if they’d just maintained PMUA’s attitude and customer service.”

What exactly did Rainey mean by his statement? Specifically, who were the certain groups to which he referred?

Regardless of whether or not the Mileage Plus frequent flier loyalty program of United Airlines will experience changes which may reduced fixed and variable costs by not catering as much to its elite members, increase revenue, or a combination of both, Rainey may have broken the cardinal rule of insulting a group of customers with his statement — and FlyerTalk members are posting that they are leaving the airline, as evidenced by the aforementioned statements.

What do you think Rainey meant by his comment — and is he correct?

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Comments (Showing 6 of 6)

  • AZ_ED at 3:05pm May 21, 2012

    Oddly comical, given that many FF feel shorted at every turn as airlines dream up ways to extract $$ from our wallets. I am driving more than ever and intend to continue, as well as to take the train when possible. It’s time for a :market correction” in the airline industry.

  • CJKTX at 12:29pm May 22, 2012

    Not surprised. I knew the CO/UA merger would not be good for the customer. Service has certainly gone downhill, now fly in old UA aircraft, and find myself more frequently in subcontracted commuter jet or commuter turboprops. UA is pushing back into the arms of SWA.

  • chinatraderjmr at 7:25pm May 22, 2012

    I must admit I regret my comment. I did not actually listen to what he said and took the Post as being correct. When I found out that he did NOT say “Elites” we’re over entitled but in fact said “some groups” I realized that he could be correct. “SOME” groups are over entitled but they are few and far between

  • llippert at 7:57am May 26, 2012

    Is this what he was talking about?

    ‘Million Miler’ sues United over perk reduction”


  • tommycall at 11:25am June 06, 2012

    Million Miler program
    Its up in the air if United will change its stance on their new policy that downgrades Million Milers but we are not taking it buckled in. Aside from the class action law suit there is also a petition being signed by Million Milers http://millionmilersunited.com/ voicing there protest. If you are a million miler please sign it. If anything it will let the so called leadership at United headquarters and its share holders know that they are at risk of loosing the very customers who bring up there bottom line.
    American Airlines will match any 1-K status from United and if you fly 55,000 miles between now and the end of the year they will extend the 1-K status until Feb 2014
    United Million Milers have nothing to loose by making the switch, sense they will be Gold on United regardless if they fly on United at all. Because “loyalty” has nothing to do with the program maybe if all the million milers moved their business to AA for two years it will get United’s attention.
    The class action suit filed by a million miler out of Chicago, Million Milers should join it. I doubt if we could win because the Airlines always have their clause to change there program with out notice but the bad press is not something they would not want. It would sink anyone’s commitment to invest in thier so-called Loyality Program.

  • sbpayton at 6:55pm June 06, 2012

    I was a loyal UA flyer and premier silver flyer, until they changed ability to reserve economy plus at booking. I just flew Jet Blue and was delighted by service, and shocked at how bad UA was treating me. Good bye UA.

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