3 Links I Love: Interviewing United Execs, Ramping Up Against Gulf Carriers, Sun Country Look Back

American, Links I Love, Sun Country, United

Tomorrow is Dorkfest!  Hope to see some of you at In-N-Out by LAX between 11 and 1p…

This week’s featured link:
How United’s Working to Right the Ship: An Interview With UA LeadersThe Points Guy
Chris Sloan did an interview with United COO Greg Hart and CCO Andrew Nocella.  It’s a long read and worthwhile, but I found it interesting that some of the comments made seem to go against what Scott Kirby told me and others at Boyd this year.  In particular, the COO says the airline is investing in the Dulles facility while Scott Kirby sounded like that wasn’t the case.

Two for the road:
American CEO on Gulf Carrier Pact: ‘Someone Is Cheating Already’ – Skift
I listened to the A4A summit and heard the whole interview with Doug Parker.  As Skift points out, there’s already some talk about whether the Gulf Carriers aren’t holding up their end of the bargain on the recent agreement between the US and UAE.  Of course, the agreement itself was entirely nebulous and nothing is really being broken here, but it sounds like it might be time for rhetoric to start up again.

Former Sun Country owner learned a lesson: ‘Don’t fly under the radar’ – Minneapolis StarTribune
A few interesting nuggets as the former owners talk about owning Sun Country.

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13 comments on “3 Links I Love: Interviewing United Execs, Ramping Up Against Gulf Carriers, Sun Country Look Back

  1. Have fun at Dorkfest, y’all.

    Re: UA leaving JFK. I was, initially, sceptical about it (as a Brit, there’s something iconic about flying in to JFK), but EWR has vastly exceeded my expectations. If I’m connecting, I don’t really care about the airport as such, I do care about the availability and ease of connections (always good for me at EWR). And transiting in to Manhattan from EWR is a breeze. My Nov itinerary has me in to EWR and then taking Amtrak down to Philly – far cheaper than direct options from LHR, and far quicker than connecting flights. I’d be surprised if JFK would ever make sound financial sense to UA again. But what do I know…

  2. That’s a fluff piece on SY that excuses them for becoming a ULCC. As a MSP flier they were an alternative to Delta on a lot of major routes where you could buy up to a “F” seat for relative pennies compared to what DL charges. The flights into places like BOS were always full up front with business fliers, even with the much more infrequent flight schedules. You also got to depart through terminal 2 at MSP which is much less congested. There was a lot of local love for SY in the business traveling community. Now perhaps they didn’t charge enough but for where they flew I think they competed just fine. Now they are just another ULCC that I wouldn’t even consider for a flight leisure or otherwise.

    Sorry I’ll miss you all at Dorkfest. I was actually in LA this week but sadly had to be back home for meetings Thursday. Next year….

    1. The issue with Sun Country is that they were pretty well known and liked around MSP, but virtually unknown everywhere else. They were this random airline that showed up once a day for a single flight to Minneapolis, or maybe you flew them on a casino junket to Laughlin. So they simply aren’t on most peoples’ radar.

      1. And how has that changed? Oh right, now they are the airline that stranded a boatload of passengers in Mexico. :)

  3. Interesting thoughts on United. As a 1K and regular visitor to the friendly skies, I would concur that the service is better, the staff more attentive and the airline a little more focused on its customers. United slowly is getting better and I was impressed with the admissions about fauxlaris.

    Biggest problem United still has is the fact that too much of its service is focused on a cattle mentality, “get ’em in, process ’em and get ’em out. Oh, and collect their money. I fly premium a lot and this is less apparent in premium class but it’s very apparent in coach/economy. There’s also too much of an attitude that we are UDPs, or “Unprofitable Domestic Passengers.” You see that one all the time, especially in their development of United Clubs.

    United is much more friendly at non-hub facilities, such as MSP or MCO, than at its seven hubs. United’s MCO team is a God-send!

    Finally, I’m glad someone else realizes what a joke Dulles is. IAD needs investment or needs to be euthanized.

    1. Completely agree. I’m GS and I see the change in attitude everywhere. It just seems like the crews “care” more than they used to. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re hiring again but all of them seem more engaged. On the other hand, with all their operational improvements, I’m spending more time in the Penalty Box at ORD since we are arriving 30 to 45 minutes early and the gate’s never available. It’s a nice problem to have.

    2. I’d agree with most of that. I’ve mostly been in the pointy end recently (RPUs and CPUs seem to clear in abundance at PDX and my personal International flights are paid J) but when I fly coach the service is overall much better, not just to me (also 1K) but non elites. The flight attendants are nicer/more polite, and often better than the seniors crewing J long haul flights. Maybe they’re new hires without all the baggage of the really bad days? Oh and they have those smart devices that (among other things) identify us 1Ks to be nice to, and I reckon that gets them in a good mood and they stay nice to the others too. Amazing what a bit of technology can do. :-)

      The other thing is that UA looks to have turned the corner financially (stock up 45%, good guidance, lots of organic cost savings to come through). So management and staff can feel good about themselves again and that translates to better service.

      Enjoy dorkfest.

  4. Cranky,
    Are you preparing an article for the October dumpster fire of the UA flight attendant integration? Line awards and trip trading has been a disaster.

    1. Sean – I am not. I’ve heard rumblings that things aren’t going well so far, but we’ll see what happens come Oct 1.

    1. Since Dulles is my primary airport, I’ve been following this news pretty closely. I think they are both right. While Kirby dumped cold water on was the plan to build a new C/D concourse, he didn’t say they were going to leave things ‘as-is.’ The plan to expand customs and build a club won’t be a high dollar project, but will improve the experience for travelers, especially high dollar ones. My guess is this will go where the people movers used to dock at C, since that space is just sitting unused now. I know it’s just lipstick, but I feel like United has been trying to improve that concourse. It’s not as bad as it used to be.

      I am curious how the sale of that unused property will impact landing fees. If it keeps prices from going back up, and maybe lowers them more, it might encourage United to go through with its plan to add more banks.


  5. I’m tired of the US carriers complaining about the gulf carriers. The US carriers created this situation in the 90s when they demanded full access to airports like Heathrow, Narita, etc. The USA and carriers were so eager to sign “Open Skies” agreements, they all sold their soul – like a drug addict addicted to crack needing the short term fix instead of thinking of the long term impact. Now, some 20 years later, a few gulf carriers want to operate within the guidelines of the Open Skies agreement (not even a loophole), and the US carriers whine – Shame on them!

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