United Airlines Lottery

United Airlines put me on a roller coaster this week. First, they announced plans to stop giving employees bonuses. They would instead use a lottery to reward them.

I thought it was a great idea. I always feel like it’s a lottery flying with United. Yes, I have a ticket for the flight, but do I have a seat? Will I get on a plane? And will it be on the day that I’m scheduled to be flying? Let’s start a betting pool!

The betting pools always made those of us waiting in the gate area feel better. Even though there was a chance we wouldn’t make the flight (or the flight wouldn’t go today), at least there was a small chance that we might win. It was a little rain of sunshine on a bitter day traveling on United Airlines.

I thought having employees rewarded by lottery would help employees and passengers bond. Now employees would feel how we passengers feel when we wait to see if we’re going to fly on the flight that we bought a ticket for.

I don’t think the executives were going to participate in the lottery. I felt sorry for them. It seemed mean of United to exclude them. I accuse United of being executivists, treating executives differently just because they’re executives. It seems like companies will discriminate about anything these days.

But then, United announced they were not going to do the lottery. Say whaaat? Apparently, the employees weren’t as excited about the bonus lottery as I was.

That surprised the president of United Airlines, Scott Kirby (which admittedly sounds like a movie star’s name in the 1940s). Kirby said, “Our intention was to introduce a better, more exciting program, but we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you.”

I admit, I paused when I read that. The company president was surprised that people weren’t happy that they weren’t going to receive the bonus money that they were probably counting upon. I think that gives us a little more insight into why United sucks more each year (hell, each month) as an airline. It explains why they’re surprised when passengers are pissed about paying extra for the blankets, food, and a seat that isn’t out on the wing.

Is it surprising that United will start selling priority boarding for coach passengers? I believe they’ll next be selling priority exiting, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re going to start charging for the seats in the crowded waiting areas around the gate. “I’m sorry, sir, can I see your ticket for that seat? You can’t sit there if you don’t have a ticket. Would you like to buy a ticket? Just five dollars per hour. What’s your flight number? Oh, you’ll need about six hours, then.”

Then, like all of United’s twisted, greedy thinking, they’ll oversell the tickets for the seats in the waiting area. “Sorry, just because you have a ticket, it doesn’t mean that you have a seat.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that United Airlines employees must buy desk time at work.

United Airlines: “Fly with us. It’s a lottery.”


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