Hanging out with two awesome United Airlines flight attendants on the tarmac at LAX. That's a sweet Boeing 747-400 behind us.

Hanging out with two awesome United Airlines flight attendants on the tarmac at LAX. That's a sweet Boeing 747-400 behind us.

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 wasn’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.

United Airlines pilots talking to customers about what they do before flight.

United Airlines pilots talking to customers about what they do before flight.

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. 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.

Two United Airlines pilots welcome the Emmys to LAX

Two United Airlines pilots welcome the Emmys to LAX

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.

United Airlines Boeing 757 and Continental Airlines Boeing 737 get close at LAX. Two airlines will (most likely) become one soon!

United Airlines Boeing 757 and Continental Airlines Boeing 737 get close at LAX. Two airlines will (most likely) become one soon!

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, not TV 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!

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: [email protected]

http://www.airlinereporter.com
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12 Comments

Excellent post, David. I’m a bit envious. In today’s “me, me, me” society, I like to think United is getting it right – for the most part. This is a great example of how social media and external communications can work synchronously to deliver a strong, positive message. With so many “voices” bent on delivering negative experiences, I really appreciate finding a positive one like this and only wish that I was fortunate enough to enjoy the same experience. Keep up the great work!

Living International 10+ yrs Ive had many 12-16hr long flights on various Airlines. The service with UA is always top of the line. Regardless of flying Coach, Business or the very rare 1st Class, Service is always with a smile & thorough. I’ve seen the crew go through some tough flights, facing hateful & self absorbed passengers & still smile!
Once in USA my choice to fly with Continental was my plan, if UA did not serve area I am going. As a World Class Passenger, Service for ALL is crucial I used Partners to get my FF points up!
A sad event -I had a tragic auto accident in TX & nearly died. My cheating, abusive husband let the divorce become final while in coma. Recovery has been long & futile. During that time, United took all my FF Miles (over 200,000 miles)when I called to arrange a flight – only 1 WK too late, after ALL those accumulated & well earned miles! OUCH!

Glad for United Airlines & Continental. It’s a good match!

I have to laugh…I’m on gogo on AirTran with Delta banner ads all over this story. I may be under the Untied curse, but I always end up with horrid crews that look like they hate their job, and once the little bit of service is done, head straight for the back galley with the curtains CLOSED so as to finish their magazines….not that it is bad…it keeps them out of th aisle and away from customers.

I really hope that Continental retrains all Untied flight attendants to what an acceptable level of service is.

Mr. Brown,

As an employee at United Airlines for 23 years, I find your write ups laughable and somewhat “disturbing”. Have you ever worked at an airline in any capacity? Not visiting, not interning, not observing as a welcomed “visitor” from the airline? Have you ever been furloughed or have you ever had your pension taken from airline management? You only see one side of it, the side they want you to see with rose colored glasses. You need to actually “work” at the airlines, only then can you really be “qualified” to be a professional airline blogger. I need an airsick bag!

Hello Greg!

Seeing multiple sides of how an airline operates is very important. There are many out there that love to talk about how evil and horrid the airlines are…if you want to hear that perspective, you won’t have a problem finding it!

There aren’t many of us out there who are an airline advocate. People that focus on the positive aspects of flying and the airline business. Yes, things will go wrong, but it is a very complex business and costs passengers very little to travel great distances. The airline industry, like most other things out there, is a business and some times difficult decisions have to be made.

If a non-profit needs to lay off people because of budget cuts, does that mean you have to dis-like the entire charity? Of course not. In almost any profession you are going to find people who are unhappy with the industry, this is just how the world works.

I am sorry you have not have a pleasant experience with United Airlines, but I am sure there had to be something positive about working for them and the airline business to stick around for 23 years?!

David

Mr. Brown,

Thanks for informing me about how the world works, apparently you’ve already figured it out.

I seriously believe that you’re suffering from “Walter Mitty Syndrome”.

Being an advocate for the airline is fine, so long as you have actually “worked” for the airline. I have printed out your blog and passed it on to several airline employees (ours and several other airlines) and 100% affirms that you’re just being used as a “puppet” for the airlines. As one of my fellow colleagues mentioned, Seattle = Emerald City = Wizard of Oz.

With anything in life, if you’re offered a “freebie”, you’re not going to be objective. And from what I see, there’s a lot of “quid pro quo” between you and your airline management buddies. Mr. Brown, during my tenure at the airlines, I have attended multiple social functions for the airlines (charities and other functions) along with kids and students visiting us, now during these events, do you think I or any of the airline employees at these functions will make this a platform for airline or airline management discontent? Of course not, you put your best face on, whether you think your airline you work for sucks or airline executives are robbing you blind. Mr. Brown, when you’re being played by political correctness, good acting and good theater.

So again I ask you Mr. Brown, have you actually ever worked at the airlines?

Yes, with any employee – employer relationship, there is good and bad. You ask why I “stick” around 23 years? I, along with thousands and thousands of employees at the airlines are part of collective bargaining. The airlines are one on very few professional occupations that when you start over, you start on the bottom of the pay scale working for poverty wages. It’s not that simple as you make it, though you tell me that you know how the world works. Unlike other professional occupations, experience mean little when it means your salary. Switching professional occupations requiring licenses, time and tons of monetary expenses isn’t that easy. It’s not as simple as switching from McDonalds to Burger King.

Mr. Brown, do you have kids? Do you have a mortgage? Do you or any of your family have medical issues which requires medical insurance? Do you have bills to pay (do you still live with your parents?)?

When you work at the airlines, it’s no longer a hobby. It’s not like you going over to the airport or to Boeing, craning your neck along the parameter fences to take pictures of cool looking airplanes and again being Walter Mitty, Mr. Airline Employee. You pretend to be an “insider” which you are not, but make it sound to the unsuspecting that you are.

From what I read in your previous post, you have a lot of time and little responsibilities. As you “mature”, you’ll find out the life isn’t as simple as sipping a margarita going down to Mexico, chugging down wiener wraps at the 1st Class Lounges, play pretend flight attendant at Air Tran or prostituting a ride on a Starship.

So again I ask you Mr. Brown, have you ever worked at the airlines?

Mr. Brown, from the photos you post of yourself (and why in heck do you have to put your arms around our flight attendants like you’re life long buddy – buddies?), you’re a kid in an adult body. I compare you to my 5 year who plays airport with his toy airplanes. He zooms the airplanes around, sometimes crashing his airplanes together or into the toy airport terminal. He doesn’t know any better that if something liked that happened in real life that it would result in death and carnage. So there’s a lot of similarities between you two, you’re both “dreamers” because you don’t know any better. But the big difference is, my kid is only 5 years old.

You should come over to play airport with him. You two can zoom around your toy airplanes while enjoying your milk and cookies, until I come by and play Mr. Airline Executive, grab you by your shirt collar, throw you out of my house and say, “Hey Brown, you’ve just been furloughed, now go home”.

Greg, I do not and have not worked for the airlines, nor do I want to. I enjoy having an outside perspective to the business and I am by no means an airline professional. I have a passion for airlines and aviation and share the experiences I am lucky to have. If you do not like my viewpoint on the business, no one is forcing you to read it!

Calling me a dreamer is a compliment, because you are right…I am a dreamer. I am sorry that you have lost your love for the airline business. The world can definitely use more dreamers and I hope your 5 year old never loses that part of him!

David

dpodhola

Wow Greg. You’re criticizing someone for being pro-airline when the first paragraph of the article you posted your blanket criticism to said “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.”

Here’s the best part of your post:
“Being an advocate for the airline is fine, so long as you have actually “worked” for the airline.”
Really? Why is it fine to be pro airline only if you’ve worked for an airline. The logical leap there is insane and nonsensical. I’d love to see you back that up with sound logic.

I like watching F1 racing. I’m pro-F1. I’ve never driven an F1 car. The same can be said for millions of other fans. By your drunken ramblings, am I to believe they’re all mistakenly pro F1? What about fans of the automobile in general who have never worked for the car companies they support, are they all in the wrong? Get a grip.

David,

As a pilot for United Airlines, we are “not” pumped about this merger. I suggest your check you facts. United pilots and Continental pilots have a long history back to the Frank Lorenzo days. There isn’t any actual reporting here, but a just at PR mouthpiece for the airlines.

This site really should be called “airlinepropaganda.com”.

Are you paid by the airlines to write some of this stuff?

Stan, one can actually talk positive about airlines without being paid!

Of course not everyone will be happy with the merger, but better than both airlines not being able to compete in the future.

David

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