“Who are the ex-Cons in the room?” Several hands go up.
No, this was not a therapy or parole session, but it felt that way.
“I’ve lost trust,” one man repeated several times at the amendment to his ‘lifetime’ United Million Miler vows.
The ex-Cons seem less aggrieved than the ex-old United.
So went Sunday morning at Frequent Traveler University 2012, where United Airlines’ Carlos Faxas mounted the battlements for a 90-minute barrage from dozens of United’s most frequent (and vocal) flyers. The Rapid Traveler flew United once in 1999, Continental a handful of times since, so has no personal stake unless Delta guys their elite program and a 1k challenge magically appears from United. He was fascinated at how much flyer and airline resembles a marriage, furious when things go wrong but a fury born out of love and unwillingness to separate. As tommy777 said, “Who loves their cell phone carrier?” Indeed, and who loves their cell phone carrier enough to fly to New Jersey and spend their weekend complaining about it! Mr. Faxas deserves kudos for the outreach effort; he and his team seem determined to do their best for their customers in the face of huge challenges. The Rapid Traveler would not want to trade email or voicemail inboxes with Mr. Faxas.
The Rapid Traveler thinks back to when Delta denuded NWA, discarding the best website in the industry and pushing the big red Delta button to triple all award prices. During the merger year he was mollified by the frequent ‘we care’ communications and promotions, from mileage bonuses to credit cards. It was the second year that Delta went silent, promotions never appeared, and he become frustrated, though could not feasibility switch airlines at the time as he was in a fortress hub. Now he is mostly accustomed to the ‘new normal,’ seeing the strengths and weaknesses of the airline that for a year advertised itself as the world’s largest and now say size is not all it is cracked up to be.
United will get past the immediate troubles sooner or later, they may even check out social media customer service at some point. They already targeted many fliers for 5k/10k/25k miles for 1/2/4 paid roundtrips by July 15, 2012 and credit card offers have crept up to 65k, and perhaps the promotions will further sweeten.
But it will be interesting to see if they build and sustain outreach for the long-haul. After a year will they be like Delta, breathe a sigh of relief, and take a nap?