United Airlines Doesn’t Know What an ‘Enhancement’ Is

“Enhancements” are the bane of every frequent flyer’s existence. For years that word has been mocked because every devaluation, every cut, every dimunition in service is described as an enhancement. It may also be described as the result of “listening to customers.”

Matthew points out the latest bastardization of this word and it comes from United.

United has eliminated a bunch of alcohol choices onboard, has not replaced them with alternate options, and calls it an enhancement.

Effective today (January 1, 2018), in addition to the already eliminated Grand Marnier, the following other liquors have been eliminated from liquor offerings on all worldwide flights as part of the continued service enhancements: Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, Canadian Club Reserve, Courvoisier VSOP, and Crown Royal.

Naturally they’re doing this because it’s what customers want,

We did remove some of the less popular liquor selections which will allow us to reduce some of the complexity from the operation and let us evaluate new products.

Of course it is entirely possible to evaluate products and develop a future plan before you actually remove choices from the plane. Note that United isn’t saying they will be adding new choices in the future, just considering products which is something that every airline is always doing.

So they’ve eliminated 5 onboard choices. And each successive elimination continues the airline’s service enhancements. If they’re striving for even more enhancements, we can expect more eliminations. Imagine if the FAA allowed them to remove seats they could reach the Platonic ideal of service.

Fake Jeff Smisek on Twitter continues to ring true,

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Who would actually fly this airline?
    Sure they know enhancements
    They re accommodated that nice Dr off the plane for his own good
    He didn’t listen to his inflight jail wardens

  2. At least the Canadian Club isn’t a huge loss. I’m not usually one to say “stay in your lane”, but on this one I’m pretty firm: whiskey comes from the south, beer from the north!

  3. I fly UA quite a bit and to me, I can see the ‘enhancement’ argument…The FA’s don’t have unlimited space in the beverage carts, and stocking all those various liquors takes up room. I can’t even begin to count the number of times an FA has had to sub out my request for Jack or Buffalo Trace with CC Reserve because they ran out. So if UA’s data is saying ‘hey, no one is choosing CC Reserve or Courvoisier’ then pull those choices so they can stock more of what customers actually want to drink. But hey, I know that logic doesn’t make for sexy blog entries.

  4. The language used is obviously stupid, but if this is the worst service cutback at UA this year, I’ll be happy.

    FWIW, I recently sat next to a deadheading UA flight attendant who told me everything I ever wanted to know (and more) about flying for UA. He is a relatively senior FA, who actually appreciates the sweet gig he’s got (almost $100K pay and a couple weeks off a month), and bemoans the lack of service culture among some of his colleagues. One of the things that pissed him off was the inability of many of his colleagues to even know what liquor the airline serves. Like they don’t know what a “craft beer” is. So maybe simplifying things isn’t a bad idea. A little more training would seem like a good idea, though!

  5. Devil’s cut was the only good thing to drink because they always seemed to be conveniently out of Buffalo Trace…

  6. I’m going to miss the cognac after dinner, for the few times I use UA for any long haul.

  7. Show me how DL or AA serve both a good bourbon (Buffalo) *and* a single malt (Glenfarclas) on run of the mill domestic flights.

    UNITED does.

    The bottom of the barrel competitors don’t.

  8. Plainly this new ‘enhancement’ is strictly an enhancement, albeit minor, to their bottom line. Personally I wouldn’t notice the absence of these drinks, but I’m certain the free-loading guzzlers would! Never one to welcome enhancements (in airlinese-speak), I am with UA on this one (only just, mind you!)

  9. One man’s “enhancement” is another’s “entitlement”

    Obviously someone in Chicago didn’t get their “present” this year.

  10. It may just be that there wasnt enough demand for these spirits to justify keeping them in stock. Agreed, its ridiculous to call it at enhancement, but lugging around some liquor because its going to be consumed once a month is a waste

  11. Compared to revenue from luggage or ticket changes or wifi, etc, how much do airlines make from alcohol sales?

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