Matthew details comments about upcoming changes to United’s products and the future of their business model. One thing’s for sure, Jeff Smisek certainly seems to know more about the airline’s operations than his predecessor Glenn Tilton.
- “Differential offerings for each customer” through specially-tailored options for each users based on “advanced” software that tracks what customers needs, leading to substantial revenue increases for United.
- Employee morale – not about classroom training, it’s about trust of management
- Poked fun at Delta – says UA will have a lot more lie-flat seats than “that carrier from Atlanta”
- Economy Plus is a moneymaker–upselling is gaining traction
- Wouldn’t share details about new mileage program, but promised customers and bean counters would love the new product.
- Again, emphasized specifically tailored travel options–specifically mentions holding fares.
- Airline clubs will be enhanced.
- Ability to toggle between United and Continental on Easy Check-In Machines at airports coming.
- Commitment to A350 and 787 program, though UA can “downsize” if necessary.
- “We’ll have the 787 years before any of our competitors have it” (and the A350 as well).
- “Mixed fleet for a considerable period of time” – No final decision yet on whether United will keep the three-cabin model.
- Premium Service (p.s. – LAX/SFO-JFK) service interiors will be upgraded – lie-flat seats will be added (no confirmation that three-cabin service would be removed, but this was during the discussion of three vs. two cabin service)
- Repeatedly refers to front-line staff as his “co-workers” not his employees.
- Would like to simplify fleet over time, though that’s a “decade long” project. Wants a fuel-efficient fleet.
- Must be disciplined in capacity – “We don’t have anything to prove in terms of size–we’re the world’s largest airline now…but we’re here to make money…We’re very focused on making money.”
I don’t like to hear the CEO making comments about a new mileage program that satisfies the bean counters, because comments about satisfying the customers then usually relies on surveys by marketing groups who manage to find ill-informed flyers to say good things about the marketing firm’s client’s ideas. But the moves so far since the Continental folks have taken charge (though the President of Mileage Plus is actually a United guy) have been pretty uniformly positive.
The bet on the future of United’s “p.s.” service between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco is that it goes two-cabin, rather than the current three-cabin, but that it gets Continental’s new international business class seats which are superior to United’s and American’s first class seats on the route. The biggest issue, though, is that they’ll probably have fewer premium seats on the aircraft once this switch is made than they do now.
Matthew also details plans to install wireless internet across the Continental domestic fleet “starting in 2012” which is a long time to wait considering the extent to which internet is already available on the Delta, American, and Alaska Airlines fleets. And consdering that there’s still apparently no plans to install internet across the existing United fleet.
Finally, since Smisek is talking about improving the club lounges (and since he’s talking about employee morale, all he’d have to do is find good employees for the Red Carpet Clubs at Dulles and he’d hit the goal, that and remove the rats…). Well, Lucky details a somewhat less expensive way to buy lounge access with United and Continental: partner US Airways reduced its price for club members to $259 for all membres (first-time joiners pay a $50 initiation fee). US Airways no longer adds a surcharge to access partner lounges, or provides a discount to elites. The $259 price shows up the same for everyone on the page. Presumably this is a short-lived offer, but it doesn’t show up that way as “valid through” but rather just shows up as a lower price.