United CEO Wants to ‘De-Stress the Travel Lifestyle’

Oct 11, 2018

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United Airlines wants to “de-stress the travel lifestyle,” according to CEO Oscar Munoz.

“We want to make you, as our customer, feel good about flying us,” Munoz told CNBC in September. “And so our customer-centricity, our customer properties, are something we really want to sort of engage.”

The controversy-ridden US carrier plans to do so by implementing and rolling out new customer service initiatives every week. [TPG has reached out to the airline for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.]

According to Munoz, the initiatives will focus on ways to improve airline-passenger communication, including updates for irregular operations. The airline also wants to figure out how to notify travelers of delays far enough in advance that they may not even have to make a futile trip to the airport.

“How do we keep you informed? How do we keep you focused and directed when something goes wrong?” Munoz said. “But, more importantly, before you even leave your house, you know your flight’s on time, you know where you’re headed.”

Munoz also admitted that United customers have experienced “a whole host of communicative issues” with the airline in recent years, claiming that increasing baggage fees will help fund some of the planned initiatives.

“It’s important to reinvest in the business,” he said. “I think it’s one of the things about this industry that people, our customers, don’t always understand. All that money that we’re getting back is being piled back into the business… for the right things. We want to make you, as our customer, feel good about flying us. And so our customer-centricity, our customer properties, are something we really want to sort of engage.”

The airline no doubt is anxious to reclaim its reputation for “friendly skies” after a series of snafus in recent years. In 2017, United was sharply criticized for its handling of the #Bumpgate controversy, in which a man traveling on a revenue ticket was forcibly dragged off of a flight that was overbooked. In 2018, the airline has also faced lawsuits over a puppy that died in an overhead bin and multiple allegations of sexual harassment or assault, both from passengers as well as by employees. Furthermore, the airline has come under fire after flight attendants shamed a baby and its mother and landed a three-year-old in French immigration detention.

Featured image by Bilgin S. Sasmaz / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images.

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