WSJ “United Continental: One Sick Bird”

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There is an interesting piece by Wall Street Journal about the state of United Airlines “United Continental: One Sick Bird” that you can access here.

WSJ United Continental One Sick Bird

Anyone that has flown on United after the “disastrous” merger (already four years ago) knows that there have been problems one after another due to having the old “Continental” people at the helm.

Here are some tidbits from the article that you can access here:

The No. 2 U.S. airline by traffic recently placed second from the bottom among conventional network carriers for the third straight year in J.D. Power’s annual North American Airline Satisfaction Study.

After a profitable 2013, United posted a loss for this year’s first quarter. According to the Transportation Department, it was sixth among 12 carriers for on-time flight arrivals in March, the most recent data published. It also ranked eighth in baggage handling, and accounted for more than a quarter of the airline complaints that consumers filed with the government that month.

After United’s deal with Continental, which closed in October 2010, executives expected the integration process to take at least 18 months. Today some of that work remains unfinished. The company has yet to reach a unified labor contract with its flight attendants, which means cabin crews can’t be mixed and matched on any airplane. Its mechanics continue to operate under two separate information-technology systems for maintenance.

United’s problems have repeatedly defied management predictions. Early on, Mr. Smisek, the former Continental CEO who has run the combined company, had to back off his goal to complete joint contracts with all its workers by the end of 2011. Ahead of the 2012 switch-over to Continental’s reservation system, Mr. Smisek said the company had “four full-scale dress rehearsals” to prepare. But the process triggered long waits and other disruptions that infuriated customers.

A year ago, the CEO said United was on the mend after an “awful” 2012, when it lost $723 million. After earning $571 million last year, it suffered a loss of $609 million in the first quarter, when most other airlines were profitable.

United executives blame several factors, including “inadequate training” of employees by the old United, a buildup of flights to the U.S. by Chinese carriers and too much reliance on small regional jets. Last fall, the company’s use of faulty information caused the airline to sell too many seats too cheaply, denting its revenue even after it made fixes.

Conclusion

Well. I am for one sick and tired of having to deal with United Airlines that is in reality just the old Continental and I am one million miler with the airline (lifetime Premier Gold).

Whether you liked the old United or not was largely dependent if you had any status with the airline. United had its problems but always took care me as a 1K. Cannot say the same about the old Continental when I was Platinum with them (new United).

I am not an airline analyst but seems that the problems rose mainly from the smaller airline trying to force its procedures on the much larger combined entity and draconian rules what agents were allowed or able to do with the inferior computer system used.

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