“That’s rude and disrespectful”

For the past several years while flying United I have worn a shirt which states my feelings about their CEO quite clearly. I don’t wear it all the time, maybe 50% of the time that I fly at most. Still, that’s hundreds of segments. And it gets an overwhelmingly positive response from employees. I don’t wear it because I want better service or anything else (I find that saying “please” and “thank you” does plenty to guarantee good service), but rather because it’s a small thing I can do to support United’s hardworking employees that have been screwed over by United’s greedy upper (mis)management team.

Anyway, this past weekend I flew from Los Angeles to Washington Dulles with two friends, and before I flew with them I mentioned how funny the response always was from employees to the shirt. Hell, one of the behavior detection officers at LAX recognized me because of the shirt. So it certainly stands out.

I’ve gotten all kinds of positive feedback from employees, from high fives from pilots as I walk through the concourse to flight attendants trying to rip my shirt off so they can have it. Not once have I received any sort of negative response from any employee, because I’ve yet to meet an employee that doesn’t use “Glenn” as a cuss word in their household.

So this past weekend we were seated in business class on the 777, and about an hour out of Washington a flight attendant from coach comes up to me and says “that shirt is really disrespectful.” I thought she was joking, so I chuckled. Surely she must be kidding? She continued: “No really, that shirt is rude. I didn’t like George Bush, but I wouldn’t wear a shirt saying so. Are you an employee?” Usually I’m pretty quick on my feet, but I was so dumbfounded that I didn’t know what to say. I said “no, I’m actually a customer.” She continued, “that’s still rude.”

I then asked how she felt about the fact that their pay has been slashed by 40%, their working conditions have worsened, and worst of all their boss shows no appreciation for the hard work employees put in to keep the company running, all while taking a big bonus. Her response? “I’m not going to discuss that.” But you will discuss a customer expressing their views and trying to support you?

Not sure what’s worse — the fact that she decided to call me out, or the fact that she doesn’t seem to have a problem with Glenn Tilton. Glenn’s gotta be proud, he now has the support of one of the 40,000+ non-management employees! I’d say that’s an all time high for his approval rating.

Comments

  1. It’s hard to decide whether she is very professional or unprofessional…… professional for sticking up for her boss, and unprofessional for being “rude & disrespectful” to a premium passengers…………..

  2. what, no picture of the shirt?! 🙂 you can’t hint at it and then not let us see it…

  3. I suspect it’s the “Glenn’s gotta go” shirt, Lucky has mentioned about it last year 🙂

  4. You have freedom of speech and can exercise it how you choose…..certainly you were not on the job. This FA was at work and her treatment of a customer is inexcusable. She should keep her comments to herself when at work. I’d write and complain.

  5. If you were an out-of-uniform employee, it’s really unlikely U’d be in C with the new program, “Unlimited opportunities to be denied a Domestic Upgrade!”

  6. She is 1 of 40,000. Keep wearing that shirt!! Unfortunatly there are some real fruitcakes that live within their own F-up world. I’m going to share this blog post in my FB so that other FAs and employees can read about your experience.

  7. I wear that shirt 100% of the time and i dont think its disrespectful. As paying customers we are within our right to express our views of Glenn in this way because it isnt breaking any laws or jeopardizing anyone’s safety. Personally i don’t like the way Glenn treats his employees or his customers. i dont agree with his “if you dont like it go somewhere else” attitude because I’ve loved UA and its people for years before Glenn ever came on the scene and I want to continue to support them. At the same time i want to continue to advocate for Glenn to move on – which it now looks like he’ll do in about 2 years. good riddance

  8. Keep on wearing the shirt and thanks for your support!!

    Cannot believe you actually met a flight attendant who supports Glen. She must not have to work much. Don’t know what world she’s living in!!

  9. Aaaaand, the irony of the whole situation is that SHE is the one who was “rude and disrespectful”.

  10. Beguiling. She’s professional enough to not discuss what she thinks of UA management, but unprofessional enough to tell a customer that expressing his opinion, without profanity or defamation, that he is rude.

    You can’t have it both ways.

  11. Shirt definitely falls under the douchey category which I applaud. It’s like the one “I Am the Man From Nantucket” or “We’re Not Cocky We’re Just Better Than You” –classic!!
    I’m not sure if you used to work for United or you know Glen personally, but I don’t think dissecting a balance sheet is probable cause to pass judgment on a CEO’s business acumen or judge the morale of the 40,000+ work force. I could me missing something, but it sound like you have some deep rooted “issues” with United–which is cool. I’d be delighted to know where they stem from. Employees in every industry piss and moan about all sorts of stuff; 99% of which they have 0 control over.

  12. I’ve never worked in the airline industry but personally I think someone who wears a shirt like that is very immature and shows a complete lack of class. When you have issues with a company write letters and state your complaints but the only statement you make wearing shirts like that is that you are immature. Or maybe you are trying to kiss up so some employees to gain some perks.

    Freedom of speech only applies to certain issues. Many places can and do set dress codes which can be enforced.

  13. @Rich: Are you kidding me with the line “freedom of speech only applies to certain issues”? You must be on the same planet as that flight attendent.

  14. Lucky, I think wearing the shirt on board United was inappropriate and caused the flight attendant distress. Freedom of speech doesn’t apply on board a commercial airliner — it is not a public forum. You’re a great friend to United crews so please continue to show them your support as you always do, but you don’t need a controversial shirt to do that.

  15. I think the FA showed high professionalism in not discussing (or criticising) the CEO of her company – to a customer no less – while at work on paid company time. Other FAs who have done that, demonstrate less professionalism. For all those out there, how much time do you spend at your jobs, on company time, chatting with your customers about how much your CEO sucks? Hopefully zero. Even if you don’t like your boss, you don’t talk to strangers or customers about it. It’s not right.

    As to the question of should she have approached you in the first place, if she thought you were an employee it’s not unreasonable to not want your CEO criticized publicly in front of other customers by a fellow worker who is possibly riding for free. Regardless of whether you like the boss.

    And to those who want to call the FA unprofessional for saying the shirt was rude and disrespectful: Let’s be clear. The shirt IS rude. It’s INTENDED to be rude. And she has just as much right to express her opinion the shirt is not appropriate, as you do for saying you have freedom of speech for criticising Glenn.

  16. agree with last couple posters. She backed off a lot after she found out you were a customer, and not an employee.

  17. I’m with AS and Rich on this. Lucky you are a very priviiged person, and I have enjoyed this blog over the years, but I’ll be unsubscribing from the feed. I’m sure that your relationship with United will continue to be positive as you continue to chase some meaning. I’d like to suggest you put your time, money and energy to giving back to society. To everyone who will defend you, of course I don’t know you. In many ways I am grateful for that.

  18. “…and then she brought me my cookie with milk” is how the story should have ended.

    Hahaha. Funny how she couldn’t “discuss it.” Shame.

  19. I work in a customer-facing position in the airline industry.

    I hear people slag off my company all the time, right to my face, and sometimes their complaints are completely without merit or factual basis, or so completely subjective in nature it would be totally counterproductive to even attempt to argue the point.

    You know what I do? I suck it up.

    I am not a member of the Good Taste Police, the Unsolicited Opinion Patrol, or the 3rd Airborne Division of the CEO Reputation Defense Forces. You want to express yourself? Keep it clean, keep it (reasonably) short, and let ‘er rip. I really don’t give a $#!+, but as long as your credit card cleared when the ticket was issued, I’ll listen to what you have to say, because I am an adult, I am polite, and I am paid to.

    Where the heck does the FA get off telling the OP what to wear? How does she even know which Glenn the shirt refers to? Even if she was sure, why is her opinion needed or even necessary? What was she trying to achieve?

    I’ve been a 1K for five years, and I run into mercifully few of these “this is my airline, you just ride on it” types of UA folks, but if I was in Lucky’s shoes, I would not have backed down easy. If she wants to offer me her thoughts, she’d get a few of mine right back.

    …and as for her defenders, please. A “dress code” on a UA domestic flight? Get over yourself.

  20. I completely agree with the message of your shirt, but lets, you wear that shirt to get a reaction out of people and provoke commentary (I have shirts like this too). Usually it gets a positive reaction (because I mean duh Glenn is an idiot) but It’s kind of ridiculous to act all offended when someone disagrees with you. I totally think the FA was absolutely within her rights to let you know she finds your shirt rude and disrespectful. Yes she is in a service position towards you, but that doesn’t mean she is not allowed to comment when you are so vividly expressing a viewpoint that she (misguidedly or not) disagrees with. Just because you are a customer doesn’t mean an FA has to put up with inflammatory statements that he/she disagrees with. If you are going to wear a shirt with inflammatory statements (even mildly inflammatory ones that are hard to argue with such as the one on your shirt) you better be willing to put up with people calling you on it.

    I like your blog, but sometimes you come off quite entitled. I’m not talking about your many trips in F or whatever (I won’t throw stones when I live in a glass house) but you oftentimes display a rather prickly and condescending attitude towards those that disagree with you and have an outsized sense of injustice when things don’t go your way (i.e. the way you make out the body scanners to be this huge trial that you are heroically opting out of). I continue to read your blog because you offer valuable advice and info, along with some very well done Trip Reports, but I grow weary of posts such as this one in which you expect sympathy or congratulations for what comes off as pretty rude behavior on your part.

  21. The FA was absolutely within her rights to disagree with the message, but not by first acusing a customer of being disrespectful and rude. She could have simply said that in her opinion Glenn was a good CEO and didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. If the customer was interested, she could then go on to offer the explanation. The way she approached the issue was indeed unprofessional and immature.

  22. @Nell35

    I definitely agree that the FA did not handle the situation correctly, but she was probably not used to passengers openly criticizing the management of the airline they chose to fly. Furthermore, it was pretty clear that she did not want to get into a situation where she was forced to offer her opinions on UA’s management. No matter what her position was on UA management, Lucky’s shirt put her in an awkward situation where she could A) agree with him and risk getting in trouble for openly complaining about the people who pay her bills to a customer or B) disagree with him and risk alienating a customer or at best causing tension. She doesn’t want to get bogged down in a debate about UA management in a somewhat small cabin (even on the big cabin in C on a 777, its small enough that it could garner attention) that theoretically is filled with UA elites and potentially UA execs about what she thinks about the company. What if she, being privy to the passenger manifest, knew that UA execs were on board?

    The point is she could have just ignored it, but you don’t know why she reacted the way she did (and to simply assume all UA employees think Glenn is an idiot is condescending at best). At worst the FA reacted in an immature, unprofessional manner, but Lucky shouldn’t be surprised when an immature shirt (once again, I love immature message shirts as much as anyone, but I don’t get annoyed when people take offense) garners an immature response.

  23. It’s pretty clear she initially thought you were an employee or relative of an employee, and badmouthing, in public, the CEO of the company that pays your bills you is really unprofessional and it’s completely reasonable to be called out in doing so.

    If it were clear that she knew you were a paid pax from the beginning, it’d be a different story.

    Finally, if you can’t stand the heat (=reaction to your shirt), get out of the kitchen (=constantly wearing an inflammatory shirt).

  24. I bought the same shirt wore it once with only one reaction (positive) and put the shirt away.

    Personally, it just didn’t feel right. But everyone has freedom of speech in the USA. Go for it is it works for you

  25. @chasgoose

    The FA had a third option. Say nothing. I’m certain that other UA employees have seen Lucky’s shirt, disagreed with the sentiment and kept their thoughts to themselves. She chose to offer her opinion.

    How would you (the wider readership, not chasgoose in particular) react if an FA came up to you and said that your shirt didn’t go with your trousers, or that a skirt should cover ones knees?

    My view is that it is unprofessional for an FA to comment on any clothing worn by a customer that isn’t expressly prohibited by the airline. That ranges from shirts about Tilton to what an FA may think is an inappropriate hemline or shirt colour.

    If and when UA decide that shirts which contain comments on the ability or qualities of employees are not permitted then Lucky will have to find something else to adorn his outerwear.

  26. Perhaps not only she was a stewardess (ahem, flight attendant), but also a safety professional, as well as fashion police! Ahhh!

  27. Lucky. If you don’t like what the airline stands for and how it’s been run then stop giving them your buisiness and fly someone else.

  28. Lucky,
    I agree with that previous poster that sometimes you do come across as “Entitled to”. Not saying you feel that way but your blog reads like that. I am not sure if I can give you much advice but it is nice to be humble.

    Now, not judging you as a person but just based on this incident:

    From not knowing you, I would think anyone wearing that T-shirt indeed is doing that to get material for his blog and/or getting discretionary favors from UA employees.
    No one has forced you to fly UA. You chose it since you like the perks and Glenn is the boss of that corp that runs UA. Like it or not. Shareholders appointed him and they will remove him if they don’t like him. If you don’t like him personally, you can wear ” I LOVE Gerard J. Arpey” T-shirts and fly AA. You get the point.
    We live in a capitalistic society and while I do feel for UA employees who deserve better, thats just the way things are. Airline is a terrible business which just serves a need in the world. Would you like to start paying thousands of dollars for each trip, MR or not, so UA could start paying lot more to the employees. Glenn didn’t get that job because he was born on a TATL F cabin. He got it because others responsible seemed to think that he would deliver what they want him to do.

    If I were that employee, I would kick you off the plane and then apologize over TV cameras and send you $1000 e-certs and 4 SWUs. Pretty sure you would still continue to fly UA!!

  29. I can certainly appreciate the difference in opinion (and where many of the opinions come from), so I’ll simply clarify a couple of things.

    First of all, my issue with Glenn isn’t that he’s a bad manager, it’s that he’s a bad leader. While the financial results during his years at the helm of the company have been anything but spectacular, that’s not my issue. My problem is his completely indifferent attitude towards employees and customers. Repeatedly (and if anyone wants examples, I can provide them), employees and customers have brought up legitimate concerns to him, even at shareholders meetings, and his only response has been “if you don’t like the company, go somewhere else.” He even said that to the LAX customer of the year. He has a closed door policy at his office (and WHQ in general), and when he actually flies he doesn’t say a word to any of the employees. How about a $5 Starbucks gift card and a “thanks for working so hard for us?” It would go a long way…

    For those of you suggesting I fly another airline, heck no. United’s MY airline. I love the people. I love the company. Glenn’s just a temporary guy in charge that is trying to cash out. (and it looks like he has finally succeeded to find United a date for the merger prom).

    Lastly, a lot of you seem to think I wear the shirt for “favors” (whatever that means). I’m almost always already in first class, and I’m a polite person, so I’m not sure what “favors” I’d be getting. I get the same service regardless of whether or not I wear the shirt. I always say “please” and “thank you” (almost obnoxiously so, to the point that I might come across as never having flown first class before), and I always smile. That’s rare enough nowadays to the point that it gets me good service.

    The reason I wear it is to boost the morale of the employees. You’d be *shocked* by the positive impact it has on crews. Now, I get frustrated when flight attendants get loud and unprofessional about the shirt, but discreetly I’m often pulled into the galley after I use the lav and I talk to the flight attendants. They’re always speechless when they realize a customer cares about them. My response is always the same, assuming the flight attendant is good — “thanks for making United a great airline to fly, despite very little incentive to do so.” No joke, a flight attendant once cried when she realized a customer actually understood what was going on at United and appreciated the job they did.

    You can choose to believe me or not (or discount anything I say), but I don’t wear it to be a douche. I don’t wear it for favors. I wear it to put smiles on the faces of hardworking United employees. And all but this one time, it has worked.

  30. I don’t think anyone here is really taking issue with your opinion of Glenn. The criticisms are more of your entitled attitude and overly inflated sense of being wronged whenever encountering a minor annoyance. Obviously the FA thought you were an employee at first, in which case she would have been totally in the right to call you out. Not so much as you were a passenger, but she backed off when she found out anyway.

    I can see from many of your previous posts that you could use a very big slice of humble pie. You are in college and you have already experienced more luxury than most people will in their entire life. That’s fine, you shouldn’t be expected to not make use of the opportunities you have, but you really need to be a bit more gracious about it and realize just how fortunate you really are. That is why people are criticizing you here, not because of what your shirt says.

    I enjoy reading your blog, but sometimes posts like these can be a little maddening to read.

  31. Come on people get a grip.

    He has strong opinions — enjoys a life style that he spends money and time on and who are you to judge him? While I don’t always agree with him I appreciate and enjoy reading his perspective. It takes a lot of time to regularly blog and he has my respect for that.

    For all you people happy to criticize — how about giving him some credit for regularly producing this blog (which you are obviously reading regularly). How many of you are blogging regularly? If you are please include your links. I then promise to point out when you should be more humble or sound less entitled 🙂

  32. Lucky, thanks for the response. I want to make it clear that I don’t think you are a douche, just a little immature and in need of some self-awareness. I do completely get why you wear the shirt and agree with the sentiment of supporting the employees of UA. The problem is that you undermine that intent when you condescendingly mock and complain about one of those very employees who didn’t respond in the way you expected. I mean you practically call her stupid for not sharing your opinion of Glenn by the end of your post (despite the fact that she never really made her opinion of Glenn clear). It’s that sort of unwillingness to see things from other peoples perspective and your quickness to mock and criticize those who don’t share your worldview or prevent things from going your way that is off-putting to me. To make matters worse, the tone of these posts makes it clear, expecting everyone’s sympathy/support, makes it clear that it never even once crossed your mind that the FA had a point. It’s been happening a lot more on the blog (this, Chris Elliot, the woman who fell asleep on the UAX flight, etc.) and it makes it hard to continue reading. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and just because it doesn’t jibe with yours doesn’t mean its stupid or rude or worthy of being mocked. I am pretty close to your age (mid-20’s) and I used to be like this too, I think its good to just try to see things from other people’s perspective the next time something like this happens. Try to imagine why the FA might have reacted the way she did, instead of being so quick to mock her and complain about her perceived rudeness.

    I don’t mean to pile on and go on the attack, because I do really like your blog, I have just grown increasingly frustrated by your tone in posts such as these and I needed to speak out. I won’t post again on the subject, or any other posts like these, but I think it would improve the blog if these posts/comments with an imbalance between your outsized sense of injustice and the minor inconvenience/slight that actually happened were not as common.

  33. Well – regardless of whether you (we the readers) think the shirt is in good taste or not. The FA should have looked at the manifest to see if lucky was a paying customer (which as a 1K he obviously is) or an employee / NRSA (who may be subjected to attire rules in premium cabin – don’t know about UA but was on DL). If she found that it was an employee / NRSA she would have been appropriate to approach the shirt-wearer but not a paying customer regardless of her views on the shirt (there are numerous slogans on shirts out there that any person can find objectionable).

  34. More power to lucky for wearing the shirt. Seems like it’s done with good intentions.
    Can’t blame the FA for expressing her feelings in a very fair way – from the sound of it, the FA FIRST thought lucky was an employee. And it would be very fair to confront another employee wearing that shirt while around company property. It’s just not the right thing for an employee to do. My guess is that’s where this FA was coming from, since she was professional enough to not get into a debate in front of other customers, either.

  35. while I cant speak for Lucky, I always wear this shirt and here are a few points to address what others here are syaing:

    1. Its not to get perks. As a 1K in F, there really isnt anything more I can get from the FAs by wearing the shirt.

    2. I dont like the way UA is being run, BUT I wont take my business elsewhere at this point because there are many excellent front line employees who’s service and effort I really appreciate. I also think that my protest as a paying loyal customer means more than that of someone who has already switched to another carrier. In fact Glenn has said many times that if people dont like him they can fly a different airline – but i dont want another airline. i want United to just improve – which it will im sure when Smisek takes over. I fly enough Continental to make Platinum and it is a good airline, and I always ask the FAs about Smisek and they ALL say they love the management at CO. Oh, and I do write letters to UA all the time – both positive and negative ones, but that is in ADDITION to wearing the shirt, not instead of.

    3. I do think the shirt is rude and disrespectful, but only toward Glenn, and he earned it! As an employee, the FA has no business complaining to a customer about his clothes unless they violate a law, violate an airline policy, or jeopardize safety – none of which happened. THAT is the issue, and for Lucky to be upset about it has nothing to do with entitlement at all. Even on a cmmercial airplane we do have evough freedom of speech in this country to wear this shirt, but by your own logic if you dont like that then move to a country where you dont have such freedom – try North Korea and enjoy their national airline. Or you could instead take my approach – where a “Glenn’s Gotta Go Shirts Gotta Go!” shirt when you fly.

    4. Flying both CO and UA a lot, I see first hand the difference in morale of the frontline staff. Wearing the shirt usually brings a smile and compells the employee to expess appreciation for supporting them. This is the #1 reason I wear the shirt – it makes a small but noticeable positive difference in many people’s day. I also bring chocolates and starbucks gift cards. I will continue to do this as long as it continues to bring a smile and a little bit of happiness to people – minus the one person that Lucky wrote about in this post.

  36. My god, just give him a break!!! Poor lucky was only wearing THAT t-shirt, and you guys are treating him like a child molester, and whats with all these “he’s too entitled” comments? Could anyone of you elaborate? Without being bias, I don’t see anything wrong with his comments. I guess a lot of people here often judged him by his age, its quite unfair, I mean as long as he pays and he follows the rules, why should he be treated less than any one of you oldies here?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    And where the hell is JXSH when Lucky needs some support here???? (jk) 🙂

  37. As a reader of Lucky’s blog, he definitely has the money, resources and time to earn the points and I love how he chooses to use them.

    I would agree that he does have a sense of entitlement. I’m glad that he reports that he pays for his own travels, but I don’t think his meal plan in supports it and he never speaks of work other than his parents business about a year ago.. I generally assume the money for travel comes out of his monthly allowance that he chooses to use toward travel.

    Don’t get me wrong. I would love to earn points like he does, but I don’t have the money or time to do what he does

  38. I wear my “Glenn’s Gotta Go” bracelet/armband when I fly on UA and echo the sentiment of Lucky and HunterSFO above.

    It is not to be rude and not because I want special favors: it is to show support for the employees. And let me be clear: with few exceptions (none in my case) – THEY APPRECIATE IT.

    The FA in the story above is the one who should be eating humble pie, for not checking the manifest before she confronted Lucky.

    Those urging Lucky to abandon United sound like the fools who argue that if you don’t agree with the President’s politics, you should leave the country. It doesn’t work that way.

  39. I you want a smile, how about a mere compliment on the shirt? That way you get smiles and Half the people won’t think you were a douche.

  40. It’s funny that people think they are giving “support” to employees if they wear a shirt. I have news for you, unless you are a decision maker that affects their job, you don’t give them an ounce of support.

    I think these type of shirts are pretty funny though although some go to far. Some idiot at my gym wears one that say abolish the US Government so I told him if he wants to act anti-american he should get the **** out of here and go live in Iraq.

  41. Wow! 47 comments on your post :-). Nice job with the traffic there! And by traffic, I mean web traffic, not air traffic hehe.

    I think the shirt’s funny, and I don’t think it’s disrespectful, necessarily. IMHO, it’s quite tacky and a bit low-class, but not disrespectful. You should be able to wear and say whatever you want. That being said, if you do so, you should also be prepared to have people read your shirt and react to it, even if it’s not a positive reaction.

    It’s like the guy with a mohawk, tattoos, and 12 face piercings who gets mad when a little kid walks by and stares. We reap what we sow.

    I think wearing a t-shirt to “boost the morale of the employees” is a bit silly. When I go see the doctor, I don’t wear a shirt that says “An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” When I go to the GM dealership, I don’t wear a shirt complaining about government ownership of the company. I think it’s all a bit tacky, but to each his own.

    What i’m most impressed by is the number of responses to this post!!! I’m going to be response 48! Woweee!

  42. I don’t understand where you find the time to fly so much. Oh wait, you’re still a student. Once you have a job or a girlfriend, you can kiss your MR life good-bye.

  43. Could it be that neither party is wrong here. Lucky is ok wearing his shirt for which he gets mostly supportive reactions and the employee is ok for reacting, standing up for her company, and doing so in an ok way (She did not insult or demean).

    Move on people, there is nothing to see here.

  44. I think I sense a bit of cough* JEALOUSY *cough from these commenters. You read his blog, because you wish you could have even 10% of the travel experiences he does.

  45. @Steve: Have you heard of emotional support? That’s what these shirts provide. Your concept of support is much too narrow.

    Second, re-read the second ¶ of your comment above.

    “I told him if he wants to act anti-american he should get the **** out of here and go live in Iraq.”

    Who’s the one really acting anti-American?

  46. Count me as one of those who think that wearing the shirt is childish but harmless overall.

    The employee’s initial reaction was inappropriate imho, considering that you were a customer. She probably assumed that you were a fellow employee. Not discussing her CEO on the job was entirely appropriate, though; you putting her on the spot at her workplace and asking her to discuss her salary was not.

    Unlike a few others in this 50 post comment stream I don’t have very strong or passionate opinions. Personally I wouldn’t wear the shirt, I would refrain from making over simplified judgment calls on United’s management (which doesn’t mean I approve or support anything either, I just don’t want to be an armchair CEO), and I would definitely not push an employee to complain about their working conditions. I think it’s your right to wear the shirt if you wish to do so, but you should also expect to see mixed reactions no matter what your past experience may have been.

  47. @Matthew, The guy wearing the abolish the American Government shirt is anti-american. It’s one thing to disagree, but if people want to advertise that they hate our Government and it should be abolished, they should be shipped off to a third world Country so they can see what it’s really like out there.

  48. @Lucky. Your comments above about Glenn not being concerned about his employees reminds me of a business simulation I did in college. It was a computer program where different teams made what they thought were the right decisions.

    We were presented with employees wanting to strike if they didn’t get more money and we had to either shut down the compnay for one quarter or pay them more money and give them what they wanted. Our team choose to shutdown and I remember a freshman saying to me

    “What about their families. They have to eat.” I said I couldn’t care about them and had to worry about the bottom line. Glenn needs to run the business the best he can and although I would speak to employees on the plane if I were him; I also would get pretty tired of dealing with people who just don’t understand.

    Finally, do you really think $5.00 starbucks GC will make employees happy? This one comment shows your inexperience in the work world and manageing associates. My employer has handed out pay cuts, pay normalization, unpaid vacation and reduced hours and of course layoff’s. I’m personally offended when a leader decides that a $5.00 GC as a door prize or for doing my job is going to make everyone happy. Keep the $5.00 and run the company in a way that will make everyone happy again. Would you be happy if you lost 20% of your pay, but the CEO gave you a $5.00 GC, because he/she happened to bump into you?

  49. @Justin – Having been a REAL business owner, I found that treating employees respectfully and valuing their work is very effective – even through tough economic times when pay might have to be cut. When you are 100% transparent with them and take on an equal or greater amount of sacrifice yourself, they continue to work hard and have reasonable morale. Glenn clearly states that he doesnt care about his employees (or customers) and takes absolutely no sacrifice at all in his own compensation. THAT is what I dont appreciate about him. If you are also a CEO, please share with me how taking Glenn’s approach has worked better for you than my approach worked in my real company. I’m not interested in your college computer simulation because it completely ignores the very real human factor.

    Companies that take similar approaches to mine do very well financially because of it. Look at Costco and Trader Joe’s. Also do some research on Jeff Smisek’s (who refused all salary and bonus until his company becomes profitable) approach vs Tilton and then compare the difference in financial success between UA and CO.

  50. @HunterSFO While I agree with the premise that Glenn’s gotta go as UA CEO (Hey, that rhymes!), from what I hear, the stockholders like the end result. That’s not to say you can’t have happy customers, employees and stock holders at the same time, but he’s pleased the group that has the biggest say in his future job status.

  51. The real disrespect exists in the fact that Lucky doesn’t understand economics well enough to grasp how cost cutting, while painful for employees, can be the lesser of two evils when the other option is eventual bankruptcy and no jobs at all.

  52. I think it IS rude and disrespectful to wear a shirt mocking the CEO of the airline you’re flying. I’ve always thought Tilton was the worst major airline CEO, and if I were on the UA BOD, I would have tried to fire his butt years ago.

    But my disagreement would stop at the cabin door. An airplane cabin is no place for an argument — much less about the folks running the airline!

    Would you wear a t-shirt to a college graduation saying the university president was an idiot? Maybe you would, but it would be childish and wrong.

    Ms Manners should have a word with you.

  53. I know I’m coming in a bit late to the game, but thought I’d throw in my $.02 for anyone else who may read this. I’m 19, have flown United/Star Alliance my whole life growing up with 2 working parents who constantly travel for business, and I’ve been GS since I was 12. (Got to fly on all of my parents work travel growing up) To be honest, if I didn’t have this status, I’d be gone in a heartbeat. I absolutely love Mr. Tilton, but can’t stand United’s employees. I know employees hate the whole UDU, but it’s smart for the company to reward paying customers, before employees and their families. While I assuredly feel that upper management should offer more incentives for employees to do well, I also feel like employees have dug their own graves with their relationship with upper management. I hate most gate agents as up until these past couple of years, I was frequently questioned because of my age. When I was 15, I was flying alone from ORD-SFO. I had a First Class Ticket, and when the agent saw the GS, she asked for ID, which at 15, I did not have. She denied me boarding onto the flight even as I showed her my GS card. I immediately went to the GS reception area and although too late for my scheduled flight, they put me on the next flight, gave me plenty of miles, and forced the woman to apologize to me. (And then when I told my mom, we all got a whole lot, but I digress) Although this was the most severe of circumstances, whenever I fly alone, they ask for my ID at boarding, and I get stares and unpleasant attitudes in general from gate agents. Although I’d rank United’s International first and business products as number 1 for US airlines, their domestic product leaves a lot to be desired. I am attending school in Hawaii and United has a domestic first plane flying the ORD-HNL route. Even first class has no personal entertainment system. (Since CO joined SA, however, I fly ORD-EWR-HNL which is a much more enjoyable trip despite the 4 extra flying hours) I know this all seems to be a lot of meaningless ranting, but what I’m trying to say, is that United has very little to offer the average American family and if I didn’t have status that I’d never be able to reacheive, there is no way I’d fly United. The domestic planes suck, as do the employees. Perhaps if the company made use of ghost riders more often, the flight attendants would be more liked by the customers. And although it’s widely known that most UA employees maintain a disdain for Mr. Tilton, it’s also widely known that most of the American public maintain a disdain for United employees. If you look at the top 10 hated companies in the US in 2009, you will see that the only airline on the list is United Airlines at number 2, only after AIG. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that the gate agents and flight attendants treat customers as they haven’t the time of day for them. (although as I’m sure all of you elites know, it’s fun to see their reaction change as I flash my GS card)

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