VB The Wise: United Airlines: The Morning Things Change...

Doug 'VB' Goudie
April 28, 2017 - 6:12 am

If only I was flying in a United plane today, I would have just been welcomed into the Mile High Club.  And that's because after reading United's new Customers Policy, I realize that the company is still screwing me.  It could be worse I suppose, at least I'm not a giant rabbit, although maybe that critter is the lucky one, because he won't ever have to fly United again.  Here's what I mean.  Let's look at the three most important changes to their policies:


1. Increase customer compensation incentives for "voluntary denied boarding" up to $10,000. 

2. Provide employees with additional training.

3. Reduce the amount of overbooking.

 So I ask you, which of these is meaningful in any way? If you said a number more than zero, you're high, and I don't mean flying.  First, how many passengers do you think are going to get $10K for getting booted?  Right, none.  Unless they changed how they pick who gets booted, they will continue to choose the passengers with the cheapest seats (as they did with Doctor Dao).  Do you honestly think they are going to give someone who paid $150 for a seat $10K to leave?  Plus, it looks like they are still going to use the "up to 4 times the value of the seat" rule for compensation, which means that unless you paid $2500 for your seat, $10K is a pipe dream.  And rest assured, if you paid $2500 for your seat, United will not be booting you.

 Next is the laughable "provide employees with additional training".  Yeah, that should be as effective as those sexual harassment seminars that Fox has been giving to their employees for the last fifteen years.  Who exactly will be training these employees anyway, the same people who teach the TSA how to be so "customer friendly" while they make Grandpa take off his wooden leg?  Please.

 Finally, they are going to "reduce overbooking".  That's like the fat guy who says he's going to start getting diet drinks because he wants to lose a few pounds.  Here's a thought United, why not ban the absurd practice of overbooking period?  Oh that's right, because you love it, just like William Howard Taft loved bread pudding.  (Wow, a shot at the former President out of nowhere!)  I predict that within a year, United will be right back to the same overbooking shenanigans they've been doing for the last ten years once this blows over.  

 United CEO Oscar Munoz said of these changes that "this is a turning point for all of us at United".  Sure it is, only instead of doing a complete 180, you did a full 1 degree turn.  Munoz went on to say "these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back the trust" of our customers.  Gee great.  IF this is just the beginning, I can't wait to see what's coming next -- charging for seats at the airport gate, auctioning off overhead space to the highest bidder, and maybe an added ticket surcharge to help pay for oversized rabbit protection.  Hey, there's no limit to what United might do to "make things right" for its "valued" customers.  

 Thank God I don't fly very often. 

More wisdom next week.

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