United came in DEAD LAST in the latest Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. The index includes the results of a survey of over 36,000 people in 64 categories (total of 540 brands), which includes airlines. Interestingly, word of mouth is considered one of the most important marketing tools for airlines, and brand loyalty increases the odds of positive word of mouth comments. The winner? Air Canada. If you've flown them in recent months, you'd find out they're everything United is not - reasonable fees, pleasant crews, better services, etc.
In these litigious times where companies will go out of their way to sue you for unsubstantiated negative comments on the internet, it's good to know there's solid, well-researched data which strongly supports your view on a product or company. It is my personal view that United Airlines is horrible, and thank goodness there is reputable data out there which supports my view.
I was recently talking with a consultant to the airline industry while traveling back from Austin (on Southwest, which was half the price of United). Interestingly, his comments echoed yours. He feels that Cleveland is the lead city to capture a new hub, most likely from Jet Blue. He thinks they will cover around 12-15 cities, mostly Midwest traffic with some E-W coverage (which is what United should have focused on in Cleveland, which is a low congestion air space and as an airport has some of the FEWEST weather delays in the nation). He also felt that Concourse D will eventually come back to life, but that United (it figures) will hold it hostage for a while.
On that topic, it's costing United over $12 million a YEAR to hold on to Concourse D, so I have to wonder how much money were they REALLY losing in Cleveland, or did Mr. Smisek just want to get out of Dodge. When you add up all of their exit costs, and I'm by no means any financial wizard, I have to wonder if it was worth it. Couple that to all the delay costs they have added in ORD and EWR (especially ORD) such as accommodation, food and "bumping" costs, and I'm willing to bet a thorough financial analysis will demonstrate that Mr. Smisek and his executive team made a bone-headed decision on Cleveland.
If I were a UAL shareholder (and I think I may buy 1 share so I can speak out at the next annual meeting), I think I would be asking Mr. Smisek and his team what the TRUE cost savings were with closing Cleveland. I'm willing to bet a dozen doughnuts they would have a hard time showing any savings within 5 years, and if they HONESTLY figured in the additional costs due to delays, etc., I'll add a second dozen doughnuts that says they are actually HURTING their profitability. They need to ADD to their "per seat mile" costs the delays, etc., rather than bury them as "misc" expenses.
Let me throw some more tinder on this topic...
* ORD delays have INCREASED since the close of the CLE hub (see numerous articles in Chicago Sun Times and FAA statistics).
* United has to pay just over $1 million a MONTH through 2027 to pay off the debt for Cleveland Hopkin's Concourse D (a little factoid most of you shareholders probably DON'T know)
* Eaton, Parker, Rockwell, Sherwin Williams, and several other Cleveland-based blue-chips are hammering the Cleveland Port Authority and other local agencies to improve the flight situation in Cleveland. The result appears to be the emergence of Jet Blue as a potential developer of a new mini hub in Cleveland over the next 3-4 years so they can expand within the Midwest market slot.
* Most importantly, Jeff Smisek LIED to shareholders last year when he made the following WRITTEN statement: "Our hub in Cleveland hasn't been profitable for over a decade..." Just a couple years earlier, then-United Senior Vice President of Network Greg Hart, who has since moved into a new role as Chief Operating Officer as of December 2013, commented, "Year after year, (Cleveland Hopkins International Airport's) performance is better than some of the other hubs in terms of profitability." OK, so which is it, Mr. Smisek? You realize that LYING as an OFFICER of a publicly traded company potentially violates Sarbanes Oxley, as it is basically a lie to your auditor? (See Crains Cleveland article among others for more on this topic).
United F*&KED Cleveland when they moved out. The company's CEO LIED to local employees, and LIED to its own shareholders. Many of us understand the business reasons for the closure - per seat mile costs for Embraer regionals were (key word - WERE) higher vs. larger jets, FAA meddling in pilot regulations, etc. However, the way it was done has materially harmed the economic market of Northeast Ohio.
I continue to say...Mr. Smisek has a good airline. Trouble is, he started with a great one!
Based on what I'm reading, I don't think they can keep flying bags for free, and will start charging like everyone else does. If I were a shareholder of LUV (I am not), I would demand it.
Remember THOSE words? Now that Mike is worm food, wonder how Mary is doing these days? Is she living out her life from a cardboard box? All those years WASTED fighting VAR and others. I remember how entertained I was reading all of the messages posted on this board. Alas, they're gone, just like Mike.
Our company consults with several Fortune 500 clients. One area we have been investigating is how to better leverage business travel, both in time and money saved. As we research this topic, we're finding that it's making less business sense to fly, once "face to face" relationships have been established. There are a number of ways we are helping clients save time and money:
.....* Increase the frequency of internet conference meetings. These are high quality transmissions, including video, between multiple sites. It has worked so well for some of our NE Ohio and Western PA clients that some of them are considering suspending all but the most essential travel (bad news for Cleveland Hopkins and Pittsburgh airports).
.....* Use Amtrak and Megabus for certain itineraries. We're finding (and Mythbusters has confirmed) that shorter haul trips require the same amount of time to travel this way, and is much less stressful.
.....* Use rental cars, similar to Amtrak and Megabus, for certain itineraries. Same reasoning, even cheaper.
Air travel has gotten completely out of hand. Flying is no longer a premium option. The quality of the service (or lack of), the poor conditions on board the plane, and the increasing reduction of space between passengers has made this mode of travel inconvenient for all but the slimmest and shortest of passengers. Bottom line...if the trends in the industry continue, we anticipate a reduction in air travel in 2 to 3 years, accelerating after that. If there is a downturn in the economy, this sector will get hit first and get hit hard.
I think stkmrkts is suffering from delusional thinking. That said, Jeff Smisek publicly made the comment that United (and Continental) lost money for "over a decade" in Cleveland (Bloomberg, February 3, 2014). Oddly, Gordon Bethune, former CEO of Continental, said that Continental was making money back in 2008 (USA Today, February 17, 2008). Am I to assume that Jeff, an attorney and executive officer, committed slander when he made his comment? Based on the research I've done, the answer appears to be "yes".
On the topic of United, they can't get out of Cleveland fast enough. They are a HORRIBLE airline and nowhere near the caliber of Continental. I have shifted my travel to other airlines in recent months, and will be done with United as soon as I burn off what's left of my frequent flyer miles. I'm not sure Cleveland can support a hub, but we could use a few international flights in and out of our market. I hear the comments that executives from Eaton, Parker, Sherwin Williams and other major companies headquartered in NE Ohio are making and that is they would like to see "better quality" at Hopkins airport. My interpretation - another airline to come in and provide a higher level of service than United.
Mr. Smisek, my hat's off to you. You have done more to turn United into the $h|++iest airline to fly in the shortest amount of time. Bravo! I just saw the latest "cuts" that will be made, and I have to say, I am now so glad our company had the foresight to install high quality internet meeting equipment at all of our sites. We no longer have to endure the $h|+ you continue to dish out to your customers, in the form of increasingly poor service and higher prices for less. If the auto companies did this, they would lose customers. Unfortunately, with the monopolies that have been created via mergers, choice is something that is long gone when one wants to fly. Continental USED to be a great airline. That is until you took it over. Now as United it SUCKS.
I gave up on TWC. For 2 years I have constantly called them to fix the poor quality of my HD feed to no avail. I fired TWC. I'm not sure who's worse - TWC or United Airlines. If this is how a company is supposed to be run, I am scared for the future of America.
O'Hare ... Newark ... Dulles ... Houston ... LAX
Is it any wonder this airline stinks? I miss CAL and flying through CLE ... never had any connection issues, always went smoothly, great airport. Now they're cutting flights at CLE faster than fat grows on a mother in law. I miss the old days.
I read where LUV is expanding in nearby CAK and am wondering if LUV would reduce or eliminate flights in and out of CLE. Anyone knowledgeable in the industry that could comment on this?