02 September 2008

Big United Climbdown on Meals to Europe

Well this was going to be a bridge too far as we all knew. I think that clearly the efforts of Professor Mrs O'Leary and others resulted in a huge climb down by United on charging for meals across the Atlantic.

Clearly UAL's business products still fails to excite people who are paying the freight.

Here is the text of the letter released to UAL's premium frequent flyers: It is entitled:

Open Letter to Our Valued Customers

Policy announcement:
meal service on flights to Europe

Dear Mr. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne,

Thank you for your direct, candid feedback on the test we had planned to launch in the fourth quarter for food choices on some of our flights. We heard you and have decided not to move forward with the test of offering customers buy-on-board options in United Economy on certain trans-Atlantic flights. We will continue to offer complimentary hot meals on those flights.

The response from you and many of our corporate customers, even before we launched the test, told us what we would have undoubtedly learned had we proceeded – you value our hot meal service in economy class for international flights.

In this environment, where higher costs driven by volatile fuel prices are now the norm, we must continue to tailor products and services so that we provide you with choices and competitive fares. As such, we will continue to be proactive in testing new ideas.

On October 1, we will proceed with the test of new, complimentary options for United Business customers on three-cabin aircraft used for domestic routes, which represents 16 daily flights. Customers on these flights will receive complimentary fresh sandwiches, salads, breakfast, snack boxes or snacks, depending on the length of flight and time of departure. They will also continue to enjoy complimentary beverages, including beer, wine and cocktails. We will evaluate the results and determine next steps by the end of the year.

It's also important to note that full meals will still be served on our p.s. transcontinental flights.

Thank you again for your feedback. We will continue to listen and make changes that enable us in this environment to provide you with the choices you value.


Graham Atkinson
Chief Customer Officer "

Good enough or just a PR whitewash to a bad plan? You be the judge

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