United says its skies are 'friendly' again -- really?
Its revival of the old ad slogan has gotten little but criticism from passengers who say the carrier is hardly warm and fuzzy.
Does corporate America lack a sense of irony, humility or even hubris? Maybe so, if you consider that United Airlines (UAL), the world's largest air carrier, has just revived its "Fly the Friendly Skies" slogan from decades ago -- despite constant and widespread criticism of United's lack of friendliness towards its often-beleaguered passengers.
Airline officials say the new ad campaign is based on customer feedback, emphasizing the "user-friendly" aspects of air travel. "Our new brand campaign expresses the customer focus of all of United's investments," United senior vice president of marketing Tom O'Toole said in a recent press statement.
But in his spot-on take-down of the carrier's inflated ego and consumer cluelessness, business travel columnist Joe Brancatelli counted the ways United has not lived up to its new/old tag line -- both before and after its 2010 merger with Continental.
So far this year, Bancatelli notes, United has "finished dead last or tied for worst among the nation's largest carriers in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, the J.D. Power study, and the Annual Quality Rating, a mash-up of government statistics compiled by researchers at Purdue University and Wichita State University."
In an interview with the Chicago Business Journal, Mark Krolick, United's managing director for brand and advertising, said the "friendly skies" tagline reflected the progress the airline has made in recent years when it comes to flyer-friendly amenities like more Economy Plus seating, greater Wi-Fi access and lie-flat seats for first class and business-class travelers on some flights.
But Bancatelli is quick to pop a hole in the rarefied attitude United C-suite executives have about any consumer issues and problems.
"Tell them about the airline's operational problems and they blame the exigencies of a difficult merger," he says. "Talk about the decidedly unfriendly attitude of some of United's customer-facing personnel and you are told that they are being retrained. Detail United's failure to satisfy its most loyal, most profitable fliers and you are told that too many elite United MileagePlus customers were "over-entitled."
But Tim Winship, publisher of FrequentFlier.com, told The New York Times that United's "friendly skies" ad campaign is not only "so last century," but ridiculous at best. In 2013, he said, "the skies are anything but friendly, and to suggest otherwise is to insult the intelligence of consumers and invite their scorn."
Drink Kool-Aid much??
My pet rattlesnake is friendlier than United, or Delta, or the majority of the U.S. airlines.
The last time I flew United was several years ago and I vowed the I would never fly them again. I requested cold storage for Humira syringes (Arthritis treatment) that I have to take with me on extended trips. The stewardess refuse to do this for me although every other airline I had ever flown had done this on a routine basis with a smile and reminders for me not to forget them when I departed the flight.
This stewardesses was lazy and rude and later sic'ed her boyfriend sky marshall on me since I had complained openly about her refusal to provide a routine airline service, not that it did any good because no one was intimidated by the hen pecked sky marshal. The sky marshal took the opportunity to harass me while I was putting my carryon bag into an overhead storage cabinet. He tried to order me to sit down before I could get the bag in the overhead when I clearly needed additional time.
The sad matter is that they are so much worse now than they were then. Foreign airline carriers are much more friendly and professional than American carriers are now. That's something I thought I'd never have to say.
The worst airlines I ever flew was Alitalia (Italian), but United matched them very quickly.
Case in point:
Recent flight from EWR to Hamburg Germany - passenger across the aisle, when asked if they'd like chicken or beef asked in response how the chicken was repared. The response? "I don't know, it's under foil." SERIOUSLY?!?
U.S. airlines give you politically correct hags and men whose job is to keep order on Con-air.
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