United Responds to Flight 3411 Questions, Plans to Push Credit Cards On-Board

Apr 18, 2017

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In today’s United Airlines quarterly earnings conference call, much attention was understandably focused on the horrifying incident on-board United Flight 3411. Each member of United’s management team expressed their concern about the Bumpgate situation. United said it was too early to see if the incident has caused a drop in bookings, which are historically lower before the Easter holiday. In response to each question about United’s policy changes due to the situation, management referred to the report that will be released on April 30th.

MileagePlus

One analyst called out the financial performance of United’s “considerably less valuable” MileagePlus program, particularly compared to the American Airlines’ AAdvantage program. Specifically, AAdvantage expects an additional $800 million in revenue from sales of points vs. growth of just $300 million for United in the same time. The analyst wanted to know what United was doing to close the gap.

United’s management mostly side-stepped the question, blaming it on “different disclosure policies.” Yet, management admitted that both American and Delta’s growth rates are much higher. Onto solutions, United management first pointed the finger at Chase:

The good news is I believe that our partners at JP Morgan Chase understand that and understand how important it is to get us on the same growth trajectory. We kinda had a reset of the relationship here in the past few months and they committed to getting us the same kind of growth rate. And, look, we actually ought to be growing faster; we are growing faster as an airline.

Credit Cards to be Offered On-Board

Then, United quickly backtracked, putting some blame back on the airline. One key point he mentioned was “we weren’t allowing [Chase] to offer the credit card to customers on-board” — noting that this is both American Airlines and Delta’s “best acquisition channel.” United pledged to get this acquisition process “accelerated” in the new few months.

So, that means you can look forward to credit cards (such as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card) being pushed by flight attendants on future United flights, as we’ve seen on recent AA flights. It’ll be interesting to see if the pilots get in on the action, as I experienced on a recent AA flight:

Unfortunately, the call ended before United could address all media questions — including our questions about when and where we can expect Basic Economy to expand and United’s current standing on Premium Economy.

Click here for more United Bumpgate coverage.

Featured image courtesy of Scott Olson / Staff via Getty Images.

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