Why Exactly Did United End E-fare Emails?

According to Today in the Sky, United is no United's New (Fake) Motto?longer going to send E-fare emails to its customers. E-fares, the ones that are for last minute weekend travel, will still be around on the United website, but they just won’t proactively tell you about them anymore. So what’s up with the customer unfriendly policy? I’m guessing it’s related to United’s new corporate motto, “If it’s broke, don’t fix it.”

I don’t get the E-fare emails from many airlines anymore, or if I do, I just delete them, so I don’t know the state of United’s emails. But there is really no good excuse for removing customer notification for a program that isn’t going away. Here’s how I imagine the conversation going over at United.

Marketeer #1: We’ve got a problem.
Marketeer #2: Just one? So we’re getting better?

Marketeer #1: Very funny. You know those E-fare emails? They don’t work well. We don’t send people the information they want, and it’s an expensive/inefficient system.
Marketeer #2: Hmm, well if it’s a bad experience, we should fix it.

Marketeer #1: Nah, that takes effort. Instead, I think we’ll just stop sending the emails. Then it won’t be bad anymore!
Marketeer #2: But, um, then won’t people have an even worse experience by having to search for the E-fares each week?

Marketeer #1: I’m sorry . . . did you say something?

I can fully understand if United wanted to ditch this program entirely. I mean, these last minute fares have been around for a long time and they likely aren’t generating a huge amount business. But if you’re going to keep the program, you’d think that United would want to at least make it user-friendly.

*sigh*

Updated on 3/12 @ 944a – United Spokesperson Robin Urbanski sent me a note saying the following. “They were discontinued because customers have asked us to reduce the frequency of emails and most go to united.com to find and book our special deals, including e-fares.”

So that appears to be the official stance, but I’ve heard differently from others.

Get Posts via Email When They Go Live or in a Weekly Digest

Leave a Reply

27 Comments on "Why Exactly Did United End E-fare Emails?"

avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Eric
Guest

Cranky…you have been around long enough to know that “United” and ‘user-friendly’ in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

A
Guest

Good riddance. I at least used to get those emails from AA and NW. Mostly garbage flights to places I don’t want to go, or fares that really aren’t anything to write home about…or, I’d have to fly on Thursday and take a whole day of vacation. Most budget travelers are already going to websites like Orbitz and Travelocity looking for weekend deals anyway. This is something I don’t think United is wrong about.

David
Guest
Response rate to these emails can be measured in many ways. 1) Click-through rate – i.e.how many visit the website propted by these emails. 2) Weekend purchase rate – i.e. how many of these last minute tickets get sold purely from these emails, and how many would have been sold anyway. 3) Other ticket purchase rate – i.e. email lures you to visit the website, but you end up buying a different ticket instead Do you have a rough idea as to the response rate generated in all 3 categories by these emails ? An alternative theory is that United… Read more »
Oliver
Guest
Hmmm. When I saw the title of today’s post in my RSS feed, I thought I’d get some insight into the reasoning behind this change. But really, all you (can) offer is speculation mixed in with a bit of United bashing. Not quite what I was expecting. I am (was, I guess) subscribed to these emails from UA and rarely looked at them, because I rarely have the flexibility of making last minute travel plans. And when I did look at them, there often wasn’t an appealing offer (certainly cheaper offers than regular last-minute fares, but again I tend to… Read more »
jaybru
Member
Sadly, another UA program poorly handled. Remember its Silver Wings for seniors program. Kaput! I wrote UA a number of times about its E-Fare program, citing the rigidity of days, its unimaginative city-pair selections, and the fact the fares weren’t always the lowest they were offering for seats that I was led to believe we’re going to go out empty. I asked whether any thought, any thought at all went into the choices of cities offered from week-to-week. Certainly, they could have offered these fares to all sorts of people like me, elite UA fliers, to whom specific origins-destinations, spur… Read more »
Dave
Guest

E-fares emails stopped being useful to me years ago. I was perhaps more likely to take some last minute trip based on an emailed airfare in my younger days. If I have a last minute travel need, then I’ll search kayak..maybe fly.com! and the other usual suspects.

Scott
Guest
I have mixed feelings about this issue. On one hand, I’ve received UA e-fares emails forever and have seen the program slowly erode into a joke. You never see great deals in there anymore and the O&D pairs are almost always the same (from SFO every weekend there are screaming deals to places like Fresno, Bakersfield, and Monterrey!). But at least once a week I thought about UA and considered the idea of taking a spontaneous getaway — not a bad thing. I’m not sure why UA would want me to think of them less frequently, especially when I’ve requested… Read more »
Wonko Beeblebrox
Guest

My motto is: “Never make it hard for someone to give you money.”

That should mean providing your eFares:
a] as a customized email (with your desired routes, or at least home airport, when they go on sale), if a customer wants it.
b] with an RSS feed on your website, if a customer wants it.
c] on your website thru searches

David SF eastbay
Member
Why do the airlines do something and then say it’s what their customers ask for. If people didn’t want the emails just delete them like I do with out even opening it, or opt out if you don’t want to get them anymore. Sounds like this way UA doesn’t have to pay people to maintain the email system that generates these emails. And by having people searching their web site there is a chance people will just book something at the regular price or click on some ad about something else. If UA was really making money on these emails… Read more »
Lewis Lipps
Guest
Yet another example of why we should be writing our senators and representatives and demanding the airline industry be re-regulated. Fares will be cheaper once re-regulation occurs. Airlines will lose the ability to change fares at whim. Think of the other things you can do with the weeks of searching you have to do for a decent fare under the current deregulation scheme. Imagine: airlines, in order to change fares, would have to apply to an administrative agency that is politically accountable to Congress and constituencies it represents. The public good will be bolstered enormously. So write your representatives and… Read more »
UA Flyer
Guest

It won’t be popular here, but I really think that UA is right.

I’m a 1K MM flyer and I look forward to not receiving those emails in future.
Now if I could only get CO to stop sending theirs to me…

Lewis Lipps
Guest
History proves under regulation, cheaper air fares and better service result. Under regulation, there was none of this marketing nonsense harming the public good prevailing under this nonsense deregulated scheme. Don’t be deceived by unsubstantiated claims of cheaper fares under deregulation. They are outright lies, and damned lies. Forty years of regulation produced a superb airline system dismantled beginning with the Lorenzo and Icahn ilk, and continuing up through this Delta/Northwest merger. Enough of airlines’ “we do whatever we want” attitude. Write your senators and representatives and demand that the public good be put to the fore again. Demand that… Read more »
Lewis Lipps
Guest
CF, I’m not sure what “history” there is that doesn’t prove regulation provides cheaper fares. In the United States, that has been extremely true. Fares and lack of service are now far higher than during regulation, and I have a plethora of sources providing evidence substantiating that point. If you have proof fares are lower under deregulation, please post it here, because the traveling public knows that’s a lie. No one cares what you believe. Santa Claus might agree fares are lower under deregulation, but then again it makes sense that a figment would believe in fiction. Travelers, write your… Read more »
Lewis Lipps
Guest
Conventional wisdom is that airlines need regulation to stop them from trampling over the public good, it is not conventional wisdom deregulation is good. Readers, we are consumers. We care about the $$$ we pay for fares; yields, passenger miles are irrelevant and meaningless, unless you blog as a shill on behalf of the Air Transport Association. Such numbers live in the realm of persons at the airlines poring over computers and constantly changing fares intending to sell every seat as high as possible, in violation of the public good. Readers, don’t be fooled by nonsense statistics. CF masterfully omits… Read more »
Phil
Guest

CF, I’m starting to wonder if Lewis is a parody.

Leave the crankster alone ... Dave
Guest
Leave the crankster alone ... Dave

Loose lips is just wasting all of our time. CF does an outstanding job and is not a shill for the airlines. But, we all knew that. I’m still waiting for Lewis Lipps to show us his even ONE source from his “plethora of sources”.

Lewis Lipps
Guest
Well, that says it all. Readers, don’t believe the distortions you hear about lower “average” fares under deregulation. Use your critical thinking skills and investigate for yourself in deciding whether you should have more control over air transport policy in the United States. You don’t have to be hostage to anti-public good agendas and viewpoints. Stop being bullied by airlines and their stockholders (and shill bloggers). Air travel does not have to hurt. Airlines insist that it should. You as a participant in our Democracy, have the right to demand that the airlines be held to account, especially since they… Read more »
Rob
Guest

At the risk of posting a comment relevant to the original post…

@Wonko Beeblebrox: Excellent points about the utility of e-fare alerts that only show departures from my home airport (which United already knows from my MP profile) and that are available via RSS. But do any other airlines do either of those things?

NC
Guest

“customers have asked us to reduce the frequency of emails”. Customers have also asked many times for United to reduce the frequency they sell their customers information to Chase and receive offers for credit cards. I receive at least two offers every month, which is much more annoying than these e-mails. Will United allow customers to opt out of this easily? No, it makes them money. Another example of the stupidity on Wacker Drive.

wpDiscuz