Tag Archives: Airlines

Southwest, United Airlines, and American Airlines All Say They're Doing This 1 Thing Right Now Because of the 737 Max
March 16, 2019 6:02 am|Comments (0)

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The 737 Max only represents a small percentage of flights in the United States. But grounding them affects a lot more.
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American Airlines Just Admitted It Has a Massive Problem. It's Either Funny Or Tragic
February 4, 2019 12:02 am|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

When I offer my occasionally skeptical thoughts about American Airlines, its customers cascade abuse upon my ignorance, my being and even my Twitter feed.

No, that’s a joke.

What actually happens is that I get messages from yet more American Airlines employees and customers telling me that things at the airline aren’t too perfect.

Of course, it’s often the whiners who choose to make most noise. 

For some time, though, American has made decision after decision that seems unhelpful to its customers.

The airline, though, has always insisted that its customer satisfaction scores were holding steadier than you would be doing, should you be standing in one of those bathrooms.

It’s a source, then, of considerable discomfort that the airline admitted it has a big problem. 

During its latest earnings call it admitted that customer satisfaction scores for the airline as a whole have now gone down.

Yes, passengers appear to be bothering to express a little displeasure even on the airline’s survey forms.

You might think that — as well as the tiny bathrooms — reducing legroom in First Class as well as Economy Class wouldn’t necessarily endear American to its customers.

You might even think that executives at American realize this.

However, as Skift reports, American’s president Robert Isom believes passengers are unhappy for a different reason.

He said no, no, they’re entirely happy with the actual product American offers: 

People are very pleased with what they’re getting in terms of service and in terms of the amenities and fleet and airports.

For Isom, though, passengers have just one itty-bitty issue:

They want a reliable airline. They want to be certain they get what they pay for.

You mean like with baggage fees?

Isom’s view rhymes perfectly with the opinions of the airline’s CEO, Doug Parker.

He recently insisted that by far the most important thing to customers is to get to their destination on time.

I fear he and Isom may not, for once, be correct.

But as it forced more and more of its planes into its so-called Project Oasis (seriously) cramped configuration and it flies more and more narrowbody planes stuffed with more and more seats over longer distances — yes, a narrowbody nightmare to Brazil! — passengers are going to notice.

American’s Flight Attendants regularly tell me they don’t feel the sort of motivation they’d like to, given what they see as management’s indifference to anything other than the lure of lucre.

Why, Isom himself declared last year that the airline won’t make anything better for passengers unless it can make a profit out of it.

At some point, your customers can see what you’re doing and decide they really don’t like it.

At some further point, they’re going to tell you.

It was a hauntingly pleasant experience, one that the airline is phasing out.

Is it really any wonder that its customers are now less satisfied?

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I Just Flew Cross-Country With American Airlines. I May Never Get Over It
December 15, 2018 12:01 pm|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I admit it’s been a year.

I’d avoided the airline a little on my travels, but it was time to try again.

Gingerly, then, I booked an Economy Class ticket from San Francisco to Miami and then paid another $ 90 for an exit row seat.

Because, well, it’s a relatively long flight and, for some odd reason, the airline claimed it was flying a Boeing 767.

Airlines are mostly sending these old beasts to the Arizona pastures — or, perhaps, to marginal billionaires who build tasteless castles in Arizona pastures. 

These planes, though, used to offer something so lacking in the latest models: air.

They’re wide-bodied, so you can at least fool yourself into believing there’s more space.

I used to go out of my way to fly American to New York when they flew 767’s there.

Things have changed. Now you are the sardine and the airline is the can-I-make-a-bigger-profit.

Would this be a strange throwback to a forgotten time? 

Waiting For Godot-ful Disaster.

Flying involves worrying. Before you do the actual flying, that is.

When it comes to American, one of the primary concerns is whether the flight will be delayed more or less than Brexit.

Yet, as the day and the hour approached, no message from American that the plane was out of action, I’d be reseated on a narrowbody bus and driven to Miami.

I arrived at San Francisco airport. The luggage tag machines were working, The man at the bag drop even smiled and made a joke about my name. (If you don’t make a joke about my name, what is wrong with you?) 

Still, I wasn’t comfortable. This thing was going to go wrong. It was just a question of how, how badly and when.

The departure board didn’t twitch. It was as if it had smoked a decent brand of THC pot.

Boarding was announced on time. People didn’t even crowd the gate area to distraction. This bordered on the haunting. 

Who, though, would I have sitting next to me? That can make a flight enjoyable or dip it into unbearable.

My seatmate was on his phone. He ran a tech company. He needed one of his employees to know just how much he sympathized with her problem.

His drippingly unctuous tone told me that he was unlikely to do anything about it.

I sat down in my window seat and the first shock hit me. 

Waiting For Bad News To Bear.

Yes, the tray tables were as yellow as a smoker’s teeth. The seats, too, looked like they’d supported a thousand passengers and ten thousand hurried cleanings too many.

As I lounged tentatively, an announcement from the cabin crew.

Here it was, the bad news. It had to be bad news:

Welcome on board, ladies and gentlemen. This is NOT a full flight, so you should have plenty of room to store your bags and stretch out.

My mouth opened, my jaw seized up and my eyebrows began to vibrate.

I can’t remember the last time I heard such an announcement.

So many times I’ve been on flights that were patently not full, yet the cabin crew announced this was a full flight and please think about checking your carry-ons, before we confiscate them and sell them on eBay.

Yet here was American Airlines being honest?

Suddenly, we were pushing back. The tech type next to me was still bleating into his phone.

No one came to admonish him. I tried to give him a sly glare. 

He finally got off the call and began to furiously type into his phone. Perhaps these were his self-help notes, I’ve no idea. 

And then we were in the air.

Wait, we were on time? It seemed like it. 

After a few minutes, it was the pilot’s turn to make an announcement: 

There’s normally a lot of planes lining up for takeoff, but when we got to the runway, there was no one there. So we took off. Looks like we’ll be in Miami at least 30 minutes early.

This was beginning to feel like a parallel universe. I had descended into some weird time warp. Had I inadvertently inhaled some of that THC?

Now It Was Going To Be Ruined.

Oh, but then my seat-mate began to eat lunch. A vigorous eater of a carry-on salad, he was. And goodness did his elbow jab into my ribs with every jerk of his plastic knife.

Did he say sorry?

Did I mention he was a tech type?

This is where it would all go wrong. I felt sure that, once he’d finished his lunch, out would come the laptop and in would go his elbow to my ribs for the rest of the flight.

I was mostly right. His MacBook came out. What was surreal is that, unlike most self-important men I’ve sat next to on planes, his elbows stayed in.

Not once in the next several hours did he jab me again. It was almost as if, having satisfied an employee with platitudes and his hunger with a salad, he became fully sentient.

Meanwhile, the cabin service was efficient, if not effusive. Just like the biscotti-type things they handed out.

The Flight Attendants performed their duties and then disappeared.

I leaned into my slightly dreary Canadian detective novel — I refuse to work on planes, save in an emergency — stretched my legs right out and wallowed in a peculiar calm.

American Airlines Really Let Me Down.

We didn’t have to divert to Albuquerque because of an engine problem. 

My seatmate had excellent noise-canceling headphones, the sort that truly are silent. 

A baby trying crying a couple of times and then realized that so much attention-seeking just wasn’t going to work.

The whole thing was eerily tolerable, verging on the pleasant. It was like a blind date that involved easy conversation and even a kiss at the end.

We were at the gate almost an hour ahead of schedule. 

This was as close to perfect as I could have conceived.

Even my bag came out quickly, which anyone who’s ever flown into Miami knows is a bizarre event.

I walked away, talking to myself. I try to do it quietly.

I only had one thought: American Airlines, you really let me down. I could find nothing to complain about, because it felt like flying from a few years ago.

The pilots couldn’t even muster any turbulence.

How lovely it is when nothing goes wrong with a flight. And how relatively rare that seems to be these days, especially if you’re flying in the back. 

When the airline, the staff and the passengers all conspire to make it a pleasant experience, flying can be genuinely relaxing. 

If only these three could conspire to make it happen more often. 

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American Airlines CEO Says Customer Service Isn't the Priority (Have a Guess What Is)
November 25, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Consistently, the airline has become a symbol of too many things that are wrong with air travel.

It’s managed to put itself in a We Don’t Really Care About Passengers corner. 

It seems to find it hard to emerge from that.

In a conversation with employees reported by View From The Wing’s Gary Leff, an American pilot told Parker that there seems to be a reluctance to offer customer service to passengers, even when the flight won’t be leaving on time.

He told the story of a connecting customer who said they’d left their phone and laptop on a flight and no American employee wanted to help. 

They’re all told, you see, that the priority is the so-called D0, the determination to push back on time to the detriment, some might say, of customer service.

You know, those little things like the pre-flight drinks the more exalted customers adore.

Parker offered these extremely honest and revealing words: 

The most important thing to customers is that we deliver on our commitment to leave on time and get them to the destination as they have scheduled.

But isn’t pushing back on time just one aspect of a greater good? That the customer should feel good on your airline and want to come back.

This, it strikes me, has been American’s singular difficulty of late.

I can’t remember whether the flight pushed back on time. I do remember, however, her strained and abject attempts to provide the minimum customer service she could.

The consequence, for me at least, has been to avoid American and choose other airlines. 

Am I alone in reacting this way?

I used to fly American a lot. I used to actively choose it because it flew bigger planes from San Francisco to New York and seemed a good enough airline.

Parker is right that customers want to get to their destination on time. But isn’t it a little like restaurant customers who say they want good food?

If they get cold, disinterested service, I suspect many will happily give up the food for a restaurant that makes them feel good.

A greater difficulty for Parker is that there are airlines that are admired for their customer service and their reliable approach to arriving on time.

Delta, for example, seems to manage this rather well. Despite flying some tatty old planes. 

Perhaps the real problem is that Parker transposes his own beliefs about what should be important into his customers.

He wants the focus to be on-time departure because he believes the airline will make more money that way.

If the planes are always on time, the system rolls along nicely and there are no unexpected costs.

Which reminds me of a T-shirt I used to wear, a long time ago. On it, a woman looks up at her lover and explains: “There’s more to life than snogging, Barry.”

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A United Airlines Pilot Was Arrested. The Reason Why Is Truly Shocking, But How He Got There Is Even Crazier
November 24, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

There are eight million stories in the naked city, as an old television show used to say. A United Airlines pilot was arrested for being one of them.

It’s an embarrassing, mildly tawdry tale–but when you dig into the reasons behind United Airlines Capt. Andrew Collins’s arrest, you just might find you have some sympathy.

And, you might also find yourself wondering just what life is like for pilots these days.

First the story. Collins, 54, has been with United Airlines for 22 years. As he told The Denver Post, last September he was up for about 30 hours straight, flying around the country and being diverted because of thunderstorms.

He arrived finally in Denver, and checked into the Westin Hotel at the airport. 

The next morning, he woke up around 10:30 a.m., and walked around his room, getting ready to take a shower. At one point he stood in front of the 10th floor window of his hotel room for more than 20 minutes while he talked on the phone.

Key detail: He was stark naked. Remember, he was alone in his hotel room, as he tells it, not expecting to see anyone, or to be seen. 

But then things took a turn for the worse: a knock at the door, cops barging in with their guns drawn. Collins wound up in handcuffs and carted off to an airport jail, where he was charged with indecent exposure.

The problem, as he tells it, is that he didn’t realize the window he was standing in front of was transparent on both sides, or that anyone else was had a line of sight that would let them see him. Apparently, he was wrong.

“We’re not disputing the fact that I was standing nude in front of the hotel window,” Collins told the Post about the Sept. 20 incident. But he added, “Some witnesses said I was dancing, gyrating and waving. I’m completely innocent. It’s really unfortunate that it happened at all.”

Collins’s lawyer later went to the same room Collins stayed in at the Westin to investigate. And he says he concluded it’s totally reasonable for Collins not to have realized that anyone could see him while he was standing in front of the window.

“The concourse windows are tinted green and are opaque and reflective,” the attorney, Craig Silverman, told the Post. From the hotel room, he said, “It’s like looking at a green wall or a green mirror.”

It’s a misdemeanor case, and Collins has been “removed from his duties pending an internal review,” a United Airlines spokesperson told me. Of course, he has the presumption of innocence under our justice system.

Collins doesn’t quite blame what happened on the fact that he’d allegedly been up for 30 hours straight, but this story doesn’t exactly make it seem like flying for United is any kind of glamorous, high-reward job.

Bounced around the country, up a day and a half, stuck in a hotel room waiting for your next flight–only to wind up humiliated and facing legal jeopardy. He’s the head of his local union shop and was running for the national presidency when this all happened. That opportunity went out the window (sorry).

Meanwhile, airlines say they’re going to be short of pilots in the coming years, as younger people simply aren’t enamored of flying the way their predecessors were. Stories like what happened to Collins don’t make it easier.

He’s due in court Dec. 5. His lawyer hopes he can get the whole thing dismissed.

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How a Turkish Airlines Jet Flew an Extra 800 Miles and Landed On Time
October 23, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

Most of the time, passengers on Turkish Airlines Flight 800, flying from Panama City to Istanbul, can look down on Puerto Rico just after takeoff, then the blue of the Atlantic Ocean for a few hours, then Southern France and Northern Italy before arcing south over Greece and touching down. But those who made the trip on Sunday got a view of a very different set of locales: Cuba, then the eastern coast of the United States and the southern tips of Greenland and Norway, finally reaching the Turkish city by way of Poland and Romania.

Compared to the “great circle distance” between the two airports (meaning the shortest path) of 6,739 miles, Flight 800 traveled 7,553 miles, according to aviation tracking site FlightRadar24. That’s an extra 814 miles. And while it takes two and a half hours to fly the same distance from New York City to Jacksonville, Florida, the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 took just 27 minutes longer than average, and landed just 11 minutes after its scheduled arrival time, per FlightStats.com. By airline standards, that counts as officially on time.

Bananas, right? Not so much.

As Turkish Airlines Flight 800 caught the jet stream over the Labrador Sea, its speed surged to 600 knots (710 mph), way above the Airbus A330’s cruising altitude. The red dotted line shows the shortest path between Panama City, Panama, and Istanbul. Courtesy of FlightRadar24.

“From an air traffic control perspective, it’s not unusual,” says Sid McGuirk, chair of the Department of Applied Aviation Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Especially not once you take a look at the weather conditions at the time. When the Airbus A330 jet was getting ready to unglue from the tarmac in Panama, the jet stream over the Labrador Sea was blowing something fierce. As the plane tracked north along the Eastern Seaboard, it was flying around 540 mph, its standard cruising speed. When it caught the wind, however, its speed surged, peaking at 700 mph—without burning any more jet fuel than usual.

This map of wind speeds at the time of the flight (red means fast) seems to explain why the plane went so far out of its way, and how it managed to land on time. Courtesy of FlightRadar24.

FlightRadar24

“Sometimes we go way out of the way, for one reason or another,” says says Doug Moss, a commercial pilot and aviation consultant. Why? Because economics. Airlines operate on thin profit margins, so letting wind do the work usually done by expensive jet fuel is a no-brainer. And wind can do a lot of work: In January, a Norwegian Air 787 set a speed record for non-supersonic commercial aircraft thanks to a 202-mph tailwind, flying from New York’s JFK to London’s Gatwick in 5 hours and 13 minutes. But they also have to consider factors like overflight fees, the tolls set by countries for the right to zip through their airspace (in the US, it’s $ 60.07).

Of course, saving money on the flight only works if the plane doesn’t land so late, its passengers miss their connections, and the airline has to put everyone up in a hotel for the night. Keep doing it, and the carrier risks driving away future customers with poor on time performance. And while flying slowly saves fuel, it also means putting more time on the aircraft, and shortening the time before it has to be grounded for mandatory maintenance. (Turkish Airlines did not immediately reply to questions about this flight.)

“The computer goes through essentially a Monte Carlo simulation, and it looks at all the possible routes available,” Moss says. “It’ll run probably a thousand different scenarios, and it’ll pick the one that’s the cheapest.”

Such ever-changing conditions are the reason Singapore Airlines Flight 22, from New York to Singapore, can make the trip along one of three general routes: over the Pacific, over the Atlantic, or over the North Pole. And why Air India flies east from Delhi to San Francisco—and east from San Francisco to Delhi.

And while the folks flying on Turkish Airlines Flight 800 may have wondered why they could see Norwegian fjords on their trip from Panama to Istanbul, they probably stopped caring once they touched down, safely and on time.


More Great WIRED Stories

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I Flew Delta Air Lines One Way and United Airlines Back. There Was 1 Huge Surprise
October 20, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I tried to be fair.

I booked flights at more or less the same time, in the same class.

In the case of Delta Air Lines, it was its Delta One Class. In United’s case, it was Business Class.

How similar would they be? Would Delta confirm its reputation as the best and most comfortable of the big airlines? Would United take one look at me and decide I was an undesirable?

The route was San Francisco to New York and back again.

Delta One Means You’re All Alone.

I began with Delta and an early-morning flight.

Delta suffers in San Francisco from having to endure a dingy, desperate Terminal 1. It’s the terminal that time didn’t merely forget, but never liked at all.

At the first coffee place I stopped at, they serve only black coffee. They claimed not to even have milk.

I noticed also that the cabin crew seemed to arrive very shortly before passengers began boarding. Where had they been? Would they have time to prepare themselves?

Yet when I boarded the flight, I had a very pleasant surprise. 

My seat was by a window and there was no one seated next to me. Because there was no seat next to me.

In this Boeing 767 configuration, window seats are lone seats with a substantial area to the side for placing your laptop, books, magazines, knitting, emotional support squirrel or whatever you happen to enjoy on a plane.

This is, of course, wonderful if you’re flying alone, as I was. It’s less wonderful if you’re traveling with someone, as neither of you will be able to have a window seat. 

You’ll have to sit in the middle.

I’d pre-ordered breakfast, which was a simple, pleasant, cold affair with generous helpings of cheese and fruit.

The service, though, was efficient rather than warm. 

The entertainment system offered a large screen and the lie-flat bed was, well, who doesn’t want a lie-flat bed on a cross-country flight? This one was perfectly comfortable.

The flight, though, had one little drawback. 

There was a family of three. Dad was right behind me. Mom and highly entitled child were in the middle seats in his row.

Their form of communication involved shouting to each other across the aisle. Yes, they were from New York.

It’s easy to forget that the behavior of just one passenger can affect your flight. The only thing that saved me here was putting on my headphones and watching episode after episode of a wonderfully improbable and suitablly dramatic BBC series called The Split.

The flight was on time. Delta stuck to its promise of getting the bags out quickly. The whole thing was really quite pleasant.

United Airlines. Wait, What Just Happened?

There’d been a little hiccup the day before my flight back home.

United had emailed me to tell me my flight might be delayed by up to 30 hours. The email arrived the night before the flight.

So my biggest concern was whether the flight would be on time. 

Arriving at Newark at an ungodly hour, I was met by an extremely pleasant United Airlines check-in agent. Far more friendly, indeed, than the one I’d encountered at Delta. 

Yes, she said, the flight was on time. 

It did, indeed, board on schedule. Moreover, United’s terminal at Newark is curiously bright and airy place. I confess I rather liked being there. 

Yet United’s Business Class isn’t quite Delta One. On this Boeing 777, there were eight seats across the plane.

I was seated next to someone who, if he hadn’t been a decent human, might easily have taken over the whole armrest we shared.

He was a decently large human, you see and the armrest wasn’t too wide. 

The proximity was jarring when compared with Delta. 

The biggest surprise, though, was the service. The attitude of the Flight Attendants — one woman in particular — was a marked contrast to Delta’s slightly chilly efficiency. 

United’s Flight Attendants offered a rare warmth. It was as if they’d just come out of remedial training and had been infused with the need to project humanity. 

For first thing in the morning, their attitude came across as genuine. 

At one point, the female Flight Attendant saw that I was finished with my New York Times and said, with wit infused: “You haven’t done the crosswords, have you?”

Crosswords? Me? Lord, no. I have enough words in my regular life.

She was relieved, as she was one of those crossword people and really needed my paper. 

This was my biggest and most pleasant surprise.

From check-in to in-flight, United’s personnel exuded far greater warmth than Delta’s. It made the experience just that little bit more pleasant.

In customer service, it’s always the little things.

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An American Airlines Captain Just Did Something Resourceful and Kind for Every Single Passenger on His Flight. His Stunning Story Went Viral
September 9, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

Wichita Falls is a city of about 100,000 people in northeast Texas. It looks like there’s a lot of stunning natural beauty nearby.

But what the airport at Wichita Falls doesn’t have, apparently, is a place to get a nice meal near the airport, especially if 100 or more people unexpectedly show up all at once.

This became relevant last week, when American Airlines flight 2354 from Los Angeles to Dallas-Fort Worth was diverted there due to extreme thunderstorms. Passengers were looking at the likelihood of having to scramble to find a place to stay overnight, to say nothing of finding a bite to eat.

And the captain on their flight came up with a very simple solution.

In short, he called up the local Papa John’s and ordered 40 pizzas for his 159 passengers. As far as we know, he fronted the entire bill, $ 500 or more, himself. And his simple gesture went viral.

The captain’s name: Jeff Raines, according to CNN. His actions–in fact the moments when he found himself running back and forth from the terminal to the Papa John’s delivery car–was all captured on video by an airport worker named Josh Raines (no indication they’re related).

As Josh explained later in his Twitter feed, the passengers were going to travel the rest of the way to Dallas via bus. But Wichita Falls Municipal Airport is actually a mostly military airport, attached to Sheppard Air Force Base. It’s just not equipped for a sudden, unexpected influx of passengers.

Jeff Raines (the captain) apparently followed the whole thing up with an explanation on Facebook:

Thanks for the compliments however this was a “TEAM” effort. My First Officer was on the telephone with crew tracking / hotel desk arranging for our release and hotels for the entire crew.

The Flight Attendants manned a galley cart from the aircraft serving waters, juice, and sodas to all the passengers in the terminal. All while the Envoy SPS Personnel were arranging for a bus, re-booking flights, and answering a flurry of questions from these passengers.

Thanks to everyone for your help – there is no “I” in TEAM.

It’s unclear whether the passengers continued to Dallas via bus, as both Josh Raines and Jeff Raines seem to have suggested, or if they flew there the next morning, as American corporate P.R. says. I suspect it’s possible some passengers might have continued on to Dallas via bus; others waited for the flight the next day.

But the real point here is an airline employee taking it upon himself to do something that’s clearly not listed in the American Airlines handbook, but that has a lot of potential to increase passengers’ affinity for the airline.

We’ve seen this repeatedly lately, for example with the Southwest Airlines captain who rerouted a flight to enable a passenger to get an amazing photo of the Great American Eclipse in 2017, and the Southwest flight attendant who worked to allow a passenger who has Down syndrome to fulfill her dream, at least for a day, of working as a flight attendant.

These little actions help any business’s reputation, and they often pay big dividends. For its pilot’s $ 500 pizza outlay, American clearly got a lot more than $ 500 worth of brand equity or marketing.

It doesn’t even really matter if the passengers like pizza. Simply by making the effort, the captain bought goodwill.

“We are always proud of our crew members who take great care of our customers who fly on American Airlines,” American said in an email. “We are fortunate that our crew members are the best in the business.”

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United Airlines is Offering One Passenger an Incredible Perk. But Will That Passenger Accept It?
September 5, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

People look gift horses in the mouth all the time.

That horse could, after all, be Trojan and you never know what might lurk inside.

There are those, however, who truly deserve a real gift just because of who they are.

United Airlines wants to hear about those people and it wants to meet one of them in particular.

No, it doesn’t want to offer that person the job of company president.

United’s idea in this instance is to find the hardest-working person in America and send them to Tahiti for a few days.

As a little message that says: “You’re working too hard, silly. Please get a life or you’ll die.”

This little prize seems well worth winning. 

It consists of a roundtrip airfare from your hometown to Tahiti — via San Francisco — for two.

In Business Class, no less.

There are three stays, totaling seven nights, at various alluring Tahiti hotels.

And, just to make your return to life all the more meaningful, you get a $ 2,000 prepaid card for meals and other expenses.

Should you be honest enough to admit you’re not the most hard-working person in America, you might choose to nominate the person who is.

It’s likely one of the people who do most of your work for you, never complain and never ask for a raise.

These days, United is desperately trying to show it has a heart. Or at least, to offer the appearance. 

It offers a valuable argument by revealing that 700 million vacations days go unused every year.

Is it because people love their jobs so much that they don’t bother? Or is it, perhaps, that they’re too frightened in case their jobs disappears or is taken over by someone else?

I only have one slight worry about this well-meaning search — timed to coincide with United starting to fly nonstop from San Francisco to Tahiti.

What if the winner is someone who really is the hardest-working person in America and is one of those impossibly strange characters who really doesn’t want a vacation?

Can a boss force an employee to go to Tahiti? 

Now that would be a fascinating topic for Human Resources lawyers.

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United Airlines Has Some Great News About Its Business (There's Bad News for Passengers)
August 12, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Even if it says so itself.

The airline just released some figures for July, and, at a cursory glance, they’re glowing.

Consolidated traffic (revenue passenger miles) increased 6.9 percent and consolidated capacity (available seat miles) increased 4.0 percent versus July 2017. UAL’s July 2018 consolidated load factor increased 2.4 points compared to July 2017.

Won’t you look at that?

This means the airline’s packing them in and making lots of money.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that domestic traffic rose by 9.1 percent in July. Compared to last July, that is.

And Lordy, the airline is doing wonderfully in the regions. There, traffic is up a pulsating 17.6 percent.

United’s also packing them in on each flight.

The so-called load factor (number of people who are actually paying) at home soared to 90.5 percent. That’s a 2.6 percent increase.

United was loaded internationally, too. A 2.2 percent increase to 87.8 percent.

People are paying to fly United and there are more flights to more places, which makes the United world a wonderful place.

Alright, if you read the headline at all — and if you didn’t, what are you doing here? — there’s a little bad news. 

You see, when you pack more people onto your planes, it might take a little longer. 

That’s what appears to be happening. All this success in selling tickets appears to be leading to a reduction in on-time departures, the beautifully named D0. 

A mere 62.3 percent of mainline flights — that is, the non-regional variety — departed on time or even slightly early. 

This is a 1 percent drop from this time last year.

This isn’t, of course, merely an inconvenience for passengers. When a plane departs late, cabin crew must explain themselves to their bosses.

Well, you see, it was like this. There were so many darned people. And have you seen all that stuff they bring on planes? 

Tech

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