Yesterday, I wrote about United’s plans to introduce a new livery next month. Today, I argue that there are far more pressing priorities than fuselage paint jobs.
The new livery will likely incorporate the new purple and blue hues that characterize United’s current color scheme. That’s understandable, especially as United moves away from gold. I also want to stipulate that United will not be pulling aircraft out of service to repaint but will simply be updating aircraft as they undergo maintenance as well as take new deliveries with the new, as yet unidentified livery.
But here’s what I see. I see Polaris meals that look like this:
I see FAs unhappy that the elimination of one galley position means more hustle and bustle that delays meal service and presents customers with a product that is frankly visually unappealing.
And that leads me to argue that United is simply being foolish to spend unnecessary dollars on repainting aircraft while it deteriorates the onboard product.
United certainly recognizes the importance of investing in its premium product. After all, why else would it invest in ripping out economy class seats on select Boeing 767 aircraft in order to install more premium seats? United knows that premium seats drive profits.
So why is it cutting back on the soft product? Wine flights…gone. Extra pillow…gone. Nicely plating food…gone. Bloody Mary cart…gone. Pajamas…missing in action on many flights, with flight attendants blaming a “supply” issue.
Maybe, just maybe, United can get away with it. But if it wants to create a world-class product, this is not the way to do it. The new livery just becomes lipstick on a pig.
I love flying United and remain loyal to the carrier. That’s not going to change (and maybe that’s the answer right there). But I wish United would not be penny-wise, pound-foolish. The little things add up to make a huge difference. Customers will not be impressed with a new livery if the soft product is merely a shadow of what it used to be. Polaris is about more than the seat or the paintjob…it is about a stellar soft product that United has consciously determined it can cut back on.
Let’s hope United realizes this before it is too late. Or maybe I’m wrong and consumers don’t care what kind of plate their meal is served on or how visually appealing their entree is. Time will tell. But I’m arguing that a new livery won’t mask the premium cabin cutbacks. Therefore, I’d rather invest the livery money into the soft product…even if it means full cashews instead of broken ones.