Should United’s CEO Resign?

Should United’s CEO resign? Almost 9,000 people have signed a petition demanding that he do just that.

Should United’s CEO resign? Almost 9,000 people have signed a petition demanding that he do just that.

The online petition was launched by former United employees and cites dissatisfaction not just from retirees but from current employees and customers as well. From the petition:

United Airlines has turned its back on its employees and customers. Thousands of middle-class jobs are being outsourced and retiree benefits slashed. Loyal flyers are finding diminishing service due to cost cutting measures to what was once world class service. United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek has been the guiding hand in wrecking the company and the lives of the loyal, hardworking employees that made United great. Deciding we had enough, a group of employees and retirees of United Airlines, along with frequent fliers, started this petition to demand the immediate resignation of Jeff Smisek as CEO of United Airlines.

According to the complainants, United’s fall began with Smisek’s mishandling of the merger with Continental, a charge that many frequent flyers would agree with.

The employment-related gripes appear on target as well. Notwithstanding job-security promises Smisek made to Congress in the run-up to the Continental merger, in 2010, United recently announced that jobs at as many as 28 airports might be outsourced to contract companies.

Smisek has also been under pressure from industry analysts and Wall Street investors, underwhelmed by the airline’s recent financial performance.

Whatever the merits of the petition, and of the dissatisfaction expressed elsewhere, it’s not likely to succeed in dislodging Smisek from his lofty, lucrative position. The best that United customers can hope for is that the unfriendly skies become a bit less turbulent.

Reader Reality Check

Jeff Smisek: In or out?

This article originally appeared on

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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