I was encouraged to read on Flyertalk about a recent exchange between a United Airlines 1K member and a legacy United customer service agent:
Last week my phone rang. It was a lovely female agent from the Premier line. I had emailed 2 concerns into 1Kvoice email, and the lady had decided to take it upon herself to call me. One of my emails was to explain that I’ve accepted a AA Exec Plat status match to their top level (100k) from United 1K, and I plan on winding down my UA travel and moving over to AA – as since 3/3 United has changed for the worse.
My email explained MY personal issues with the “new United”
– TOD upgrades to general members, un-transperent [sic] comp upgrade system
– W fare lottery upgrade; paying up to $1000 to play the upgrade lottery
– 50% RDM cut to Premier Gold level
– No dedicated 1K check in lines
– Lost seats, reservations, GPU’s in new shares system
– Rude, indifferent staff and every touch point: phone, check in, gate, FA’s
– Nickel & diming: no pillows in domstic [sic] F, terrible food, F customers having to pat for E snack boxes
– Dated Clubs with terrible food options
– And most importantly – and I stressed this – the overall feeling that since 3/3 United just does not care about loyalty. I’ve flown UA almost exclusively for 7 years now – and I just get the feeling they don’t care, and staff are rude, indifferent, lazy and have a general “I dont [sic] care” attitude.
So this lady called me – and she was so lovely. She said my email struck a nerve, as she hears the same complaints from 1Ks and Elites over and over all day. She said we are all complaining about the same thing – and it’s so obvious what management needs to do. But they don’t seem to care. She agreed with me.
I joked I hope her line isn’t being recorded! She went on to say that when Jeff took over he met employees and promised to listen, put customers and staff first, and she said there was a real sense of excitement at UA as people believed him! He said he would address all their concerns. Over time, it became clear that this was not going to happen, sadly. She said staff at call centres, check in, FA’s have all lost pride in their compnay [sic], job, management and airline. So they pass that on to the customers. And she said it is really sad.
I explained (from my perspective) the main overwelming [sic] issue for GS members, 1kS and other elites is not so much loss of free upgrades, or no pillows. But rather – the attitude that comes from the airline we all love(d) Loyal customers feel lied to, betrayed, mislead and that managemnet [sic] is all about $ and could not care less about loyalty or customer service. I explained the trust had gone, and quoted that famous article “United’s management seems to suffer from selective mutisim and outright disdain for the truth” – I said – THAT is what people are upset about. The “shadyness” the dodgy practices. The lack of honesty and communication.
She agreed with everything I said. And said she hears this often from elites. She explained she is just the middle man, but I genuinly [sic] felt she “GOT” it. That is the first step – that at least some people that can repprt [sic] back to manegement [sic] “Get” it – and she certainly did. She said it has to change, or business will drop so much – there will be no United.
She said they are listening – and she will do her part to report back my concerns. She never made any token offers to smooth things over or pretend that things are ok. She agreed how bad things are, and she said my peace of mind can come from knowing she WILL report what I said and hundred of other elites – to management. She was geniunely [sic] sorry and apologetic for the state of United, and didn’t try to say tokenistic things to win me back. She listened while I talked for a good 10 minutes, and agreed – and promised that all this is being reported back.
She made mention of the W fate lottery upgrade (not calling it that though!) and said this is a complaint she hears every day.
I got off the phone feeling a bit of goodwill for UNited. The fact there is people like that reaching out to 1K’s like me and listening, and hearing and understanding – gave me a little hope for the future.
First off, this guy bucks all conventional wisdom about writing a complaint letter to an airline. For years, I (and others) have stressed the need to keep complaints short and succinct. This guy has a flight manifest-sized list of complaints and he got the call back!
Maybe it was not professional of the United agent to criticize her company, but I appreciate the candor in the context of this conversation (as opposed to say, over the loudspeaker on a flight of unsuspecting people).
Will this agent single-handedly save United? No. But perhaps a short (or long) note to United from many, many more elites will cause someone else to listen, someone higher up the corporate totem pole. It has certainly happened before at the old-UA.