Back in the fall of 2003 United had a guy named Ted going around Denver picking up lunch tabs for entire restaurants. You see, Ted was their new low cost carrier ‘within the airline’ that United was launching. Ted was your friend. He was fun.
That’s not how Ted turned out, in fact Ted – which shared the last 3 letters of United – was often described as being “the end of United.” And United retired Ted on January 6, 2009.
Around the time that United was paying someone to pick up lunch, US Airways decided it needed to respond and so a guy named “Seth” picked up a few lunch tabs in Crystal City near the carrier’s Arlington, Virginia headquarters. Although by that time US Airways’ low cost carrier within a carrier MetroJet was already long gone, and Seth wasn’t tied in any way to… anything.
Well, United back paying someone to do something unusual – in this case hold up a sign for departing passengers. As Scott Mayerowitz writes at The Points Guy,
A source, who was not authorized to speak with media, told TPG that United kicked off the campaign in July to let customers to know how much it cares and appreciates their business.
Each hub has a flight picked out for the month where ramp agents hold up the signs. In Los Angeles, it was Flight 514 to JFK.
This headline and picture SMH — United is really paying a guy to hold up a ‘thank you’ sign https://t.co/VnT8bC0tAQ
— Daniel Lippman (@dlippman) July 28, 2021
This is a neat gesture. However it’s Scott Kirby’s United so it isn’t offered to all passengers on all flights. Instead only hubs – and only one flight a day at each – receive this thank you treatment. When United invests in thanking customers, it seems they’re careful not to invest too much.