United Make Inflight Credit Card Pitches Mandatory Starting September 1

American’s President Scott Kirby became the President of United Airlines. He found that United’s credit card program was lagging and also shared that in his experience onboard is the single most effective acquisition channel. So United started making these announcements too.

The President of American AAdvantage sees inflight credit card announcements as win-win, educating the consumer, since most passengers fly the airline no more than once a year and so for the majority it’s new to them. I think these announcements can be made better for the passenger experience. Regardless they aren’t going away because they’re effective regardless of how passengers feel about them.

Indeed United is going to make these announcements mandatory.

In an internal message sent to flight crews on Tuesday, John Slater, the senior vice president of inflight services, shared that as of September 1, United would start requiring its flight crews to pitch the card on every domestic and international flight that the airline operates.

…To motivate crews, Slater also shared that a promotional $100 kickback would be given to any flight attendant who acquired a customer — up from the current $50 bonus.

Co-brand partner banks are the biggest customers airlines have, so the move is in fact customer-responsive, whether or not it’s passenger-responsive.

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. United needs to make the unemployment of Scott Kirby mandatory. I don’t think he’s done a single positive thing for the airline. The day he gets fired is the day I’ll feel good about flying United again.

  2. I’m about to dump my $450 Presidential Plus Chase card. I never use it anymore and I rarely stop by the United Club since they are usually too crowded.

  3. They need to add value such as getting status points. Hyatt has the correct idea.

  4. There are two big reasons why they are lagging in sign ups
    5/24 Rule by Chase and poor award availability and close in ticketing fees
    Some folks are hip to Uniteds way and gave up on them as I did
    I’m spending on their competitors cards

  5. Scott is a fountain of brilliant ideas. He really should take this to the next level: Require crews to read the announcements every 60 seconds, and increase the volume each time. Then charge an opt-out fee. For a mere $200, passengers who opt out would get to rent noise-blocking headphones. The headphones would have the Saks 5th Avenue logo to match the Polaris blankets.

    We can only hope this trend continues beyond United, because American will only implement it if Delta does.

  6. Get rid of the incentive to blogs; they are too biased (not referring to this article specifically)

  7. I have read comments about blogs being unfair marketing resources for cards. I have been following several people for a few years and learned enough to fly multiple business and first class flights each year. Each blogger I read clearly states they are compensated, and in my opinion, they are fairly evaluated.

    Individuals have different needs, resources and spending habits these blogs make sure you are aware of the options pros and cons of the current promotions in card sign-ups, points purchases and promotions or options in using the points. I read them and make decisions for myself but I also support the writers when I am ready to apply for one of the options, I make sure I use a link provided to thank them for the effort in the research and sharing of information. If you don’t agree, research on your own, it can be overwhelming without the information provided in these blogs. Just my opinion.

  8. My last three international round trip UA flights (in E+) did not offer a beverage and snack service. The FAs bundled the meal with beverage. I can’t tell if this is a crew move (less work = more break time) or Kirby’s directive to cut beverage and snacks.

    But, it created a void that can now be filled with on-board commercials.

    I encourage everyone to take an application, put in nothing more than Scott Kirby’s name and mail it back.

  9. How long will it be before some enterprising crew start sending in bogus applications in order to get the spiff? (They already have passenger info on the flight manifest.). Didn’t Slater learn anything from the Wells Fargo debacle?

  10. Just did a RT from TPA-ORD and both flights had FA walking the isle advertising the card. I thought to myself they must get a kickback for it – it felt soo old school to me. Today I see your post on it so its already happening

  11. Talk about an obnoxious practice. It’s bad enough to be subjected to marketing calls and email pishing without being subjected to this type of unwanted hard sell of a product when you are captive in an airplane at 30,000 ft. Get rid of Scott Kirby and fast!

  12. Mark,
    I am doing the same with the obsolete United Presidential Plus Card. I do not see valid reason to keep it. We fly on United every month, but after years of having this card the bonuses of this card are lagging the newer cards. We will keep our Reserve Card for now which gives us 3 point on travel and dinning, plus other clubs access.

  13. Glad I don’t fly United or care about 5/24. 18/24, Amex/Barclays/Citi and American /Delta/Southwest is giving me enough options.

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