Passenger Rights

United’s New CEO: Yes, We Suck

United’s new CEO has issued an unusually public mea culpa, and promised to listen to the grievances of United customers and workers. What’s next?

The friendly skies, it turns out, weren’t so friendly after all.

Today, in full-page ads in a handful of major newspapers, United’s new CEO, Oscar Munoz, admitted that “the journey hasn’t always been smooth.”

And on, a new website launched to “connect directly with United’s customers and employees to answer your questions and get your feedback about how we can become the world’s best airline,” Munoz allowed as follows:

Let’s be honest, the implementation of the United and Continental merger has been rocky for customers and employees. While it’s been improving recently, we still haven’t lived up to our promise or our potential. That’s going to change.

There’s also a related United-initiated thread on FlyerTalk where some posters report receiving a survey with this opening: “Because you are a valued customer, we are interested in learning about how you view United as a company. Your candid feedback is important as we sharpen our focus on plans for 2016.”

So, what we have is an unusually public mea culpa, and a promise to listen to the grievances of United customers and workers. Certainly those are necessary steps. But they’re just the first in what will have to be a journey of a thousand miles, to reverse the airline’s slide into mediocrity under Jeff Smisek’s leadership.

According to an upbeat Munoz, “It’s going to be a great journey, and we are thrilled you are along for the ride.”

United customers should be encouraged by Munoz’s words, but they won’t be along for the ride forever. Actions matter.

Reader Reality Check

How confident are you that Munoz can pull United out of its tailspin?

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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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