United’s New CEO Has a Top Priority: Service-Oriented Flight Attendants. Why He’s Likely to Fail.

Business stories like the one new United CEO Oscar Munoz is telling are almost always apocryphal, although they sometimes contain a kernel a truth. They can encapsulate an idea in a way that goes viral because it’s in the form of a narrative. And it seems to represent how Munoz is thinking about changing the culture at United.

    Like many United fliers in recent years, Oscar Munoz was recently on a lousy flight to Chicago. It was Labor Day, just after his daughter got married and just before he took over as CEO of the airline.

    He was in the seat he always seems to get, 22A, on a cramped 50-seat regional jet. Two people were denied boarding because the flight was overbooked. The plane was delayed on the tarmac for about a half hour, only to experience further delays upon landing because an airport gate wasn’t ready. Then he had what seemed like a “five-hour wait for my luggage to get there.”

    Yet through that, his most vivid recollection is Jenna. Jenna was the flight attendant on that miserable trip. “Throughout that whole disaster, her smile, her willingness to take care of everybody on that small flight, asking ‘more ice, more drinks, anything else I can do?’”

    As he waited at the baggage carousel, he sidled up anonymously to a young couple and prodded them for complaints, “Can you believe how long this luggage thing is taking?” They agreed but quickly mentioned Jenna. “Wasn’t that woman nice on that flight?” Munoz called that a watershed moment for him as he takes the controls at the world’s second-largest airline. “Everybody on that flight remembered that,” Munoz said.

    “The process and systems and investments and all that stuff? Those are all wonderful … but what I’ve got to start with is people. “If I get maybe 5,000 Jennas working through this, I think I can make it work.”

Tells that this story isn’t quite how things happen:

  • The CEO of United — himself a member of the Board before that — ‘always seems to get’ seat 22A (as though it is outside his control)
  • His example of a flight from hell is a 30 minute tarmac delay (something outside the control of the airline most likely) and a wait for a gate on arrival. Then an exaggerated delay for luggage.
  • Yet with a happy ending.

This is all carefully told. Nonetheless, Munoz is right: US airlines are making historic investments in their inflight hard product. American alone is floating numbers like $2 billion (accounting for all of its previously-announced investments and not including new aircraft). But no matter how much they invest in seats, or inflight entertainment, or internet, they cannot deliver a product that’s on par with many of their international competitors.

United brought back ‘the Friendly Skies’ without friendly people, describing their features and benefits as ‘flyer friendly’.

The actual friendly part doesn’t really cost more, but it’s much harder to create a culture — and the incentives — which foster it. In fact, net net it tends to be airlines with lower labor costs that are actually friendlier.

Flight attendants can be there primarily for your safety or can provide an experience of true hospitality. In the U.S. outstanding crews are generally great by virtue of their own choice and drive rather than company culture. Fixing that is the part that not only doesn’t cost money, it can be less expensive, but it’s hard to get there once you’ve lost it.

United is the airline that introduced flight attendants in the first place. And it was one of the leaders in unionization as well, former airline President Pat Patterson pioneered turning employee scheduling over to the unions, believing that they were closer to the needs of their members than the company was.

In the heavily unionized sector, there’s little relationship between customer service and pay or advancement. There are modest efforts, like giving most frequent customers certificates that they can offer to employees who go above and beyond (and those certificates then in turn serve as raffle tickets for modest drawings), those efforts are very much at the margins. Since it’s generally hard to get fired from a union position, service standards are very difficult to enforce.

Though even at a United, the differences in customer service — aside from the occasional flight attendant who simply by force of personality exudes an outward love for customers and their job, by no fault of the company’s or its work rules — can be seen on a route-by-route basis. United’s flight attendants are often the most indifferent in premium cabins (where there are fewer passengers to serve) on the most interesting international routes. That’s because the most jaded tend to be the most senior, and flight attendants ‘bid’ or pick their routes based on seniority. And they also bid their work position on the plane in a similar fashion. So you get the ironic outcome of serving your highest paying customers with the highest seniority crew members who often want to offer superior service the least.

This isn’t always and everywhere a problem of unions, Southwest and Alaska manage a higher proportion of friendly flight attendants than the legacy carriers while being unionized. Delta’s non-union flight attendants aren’t friendlier than Southwest’s unionized ones.

Delta’s operations have been relatively similar to United’s and American’s in terms of incentives despite the former being non-union and the latter having flight attendants unions. Delta has taken more cultural approaches to improve flight attendant demeanor, such as the introduction of a glamorous ‘red dress.’ (Unions complained that the sexy optional red dress wasn’t offered in plus-sizes, and pilots evaluate female Delta flight attendant figures based on whether or not they are “RDQ” or ‘Red Dress Qualified’) The archetype here is the flight attendant from the airline’s most famous safety video, Deltalina.

There are lots of things that an airline can do to demoralize their employees, and not doing those things is a good start. Operationally challenged airlines are depressing for employees, they are constantly dealing with unhappy passengers. Cost-cutting airlines are depressing for employees, because it chips away at the product they need to be proud of and because they’re the ones who bear the brunt of customer displeasure when there’s a mismatch between expectations and product (“but we used to get a meal free”).

Not demoralizing your employees though doesn’t create a service culture where crew members:

  • feel empowered
  • go out of their way for customers and are rewarded for doing so
  • see it as their job to make the travel experience better for guests onboard, and therefore offer hospitality

Put another way, it’s not clear what the path is to bring United back to credibly be where they claimed they were in 1982.

In fact, just 6 years after that — in 1988 — United was already ‘rededicated‘ to giving you the service you deserve’. They haven’t accomplished that in the past 27 years. How will they do it now?

Munoz wants “5,000 Jennas” and a pony. And at this point we don’t know how he intends to get either. If you want to turn around a culture, you can bonus the kinds of activities you want to see more of (but it can be difficult to do that in an unequal way with a unionized workforce), and you can promote those who exhibit the values and actions you want to promote (but there are little opportunities for this in a unionized workforce).

There are better unionized airline cultures, and worse non-union ones. The destruction of the culture is not the fault of workers or unions. But the airline will need flexibility in work and compensation rules if it is going to turn around a culture that management has ruined.

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. Excellent analysis, Gary. I feel a bit more optimistic about seeing at least a bit of improvement in service if in fact Munoz relaxes some of picayune cost-cutting and the ridiculous, rigid rules that he imposed on United personnel, thus empowering them to try to satisfy passengers more in case of delays and the like. That in turn would reduce the disgruntlement that they bring on board, which can trigger better attitudes and service from flight attendants. I don’t think that’s a complete or even main solution, but it does seem like the Smisek regime put the frontline personnel in a service straitjacket in many respects.

    Is Delta really as bad as United and American in terms of uneven levels of service delivery, including by flight attendants? I never fly Delta due to its lousy frequent flyer program, but my vague impression is that it gets better reviews from its customers (though I’m not sure that extends beyond on-time arrival and other operational matters).

    Perhaps you’ve written about this before, but I’d welcome a post from you offering your speculation on why United and other US airlines agree to let the unions block customer service ratings or other types of service evaluation from being a factor in promotions, prime routes, etc. Yes, I suppose that the flight attendant unions are adamant about this and that the members who dominate the unions are probably the senior FAs who benefit from this arrangement. But surely the executive teams know that one factor that drives international business class and first class customers to foreign airlines is the unreliable levels of service their FAs deliver in those cabins (and that it can sometimes involve only one lousy experience to outweigh 10 good or adequate ones). And certainly the executive teams play hardball with the unions in other respects, or might be prepared for some trade-offs in negotiations in order to make service more of a factor in awarding perks. Or am I wrong in assuming that: a) a good number of customers decide on that basis or b) that the airline executives are aware of this?

  2. It’s an uphill battle and that will take at least a decade to change, you will have to get the lazy CO FA’s to buy in on this, which wont be easy, and second, the unions will have to step up the pressure and educate the FA’s that they are the face of the airline… I hope I am wrong, in that the CO FA’s will drop the pissy attitude and deliver service with a smile.

  3. I don’t know if it’s just me and the people I work with, but when flying in econ on United we rarely find that one amazing flight attendant makes a great experience. For myself, and my colleagues, it usually works the other way around, one awful flight attendant ruins the experience.

    For a quick example, I was on an international flight in econ. It was a Boeing 777 and featured the usual two main aisles. Anyway, my side had 3 or 4 flight attendants that would go up and down constantly, doing a great job. They did everything one could ask for. On the other side the majority of them were the same way. Though there was one flight attendant on the other side, who was just a pain, didn’t want to do her job, didn’t understand why things were being done a certain way, yelling across the aisle to her fellow flight attendants (which by the way, they took her yelling in stride and tried to help her) but anyway, even though she didn’t really directly affect my flight, she took away from the overall experience of it.

    So even if Oscar has “5,000 Jenna’s” I personally think the one “bad” flight attendant is more of a threat.

  4. I see the core of your argument being like that for tipping. Bonus is just tipping administered by someone else.

    OBVIOUSLY being happy/helpful is better
    Therefore if we reward people with money every time we are happy….
    they will be happy/helpful more of the time

    Multiple studies proved that tipping and service quality are not closely coupled. As recently as 100 years ago, it was ILLEGAL in six states and considered akin to bribery not something for honest people. You want better employees, then promote and pay better as a normal salary, your best employees. Do what it takes to make them happy at work.

  5. How about giving them their pensions back and for customers undoing the massive destruction of frequent flyer miles valuation?

  6. Clearly he is delusional as Jenna is not the norm. He should try flying international and encountering one of the old angry attendants that have created their own negative culture.
    How about he take other airlines flights and experience what quality positive service is about.

  7. Here’s a counter-data point from the opposite side: the service on Spirit is consistently good and, in my experience, delivered with a smile. Maybe because coffee is $1.50?

  8. It is the culture that is the big factor and whatever is thrown at the problem it will be impossible to change. Simply put, people are not as they were in the 1940s when airline travel was a luxury and the uniqueness of being a commercial aviation pioneer was fun for both the customer and the crew. There was decorum and respect; passengers dressed nicely for flights and this aspect had a knock on effect on the crew; people were adults, treated as adults, they were for the most part well mannered. Fast forward: flip flops, yesterday’s shorts, exposed tattoo’d flesh, nose piercings, greasy hair, people clipping toenails at their seat, people propping their naked feet up on the head rest, on and on. I’d hate to work with a public that doesn’t much care for their fellow passengers or themselves. Some FAs become jaded with the familiarity breeds contempt syndrome. The laid back, devil may care lifestyle has brought the seeds of decline. Management/leadership has been absent and rendered useless for decades now. I believe many FAs would love to work in a better atmosphere of a bygone golden age. That said, there are certainly FAs who should never work with the public. One thing Munoz needs to do right now is order FAs to stop hiding out in the galley and do their jobs beyond conducting cross checks and checking seat belts! Passengers could contribute greatly as well to create a positive service synergy by noting their own conduct. The downhill trajectory of society is something that no one single person can wave a wand to fix – and millionaire Munoz is no Merlin.

  9. Two suggestions that will have an immediate effect.
    –Reverse course on revenue based Frequent Flyer program.
    –Get rid of spending requirements for each elite level.

  10. Do not fly any airline that doesn’t give actual mileage flown for base. Let them know why you refuse to fly them. United and Delta had a dozen flights I would have taken recently due to better schedule or cost but I will not book them until they give me my full mileage back. This is where I draw the line, and if everyone else does too then American will not go revenue-based. They are only expected to because of conventional wisdom. Upend the conventional wisdom by refusing to support devaluation. Their profits prove they can afford it.

  11. I don’t buy the anti-union message. I’ve flown them for 35 years, and back when “the friendly skies” were for real, United employees were unionized. The key issue is that employees tend to treat customers in the same fashion that their management treats them. And, United has been treating its employees like crap for years, including screwing them on pensions. There is a lot of pent up anger over this issue, and in more recent years about the pettiness and scorn that management shows its employees.

    I also don’t buy the ageism shown in your writing. I’ve had incredible service from UA “matrons” and crappy service from younger employees. The key is to get people to love their jobs; that requires a work environment where employees are valued.

  12. @Jim nothing age-related in criticizing a seniority system, and I make the point that there are unionized airlines providing much better service — but if you’re going to move from one culture to another there is a need for flexibility that the current contract makes very difficult.

  13. Deep subject. I assume since he was on a regional jet that the FA wasn’t even a mainline company FA and most likely from a regional airline like Republic, etc. Not some tenured bitter burnt out union rep FA.

  14. @daninmci said it best. The employee he was talking about didn’t even work for United. You would think the guy could at least come up with a decent story about his own employees.

  15. I wish him luck but the problem is so deeply embedded in UA I don’t see how he’ll root it out. As just one example I had 4 award seats booked on EVA. UA cancelled the reservation before the ticketing deadline. They admitted it that should not have occurred and was completely their fault but it’s what happened next that shows how dysfunctional UA is. Reservations just threw up their hands. They simply had no system for resolving the problem. They couldn’t fix it nor did they have a mechanism for sending me to someone who could. That this is the case speaks volumes about management, not the line employees. It serves their purpose to have unresolvable.

    But that isn’t the worst of it. I contacted the office of the President. To their credit, and my surprise, I was emailed back. We then spoke on the phone and they promised to look into what had happened and get back to me.

    I never heard. The person simply vanished.

    When you can’t even get the people who supposedly handle issues for the President of the company to follow through there really isn’t a lot of hope that the rest of the organization is going to do so either. Culture comes from the top and the top at UA has made it abundantly clear how they run their business.

    There are literally hundreds of examples of this kind of behavior by United. Eventually people get tired of it and move on. In my case after more than 30 years of UA being my first choice in a carrier with something like 20 of those as a 1 Million mile flyer I haven’t flown with them since.

    I fly with Alaska. That’s an airline that tries to do it right. Sometimes they mess up but when they do you have a number to call and someone on the other end with the brains, authority and common sense who works to make it right.

    It’s like day and night the difference between these organizations. United is like dealing with the Soviet bureaucracy. Alaska is like a visit to a local independent store.

    I wish him luck but I’ll continue to withhold my patronage until they at least make good on their promise to get back to me. That’s pretty basic and something that the office of the President really ought to be able to do.

  16. Gary, I must say you and many commenters are totally off base here, pontificating as if you had a clue about what drives employee engagement and claiming that what passengers want is friendly FAs as opposed to plain old good service. Friendly service is not necessarily good service, and good service is not necessarily friendly. I don’t want to see pictures of my FA’s kids. FAs just need to get me a PDB and spend their time taking care of passengers not gossiping or reading in the galley. The best waiters aren’t chatty. They attend to their customers needs. The same with FAs.

    I won’t write the book on how to change cultures and get employees engaged in customer service in this comments section, but one very easy example (and surprising ommission from your post) for any company to study is CO. That airline went from having the worst service to the best among major domestic airlines all while being unionized. And it didn’t take a decade. I will bet you dollars to doughnuts it had little, if anything, to do with promoting friendly people or bonusing individual actions unequally.

  17. In Bethune’s book he talks about incentivizing on-time performance and bonusing across the company for it, so what’s the most famous story about flight attendant interactions that comes out of it? It’s not about customer service, it’s about a flight attendant supposedly telling him to take his seat and stop chit chatting because they needed to get the flight off on time.

    Employee engagement isn’t predominantly about compensation but there has to be differential rewards (even if it’s just more authority or more work!) for superior performance and there has to be consequences for poor performance or else poor performers drag down the good ones.

  18. Gary you noticed the phrase “primarily for your safety” is not about safety at all but is rather is a subtle way to say: “F*** you don’t bother me.” I instinctively understood this the first time I heard this phrase in the early 90’s but now that so much time has passed this little bit of orwellian newspeak has become par for the course. Good customer friendly stewardesses are rare nowadays compared to the golden age of air travel in the 60’s and early 70’s. To be honest it very hard to be constantly “on” and bubbly, cheerful and eager to please, I know I couldn’t do it.

  19. “Jenna” isn’t the norm, mainly because she doesn’t work for Unted Airlines. If it was on a 50 seat regional jet, it was UAX.

  20. @John: Good comment. It’s almost as if they need to take UA/AA/DL employees and send them
    to FA school (not remedial as they never learnt properly to start!) in Japan, Singapore or some of the better European countries. I’m sure when FAs from the three legacy Aeroflotish dinosaurs fly
    on quality carriers like NH, JL, SQ, LX, AY, AF, CX, TG, SN, LH, they’re no doubt shocked. Shocked at seeing how it’s professionally done. I’m sure they love getting top service, but dishing it out is another thing. Example: Was on a UA premium economy intl. flt. a few years back. Chicken, beef or pasta asked the middle aged FA. I asked her what kind of beef it was (e.g. steak, meatloaf, duh.) She replied, and I quote her reply as I never forgot it (within earshot of my seat neighbor): ‘Dead.’ I couldn’t imagine such a reply from JL, NH FAs. That’s what passes for FA
    ‘quality service’. Cannot make it up.

  21. Many interesting comments on this post. Maybe Management and the Corporate greedy thugs need to learn about sharing the sacrifices. The employees at Continental went through the gutting of their contract and benefits under Lorenzo. United was the leader until 9/11 and then bankruptcy. Why does management always blame the high costs of labor for their mismanagement. The employees of both of these airlines that have been around for more than a few years, should see that the Corporate GREED in the airlines is outrageous! Gordon rebuilt the trust of the employees after Lorenzo screwed them all. United employees were promised shared sacrifices, shared rewards during the Bankruptcy, they never recieved. So whatever you want to say about the employees/flight attendants, I urge you to be familiar with the history.
    I would also like to add, that sometimes the flight attendants are scheduled for 15-16 hour days with only 8 hours of rest. This could mean by the time they wait for transportation, travel to the hotel, rest, get up shower and get back to the plane they may only have 4-5 hours of sleep.
    So while everyone is reaping the benefits of low fares and CEO’s with golden parachutes, it is all OFF of the workers backs and rest. So don’t be so fast to judge some flight attendants unless you have walked a day in their shoes.

  22. Verbatim language from my union’s contract : ” The employer shall be the sole judge of the productivity and proficiency of the employee . ” In other words you can send them home for any reason except unlawful discrimination.
    In the case of three ‘no rehire ‘ letters to the union in one year the worker can be summoned for evaluation by the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Council . The JATC can impose requirements such as reduction to Apprentice with corresponding reduction in pay , remedial training or other penalties . The JATC consists of equal numbers of Union and Employer representatives .
    At any company treating workers respectfully can make a tremendous difference . Once they are discouraged it can be difficult to regain their enthusiasm .
    For the sake of United , the employees and the customers I wish them the best of luck .

  23. Will you ever write an article that talks about the fliers in this “United States of entitlement “. No please, no thank you, no manners! Just millions of people flying everyday that love to complain and are never happy. Try that environment every day after day after month after year…. And see how you like people!

  24. I have a story about Gordon Bethune and the flight attendants at CAL. Early on after taking the presidency, he was traveling in first class and during the boarding process Gordon witnessed a passenger behaving aggressively with the flight attendants. Gordon went directly to the passenger and asked him how much he had paid for his ticket? Gordon then opened his wallet counted out the cash for the passenger’s ticket and told him to get off his airplane, that no one treats his team that way. This story and others of Gordon’s ACTIONS spread like wildfire. His team started to trust him and follow him. And that’s how you create culture from worst to first. Oscar is on the right track, he is meeting his team with enthusiasm to lead and the team at United is itching to win. It’s early in the game but I think you’ve got this wrong.

  25. Gary,

    I am sure in your travels you have been to Hawaii. I have been lucky enough to have traveled there four times. I have flown UA, AS, US, and DL and since I am flying from the East Coast we always have to connect on the West Coast. You know what I have found? Every one of the flight crews that service the SFO/LAX/SEA/PHX to OGG/HNL are friendly, approachable, and do a good job. I don’t know if it’s an act but I don’t think it is, given the fact it has held true over the years, and across several carriers. I know those are probably the most senior of FAs and pilots that fly those routes. All I know, is that if the crews that are on RJs from Buffalo to Grand Rapids had the same attitudes, demeanor, and willingness to serve as those crews that fly to Hawaii, the entire airline industry would improve. Customers would be happier, and everyone would benefit.

  26. You should check your facts more carefully for your stories. Southwest flight attendants are represented by the Transportation Workers Union and Alaska flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants.

  27. @Joanna Rading – I wrote specifically that Southwest and Alaska are unionized, so I wonder if maybe you should read more carefully before telling someone to check their facts? 😉

  28. There are many reasons for poor performance and service. Standards and training are the foundation – today considerable in-service training is CBT, which is fairly easy to carry on in the ready room or at home while paying just enough attention to score in the review. On the job, the degree of service today depends on the individual’s personal values; in the air, many “bid buddies” share those values – so we tend to get crews that mostly shine or mostly fail. In their work culture, they see management driven by cost cutting, unbundling, prying out concessions, catastrophizing about the future- and then giving themselves bonus packages, alleging if they didn’t do this valued managers would leave (for what? A position with the myriad airlines out there it isn’t.)

    So… what? Management needs to clearly communicate a focus on service, to clarify the airline will succeed and workers will succeed if passengers return because of impressive service. Management needs to reward those who follow through. Management needs to walk the talk, and try to become inspirational and, dare I say it? Leaders, not merely managers. Because guess what? Corporate culture doesn’t trickle up from the mail room, the gate or the cabin.

  29. @Tony your comment “It’s an uphill battle and that will take at least a decade to change, you will have to get the lazy CO FA’s to buy in on this” is hilarious and not true! The legacy Continental flight attendants were the ones that won all the awards for customer service, not United like JD Power Highest-ranked airline, Zagat, Fortune, Conde Nast, Business Traveler, etc… The legacy Continental flight attendants had the awesome safety record, non United. The legacy Continental flight attendants worked with the best tools and on the youngest fleet in the airline industry. The legacy Continental flight attendants are the ones that are still delivering great service with an industry leading contract and benefits that they worked together with management and the IAM to get. The legacy United ones are still stuck in their 1980 union tactics that forget United and it’s passengers cut their paychecks, not the Union. So before busting the legacy Continental flight attendants you might want to get your facts right.

  30. There are lots of reasons for less-than-perfect flight attendants, but isn’t the number one reason the fact that the job is a repetitive grind? And the longer you do it, the more you tire of “caring” for your passengers?

    Are their foreign airlines with lots of older flight attendants who provide better service than old USA flight attendants?

    I remember JetBlue founder David Neeleman saying he preferred to avoid hiring “career” flight attendants. He thought it better if they worked for a few years and then moved on. He’s probably right, but it’s so incredibly un-PC that I’m sure it’s never going to catch on.


  31. There are many reasons service has suffered on major airlines recently. We are just beat up, getting squeezed on both sides. But here is the real truth…..you are no longer in the 70’s
    flying “Clipper Class”. You are now flyimg a Greyhound bus. No matter how you try to spin it, airline travel has become so routine, the service has been so scaled down, the staffing reduced and the planes so jam-packed it is impossible to give the level of service that people seem to expect. I used to LOVE my job, but I no longer have time to provide the hospitality and service (esp. In first or business). I used to. So next time you wag your empty wine glass at me, take a moment to notice me running my ass off just trying to do the service, let alone be “flyer friendly”.

  32. Gary, Tossing a morsel to an employee when they exhibit a desired behavior, or firing or punishing those who don’t (the “trained seal” approach to employee behavior) is doomed to fail to get the desired results unless the workforce is FIRST engaged. Munoz can talk about making service a priority until he is blue in the face. However until he vastly improves the level of employee engagement at UA, which is generally defined as employees who are absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and take positive action to enhance the company’s reputation and interests while also improving their own sense of well being, his efforts will be futile. UA needs to figure out what it needs to do and follow through.

  33. Seniority will always be around, even when there is no union. Seniority is industry standard world wide. That is NOT what drives customer service issues.

  34. @Mark Uli I guess we see things differently, I remember the UA FA’s being the ones giving the better service, I remember CO’s FA’s complaining to pax’s about the horrible contracts.. But it doesn’t matter really Mark, the culture at COdbaUA still will take a decade to change.

  35. Gary is a bit on the pessimistic side of things and can only talk about it. All things are possible & Mr.Bethune proved that. As for the “John” who has a post on here. You must be an “original” United Airlines guy because a GREAT deal of the negative attitude is from the United side of this NEW UNITED. Continental Airline Flight Attendants had YEARS of top awards from
    JD Powers, prior to the merger. Not all but most of the Continental Flight Attendants STILL have that winning attitude in spite of all the changes.
    Mr.Munoz has the support from his employees to turn this around.

  36. Tony needs to get his facts straight too. United Flight Attendants are the ones that are mostly miserable NOT the Continental Flight Attendants!!

  37. @Beth I’ve had horrible CO FA’s, the worst was on a flight between EWR-PHX, the lead FA sat on her A55 in the jump seat and complained about her job and how horrible passengers are. She in fact ordered the FC FA not serve the salad or the Desert to FC…

  38. The flight was overbooked, two customers were left behind. The CEO occupied a seat that could have been used by one of those paying customers. Good service starts at the top.

  39. After rereading the article, I see he was on his way to Chicago to take the new position. But none the less, what a gesture he could have made, giving up his seat for a paying passenger.

  40. Why not try to tip the F/A? That’s why servers in restraunts give that type of service: for the tips; and there is a direct relationship between what the guest spends, plus pleasing the guest, and the money earned by the server. F/A’s get a smile…or not…Tip for the service you get….or at least smile and be kind and respectful towards the F/A. Make her/his day pleasant, and you and others will benefit. A note: crews are only paid flight hours; so everything prior to leaving the gate, and after arrival is unpaid. Be kind.

  41. United bigger problem is their ground staff. Most of them have personality worse than a toilet bowl (toilet bowl is always welcoming!) They think it is a nuisance to be dealing with you and I.

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