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Open Letter to United Airlines CEO on Checked Baggage

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 18, 2008

                                                                            I sent this letter to Glenn Tilton, President and CEO of United Airlines. I guess the Airlines just don’t get it!Flying over America

Dear Mr. Tilton,

I am a loyal fan of United Airlines. I just completed a wonderful flight from Seattle to Chicago on United. Everyone from the gate agent in Seattle to the flight crew on the aircraft, were just great. It was the best flying experience I have had in months and I want to thank you for that.

And now for the main reason for this letter. I just received an email regarding United’s new baggage policy. I have to tell you that I am appalled. This is no way to run an airline. I have been in the travel industry for 37 years and I am currently a consultant to the travel industry. I wrote a piece on American’s $15 baggage charge where I questioned the policy and wondered if in fact the management at American were trying to put the airline in bankruptcy. The cold hard fact is $15 for a checked bag is a way to nickel and dime your customers away from your airline. This does not address the real problem, which is the escalating cost of running an airline. Fuel is now a major concern, but $15 per bag is not the answer. You have to price your product correctly. Charge your passenger what it costs to transport them from point A to point B and include the costs associated with that transportation, which includes at least one checked bag. You understand that you are forcing more and more people to carry on more luggage. A carryon suitcase clobbered me 2 weeks ago by a passenger that did not want to check her bag. She hoisted it up into the overhead and then it fell out and hit me in the head. With this additional carryon luggage, the boarding process will be slowed and there will be gate delays. It just does not make sense.

 I will give you some free advice. Don’t implement your $15 baggage charge, just raise your fares to cover your costs and make a profit. You will then have a profitable airline and you will have happy passengers, happy employees and happy investors. People will pay the price for a “Great Product” so make your airline a great airline by delivering a great customer experience. Try it, it works.  If you don’t, you will drive your customers away from your airline and then everyone loses.

I really hope that you, Mr. Tilton reads this letter and not one of your assistants because I would like to hear back from you, as you are the driving force behind this airline. Looking forward to your reply.

2 Responses to “Open Letter to United Airlines CEO on Checked Baggage”

  1. Glenn, you’ve hit bull’s eye in your letter. But don’t expect a reply from United. They can’t seem to be bothered by what the common man says. Though, if you were one of their super elite frequent fliers, they may have acknowledged your letter.

    I was at a conference in Chicago yesterday, where the VP of Marketing at United was one of the panel speakers. I was hoping for an insightful session, but all he spoke about was how successful their targeted marketing program for their elite level members has been.

    That just re-enforced my belief that few airline executives in the US have got it right. They’re willing to charge $15 or $25 per bag from the common folk, and nickle and dime everyone but their beloved frequent fliers. What they’re forgetting is that every frequent flier was once a not-so-frequent-flier. And mis-treating them would not do good in the long run.

    All the airlines here need to do is to look over the oceans at those doing well – Emirates, SIA – they provide good service and charge for that. In fact, even Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin America seem to get it – laser sharp focus on what they do best. Results speak for themselves.

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