UAL — What’s Next? It Starts at the Top.

The backlash against United Airlines was well deserved. And the criticism of its CEO expected.

But now let’s see what the company comes up with moving forward.

I can’t remember the last time I flew on United (and as Newark is “my” airport, that happens a lot) and didn’t hear the gate announcement asking for volunteers to give up their seats.

On a flight from Raleigh to Newark two weeks ago, they asked for four volunteers…and I did see four United crew members board the flight, and two placed in First Class. (Hard to believe somebody in First gave up their seat, but….)

But here’s a thought for the airline industry: somebody can “take the podium” and gain tremendous customer loyalty by pledging right now to never overbook a flight.

As I rarely see an empty seat on a flight these days, I guess all the airlines have figured out the right booking strategies before a problem like this week’s emerges. Although I do think United pushes the envelope more than most.

But make that pledge…and live it…and my hunch is an airline will gain tremendous customer loyalty.

In 2005, then Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Peter Dolan gave us permission to adopt a new policy: BMS would not advertise a new drug for at least one year after its launch. This came at a time when the industry was under intense attacks for its advertising – much of it focused on the erectile dysfunction category.

Was it a competitive disadvantage?

Possibly.

But we believed it was the right thing to do for patients, and would allow our sales team time to educate physicians.

The company got kudos…from Capitol Hill to physicians to patients and the media (http://www.zitopartners.com/ad-age-on-innovators).

United…Delta…JetBlue…American…you pick the airline. Someone could grab the spotlight here with a simple pledge. And passengers may reward them with their loyalty.


Post by Bob Zito 4/12/17

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