I am an airline advocate. There are lots of media sources and people that love to bash the airlines. If an airline does something major enough to deserve a good bashing, then I will give it to them, but mostly I try to find the positive even in a negative situation.
When I recently connected with Rahsaan Johnson with United Communications while in Chicago earlier in the month, I was dead honest with him. I told him that I feel as though many are under the impression that United Airlines is lacking spirit. Being one who always wants to find the silver-lining with airlines, I wanted him to help let me show people that there is spirit within United.
It wasnâ€™t long before Johnson thought of an idea to help me see, first hand, the energy and spirit most United employees have. I was invited for a day trip down from Seattle to Los Angelas (LAX) to see United connect with some of their best customers, experience some unique things and witness the delivery of Emmys.
The morning I left, I posted about the font change of the new Continental and United merger. Throughout the day I was getting some critical comments from you, my readers, about United’s perceived service and I was reading each one to Johnson to give him an idea of your impressions. You all echoed what we have both seen and heard from other sources.
After interacting and connecting with so many United employees and customers through out the day (on and more importantly off record), I honestly feel United is heading in the right direction.Â A lot of people I spoke with will openly admit they know that United has had their ups and downs, but everyone I spoke with feels positive with the direction United is heading and pumped about the likely merger with Continental.
Things have changed a lot for United Airlines in the past forty years. From deregulation, to a few spikes in oil prices, to strong competition from low cost carriers and of course bankruptcy in 2002, United has persevered through it all.
There are a lot of hard working employees who are there to treat their customers well. During my visit to LAX, United invited important customers and showed them how they operate. This was to share what they are looking to do in the future and get feedback from customers on how they can improve their performance. They were able to get helpful feedback on schedules, and service, even down to having the proper ratio of cheese to crackers.
Not only was United able to share what they are up to with special customers, they were also able to share the Emmys with everyone. Later in the afternoon, the Emmys were flown from Chicago to LAX on United Airlines. They had nice comfy seats up front and were welcomed by a crowd of people in the terminal. Being the huge airline nerd I am, when I was told the Emmys were being flown in, the first thing I asked is, “What kind of plane they will be flying in?” (It was an Airbus A320). Hey I am an airline reporter, notÂ TVÂ awards reporter! Yet it is always cool to see not only customers, but employees get really excited about an event like this. It does show there is some great spirit alive and ready to grow at United!
The people that I spoke with are very excited about the merger with Continental. Changes like this inject a feeling of motivation (for those not losing their jobs that happen in any merger) about the future. Continental and United both have interesting histories and will most likely make a solid future together.
Over the next few weeks I will share some of the very cool things I got to experience on my full day at LAX… a tour of the upper deck and cockpit of a Boeing 747-400, riding on a tug while pushing back a Boeing 757 and having an amazing view of LAX from the old FAA tower. Stay tuned!