Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The United Experience

Since this has been all over the news I thought I put in my take on it as well.

First off what was the crew on this flight or at the gate thinking that this was a good idea. Why would you board the flight and then ask people to give up seats or pick the people who you were going to kick off the flight. I now read that this happened because they realized late in the boarding process that the four seats were needed. Someone needed to be more on the ball with this one. Also a good point was raised on one of the cable shows and that was where was the pilot during this whole mess.

The “apology” from the United CEO was well not really an apology. Blaming the passenger not exactly the right way to go. And re-accommodate these customers. Wow that was about as dumb a phrase as you could possibly come up with. Finally apology three seems to have done the trick. Well at least it sounded like an actual apology this time. The trouble is it should have been the first apology issued.

Here’s part of it:
“It is never too late to do the right thing,” United chief executive Oscar Munoz said in a statement. “I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.”

Munoz ordered a review of the airline’s policies on giving seats to employees and overbooking and promised a public report by April 30.

“I continue to be disturbed by what happened,” Munoz said. “I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.”

But in the long run will United really suffer any consequences? Probably not. This from the Post:
As deeply troubling as the video is, analysts said, the emotional fury such incidents generate usually is fleeting, lasting a few days or weeks at most. The reality, they say, is that consumers have long put price, convenience and personal taste ahead of outrage.

And partly because of a rash of recent mergers that left the country with just four major airlines, many customers may not even have much choice. United’s 2010 tie-up with Continental allowed the company to claim more than 50 percent of passenger traffic in Houston and Newark, and to serve 1 in 3 fliers from Washington Dulles International Airport and in San Francisco.
This is what happens when competition disappears. Now there are only four major carriers. Not much choice. Airlines have dominate stakes in certain cities and you have no choice but to use them to fly to those cities.

The cost of flying to Springfield is a perfect example. It use to be around $300. There was even the possibility of getting a fare below that. But since merger mania has taken place, a cheap fare is $500. A normal fare is in the $600s. Fly around Christmas time and it can cost as much as $900.

What the mergers have brought is less competition and higher costs to areas considered on the fringe of the market. This is only going to continue. And what happened on United the other day will continue to happen.

Unfortunately we as customers are essentially helpless.

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