I tried really, really, really hard not to say anything about United in the aftermath of CEO Jeff Smisek’s departure. Then I made the mistake of reading things on the internet. All the usual suspects were in play – MileagePlus changes, revenue-based, mean people, bad food, etc. but my personal favorite was a recommendation that United introduce a new business class seat today. Yeah, even if it is needed (and it is), that takes more than 24 hours to pull off, but I digress. All of these are worthy thoughts, but I’m not certain they should be United’s focus right now.

Nothing else matters until they fix the mess of an operation United has become. All the fancy seats and bonus miles in the world do not matter if an airline cannot get you and your belongings from A to B to C on time without making you feel like you’ve been beaten on the head with a plastic wine bottle in the process. Fix the airline and a lot of beautiful things begin to happen. Your employees don’t have to deal with as many angry customers which is less draining on them. Your customers begin to not dread the thought of flying you. They buy more tickets. Profits rise. Profit sharing gets paid. A virtuous cycle begins.

There’s obviously plenty to be done, but I’d start with the basics.

-MJ, September 9, 2015


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