United

United’s Latest Customer Email

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United took great strides yesterday towards wrapping up the unfortunate incident that occurred when Dr. Dao was forcibly separated from his seat and dragged off his Chicago to Louisville flight.

First, they announced ten policy changes that are designed to insure this type of thing never happens again. Then they reached an undisclosed settlement with Dr. Dao, allowing them to avoid dragging the case out in court. And finally they sent another email to customers in which they again apologize for what happened, acknowledge some shortcomings that led to the situation, and promise to do better.

Here is the letter from Oscar Munuz in its entirety:

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Don’t Get Dao-ed: How To Tell If Your United Flight Might Be Overbooked

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Overbooked flights happen all the time on all three of the legacy carriers. Most of the time these issues resolve themselves naturally and passengers are never the wiser. Some folks will cancel their ticket, no-show, or switch to a different flight. Sadly, others will misconnect. In all of these cases, nothing needs to be done as the problem will solve itself.

Sometimes, however, the oversold situation persists and there are literally more passengers in the gate area than the flight can accommodate. When this happens, the agent solicits volunteers willing to take a later flight in exchange for compensation. In rare cases where they get no takers, they may have to involuntarily deny boarding (IDB) to someone.

Once in a blue moon, all of this will break down and they’ll try to deny someone boarding who has already boarded. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s exactly what happened to Dr. Dao on his United flight from Chicago to Louisville. We all know how how that ended.

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That Was Quick: United Reaches Undisclosed Settlement With Dr. Dao

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Wow, United sure is trying to get the entire “dragging” incident behind them, that’s for sure. Earlier today we learned about the 10 policy changes that United is instituting following the incident they had with Dr. Dao, which they seem pretty serious about. It looks like we won’t see this incident drag out in court either, as it’s being reported that United and Dr. Dao have reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount. Per a statement from United:

“We are pleased to report that United and Dr. Dao have reached an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard flight 3411. We look forward to implementing the improvements we have announced, which will put our customers at the center of everything we do.”

Meanwhile here’s what Dr. Dao’s lawyer had to say:

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United Reveals 10 Policy Changes Following “Dragging” Incident

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By now, just about everyone has heard of the situation that transpired on a United flight a couple of weeks ago, where Dr. Dao was physically dragged off the plane because they needed his seat. Almost as bad as that was United’s terrible response, which backfired horribly.

Eventually United’s CEO issued a sincere-seeming apology, and also had an interview with Good Morning America in which he apologized again. When Oscar Munoz finally issued an apology, he said that he’s committed to fixing what’s broken, including a thorough review of their current procedures in place. He promised to communicate the results of that review by April 30.

Well, United has just released the findings of their review, a few days ahead of schedule. View from the Wing shares the 11 page report that United issued regarding the incident and how they’re changing their policies. In addition to that, here’s the press release, which I’m sharing in full, as it’s interesting and isn’t that long:

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Review: United Club Hong Kong Airport

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My flight from Hong Kong arrived shortly before 7PM, while my connecting flight back to San Francisco on Singapore Airlines was at 11:30PM. Upon arrival I tried to find the Singapore Airlines transit desk, since I didn’t yet have a boarding pass for my return flight.

It was quite a trek to the transit desk, though once there, a funny conversation ensued. The Singapore Airlines representative requested my inbound boarding pass, which I handed over without saying anything.

“Sir… you are coming from… San Francisco?”

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Hilarious: United Ads Pulled From The Tribeca Film Festival Because People Couldn’t Stop Laughing

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Okay, I’m literally laughing out loud at this. United Airlines has long been a sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival, and as part of that they had the right to show a 30 second ad before every screening. They chose this ad to play, which highlights their new Polaris product:

After a couple of days of the ad playing, a mutual decision was made to stop screening the ad. Why? Because audiences apparently burst out in uncontrollable laughter when an ad played that showcased United’s great service, to the point that it drowned out the next ad. Some even thought that it seemed like a parody. Per The Hollywood Reporter:

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Review: United Business Class 777-300ER San Francisco To Hong Kong

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I boarded through door L2, which is between the two Polaris cabins. United’s Polaris cabin on the 777-300ER is massive, with a total of 60 seats. There are 28 seats ahead of the second set of doors, and 32 seats behind the second set of doors. I was in seat 18L, which is the window seat in the last row, so I walked to the far aisle and then turned right.

While each Polaris seat features direct aisle access, the seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and being closer to the window. Odd numbered seats are more private and are further from the aisle, while even numbered seats are closer to the aisle.

For example, below is a picture of seat 17L, which is a “true” window seat. The advantage of this seat is that it feels extremely private, as you basically have your own cocoon.

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Review: United Club San Francisco Airport

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After a quick, uneventful flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco, I arrived at around 8AM, plenty early for my 1PM flight to Hong Kong. My flight arrived at Terminal 3, while my connection was departing from International Terminal G. Fortunately these are connected airside, so I made the roughly 10 minute walk. Enroute I passed the Amex Centurion Lounge, which is definitely the best lounge I had access to, though I wanted to review the United Club.

The views from the terminal connector were awesome.

At the end of the connector was an escalator leading up to the terminal.

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Review: United Club Los Angeles Airport

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In December 2016, a new United Club was opened at LAX. United can’t seem to decide what they want to do with LA, and whether it’s a hub or focus city. The new United Club certainly shows their investment in the airport, and I was excited to check it out.

In December Nick wrote a review of the lounge, though I figured I’d share my thoughts on it as well.

My flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco was departing at 6:40AM, so I got to the airport way early, at around 4:15AM, since I wanted to be able to review the United Club while it was still empty.

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United Reverses Decision To Make Oscar Munoz Chairman Of The Board

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Regulatory filings today indicate that United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, won’t become chairman of the board in 2018, as was originally expected. This is a reversal of his previous employment agreement, as he’s now leaving “future determinations related to the Chairman position to the discretion of the Board.” I suppose that means they could still appoint him chairman of the board if they so choose, but it’s no longer a sure thing.

A reason wasn’t given for this change in direction. Some are suggesting that this is related to the horrible few weeks that United has had, as David Dao was dragged off a United flight, and United handled the situation horribly. We have heard that United’s board stands behind him, given the calls from some for Oscar to resign. Of course that’s what they said publicly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what’s being said behind closed doors.

While it’s certainly possible that this is related to the “dragging” incident, let’s also keep in mind that Munoz suffered a heart attack in October 2015, and it’s pretty amazing how quickly he returned to work, given that he had a heart transplant. It could be that he doesn’t want to expand his role at the airline, and might retire sooner than he initially expected. United poached American’s president, Scott Kirby, last year, presumably with the intention of eventually making him CEO.

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United Is Cutting Back Polaris Amenities

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United introduced their new Polaris premium cabin experience on December 1, where we saw them invest very nicely in their soft product. I wrote a post about how United’s new bedding is the best offered by any airline in business class, and it’s almost unnecessarily over the top.

Well, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but United is cutting back Polaris amenities somewhat as of May 1, 2017 — they’ll be removing one of the pillows from each seat, and also will be provisioning fewer mattress pads. Brian Sumers shares the following memo that was sent out to flight attendants:

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Introduction: A VERY Quick Trip To Hong Kong

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I take a lot of quick trips, though this one was lightning fast even by my standards, as I flew to Hong Kong and back in about 32 hours, with just over four hours on the ground in Hong Kong.

Why? This trip was motivated by United’s new Polaris product. United introduced their new Polaris international premium cabin experience for flights as of December 2016. However, in reality, a vast majority of flights only have the new Polaris soft product, and not the new seat, which is only available on their 777-300ER aircraft.

So I was determined to review United’s new 777-300ER on a longhaul flight as quickly as possible after it was introduced. Late last year United announced the first routes that would feature the new plane. Specifically, Newark to San Francisco would get 6x weekly 777-300ER service between February and May, while the first longhaul route to feature the new plane would be San Francisco to Hong Kong, as of March 25, 2017.

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The World’s Most Frequent Flyer Is About To Pass 18 Million Miles With United

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There are frequent flyers, there are very frequent flyers, and then there are OMG VERY VERY VERY FREQUENT FLYERS.

In 2011 I wrote about Tom Stuker, who at the time was earning 10 million miler status with United. That’s insane, given that United calculates million miler status based on your “butt in seat” revenue miles flown on United. That’s right, we’re not talking about 10 million award miles, or even 10 million miles taking into account elite bonuses for flying first or business class.

United held a huge celebration for Tom at the time, and even named a plane after him. Good for him, given how much he has flown.

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Are A Lot More NFL Teams About To Lose Their Charter Flights?

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Yesterday I posted about how American would no longer be providing charter service to six NFL teams for the 2017 season. Those teams included the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

American cited a lack of resources for the reason why they can no longer offer this service. To me, that just means they think they can make more money with their regularly scheduled service than they can providing charters. In fact, I sort of expect that they simply raised the price for next year and only three teams were willing to pay it.

I didn’t really view this as too big of a deal since other airlines offer charter services to the sports teams as well and would probably be interested in picking up these contracts. But it turns out that a whole lot more teams might soon be affected.

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