Security Musings

Security Musings

Information Security Travel Guide

Stephen Northcutt, an Information Security Researcher, United Airlines 1k, Writer and Instructor, documents the struggles of the travel and hospitality industries as we all face continually increasing energy costs. He and his peers share their travel experiences and give you quick tips and short reviews of the companies they do business with as they travel. If you came across this article because of a Google search, what you want is probably here, just use find with your browser (CTRL - F), it is easier than reading from top to bottom; however, you may get some useful tips if you stick around and read. Each major cluster of trips is documented in a separate file.

Other Related Articles in Information Security Travel Guide


United 1K News Archive 2008-09


By Stephen Northcutt
2008-09_united_1k_archive
[December 31, 2009]
United Airlines to Borrow Another $500M Against Assets. "United Airlines continues to mortgage assets in the quest for cash until the airline industry rebounds."

Co-Pilot Takes Controls at Continental. More speculation about merger talks between United Airlines and Continental as Jeff Smisek takes the reigns.

Janitors for Delta and United Airlines planes strike in Boston. "They say the 24-hour strike is to combat Aramark's bad faith in negotiations for their first union contract and other unfair labor practices."

[December 30, 2009] United Airlines stock slides as air security tightens. "Shares of United Airlines parent UAL Corp. fell Monday on fears that new security restrictions swiftly implemented following a botched attempt to blow up an airliner could curtail business travel on lucrative international routes."

United Airlines could return to Peru. Peru's Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Martin Perez, "highlighted that after the meeting with the representatives of United Airlines, where Peru’s current situation was presented, this airline decided to review the plans for 2010 since they had not included Peru as one of their new destinations."

Obama orders air security review after failed terror attack. "The US Department of Homeland Security has significantly increased the number of air marshals on flights after the botched terrorist attack, a department official said."

More Pilot Discretion on Security Measures."The heightened security measures faced by air travelers in the United States and worldwide during the weekend were eased somewhat on Monday, the first business day after Friday’s terrorism incident.... At O’Hare in Chicago, security lines for United Airlines flights departing from Terminal One seemed lighter than on many Monday afternoons."

City Auditor Seeks Legal Ruling On DIA Giving $10.7M to Airlines. "The bulk of the money went to major DIA tenant United Airlines, which received $5.2 million" in state fuel tax rebates.

[December 28, 2009] US Flights face delays due to storms and heightened security. "United Airlines said the new security measures may affect its flights from Europe to the U.S., with delays anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes. It said in a recorded call today that passengers entering the U.S. should expect check-in delays."

Obama Administration Security Lapses: Incompetence or Willful Ignorance? Blogger Jim Simpson on recent possible terrorist activity which includes United Airlines flight 227 in Denver earlier this month.

Madison soldier-mom gets home for the holidays thanks to an 'angel' from Chicago. There's a happy ending for these United Airlines passengers stranded by a blizzard.

Denver Post names Frontier's Sean Menke Business Person of the Year.
Menke's impressive history in the airline industry includes a year with United Airlines as a senior planner of domestic scheduling.

[December 24, 2009]
Airlines expect antitrust approval in 4 months. "All Nippon Airways Inc. (9202.TO) and partners United Airlines, a unit of UAL Corp. (UAUA), and Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL) lodged an application with U.S. regulators Wednesday."

Been away from the airport? Alot has changed since last year. "United Airlines is rolling out a "linebuster" service where agents with portable computers help late-arriving passengers make a connecting flight."

Now Boarding: Flight 1225 to the North Pole. For the past 20 years United Airlines has hosted fantasy flights for ill and disadvantaged kids around the country. "'United provides the airplanes, the gates and the use of our resources, but it’s the local employees at each airport who work endlessly to make it a success,' said Sonya Jackson, president of United Airlines Foundation." That's true holiday spirit.

[December 23, 2009] United Airlines waives fees for storm affected travelers. "United urged travelers flying to, from or through the mid-Atlantic and Northeast to take advantage of its travel waiver, as certain change fees have been waived for them."

Air Travel Q & A. These tips on winter travel remind us that carriers including United Airlines have become much more proactive about allowing passengers to change flights in advance of bad weather without penalties.

United Airlines hub, O'Hare, expansion makes headway. United Airlines "support[s]s the runway construction plans but ha[s] resisted funding the western terminal, given their own fiscal struggles."

No perk too small for top fliers. 'Up In The Air' inspires this New York Times article about elite flier programs like United Airlines Global Services and 1k.

United Airlines uses twitter perfectly.
"Here is a social media situation where a business to business and a business to consumer company, United Airlines, is doing something incredibly well. That "something" is: using Twitter."

Too sick to fly? A doctor's note might save you rebooking cost. "Normally,...United Airlines will charge a fee of $150 to make changes to the itinerary of nonrefundable discounted coach tickets prior to departure. But they might make exceptions if a passenger is sick -- and has proof."

Tarmac wait limited to 3 hours under new US rules. "Passengers will gain the legal right to exit planes that are mired by lengthy delays under regulations unveiled Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but critics warn the measure could backfire by leading to more flight cancellations." United Airlines hub O'Hare is often affected by delays due to weather.

[December 21, 2009] United Airlines most frequent flyer. "[Tom] Stuker has flown nearly 700,000 miles this year alone...Over the years, he has racked up nearly 8.8 million miles on United Airlines, making him the top member of the airline’s Mileage Plus frequent flier program....If I was in coach, I would shoot myself,” he said.

United Airlines VP finds going to the top gets job done.
Alexandria Marren's management style is shaped by tough holiday travel experience. "In leading enterprise-side change, it's OK to be transparent and say you need help to get the job done, and what form that needs to take."

Storm creates air travel delays in pre-holiday weekend. "United Airlines, a unit of UAL Corp., said it canceled about 1,000 flights over the three-day period, out of a total schedule of 9,000 departures."

Airline alliances and merger talks eclipse bankruptcy.
"US Airways Chair Doug Parker, along with United Airlines Chair Glenn Tilton and President John Tague have yet to miss an opportunity during an analyst call to push for more consolidation."

Hidden perils of airline code-sharing. "'When I called United [to get] seat assignments, they advised me that the tickets were not actually confirmed in business class,' but in coach."

The Los Angeles Times examines airline fees as a source of revenue in Southwest Airlines' 'bags fly free' strategy pays off. Behind the unpopular baggage fees, travelers dislike paying for snacks as well. Dietdetective.com warns nutrition lacking in airline food. United Airlines was criticized by Charles Stuart Platkins for its selection of calorie-laden snacks.

United Airlines Tribute This YouTube posting gets high marks from viewers.

[December 18, 2009] United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton says business travel improving. "The outlook for business travel continues to improve as companies gain more confidence in a global economic recovery, United Airlines' top executive said on Wednesday."

United Airlines predicts drop in Q4 unit revenue. "United expects fourth-quarter traffic to be roughly flat."

Glassdoor.com's employee generated content gives United Airlines low marks. "United Airlines ranked #2 — that is, the second worst company, according to its own employees."

US Airlines, including United, sue UK over emissions plan.
"Three U.S. airlines and the Air Transport Association sued the U.K. government to challenge the first stage of the country's implementation of European Union emission-trading regulations."

United Airlines reverses decision to ban antlers/horns on planes. "We will soon publish new requirements - and ones we previously did not have - about packaging and cleaning Antlers and Animal Horns to ensure their safe, clean transport," said United Airlines spokeswoman, Robin Urbanski.

[December 16, 2009] Airlines seek to boost market for biofuels. "United Airlines Chairman Glen Tilton -- who is also chairman of the airline association -- said the memorandums show airlines are actively working to stimulate competition to jet fuel made from petroleum."

Successful 787 Dreamliner landing may spell end of United Airlines 747.
"'The Dreamliner is going to be a tremendous addition to our fleet, providing our customers with a better travel experience in the cabin and new technology that reduces our impact on the environment, increases fuel efficiency and provides cost savings,' said John Tague, president of United Airlines. 'This is a great day, and we congratulate Boeing on the success of the test flight and look forward to our continued partnership with them and continued success as they bring the aircraft online.'"

United Airlines bans antlers as checked baggage. "A new United Airlines policy prohibits traveling with antlers as checked baggage, affecting not only domestic flights but hunters returning to the US from Canada."

The Flight Before Christmas. A United Airlines passenger's example leads to holiday season travel tips.

United Airlines round trip sales end today (Hawaii) and Friday (Ski Spots).

[December 15, 2009] Japan Air shares gain on 'Open Skies' pact. "All Nippon plans to 'quickly' make preparations for partnerships with UAL Corp.’s United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc., it said in a Dec. 12 statement. All three carriers are members of the Star Alliance."

Brussels Airlines joins Star Alliance. A lavish reception "welcomed the official entry of Brussels Airlines in Star Alliance, the world’s leading global airline alliance. Brussels Airlines became the 26th member and 'its integration was exceptionally smooth and rapid' according to Jan Albrecht, the alliance CEO."

New movie "Up In The Air" spotlights airlines elite fliers. This film give a glimpse into the world of airlines invitation only programs like United Airlines Global Services. "United’s Global Services program, believed to be the biggest among airlines, has only a 'few thousand' members", said Graham Atkinson, the head of United’s loyalty programs.

[December 11, 2009] United Airlines parent company eyes trans-Pacific joint venture with All Nippon Airways. "Before a joint venture could be set up, All Nippon Airways would need to be added to the antitrust immunity that United and Continental already have for international flights. And the U.S. and Japan would need an open skies agreement to free up flights between the two countries."

United Airlines says slump in business travel eases. "United is seeing a “very encouraging trend line” in revenue as business travel improves further, CFO Kathryn Mikells said [Wednesday] on a Webcast." American Airlines and Delta show similar outlook for fourth quarter.

United Airlines to ask Embraer to bid on planes. "'Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer will be invited to join a tender to supply narrow-bodied planes to United Airlines'" says Glenn Tilton. More on United Airlines plane orders from Benzinga.

United Airlines contract could boost ExpressJet's Holdings revenue by 10%. "The announcement of the United deal also boosted ExpressJet's stock and prompted on analyst to upgrade its shares and project a profitable 2010."

[December 9, 2009] United Airlines Places $10 Billion Plane Order. "...United Airlines said on Tuesday it placed a $10 billion-plus order for 50 wide-bodied jetliners divided between Airbus and Boeing Co,..."

United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton to address Executives Club of Chicago. " Glenn Tilton, Chairman, President and CEO of UAL Corporation and Chairman and CEO of United Airlines, its principal subsidiary company, will address the members and guests of The Executives' Club of Chicago at its December 16, 2009 Global Leaders Luncheon. Mr. Tilton will speak on 'The Airline Industry and the Global Economy'".

[December 7, 2009] United Airlines reports rise in traffic for November. "United Airlines said Thursday that its traffic rose 1.8 percent in November. That plus a smaller fleet added up to planes that were 80.2 percent full." Several carriers are filling more seats. "The nine largest U.S. passenger airlines saw their stock prices climb 21.4 percent this week, led by a 34.1 percent jump by United Airlines Inc. parent UAL Corp."

United Airlines stock prices rise along with others as economy rebounds. "U.S. airline stocks surged Friday on a stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report that could signal an economic rebound and subsequently spur passenger traffic."

Miles for Nothing: How the Govt Helped Frequent Fliers Make a Mint. "Enthusiasts of frequent-flier mileage have all kinds of crazy strategies for racking up credits, but few have been as quick and easy as turning coins into miles."

United Airlines offers flights to the North Pole from Phoenix and Los Angeles. These short flights gave homeless children a thrill while United Airlines employees transformed their gate into a winter wonderland featuring games, food, face painting and the hosts of the party: Mr. & Mrs. Claus.

Kathy and I flew back from London on United Airlines on Saturday, landing in a snow storm at Dulles and having a very long wait getting through customs to learn that our flight to Richmond was canceled. An unfortunate day to fly.

[December 2, 2009] United Airlines Employees Deliver Best November On-Time Performance. "United Airlines closed out a record-breaking November with the best on-time performance since reporting to the Department of Transportation began in October 1987. United also tied its best day for arrival performance on November 28, when more than 96% of flights were on-time."

Poaching new members could redraw the airline alliance map."...this bold move signals a change in alliance recruitment etiquette where poaching from another alliance is no longer taboo. That could have far-reaching implications for corporate travel departments and business travelers worldwide." This article focuses on Asian airlines and mentions Star Alliance and United Airlines Tokyo hub.

O'Hare Heroes. Homeless mom and kids helped by United Airlines personnel and passengers.

[November 30, 2009] US warns airlines on fare mistakes. "We believe that all airlines should accept some responsibility for even the erroneous fares they publish," says the DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

United Airlines introduces try-before-you-buy WIFI. "United Airlines customers on transcontinental p.s.(SM) flights can enjoy a complimentary onboard Internet session with the new Try-Before-You-Buy promotion, offered in conjunction with airborne communications provider Aircell."

Airlines offer 'economy class' plus to former 'business class' riders. "A look at figures published by United Airlines gives an indication of just how many travelers have made the switch to Economy Plus.."

I'm in London now after several more United Airlines flights and wrote about it in my Security Travel blog. "I know about the recession, flew several hundred thousand miles during the cutbacks, but I choose to be optimistic that United's new focus on customer service will make life just a bit easier."

[November 23, 2009] Airport Check-in: United LineBusters keep lines moving. "United Airlines will use new technology to steer passengers from its customer service lines to self-service kiosks."

Kralev: Customers gain sway over airlines. United 1k members lose advance domestic upgrades. "Though United tried to mask that huge loss for its best customers with the promise of automatic "free upgrades" if space in first or business class is still available a couple of days before a flight, the outcry against the new policy was overwhelming."

United Airlines Customer Service Success Story. Instant automated email does the trick. "I didn’t complain. I didn’t threaten to take my business elsewhere. Yet United recognized that I was inconvenienced and proactively and quickly apologized and offered compensation that I gratefully accepted but never demanded."

United Airlines works to reconnect with customers and restore battered reputation. "For the first time this decade, Chicago-based United is giving makeovers to every aircraft in its fleet....Over four days, the A320 will be spruced up with a new first-class cabin and outfitted from front to back with soft, blue leather seats."

While worker pensions fail, CEOs get rich. "A United spokesman says the millions in retirement benefits that that CEO Tilton has gotten replace what he lost when he left his previous company and have nothing to do with United's pension problems. Meantime, many United retirees are having to live on less. Pensions that default to the guaranty fund are capped. One pilot, for example, saw his monthly payment shrink to one-third of what he'd been promised."

United Airlines is close to first new plane order in a decade.
"United is being furiously courted by both Chicago-based Boeing Co. and France-based Airbus SAS, sources said, even though the carrier's finances appeared shaky just months ago."

My advice to @UnitedAirlines: "if you want to be Web 2.0 and social media hip on Twitter, you might scan for cries for help to @UnitedAirlines and intervene from time to time." I'm on the road again. United Airlines flight delayed 2.5 hours on Nov. 21. Heading for SANS London 2009 after Thanksgiving where I'll be teaching MGT512.

[November 19, 2009] Airlines slip as oil tops $80; labor heats up. Most major airline stocks, including United Airlines parent UAL corp., are trading down. "Unions are gearing up for a fight with airline managements over new labor contracts and unionization."

United Airlines flight attendants honor picket line at American. "While American Flight Attendants conduct a mock strike and walk the picket line [Nov. 18], United Flight Attendants will join them in solidarity for a fair Contract and coordinated efforts to lift the standard for Flight Attendants across the industry."

Paying more for flights eases guilt, not emissions. "Responsible Travel canceled their [carbon offset] program, saying that while it might help travelers feel virtuous, it was not helping to reduce global emissions." United Airlines has participated in this program that allows travelers to pay more for flights and directs the money to programs that reduce emissions elsewhere.

United Airlines "Winter Welcome" Airfare Sale.

[November 17, 2009] Bensonville accepts $16M to stop fighting O'Hare expansion. "Neither Chicago-based United Airlines nor American Airlines support Chicago's plans for a western terminal campus providing additional aircraft gates."

Thank you for flying with us. Please give us all your money.
United Airlines frequent flyer shares Thanksgiving flight purchase horror story.

Star Alliance new upgrade, club rules. "United Airlines is bringing its Mileage Plus program in line with Continental’s OnePass plan...The new upgrade regimen is somewhat simple: unlimited domestic upgrades based on your elite status in Mileage Plus. Naturally, the top players, Global Services and 1K members, get first dibs."

United Airlines launches double elite miles special. "Until 30 November 2009, a roundtrip Economy Class ticket on United Airlines from Hong Kong to Los Angeles will cost just HK$4,600."

United Airlines prices $810 million aircraft financing. "United Airlines, a whollyowned subsidiary of UAL Corporation (Nasdaq: UAUA), announced today [Nov. 16] that it has priced its public offering of $810 million aggregate principal amount of enhanced equipment trust certificates ('EETC')."

United announces tie-in with ExpressJet. "United Airlines said Monday that ExpressJet Airlines in May will begin operating 25 ERJ-145 aircraft under the United Express brand."

[November 16, 2009] Worried about losing tax revenue, Congress to investigate airlines' fees. "'We have been aggressive and creative,' John Tague, president of United Airlines, told analysts last month. And it has paid off: United collects about $13 in fees per passenger, or 30 percent more than the industry average." Should excise tax be charged on such fees so the federal government can direct tax money to airports for improvements and expansion?

Kralev: United pilot earns top praise
. "Meeting Mr. Flanagan a day after another United pilot was arrested in London for showing up drunk at work was a good advertisement for the embattled airline, which, like many in the industry, is struggling to improve its customer-service image."

The secret handshake I still don't know at United Airlines
. This United 1k member wonders about Global Services membership.

[November 13, 2009] US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pledges to heal airline economics in dereg review. "There was little consensus, however, among aviation industry insiders he invited to a day-long forum, including top executives from United Airlines and Boeing Co....airline execs such as United’s chief administrative officer, Peter McDonald, reiterated that high taxes and continuing regulation of the industry are the crux of the problem."

United Airlines teams up with the American Cancer Society to bring smiles to children undergoing cancer treatment. "For each contribution of at least 7,500 Mileage Plus miles or of a minimum of $50, volunteers - including United employees - will deliver a Holden Hugyou teddy bear to a child with cancer at hospitals throughout the country in February 2010. Contributions can be made through December 31 by visiting united.com/bearhug."

[November 12, 2009] Arrest of United Airlines pilot is the latest in a series of pilot drinking episodes. "He is the third U.S. pilot arrested in 13 months on alcohol-related charges. Monday's arrest raises more questions about what goes on in airplane cockpits."

United Airlines helps organize a travel junkies field trip. "More than 200 vagabond business travelers, peripatetic frequent-flier-mile addicts and aviation enthusiasts ...traveled from the U.S. to Germany, Norway and France to meet with executives, pilots and mechanics at four airlines."

[November 11, 2009] Airlines might bump you if you appear sick. "Mitra Mostoufi and her daughter Paige were taken off a morning flight on United Airlines because the flight crew suspected she had swine flu."

Low-cost airlines grab 30% of travel market vs. traditional rivals. "Don Schmincke prefers the full-service treatment he gets as a first-class passenger on United Airlines and other big, conventional airlines. Yet he's flying those less and less."

United Airlines suspends allegedly drunken pilot. "United Airlines has suspended a pilot who was arrested in London on suspicion that he was about to fly a Boeing 767 with 124 passengers while drunk, the airline said on Tuesday."

United Airlines bring new Chicago service to Midwestern cities. "United Airlines today announced the airline is launching new service beginning in early 2010 from the airline’s Chicago hub to Eau Claire, Wis., Hancock/Houghton, Mich., Muskegon, Mich., and Paducah, Ky."

[November 9, 2009] New Uniforms for United Airlines Employees. "Fashionable, functional uniforms will be designed for United flight attendants, pilots, customer service representatives, ramp service and maintenance employees" by Chicago-area native Cynthia Rowley. See Chicago Tribune columnist Sandra M. Jones' comments on the story.

Fuller planes, fewer flights and surcharges for the holidays.
Here's the lowdown on holiday travel for those who plan to fly. "And in some cases, passengers actually may benefit. Continental's move into the Star Alliance included a code-share agreement with United Airlines that lets both carriers sell seats on each others flights. Savvy travelers should check both airlines' Web sites for the same flight schedule in search of price discrepancies, advised Tom Parsons, who runs the discount travel site Bestfares.com."

United to phase out 26 Mesa Airlines CRJ200s. "Mesa plans to work with United Airlines on an orderly transition plan, but, in any event, the date of exit from service is expected to be no later than April 30, 2010."

Southwest Airlines' strategy for growth is in the bag. Can Southwest attract enough passengers to offset the potential earnings from baggage fees? "'We are not seeing any shift in market share from one to another as a result of our decision on fees versus Southwest,' said Greg Kaldahl, vice president for resource planning at United Airlines. United's internal data show that customers tend to rate their experience on United more highly than their peers if they purchase one of the new services, including charges for roomier seats and fees for access to check-in and security lines reserved for elite frequent fliers, Kaldahl said."

United Airways vows to fight off 'business rivalry' case. "Private carrier United Airways is preparing to fight back the legal action taken by USA-based United Airlines Inc. for the alleged trademark violation."

United to launch Brussels-Chicago route. "The news comes as Brussels Airlines gears up to join Star Alliance on December 9, meaning fellow alliance member United will be able to offer onward connections for its passengers from the European hub."

[November 6, 2009] United Airlines to add 3 new countries to global network. "New service to Ghana, Nigeria and Kingdom of Bahrain to begin in spring 2010"

DIA to gain breathing room by paying United Airlines to surrender 5 gates. "Denver International Airport is amending its long-term lease with United Airlines in a way that will return five of United's gates in Concourse B to the airport for six years in exchange for DIA's payment of $12.5 million to United."

I'm heading home from my trip to Israel on El Al and United Airlines. I enjoyed my time in the Red Carpet Lounge at JFK, one of the nicer ones. Looking forward to Premium Service on the flight.

[November 5, 2009] United Airlines revokes first class upgrade of frequent flyer exec. "United Airlines is responding to allegations from a Maryland businessman who says a gate agent denied him access to the first-class cabin on a recent flight because he was dressed too casually." In a follow-up blog post, Jessica Faye Carter says "I caught up with Robin of United Airlines, who informed me that the airline has no such policy for customers. It does, however, have a policy that employees flying first-class must wear business attire."

Continental says merger with United still possible. "Continental Airlines hasn't ruled out a merger with United Airlines and would again pursue a deal to become the world's largest carrier if the current No. 1, Delta Air Lines, proves a formidable competitor, Continental President Jeff Smisek said Tuesday."

Laser debacle ends with man in prison. "In May 2008, Dana Christian Welch allegedly shone a handheld laser at a United Airlines jet, carrying more than 180 people, and at an Alaska Airlines plane, with more than 80 people on board, as they landed at Santa Ana’s John Wayne Airport."

[November 4, 2009] United Airlines Announces New Leadership Appointments.

United Airlines spent $510K lobbying gov't in Q3 on "legislation including the cap-and-trade bill that was taken up in the Senate this week, according to a recent disclosure form."

Continental May Reconsider Combining with United
. "Continental will focus on its new membership in the United- led Star Alliance marketing group and is “very pleased” to remain independent, Smisek said today in a Bloomberg Television interview."

United Airlines October Traffic down 1.6%. "Load factor, or the percentage of available seats filled with passengers, in October rose 2.3 percentage points to 83.1%"

This satirical scoop in 'The Onion' has United Airlines Exploring Viability of Stacking Them Like Cordwood. Worth a few laughs.

[November 2, 2009] Delta to deal 'accordingly' with pilots who became distracted and overflew their destination last month. United Airlines CEO, Glenn Tilton says "We’ll take it on board in our training and learn from it, simulate it. We are very attentive to all details."

United Airlines announced its holiday fare sale. Here are the discount deals for flights leaving United's hub in Denver.

United Airlines loses Dave Carroll's luggage and $12,418.28 of famous rock climber's gear.

Canberra stretches Singapore's patience
as Qantas, V Australia, Delta and United Airlines battle over trans-Pacific route.

Continental shows new transparency. "The very day it officially joined the Star Alliance last week, it uploaded on its Web site 'award' seats made available by other alliance members, which its customers can book using Continental frequent-flier miles." These same award seats have been blocked by United Airlines.

[October 29, 2009] United Airlines says farewell to the Boeing 737. "'We tend to become attached to these big pieces of aluminum,' said Jeff Ecklund, who flew 737s for six years at United before losing his job in September. The jet's final flights also marked the end of an era at Chicago-based United, which had a hand in making the 737 the best-selling passenger jet of all time."

$75 Million settlement between Los Angeles World Airports and United Airlines "over control of Terminals 7 and 8 at Los Angeles International Airport".

Airlines change policies ahead of storm. United Airlines and other carriers at Denver International Airport announced travel waivers that allow changes without fees through tonight.

United Airlines pulls plug on in-flight program that showed cruelty to animals. "
"We are so pleased that United Airlines is heeding customer concerns and keeping the skies friendly for animals," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman."

Winning bid keeps maintenance jobs as SFO. "United Airlines says 60 jobs at San Francisco International Airport have been saved because its local maintenance base came in with the best bid to upgrade the first class and business class cabins in 32 of its Boeing 777 aircraft."

Bloggers respond to Continental's membership in Star Alliance and wonder about access to United Airlines Red Carpet Club lounges.

Jury Awards United Airlines Ramp Supervisor $3M for Retaliation to Discrimination Complaint.


[October 27, 2009] United Airlines Award Sale. "United Mileage Plus members can redeem fewer miles for roundtrip coach travel between the U.S./Canada and Europe or the Middle East on travel booked by Oct. 31, 2009 for travel Jan. 10 through March 15, 2010." Here's the link to United Airlines' website with the details.

United Airlines CEO, Glenn Tilton, speaks at Star Alliance ceremony. Continental Airlines presents video webcast of news briefing and joining ceremony.

United Airlines last Boeing 737 flight tomorrow. "N331UA will operate a "farewell flight" on Wednesday October 28, 2009"

Is Northwest Airlines overshot-airport flight an argument for Channel 9? United Airlines Audio Channel 9 is "set to the radio frequency which the pilots are using to communicate with the FAA center, airport approach, or tower handling that flight’s movements" and is available to passengers at the captain's discretion. I rarely listen, but from the responses to this blog post many people do.

The Safe "Offshoring" of Airline Repair. The trend toward closing production, repair and maintenance plants in the US and moving operations to other countries is documented here. "United Airlines shut down a $600 million repair center in Indianapolis where taxpayers had funded more than half the cost of construction, and shifted the work to non-union repair firms."

[October 26, 2009] In one man's garage, Pan Am still makes the going great. United Airlines global sales director Anthony Toth has channeled his passion for air travel into a creating replica of Pan Am's first-class cabin. "His passion for the industry goes well beyond what [he has] at home," says Mr. Toth's boss, Jeff Foland, senior vice president of world-wide sales and distribution for United.

United Airlines solutions provider, Dasher Technologies, to exhibit at Cloud Computing Expo. "United Airlines [is] among the 200-plus customers who have trusted Dasher with their business-critical hardware and software projects."

More than half of air travelers would fly with flu to avoid a change fee. "Not all airlines are ogres - one of my buddies was supposed to fly last week, but alas, he came down with H1N1 several days before. A call to United Airlines took care of that–they cheerfully cancelled his ticket, and applied his fare to a trip he scheduled in January. No change/cancellation fees. No hassle."

Six pound overweight bag fetches $150 fee on United Airlines.

[October 23, 2009] Star Alliance's newest member gets new domestic partner in United Airlines. "By leaving the 11-member SkyTeam alliance and joining the 24-member Star Alliance, Continental customers will get seamless travel to more destinations, reciprocal frequent flyer perks with more airlines and access to a bigger array of airport lounges, the Cleveland-hubbed airline says."

A Slow Summer Hurt Continental and American Airlines. "July, August and September are normally the strongest months for the airlines, with planes filled with vacationers willing to pay as much as necessary to get to their destinations. Not this year." Good recap of Q3 earnings for all major carriers including United Airlines.

United Airlines leans to Airbus for big fleet renewal. "All the whispers from Chicago are that Airbus is looking good for the lion's share of United's big aircraft order."

I had a great experience yesterday flying United Airlines from Kauai to New York in business class. I guess I'm one of those people who give hope that "business travel could pick up soon". I sure fooled them. I'm on a family trip to Israel which you can read about in my Information Security Travel Guide.

[October 21, 2009] United Airlines reported a narrower Q3 loss than previous quarters and is "beginning to see signs that business travel could pick up soon."

Continental's partnership with United Airlines begins next week through Star Alliance. "The Continental tie-up should bring a badly needed revenue boost to Chicago-based United, which on Tuesday reported a third-quarter loss of $57 million."

Aviation Hall of Fame inductee announced. "Clay Lacy, a former United Airlines pilot who founded a California-based executive jet charter service that transported Hollywood celebrities, will be among four aviation pioneers to be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010."

Two sue United Airlines over O'Hare runway skid.

United Airlines employee charged for unauthorized entry. "A worker at Washington Dulles International Airport has been arrested after running away from a security official who questioned the man about not wearing his security badge."

[October 20, 2009] Airline elite status - does it still have any value left? "Elite status is not just a luxury that can make your trip a little more bearable, it's what you need if you don't like paying for checked bags, or if you don't like spending an hour in the security line." United 1k members are feeling it. The value of frequent flier status is not what it used to be.

Antitrust immunity is back in the news as US Airways pilots association lends support to American Airlines pilots. "On the horizon, USAPA see yet another potential raid of the lucrative U.S. airlines market as United Airlines and AerLingus seek business arrangement that can have catastrophic effects to U.S. aviation workers," said USAPA president Mike Cleary.

Airfares rise on holiday travel so book early! "For example, you will find that United Airlines tickets to Chicago from Washington DC for Thanksgiving costs $563 as compared to $285 last month."

The TSA took my baby story: The relationship between psychology, customer service and traveling with a young one. "There are a couple of details about this incident that indicate that perhaps TSA still has a bit of work to do when it comes to perfecting customer service and truly understanding human psychology and behavior."

[October 19, 2009] Business class filling up in Asian airlines. "Asian airlines are starting to sell more premium as well as economy seats, outperforming other regions where economic fears continue to weigh on travel, the International Air Transport Association said on Thursday." IATA, whose members include United Airlines, says the global airline industry will lose $11 billion in 2009.

United Airlines seen posting Q3 loss. "Analysts expect third-quarter revenue of $4.34 billion. That would be a drop of 22 percent from the third quarter of 2008."

Poll: Airlines we love and why we love them
. "United had a surprisingly high percentage who liked the economy plus seating." Frequent flier program and destinations were the top two reasons for United Airlines customers who answered the survey. Good comparison of a dozen popular airlines.

United Airlines to introduce unlimited Elite upgrades in 2010. "United Airlines has announced plans to introduce unlimited domestic upgrades for elite members and a companion, effective from the second quarter of next year." Upgrades will be processed days before flight departure, rather than weeks or months before as they used to be. Here's Nicholas Kralev's commentary on the change. United slashes advance domestic upgrades.

I responded to this United 1k member's post about how United Airlines handled her booking error. I've got a similar situation to deal with coming up
. Maybe this information will help one of you.

[October 15, 2009] FAA fines United Airlines $3.8 Million for flying out-of-compliance jets.

Airlines launch widespread fare hike. Led by American Airlines, the fare increase "represents a boost in round-trip ticket prices by as much as $16 for an unusually large number of U.S. city pairs". United Airlines is among those following suit.

[October 14, 2009] United Airlines pilots elect new union leader. "[Wendy] Morse will be the first woman to head the Air Line Pilots Association, traditionally United's most powerful union, when she takes office Jan. 1, joining United's board of directors shortly thereafter."

More fare deals on United Airlines - Hawaii from mainland cities, 5,000 reward miles FREE for Mileage Plus members when you purchase flights by Monday, Oct. 19.

Swissport Cargo Services renews agreement with United Airlines. SCS will provide United Airlines with cargo services "for 3 airports - Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago-O’Hare" until 2012.

United Airlines kicks off new service in London. "Together with Air Canada, WestJet Airlines, Delta Airlines and now United Airlines, the growing range of air services at London International Airport provides the traveler with excellent direct and connecting service within Canada, the United States, and the world beyond."

This disgruntled passenger says Goodbye to United Airlines, but many of the comments at the end of his article defend United as "no worse than all the rest". Some suggest paying more for a seat in business class. Works for me.

"This time United Airlines managed to misplace my luggage in both directions." This traveler has some good suggestions for use of today's technology in dealing with lost luggage.

Court reinstates United Airlines mechanic's bias suit.
"The ruling allows [Iftikhar] Nazir to take his damage claim to trial in San Mateo County Superior Court." One blogger, The Complex Litigator, thinks this case goes too far.

[October 12, 2009] Skycaps suing United Airlines. "United had yet to be served with the lawsuit Friday, but spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the airline believes it lacks merit because United does not employ or pay the skycaps."

Now Planes are Tweeting, Too. "Typical status updates read 'flying over San Francisco Intl, California 94030, USA on United Airlines'"

Airplane off runway in Winnipeg. "Poor visibility Friday night resulted in a United Airlines flight losing its way after landing at Winnipeg's Richardson International Airport."

United Airlines adds in-flight Wi-Fi service for passengers on flights between New York and California. "Passengers with laptops pay about $13 to use the service. The cost is $8 for handheld devices. United will decide to expand the Wi-Fi service based on customer feedback."

United Airlines offers flat fee for checked baggage. Members of Mileage Plus frequent-flier program are eligible. "For $249, a traveler and up to eight companions traveling on the same confirmation number can check first and second bags without paying the baggage fee." Here's the United Airlines website url for details.

United Airlines and other slap $10 surcharge on more peak travel days. "
American and United Airlines are charging it on all fares for Nov. 30; Dec. 18 and 19; Dec. 23, 26, 27 and 30; March 14, 20, 21 and 28; April 11; and May 28."

[October 1, 2009] Thanks United Airlines for a smooth flight home to Kauai!

United Airlines CEO, Glenn Tilton, says airlines want alternatives to jet fuel. "Speaking at an energy conference on Wednesday, Tilton said commercial airlines remain financially fragile and do not have the cash to or credit capacity to fund development of new fuels infrastructure."

United Airlines Saves 1 Billion Pounds of Fuel over 4 Years. "By using the latest flight techniques to conserve fuel, reduce noise and keep the air cleaner by reducing emissions, United Airlines has saved 1 billion pounds of fuel through conservation initiatives from 2004 to 2008."

UAL Plans to Sell Stock, Notes to Public.
"United Airlines parent UAL Corp. said Wednesday that it plans to sell 19 million new shares and $175 million in notes in two public offerings."

United Airlines Releases 2008-2009 Corporate Responsibility Report.
United Airlines says "Every Action Counts". The report highlights "the company's actions and commitments to business discipline and leadership, safety, customer satisfaction, employee development and opportunity, community engagement, and environmental stewardship."

Frontier Airlines to emerge from bankruptcy under Republic. Its maintenance operation may be moved out of Denver to reduce costs. "For Frontier, one thing that won’t be changing is its competitive spot in Denver, with market share sandwiched between United Airlines and Southwest."

A Flier's Guide to Snagging an Upgrade Now. "[F]or many road warriors, upgrades are by far the most enticing reward in a frequent-flier program: They are a better value than redeeming miles for tickets, and they greatly improve your travel experience." This article covers all major carriers including United Airlines.

Flying the other way, Southwest Airlines widens the gap between its competition. "As American, Continental, Delta, US Airways and United Airlines adopt a trend to impose a new $10 fee to passengers traveling during peak holiday travel days, Southwest takes a step in the opposite direction."

[September 30, 2009] United Airlines / ATA Chair, Glenn Tilton, Warns of Airline Crisis. “There has been little to no progress in globalizing the business environment in which we operate…"

United Airlines to offer more uses for miles. "Starting Tuesday, miles can be used on hotels anywhere worldwide and car rentals in the United States and Canada."

Surviving Airline Bankruptcies
. "US Airways and United Airlines look to have the greatest challenges over the next year."

[September 29, 2009] Airlines take in nearly $4 Billion in additional fees. United Airlines has collected $67 million in baggage fees alone in Q2 '09. "These figures are even more incredible considering that passengers paying the highest non-discounted airfares and elite members of the air carrier frequent flier program are exempt from such fees."

Concerned about retaining elite status due to reduced business travel? Register here for Double Elite Qualifying Miles on United Airlines.

My wife Kathy just became a United 1K member after flying so much with me this year. We're now a 1k couple! I'm interested to see if it makes a difference when we travel with linked tickets.

More Cheap Flights on United Airlines from Chicago to select cities. Travel by Oct. 31.

[September 28, 2009] United Airlines flies Chicago 2016 delegation to Copenhagen. "Members of the Chicago 2016 delegation will make the final presentation to the IOC [International Olympic Committee] on the morning of October 2, with the Host City announcement following later that evening."

Alliances take center stage in US-Japan Aviation Talks. "U.S. airlines want the Obama administration to capitalize on an unexpected opening in talks to liberalize service to Japan, but tougher antitrust scrutiny of alliances in the United States would overshadow any agreement." All Nippon Airlines may be seeking a deal with United Airlines in the Star Alliance.

Holiday travel fee. United Airlines, Delta and American added a $10 surcharge to fares on flights leaving Nov. 29, Jan. 2 & 3, some of the busiest travel days of the year. "'The risk in the surcharge is backlash from consumers already saddled with the fees imposed in the past year', said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks and a former airline marketing executive."

United back in the friendly skies. "Chicago-based United Airlines, which reported net losses in six of the last seven quarters, sees 'signs of encouragement' -- fuller planes and a pickup in leisure travel -- UAL's Chief Executive Officer Glenn Tilton says." Still waiting for a rebound in business travel and urging the government to ease restrictions.

With fewer flights, airlines' customer service improves. "But not everyone sees an improvement in airline service." An instance of United Airlines poor customer service is cited in this article as having been resolved by a consumer advocate.

More fare deals on United Airlines. Newark to Honolulu $460 and United flights from US cities to Europe $428. Just remember to pack light on those European flights as a second checked bag will cost $50.

[September 24, 2009] United Airlines appoints Jane Garvey, former FAA administrator, to its board of directors. "'We are pleased to welcome a leader of Jane Garvey's caliber to our board,' said UAL Chairman, President and CEO Glenn Tilton. 'She has intimate knowledge of, and direct experience addressing, many of the key challenges that have faced our industry over the past decade.'"

Airline Outlook Improves, Passengers Face Fees and Crowded Planes.Bloomberg.com stock market news reports "Delta Air Lines Inc., AMR Corp and UAL Corp [parent of United Airlines]
have more than doubled in U.S. trading since March as the travel slump starts to ease and bankruptcy concerns abate. The outlook for passengers isn't as bright."

US Carriers drag AMEX Index Down. "Next Generation Equity Research stated that United Airlines is also a likely candidate to launch a similar capital raising exercise."

United Airlines West Coast Splendor sale. Must purchase by Sept. 25. Some of our SANS Network Security 2009 attendees might want to know about this.

[September 23, 2009] United Airlines Furloughs 290 Pilots. "Like other carriers, United has been reducing the amount of flying it does to try to match less demand. United traffic and capacity have both fallen 9.2 percent this year through August compared with the same period last year."

With reduced costs United Airlines is well-positioned to reap rewards as the economy recovers. "United Airlines and other U.S. carriers were dealt a lucky break last year when an oil shock make it appear they were headed for bankruptcy...Chicago-based United Airlines, which cut its workforce more deeply than most of its peers, has seen dramatic improvement to its cost structure, federal data show."

American Airlines to end health plan for non-union retirees. "As of February 2009, only United Airlines offers medical coverage to its retirees over age 65," said American Airlines in its letter to retirees. Cutting costs in a down economy isn't always popular, especially when it affects people and their families. It'll be interesting to see if United changes it's health plan too.

United Airlines adds Denver non-stops to Louisville, Midland
. "
'Each of these services is timed to offer travelers additional convenience, flexibility and access to a global network spanning six continents,' said Kevin Knight, United senior vice president of planning, in a news release." El Paso to LA route added as well.

[September 22, 2009] Airport Darwinism, or Survival of the Biggest. Joe Sharkey's column focuses mainly on American Airlines' current strategy (adding 57 flights from O'Hare - United Airlines major hub) and the competition taking place in the airline industry. "Even though most airlines are shrinking capacity — American’s domestic capacity is down by about 11 percent in two years — the biggest airports are shaping up as intense battlegrounds for large carriers." While United Airlines is adding routes to small cities including Duluth and Asheville making travel to its Chicago hub more convenient, American Airlines hopes to cash in with flights from O'Hare to other major business travel destinations.

United Airlines Columbus Day Weekend Fare Sale. Must book by today to get great deals on select destinations.

My Ticket Price Fell - How About A Refund?. It never hurts to ask. This consumer advocate was successful.

[September 21, 2009] Travel deals abound on United Airlines. While fares may not be lower, bonus miles, travel perks and discounts on future travel may help fill seats this fall.

Mileage Plus members: Here's an incentive to fly now on United or United Express and save up to 50% on future travel. "United Airlines announced today the launch of a program that enables customers to earn an e-certificate for up to 50% off a domestic flight booked for Feb 1-May 31, 2010."

United Airlines launches Premier Travel and Premier Travel Plus. "The bundled programs allow customers to save up to 50% on travel perks compared to buying the benefits individually."

Bonus miles between US and Asia. "Mileage Plus members can now earn extra bonus miles"

US Airlines Expected to Fare Better Than Global Carriers
. "U.S. carriers' heavy reliance on domestic traffic rather than international business has also helped them as the global recession hurt international travel more, analysts said." United Airlines' liquidity initiatives for Q4 are mentioned in this article along with lower fuel costs leading to a better outlook for the airline.

[September 17, 2009] United Airlines Makeover Aims to Refresh and Renew. "[Glenn] Tilton and his team have spent the last eight weeks trying to convince skeptical analysts, skittish investors and the flying public that United is not as financially bad off as [industry analyst Jamie] Baker had warned."

UAL Corp Expects Third Quarter Revenue to Fall About 16%

Airline Stocks Rise for Ninth Day, Longest Streak Since 1995. "UAL, owner of United Airlines, has risen 55 percent since Sept. 2 for the biggest gain in the measure."

Bumped Passengers Learn a Cruel Flying Lesson. "United Airlines saw its bumped-passenger rate climb 73% this year to 1.71 passengers per 10,000, second only to US Airways."

[September 15, 2009] United Airlines Packages Perks for Sale. "United Airlines, seeking new ways to boost revenue, is offering passengers the chance to buy packages of perks that are enjoyed free of charge by its elite frequent fliers." Check the comment attached to this article. JetBlue and Southwest have that respondent's business.

Airlines Team Up, Offer Discount Fares for Global Meetings. Now this is a brilliant use of Star Alliance membership. I wonder if SANS London 2009 attendees can benefit from this.

Making good on it's June announcement to reduce its fleet, "United Airlines (Chicago) will retire its last Boeing 737 on October 28 at the San Francisco hub after 41.5 years of faithful service."

The Business of Social Media - Better Decisions (NOT Better Reactions) Blogger Brian Roy takes a look at the impact of the "United Breaks Guitars" social media event on United Airlines overall performance. "What is clear from these two high profile Social Media events is that they have little or no impact on a brand – by the only meaningful measure – revenue, and return of value to share holders."

[September 14, 2009] New Security Checkpoints at Washington Dulles mean less crowded terminal lobby. "The checkpoints, located on the new underground mezzanine level, will house 16 lanes on the east side mostly for United Airlines' customers." the airport's diamond lane, reserved for business travelers will remain on the baggage claim level.

Flying for the rest of the year - fewer seats, higher fares.
With airlines cutting capacity, "don't expect any more amazing fare deals any time soon and think about booking early, because flights are probably going to be filling up pretty quickly." So book early for SANS Cyber Defense Initiative 2009. United Airlines schedule for Q4 shows a 9% drop in seats.

Here's one United Airlines passenger's travel nightmare. She asks "Why did United Airlines have 3 employees available to intimidate an upset customer and none available to offer any assistance when it might have been possible to make the original flight?" I had my own United Airlines travel nightmare yesterday on my way to teach at SANS Network Security 2009. Those capacity cuts are already wreaking havoc.

Ousted Illinois Governor's chief fundraiser dies. "The commercial roofing contractor had also pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking part in an $8.5 million fraud against United Airlines and American Airlines for work on their hangars at O'Hare International Airport."

[September 11, 2009] President Obama to Lead 9/11 Tributes. Passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flights 174 and 93 on that fateful day are remembered.

United Airlines to Continue Raising Cash Reserves.
"In an internal briefing this week the United Airlines COO said the carrier was still concentrating on building cash balances and liquidity in order to operate the business, while debt repayment stayed at the front of mind."

United Airlines joins others in fees for international checked luggage. "
Chicago-based United told employees Thursday that it planned to introduce fees for the second bag checked by economy-class passengers on flights to Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean."

A blogger's post drew my attention to this United Airlines Mileage Plus 1K member offer of 5,000 bonus miles per stay at any Hyatt Hotel. I'll have to remember to get on in this as I'll be at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego next week for SANS Network Security 2009.

[September 10, 2009] US Lawmakers Pay Tribute to 9/11 Heroes. As the 8th anniversary of this tragedy looms, memorials are in the news, many of them honoring the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who fought back against hijackers. "'We stand in a building that might not be here but for these heroes, and we know what it means to be thankful,' said Senate Democratic Majority leader Harry Reid", referring to the US Capitol building where a plaque was unveiled.

United's Taxpayer Windfall Grows to $50 Million
. Regarding United Airlines' operations center move to the Willis Tower, blogger Josh Kalven says "If the plan goes through as is, that will mean United has secured $50 million in taxpayer funds in less than two years."

Woman Injured by Turbulence on United Airlines flight. "In the past year, there have been eight turbulence-related incidents that caused serious injuries on U.S. airliners and 42 that caused minor injuries, the Federal Aviation Administration said."

[September 9, 2009] Fewer Airline Delays in July. "United's ranking [79.6%] was a big jump from June's on-time performance of 72.6%, among the worst of the big carriers."

Another $10 Million Approved for United Airlines' move to Willlis Tower. “The overall package offered by the city was critical to our decision,” a United spokeswoman says.

Airline Emissions Should Be Capped At 2005 Levels. "Emissions from all airlines ranging from UAL Corp.’s United Airlines to Air Zimbabwe Ltd. “ideally” should be limited though initially flights between developing nations may be exempt."

Of Sabre, Amadeus, and Altea- IT solutions for the airline industry. "At the National Business Travel Association's annual conference in San Diego last month, Amadeus revealed that United Airlines would not implement the Altea system next year as planned. United signed a contract with Amadeus in 2005 to migrate to the Altea platform."

[September 8, 2009] British Court Convicts Three in Plot to Blow Up Airliners. Talk about travel security, this case (which involved flights on United Airlines) seems to justify all the hassle we go through now at airports and the restrictions on what toiletries we pack. "After arrests in the liquid-explosives case were made in August 2006, documents found at the plotters’ homes and on a computer memory stick belonging to the plot ringleader showed that they had earmarked airline schedules for seven flights leaving London for New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Montreal and Toronto, with aircraft operated by American Airlines, United Airlines and Air Canada." The Computer Forensics aspects of the case are also interesting to me since SANS provides training.

Airlines Await Rebound in Business Travel.
"Airlines are particularly worried about whether they'll attract the higher-paying business travelers, many of whom this year have decided to stay home or sit in a discounted seat in coach rather than buy a full-fare ticket." I'm flying economy and upgrading whenever possible. Only once recently have I purchased a business class seat because I was traveling on short notice and it was the only seat available.

US Airlines Cuts in Seats to be Deepest Since 1942. According to this article, the airline industry doesn't have much to smile about. "...the 2009 capacity cuts would dwarf airlines’ 3.9 percent pullback in 2002, the year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the 4.4 percent drop in 1974 amid the oil-price shock."

Hey United! Drop the Opt-Out Pitches. This United 1k member has a few words to say about online and on-screen booking practices. Just be sure to read the fine print before clicking 'I accept'.

[September 4, 2009] United Airlines offers double elite flier miles for travel between Sept. 3 and Dec. 15. "The Chicago-based carrier will give members of its Mileage Plus loyalty program double the normal miles to qualify for elite status." This is a great way to encourage frequent fliers to travel.

August traffic and seating capacity fall while occupancy rises for United Airlines. "Load factor, or percentage of seats filled, rose 2.5 percentage points to 86.1 percent from 83.6 percent a year ago." Continuing to cut back to meet the actual demand is about all you can do in this economy. UAL stock rose 51 cents.

Hawaii Hilton takes over sponsorship of United Airlines "Halfway to Hawaii" game. “'Today, with added service, new island-inspired menus, and the partnership with Hilton in the 35-year tradition of the Halfway to Hawaii game, we look forward to continuing this proud legacy' [of service to the Aloha State], said Stuart Benzal, United Airlines managing director of onboard global product." I've flown back and forth so much I can't count the number of times I've played this game. Odds are, eventually I've got to win.

United Airlines announced special fares on flights from Chicago O'Hare to 4 new destinations on United Express. United defends its territory against budget airlines flying into Midway.

[September 2, 2009] Business travelers want Wi-Fi which is now available in United Airlines lounge at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. "A survey by American Airlines and HP this year found that 'more than 47 percent of business travelers surveyed indicated Wi-Fi was the most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travels needs such as food by nearly 30 percentage points,' according to the companies."

United Airlines prepares to combat the spread of Swine Flu. "Several airlines are taking precautionary steps, making hand sanitizer available to passengers and crews. A spokesperson for United Airlines says their planes are supplied with 'medical kits, containing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer wipes and thermometer strips.'" See my Pandemic Watch blog for more info on current concerns about Swine Flu.

Now here's a great use for digital technology. This company makes the movement of cargo, wheelchairs and cabin crews take place more efficiently so air travelers have a better experience. AirClic' Mobile Solutions Fuels the Airline Industry. "AirClic provides a custom mobile solution to United Airlines through a leveraged partnership with Swissport Cargo Services that enables capture of Staged as Booked and Freight Arrival cargo information on the ramp, resulting in significant ROI and streamlined processes for both organizations."

A United Airlines employee is accused of stealing laptops, cell phones, cameras and other items from luggage at Dulles Airport.
"'United made the authorities aware of this matter and we are fully cooperating with them on the investigation, as well as working to return our customers’ belongings,' [United spokeswoman Robin] Urbanski added."

United Airlines offers Trader Vic's entrees on all Hawaiian flights
. I'll be tasting plenty of this flying back and forth to the mainland and I'm looking forward to it!

United Airlines downsizing St. Louis operations.The recession's not over yet.

[September 1, 2009] ASTA had its press briefing regarding United Airlines passing credit card transaction fees on to travel agencies. United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said “During the last few months, we have had conversations with congressional offices and they have been satisfied with our explanation of these facts, including that the change applied to less than 1 percent of our travel agents."

As Hurricane Jimena nears Los Cabos, United Airlines is among those offering travelers a waiver that allows ticket holders to rebook flights to Los Cabos for another time. On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this blogger commends United Airlines for offering ticketed passengers a way out of New Orleans before the storm hit there.

United Airlines Flight 93 passengers will be remembered.
On Sept. 11, 2001, "Flight 93 was traveling from Newark to San Francisco when it was diverted by hijackers, who crashed the plane as passengers tried to wrest control of the cockpit." Here's a review of the documentary of "The Flight That Fought Back - United 93" which aired yesterday.

United Airlines was among the worst for tarmac delays in June according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. "United Airlines had 116 of its flights delayed on the ground more than two hours with six flights with ground delays between four and five hours."

[August 28, 2009] Airline industry analysts predict bankruptcy and merger talks heading into fall season. United Airlines is among those deemed at risk. "JPMorgan’s Jamie Baker, estimates that by the fourth quarter, American Airlines parent AMR Corp. will burn more than $11 million a day, while United Airlines’ parent UAL Corp. will be going through $7 million a day."

San Francisco Airport: Keeping a Close Eye on United Airlines.
"United's international presence at SFO is very significant for the airport.....The ongoing weakness of United provides interesting fodder for speculation should the carrier again enter bankruptcy."

ASTA continues drive to stop United Airlines' shift of credit card fee.
September 1 briefing scheduled.

Airlines sputter as stock market wavers. United Airlines stock prices declining once again. This article mentions Republic Airways as the new owner of Frontier Airlines. Here are the details of the bidding war between Southwest and Republic. The impact of this outcome will have less of an effect on United Airlines Denver hub.

[August 26, 2009] Pilots call for a ban on air shipments of lithium batteries because in three instances in the last 2 months the batteries appeared to have erupted in smoke or flames. The Air Line Pilots Association "is not recommending that passengers be prohibited from boarding planes with the batteries, which are commonly found in laptop computers, cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices." Not yet, at least. This may be an issue to watch for business travelers in the near future.

Airline business-class travel deals erode last profit center. "While cheap upgrades, heavy discounting and no-frills business seats may help airlines fill the front of their planes, carriers face a delicate balancing act in order to avoid permanently damaging demand for premium tickets." Point well taken. While these deals are great for travelers, they could hurt the airlines later on.

United Airlines fined $75K for advertising violation. The Department of Transportation says United " engaged in an unfair or deceptive practice and unfair method of competition" by failing to disclose the amount or nature of additional taxes and fees in the "Special Deals" section of their website.

Seatback pockets empty? United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski says “the seatbacks are absolutely there to be used for personal items,” but some airlines have been enforcing a ban on personal items in the seatback pockets. See the end of the article for speculation as to why.

[August 25, 2009] United Airlines aggressively responds to "United Breaks Guitars Part 2". Less than an hour after tweeting the url, one blogger reported receiving "a direct message from United saying to check my email regarding the new video."

The European Union rules United Airlines and others must reduce emission.
"The airlines on the EU’s just released list must reduce their emissions by January 1, 2012 or they will be banned from all EU airports."

United Airlines and 7 others agree to use renewable synthetic fuels at LAX. "'We are proud to take part in this innovative, collective endeavour that over time, will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve local air quality through the use of greener fuels,' said Glenn Tilton, ATA Board Chairman and UAL Corporation Chairman, President and CEO." Biofuel firm RenTech Inc.'s shares "nearly doubled on Tuesday following the announcement of a multiyear deal."

Business class travelers not likely to fly until next year despite signs of economic recovery according to a UBS survey of corporate travel managers. But the Wall Street Journal sees it differently.

[August 18, 2009] The partnership between United Airlines and Continental is now official. Continental joins Star Alliance on October 27. Frequent flier mileage balances unaffected for SkyTeam/OnePass members.

O'Hare's new runway helps improve on time performance for United Airlines and others. "Industry analysts are in agreement that the new runway isn’t the sole reason for the improved airport performance, but it has played a major part in the airport become reliable for the first time in years."

Caught on the wrong side of the clock? "When Ronald Di Costanzo... canceled a United Airlines flight a few months ago, a representative told him he had 'one year' to rebook the ticket and use the credit. But when he phoned the airline a few months later to reuse his credit, an employee told him his credit had expired."

[August 17, 2009] Have you had a United Airlines flight canceled recently? Apparently, many people have. I had plenty of my own adventures with United Airlines canceling my flights, and I researched this online. Their new phone system, easyupdate, is a great place to turn when faced with this situation. Kathy and I finally made it to Greece for a well-deserved holiday. You can read all about it in my Security Travel Blog.

There's not much going on in United Airlines News so here are a couple of blog posts you might find interesting. First, complaints about baggage fees. Southwest seems to be everyone's favorite airline right now as they don't charge baggage fees and no one wants to pay for this.If you check the responses to this article you'll read about a passenger who preferred to drive 12 hours rather than pay a $50 baggage fee on United Airlines.

From a business perspective, it's obvious that those fees really help the bottom line, but the anti-United Airlines sentiment seems to be growing among leisure travelers who can choose another carrier. Business travelers who have frequent flyer miles invested and get other perks from United 1k membership have a harder time letting go. Once the economy improves, as it's beginning to do, I predict the complaints will die down and we'll have more happy travelers.

Here's Joe Sharkey's latest rant on the airlines 'Air Travel: Who's In Charge Here?' There's an interesting response from an experienced pilot who is moving his family to China because his job has been outsourced. It raises questions about airline safety in these tough economic times.

[August 13, 2009] Every wonder what happens when your luggage goes missing? Airlines' Expert on Missing Bags sheds some light on the subject. United Airlines is mentioned in this article.

Here's an entire website dedicated to United Airlines customer complaints-untied.com. There's an interesting story about a passenger bound for Hawaii who came down with the flu last May, tried to rebook his ticket and was berated. "I was also told that I should pay $1100 *more* (beyond my $400 ticket) in fees to fly to join up with my wife and daughter:"

[August 11, 2009] Southwest increases its bid to $170 million in cash to buy Frontier. "The purchase also 'provides Southwest a more viable way to compete against United, the dominant carrier' in Denver," said Ron Ricks, Executive Vice President of Southwest.

United Airlines flight attendants seek mediation as the next step in new contract negotiations.

City in debt helping out United Airlines. "While the City of Chicago has laid off employees and is forcing others to take days off without pay, it's disturbing to see that Mayor Daley is doling out $25 million dollars in corporate welfare to United Airlines." Here's Aaron M. Renn's take on Chicago Corporate Headquarters and the Global City now that United Airlines will be moving 2800 employees back into the loop.

Checked baggage fees go through the roof. "Norma Feeney of Cromwell [Connecticut] was shocked Friday when she and her husband were charged $205 by United Airlines to check two bags — one way — on a flight to Seattle from Bradley International Airport."

[August 6, 2009] UAL shares continue to climb which is good news for the entire industry. "United is among several airlines analysts are watching for potential cash problems that could lead to bankruptcy protection in a worst-case scenario. 'If the macro environment does improve, we believe the company is highly levered to these improvements and would therefore benefit substantially,' wrote [Barclay's Capitol analyst Venu] Krishna."

Southwest now landing at Logan, bringing low fares mainstream. The competition between Southwest and United Airlines is more direct at Denver International Airport, but this industry trend does not bode well for United."As discounters have grown– Southwest is now the largest domestic airline in terms of passengers–incumbent airlines have to match prices and live off discount airfares on most domestic routes. And now discounters are increasingly flying into the heart of cities, landing where customers are instead of expecting them to drive to cheaper airports."

More on United Airlines' move to Willis Tower in downtown Chicago. "The move by United would have an economic impact that dwarfs relocations to downtown by other high-profile corporations" and will improve United's bottom line. Unlike United Airlines, SANS is staying on Chicago's North Shore this year. Downtown is fun, but I'd rather avoid the congestion and for a week-long event the Doubletree Conference Center in Skokie is just great.

[August 5, 2009] United Airlines passenger traffic improved in July. "While airlines are filling coach class with discounted passengers, leading to record load factors in the domestic market, the outlook for high-yield business traffic remains cloudy...UAL shares climbed nearly 15% to $4.84 in recent trading, leading broad sector gains."

United Airlines moving operations to Willis Tower? "The decision is driven by simple economics, said Joseph Kolshak, senior vice president for operations at United." An announcement is expected as early as Thursday.

United Airlines and Chase launch 3 new premium credit cards. Another effort to improve the bottom line.

Airline on-time arrivals reported for June by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. United Airlines dropping in standings."For the six months from January to June, Southwest ranked No. 3 of 19 airlines, with a 83.49 percent nationwide on-time arrival rate, BTS said. United was No. 7 with a 79.07 on-time rate".

[August 3, 2009] More thoughts on Southwest and United Airlines' hub. “'Southwest’s move could ultimately force UAL to restructure its Denver hub,' says analyst Dan McKenzie of Next Generation Equity Research."

United Airlines' Twares are featured in this article on airlines using social media to fill seats fast. Unbeatable prices make these purchases hard to resist. Impulsive buyers with twitter accounts are the target audience for these short notice deals.

Airlines seek to unload frequent flier miles, particularly United Airlines notes Nicholas Kralev in this week's Washington Post column. "Airlines have presold so many billions of miles to co-branded credit-card partners that, if those miles are not spent and remain on the books, 'they are endangering their lucrative relationships'.....Hopefully, this is also a sign that United's new CEO, John Tague, will address the customer-unfriendly reputation of his airline." says Christopher Staab of Airline Information, an international consulting company.

United Airlines ticket holder forces LaGuardia evacuation. A bomb threat "disrupted travel plans for thousands of people as flights were postponed and vehicle traffic to the airport was briefly halted. Delays also rippled across the country as airlines adjusted their schedules."

[July 31, 2009] Southwest's bid to buy Frontier could hurt United Airlines. "'It's a terribly bold, but also brilliant strategic move,' said aviation consultant Robert Mann." Auction on August 11.

United Airlines hub among the top 5 airports in the world. "O’Hare International Airport is the second busiest airport in the nation, behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta,...with flights to more than 60 foreign destinations."

[July 30, 2009] United Airlines puts first class seats on sale. Limited routes. Purchase by July 31 and fly between Aug. 17 and Sept. 7. Maybe somebody out there can use this. I'm already booked for the next 2 months. Leaving tomorrow for SANS Boston 2009. Then DC, Virginia Beach and San Diego events where I'll be teaching MGT512: SANS Security Leadership Essentials for Manager with Knowledge Compression (TM).I'll be reporting on my United Airlines travel experiences in my Information Security Travel Guide Edition 12.

I liked this NY Times article on airlines following passengers onto social media in the wake of United Airlines recent exposure. It includes some great stories about airlines proactively using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to successfully deal with customer issues. Modern day business management strategies can include dedicating staff to watching the tweets fly by and creating a quick public relations response to emergency landings, complaints about the food or other customer issues. “United’s experience is the latest and best example of how social computing is affecting the business reputations of travel companies,” says Henry H. Harteveldt, a vice president and airline and travel industry analyst at Forrester Research in San Francisco.

[July 29, 2009] United Airlines completes its 10,000th polar flight. Polar routes allow the carrier to "save fuel and carry more passengers on its North America-Asia routes. An added bonus: During winter, polar routes can be almost an hour faster, United says."

Unruly United Airlines passenger found guilty of interfering with flight crew. "The charge of interference with a flight crew carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison."

[July 28, 2009] John Tague named president of United Airlines. "It looks like Glenn Tilton has finally started to publicly declare his succession plan for United Airlines." say BNETTravel on this story.

United Airlines eliminates fees for frequent flyer last-minute bookings. This used to cost $100! "Being the first airline to eliminate the last-minute booking fee will make it easier for our members to use their miles, and it is one of the many steps we are taking to make Mileage Plus the most rewarding loyalty program for them," says vice president of United Mileage Plus program.

United Airlines may relocate to the 'Willis' (Sears) Tower. The move "would allow United parent UAL Corp. to cut expenses while giving the nation's tallest building, known until recently as Sears Tower, a major tenant." See Mike Doyle's Chicagosphere blog for more on renaming the Tower. "What do you get when you glue a new name on an old icon whose existing monicker has worldwide recognition? Judging by local blog discussion, a good laugh."

Fliers trapped on tarmac push for rules on release. "FlyersRights.com has been lobbying Congress since January 2007 to free airline passengers from being held on planes for hours."

Blogger MaryBeth Smith to United Airlines employees: "Be kinder than necessary-everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." These days it's not enough just to take off and land safely.

[July 23, 2009] United Airlines posted a Q2 profit "based on fuel hedge gains and other onetime items." The profit that wasn't is explained here along with a nod to Larry Kellner to leave this industry and go make some money.

S&P puts United Airlines on credit watch citing concerns over the airline's liquidity and weak revenue. "Air Transport Association reported that passenger revenue fell 26 percent in June compared with 2008, the eighth straight month in which revenue as dropped."

Now is the time to travel to Australia as United Airlines vows to match any competitor's price. "United vice-president Pacific James Mueller yesterday said he expected the fare wars to continue into the foreseeable future and that United would not back down from challenging any competitor's initiatives." V Australia, Quantas and Delta are the other players.

At the same time, United Airlines will cut some international flights. "United Airlines announced it will cut 7 percent of its current international flight routes 'in an effort to better match supply with demand'."

United Airlines offers new meals. This light news items pulls some attention away from the down side of things. "Fresh food items will be added on flights between the airline’s hubs and leading business and leisure markets." The Hawaii mention caught my eye.

[July 21, 2009] Airlines hurting for passengers, revenue. United Airlines named most vulnerable to failure. "'"We believe there's a reasonable possibility that US Airways and/or United may be forced into Chapter 11, or some sort of prepackaged shotgun marriage with each other,' said J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker." I'll be watching for United Airlines report on 2nd quarter financial results tomorrow.

United Airlines delays credit card fee shift for 60 days after ASTA "lobbied Congress and the Obama administration, and at least 13 members of the House wrote to United and expressed concern about how the fee proposal would affect travel agents and consumers."

Speculation about merger talks resuming between United Airlines and Continental with Kellner stepping down.

It seems everyone is putting their 2 cents out there in response to "United Breaks Guitars". The Marketing Innovation blog says "Companies can’t afford to tick off customers anymore- because customers can fight back." This Online Community Strategist is offering advice. One respondent claims "United apparently agrees with me that a low-key approach is best...United Airlines is working with Dave Carroll on his 3rd video, which will be, in Dave’s words, a love story."

[July 17, 2009] Continental CEO Kellner stepping down. United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton said that he "appreciated his leadership as we partnered to gain antitrust immunity to the benefit of our customers and the communities we serve."

Pre-trial rulings in Trade Center case not favorable to United Airlines parent company.
Three wrongful deaths and 19 property damage lawsuits remain. "The airlines seek to show that the U.S. failure to catch the terrorists and stop the attacks was so considerable that it excuses any fault of theirs."

Unheard of deal for United Airlines frequent flyers. Now through July 24 redeem fewer miles for reward seats.

I'm in Tokyo right now about to fly United Airlines back to the mainland. I'm hoping for an upgrade which I got on the way over and was excited to try the new lay flat seats. Several colleagues warned me that I might be too tall, but I never got a chance to find out because the motor on my chair was broken. The flat screen and movie collection were nice, but the service was terrible. The flight attendants literally ignore you just like in that "United Breaks Guitars" video. I know how United can save some money - fire unfriendly flight attendants!

[July 15, 2009] Small fare impact predicted for United Airlines and Continental. "The pair likely will see financial benefits in the form of cost cuts after the completion of the new link. "This article covers the differences in demand and capacity in the domestic vs.international travel markets in relation to immunity granted for Star Alliance's newest member, Continental.

United Airlines and others announced job cuts this month to keep pace with falling demand. "United plans to eliminate 600 more flight attendant jobs".

Dave Grossman lays out all the issues raised by United Airlines' recent announcement of changes to its credit card policy. "Business travelers may be the ultimate losers in the latest scuffle between airlines and travel agents over credit card fees." Large corporations that depend on travel agencies to help them control, track, administer and manage their travel will be affected by this. Not so for SANS. All my travel is booked directly online.

[July 14, 2009] UAL, Continental May Lead Carriers to $1 Billion Loss. "The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index of 13 carriers has tumbled 44 percent this year, paced by a 73 percent plunge for US Airways and a 70 percent drop for Chicago-based UAL" (United Airlines parent company). The New York Times article covering the airline industry's woes zeros in on United Airlines situation."United officials said they remained optimistic about the carrier’s prospects." However, Giovanni Bisignani, the chief executive of the International Air Transport Association said “I am a realist. I don’t see facts to support optimism.” Look for continued low fares, fewer flights and more fees.

Hotels, airlines offer more deals & rewards to win piece of shrinking business travel budgets. "...a recent survey of 285 senior finance executives around the world, 87 percent said their companies plan to spend less on business travel this year....The survey did find that most companies will continue to spend on travel that could generate revenue." Perks offered include "Wi-Fi, satellite radio, advance seat assignments and priority boarding".

United Airlines gives to charity in response to YouTube video.
At Dave Carroll's request, "United will donate $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz for music education for kids," a spokeswoman said yesterday.

Continental wins clearance to join United Airlines in Star Alliance and code share routes with a few exceptions. "In addition to Beijing, the Transportation Department responded to the Justice Department’s analysis and the carriers’ responses by also not including immunity for U.S.-Canada flights and routes between New York and Copenhagen, Geneva, Lisbon and Stockholm."

[July 10, 2009] United Airlines slapped with federal fines. United Airlines received an $80,000 penalty "for not disclosing some flights were made by a partner airline." Bad timing for United Airlines with a pending request for immunity being considered by the DOT and the carrier already dealing with a cash crunch.

That YouTube video by Dave Carroll "has received more than 600,000 hits" in just a few days. "A Canadian musician has become an Internet sensation after posting a song on YouTube about United Airlines breaking his guitar." Requests for appearances are rolling in and Taylor Guitars is offering a discount on his next purchase. Not the best publicity for United Airlines, but a great textbook case on how to handle customer complaints in the future.

[July 8, 2009] "United Breaks Guitars" YouTube video. Great use of social media to get attention for this customer's claim. “'This has struck a chord with us, and we’ve contacted him directly to make it right,' said Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for United. (Urbanski also said she “loved” the video.)"

[July 7, 2009] My United flights from Kauai to Denver were not the best travel experiences I've ever had. The Denver airport was busy showing that plenty of people are still traveling despite what you read in the papers.

United Airlines hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune, posted this article covering all sides of the current financial problems for the airline industry. "The next few months will be crucial for United Airlines as it and other U.S. airlines cope with a cash squeeze." "[A]fter leveraging everything from frequent-flier miles to spare jet engines, United is running low on assets that it can use as collateral for debt or sell to raise cash."

Computer woes delayed United flights last week at O'Hare. "The outage affected all of United’s computers at the airport and also caused about 100 flights to be canceled as of yesterday afternoon, said airline spokeswoman Robin Urbanski." Hmm. Could SANS training have prevented this?

Alliance airlines push for approval after last week's announcement by the Dept. of Justice. “DOJ has failed to recognize the important consumer and alliance benefits that DOT, with its broader perspective of the international aviation industry, has considered,” Continental, United and eight carriers said in a filing with the transportation agency.

United Airlines announced it's June traffic statistics yesterday. Overall traffic fell 7.5%. "The carrier's load factor, an industry measurement of occupancy, rose 0.5 percentage points to 85.9 percent."

[July 1, 2009] " For those interested in legal issues, I found this post on the Aviation Law Prof Blog about the DOJ's opposition to antitrust immunity for proposed new Star Alliance member Continental Airlines. "Congress has not seen fit to divest the DOT of its broad immunization powers, nor has it made the move to allow airlines to consummate crossborder mergers. This latter fact is telling about why airlines have sought the "pseudo-merger" benefits of alliances, especially in a commercial environment where consumers have come to expect and rely upon the route networks alliances provide."

Following up on United Airlines new credit card policy, USA Today reports "The American Society of Travel Agents has sent a letter to United asking it to reverse its action. And on Monday the group filed a letter with the Department of Justice requesting that it be vigilant in making sure several airlines are not colluding to shift costs, in violation of antitrust laws." This would support the Aviation Law Prof Blog assertion that labor is "currently enjoying the inflation of its political clout under the Democrats' regime".

[June 30, 2009] United Airlines sells $175 million in bonds backed by aircraft parts. "'It is another step we’re taking to enhance our liquidity,' said Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based United" who was quoted in Bloomberg's version of this news item.

ASTA , Ensemble Travel Presidents Blast United Airlines Actions. It is not surprising that United's change in policy has been called "incendiary and a threat to consumer choice." ."..we are particularly concerned with the fact that the policy forces the agency to choose between incurring a negative financial impact or compromising the quality of their service to clients..."

Antitrust immunity for Continental and United Airlines has been opposed by the US Justice Department. "The final decision on Continental's request for immunity to join United's [Star] alliance...rests with the Transportation Department."

On Twitter I saw a complaint by Marty Roesch about being denied access to a Star Alliance lounge operated by USAIR even though he is a gold member and not just a United 1K, he is Global Services. Thought it would be interesting to take a few minutes to do a search and see how USAIR is doing in the Twitterverse, results are here: https://blogs.sans.org/security-leadership/2009/06/26/should-us-airs-ears-be-burning/

[June 26, 2009] Fitch warns that United Airlines and others "could be forced to file for bankruptcy protection as early as the winter if operating trends fail to stabilize." In an effort to avoid this, United Airlines raised roundtrip domestic fares by $10 and $20 this week "on top of a similar industry-wide increase two weeks ago." eTurboNews reports signs of the travel market stabilizing.

Travel agents are up in arms about United Airlines new policy
to "selectively prohibit US travel agencies from continuing to report and remit credit card sales via the Airlines Reporting Corporation." This would force travel agencies to absorb the cost of doing business with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diner's Club and JCB cards and settle in cash with United. "It can be speculated that United wants to drive consumer direct business to its website." From a management standpoint, when faced with possible bankruptcy you think creatively about ways to decrease losses.

[June 24, 2009] United Airlines almost lost a customer today.

On business travel in Florida, my wife had a problem with a tooth. She was able to get an appointment today, but they were not able to finish everything because the tooth is infected. This means we had to change our plane flights on United. The cost of the change, $1, 653.00 for the two tickets and this will come out of my pocket. To be fair, if we waited one more day, the cost would have been $746.00, but my son is coming in the day we are landing and we all need to attend a wedding the next day. Waiting one more day really wasn’t an option.

I am a 1K and this was a medical emergency, you would think United could treat a loyal customer better than that. I will forgive this one, but stick me like this again and we are going to revisit your opportunity to have me fly over 100,000 miles per year on your airline.

In other United Airlines News:

Republic Airways to purchase Frontier Airlines affecting United Airlines parent company stock values. PlaneBuzz blogger notes this may raise a few eyebrows at United Airlines since Frontier has competed with them at DIA (Denver International Airport) and Republic has flown for them as one of their regional carriers.


United Airlines teams up with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts to get first class travelers flying. Limited cities. "Book through united.com until Friday, June 26. Travel is valid between July 13 and Oct. 4."

[June 23, 2009] United Airlines to furlough 600 flight attendants this fall due to slow economy. "Chicago-based United and other big airlines have been shrinking as the recession has hurt business travel."

Southwest Air launches NYC-Chicago Midway route
in competition with United Airlines which flies in to O'Hare. "[B]usiness travelers now have more options on the low end than ever before" with fares as low as $178 on Southwest and American and United Airlines.

United Airlines named one of the top 5 per-friendly airlines by Petfinder.com and, wisely, they will accept your pet in checked baggage or cargo unlike Air Canada whose pet policy has the Canadian Lung Association up in arms. Small pets under the seats in the cabin can cause allergic reactions among the passengers.

[June 19, 2009] United Airlines is among those carriers that are finding ways to save fuel and decrease costs. "United Airlines has invested in flight-planning software that helps pilots choose the best routes and speeds."

Skycaps sue United Airlines and others after curbside baggage check fees reduced tips. The lawsuits seek to put an end to the $2 fee and also seek reimbursement for all the tips lost by the skycaps since the baggage fees began."

Here are a couple of happy endings to recent customer service issues involving United Airlines.

[June 18, 2009] United Airlines and Continental antitrust immunity bid hit a new snag this week. "The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, reported that the Justice Department wants to prevent the antitrust immunity for Star Alliance from including some routes"

United Airlines Shares Rise Despite Dip in Q2 Traffic & Capacity
"UAL Corp, parent of United Airlines, said that passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) or revenue is expected to decline between 17.9% and 18.9% year-over-year, but the airliner also announced that costs, not counting some fuel hedges, declined nearly as fast."

United Airlines is listed as one of the proud owners of the world's most expensive espresso machines in this blog post. That could wake up a lot of business travelers in more ways than one!

The FAA suggests new rules for pilots on smaller airlines. "The new chief of the Federal Aviation Administration, J. Randolph Babbitt, said the major carriers — the ones whose colors the small airlines use — should involve themselves more thoroughly in pilot training at the regional carriers, with senior pilots “mentoring” the entry-level pilots at the regional lines." United Airlines uses various regional carriers for its United Express flights.

[June 16, 2009] Frequent flyer survey gives United Airlines low marks on food and service. "With 40% of those answering the online survey saying a full meal was the on-board amenity they valued most, American Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways were deemed to have the worst food." Having worked as a chef I can attest to this. The meal they served in first class on my last flight left something to be desired.

One thing I see United Airlines doing is overselling seats in coach then seating people in first class, but not treating them as first class passengers. They got the chicken wrap sandwich that's served in coach. I also got a chance to try out those new leather seats on my connecting flight from LA to DC. For the record, they are not more comfortable than the older ones, but they feel a lot cleaner.

Frequent flyers are cashing in more miles.
"Business travelers are using their miles to upgrade to business class, especially on overseas flights, as a result of travel policy changes within their companies," says Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for United Airlines.

A lesson learned: I am traveling next month to Tokyo for SANS Future Visions Tokyo and wanted to see about upgrading my seat to business class. What I learned: be cautious when purchasing an economy ticket online with the expectation of using Mileage Plus miles or award certificates to upgrade because the fare class of the original booking is the key to whether or not a specific type of upgrade can be applied as well as how many miles might get used up. Many of the fare classes that are good deals right now are not upgradeable, first you have to pay more for the opportunity to upgrade (even though you may find yourself waitlisted for the upgraded seat.) Bottom line? Purchasing United tickets online may get you a great deal, but verifying online if those tickets can be upgraded is extremely difficult; reading all those fine print Fare Rules and More Info links can cause eye strain! You almost always have to talk to a real person at United to make sure you can upgrade at all on international hops.

Airlines plan more cuts amid bleak outlook. "'If this environment continues, we will have no choice but to be smaller,' John Tague, executive vice president and chief operating officer at United Airlines, said during the Chicago-based carrier's annual shareholders meeting Thursday." That's a no-brainer.

[June 11, 2009] "Fitch Ratings downgraded United Airlines parent UAL Corp. a notch Wednesday, citing the global recession's continued impact on air travel heading into summer." Industry Analyst Bill Warwick says "United is particularly vulnerable because of its exposure to business and overseas travel." Warlick also noted that United Airlines faces "significant debt maturities" in the last 3 quarters of 2009.

"UAL Pilots ask Obama to delay immunity grant" that would allow Continental Airlines to join Star Alliance later this year citing possible threat to American workers' jobs. See United Airlines response.

United Airlines first class and business class passengers can now enjoy fully lie-flat beds
on some of the Boeing 767 aircraft in its international fleet. Here are some reviews. I'd like to try out one of these seats on my way to SANS London 2009 later this year.

[June 9, 2009] "The federal government is suing United Airlines, saying it failed to move workers who became disabled into jobs they could still perform.:

"The leading global airline group is holding its annual meeting in the Malaysian capital during the biggest crisis ever faced by the industry, which is expected to see a loss of $9 billion in 2009." See quotes from several airline CEOs worldwide on the current state of the airline industry.

Former United Airlines pilot Dan Hanley blows the whistle on safety issues at United.


Regarding United Airlines request for bids from Boeing and Airbus last week, "United Chief Executive Glenn Tilton told employees the carrier would not place an order that puts its financial position at risk." Instead of the super jumbo jets seating 450 passengers, United will be looking at smaller fuel-efficient two-engine planes seating 365.

For those iPhone users, airline geek Kent German posted this handy article on iPhone apps that can make air travel go more smoothly. "Without ever leaving your iPhone, you can check for delays, find the best seat on your flight, learn facts about your aircraft, and find your departure gate at the airport."

This article on the Benefits of Airline Alliances suggests that antitrust attitudes will only harm United Airlines pilots and consumers.

[June 4, 2009] United Airlines reports a 12% drop in May traffic. The decline in flights to Mexico due to Swine Flu (H1N1) accounts for some of it.

"United Airlines has asked Boeing Co. and Airbus to propose dueling bids for up to 150 new airliners" - a smart management strategy during a recession

[June 3, 2009] Business Travel News posted its 2009 survey covering events in the airline industry and the outlook for this year and beyond. Good comprehensive article. Executives from several airlines are quoted. "United Airlines' aggressive approach to capacity management, cost containment and ancillary revenue generation was not enough to offset the staggering $5.3 billion loss its parent company reported for the full year 2008." However, "'[u]nbundling works,' United Airlines COO John Tague told investors this year. 'The revenue generated from these products and services is now a proven and meaningful contributor to United's bottom line.'"

It's a good time to be a business traveler according to the frequent flyers interviewed in this NY Times article, and I'd have to agree even despite some delays on my last trip. There was less congestion at the airports, and the flight crews were more attentive. One United Airlines 1k member said that "on a third of his flights in the last year, the lead attendant or the pilot has approached him to thank him for his business."

[June 2, 2009] United Airlines announced the redesign of Hemispheres, its in-flight magazine, in this PR Newswire release. Here's Joe Sharkey's colorful New York Times editorial on the same topic. Says Sharkey, "who knew about a phenomenon called retro-marketing that evokes the taste of Cocoa Puffs, the smell of Play-Doh and one’s earliest childhood memory of an In-N-Out Burger? Or that former President Jimmy Carter could get so animated about boiled peanuts?"

Kvatch has a few things to say about United Airlines customer service
.

United Airlines' Tokyo flight kitchen was purchased by Gate Gourmet. "Gate Gourmet has more than 100 flight kitchens in 26 countries and serves approximately 200 million meals annually."

The Swine Flu pandemic continues to spread via air travel. The first case found in Vietnam was a passenger on a United Airlines flight from the US.

[May 29, 2009] Swine flu found among passengers on United Airlines flights arriving in Singapore this week. Here's how the Ministry of Health there is effectively containing H1N1.

"United Airlines takes active approach to customer satisfaction". Kudos to United Airlines for sending email to passengers on a delayed flight before they even deplaned. Consumer advocate Jack Aaronson used his iPhone to select an "apology gift" online. "Because of the immediacy of the apology, this is an effective method for making up for a poor customer experience."

[May 28, 2009] Follow @UnitedAirlines on Twitter to get special fares

New Star Alliance member - Aegean Airlines.


New kid on the block - JetAmerica - launches in July with $9 fares to small cities. This new airline will fly out of Chicago Midway, giving some competition to United Airlines. "We are Chicago's hometown airline and will compete aggressively with competitive fares, better service and more convenient flight options," said Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman.

Here's a bit of humor from a United 1k member who is hoping to use her travel time to meet
eligible bachelors.

[May 26, 2009] A passenger saw fuel leaking from the wing on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Tokyo. Staff Sgt Bartek Bachleda, who serves in an air refuelling squadron in the US Air Force and was flying back to Kadena Air Base where he is stationed. "He videotaped the mid-air vapour from his window seat" and alerted the crew.

A United Airlines flight from Washington DC to Chicago made an emergency landing in Pittsburgh last week with Senator Roland Burris aboard. Coincidently, United Airlines has recalled 107 furloughed mechanics "to help it with repairing cabin items, reducing the number of out-of-service planes, and ensuring the reliability of the fleet."

Nicholas Kralev ran another column on United Airlines practice of blocking award seats on Star Alliance member flights, prohibiting United 1k members from redeeming miles. "For United, the bottom line is that it has to pay its partners for those seats, and when it expects to exceed the budget allocated for such payments to certain carriers, it prevents its members from redeeming miles on those carriers."

[May 21, 2009] United pilots say Star Alliance could cost US jobs. "Pilots at United Airlines on Tuesday called on the U.S. government to delay the granting of antitrust immunity".

United Airlines is now announcing discounted fares on Twitter - Twares.


United Airlines gets a failing grade for its online reputation. "Most of the airlines appear to lack any sort of online reputation strategy, with the exception of one or two" according to RepRelations.

[May 19, 2009] Airlines Consumer Ratings Rise, but not for United Airlines, according to this University of Michigan quarterly survey. United Airlines remains in last place. "This year, the recession has cut into passenger traffic, which means lines at airports are shorter and planes have a better chance of arriving on time. Economic recovery is likely to bring a return to cramped conditions on planes and at airports..." Perhaps United Airlines announcement of additional baggage fees had something to do with this rating.

"More people are planning to go on vacation this summer as airfares, hotel rates and gas prices are a lot cheaper than in 2008." Legacy carriers like United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines are launching fare sales to keep people traveling. On United, purchase by May 24 and complete travel by August 31. These fares could help security professionals traveling to upcoming SANS events in Denver and Boston this summer.

United Airlines spent $600K lobbying in Q1
on several issues related to international alliances, and on a bill that would guarantee passenger rights on delayed planes. "United also lobbied on bills that would repeal the perimeter rule for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, enhance passenger protection if the Transportation secretary requires airline emergency contingency plans and more."

[May 12, 2009] This post by a United Airlines frequent flyer caught my eye today because of the computer and Internet security issues raised regarding the FAA. It's Michael Brown's response to a Wall Street Journal article published last week. "Civilian air-traffic computer networks have been penetrated multiple times in recent years" according to a report "which was released by the Transportation Department's inspector general ...warn[ing] that the Federal Aviation Administration's modernization efforts are introducing new vulnerabilities that could increase the risk of cyber attacks on air-traffic control systems." Says Brown, "The report also highlights the increasing vulnerability of the federal government to cyber attacks, the next frontier of terrorism." All serious issues and the reason why SANS was established in the first place.

United Airlines latest fare sale is good through May 14 on flights between Denver, Chicago, Dallas/Ft Worth and selected cities in the continental US.

[May 11, 2009] Here's more on United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton's talk at the European Aviation Club meeting in Brussels last week. "Tilton stressed that airlines are doing their part to move beyond the current recession, ... but we need governments to work with us, to partner with us, across the globe."

"Mechanics at United Airlines are getting a chance to switch unions for the third time since 2003."
United's only comment was to note that their employees have the right to choose their union.

American Airlines revamps frequent flyer program
to make it easier for travelers to find seats they can cash in their miles for. This includes booking one-way tickets which Delta, US Airways, Midwest and Alaska Airlines already allow. United Airlines "doesn't offer the feature, and a spokeswoman declined to say whether it intended to do so."

If airline food is on your mind now that the number of business-class seats is shrinking, then you are not alone. United Airlines now offers a pilots ChoiceMenu in an effort to boost in-flight sales. Patricia Maunder's article on Airline food quality mentions travel writer John Vlahides review of United Airlines business class lasagne as disappointing. The Los Angeles Business Journal sheds some light on the challenges of catering for the 'big birds'. Celestino Drago of the Dolce Forno Bakery who "added United Airlines as a client in the last year" makes "bread, cakes, desserts and hot meals for flights departing from Los Angeles International Airport."

[May 8, 2009] United Airlines CEO, Glenn Tilton, warns against protectionism "urging U.S. lawmakers to reject proposed legislation currently before Congress that could limit cooperation between U.S. and foreign carriers."

"Job cut announcements by U.S. employers dropped for the third consecutive month in April and fell to the lowest level in six months" indicating a slowing of the recession. The airline industry was not among the top five sectors hit hardest since January 2009.

This article about United Airlines charging change fees to a soldier's family elicited several responses from frequent flyers and military family members.

[May 4, 2009] The Swine Flu outbreak is not as bad as it was feared. (See my blog for more details.) Even so, United Airlines said that effective Tuesday, it would reduce its May schedule to Mexico by 61 percent.

United Airlines reported its April traffic showing that it cut capacity to meet falling demand, keeping its load factor close to 80%.

Here's the rundown on wi-fi in the sky among major US airlines.
Several smaller carriers already offer it. United Airlines will use Gogo technology as it begins testing Wi-Fi on flights between New York and California in the second half of this year.

United Airlines outsources $15 billion a year in business using a management strategy called "wave teams" which was outlined in a presentation at the International Supply Management 2009 Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Using "wave teams" to manage valuable relationships with suppliers is the brain child of Grace Puma, senior vice president and CPO.

[May 1, 2009] Airlines continue responding to the spread of Swine Flu. "United Airlines extended to May 31 the time passengers can change travel plans without penalty" and new Star Alliance partner Continental Airlines "cut seating capacity to Mexico in half". A baggage handler for United Airlines is one of two confirmed cases in Colorado. Meanwhile, schools are closing in several states and the Obama Administration had its own brush with the disease.

United Airlines was rated as having one of the most reliable e-commerce websites of 42 airlines monitored by Pingdom. "It found the KLM site up and available 99.99 percent of the time and the United Airlines site functional 99.98 percent of the time."

In a recent consumer report on Airlines Least Likely to Lose Luggage, "United Airlines scored tenth with an even five per thousand" passenger-reported cases of bags that were lost, stolen, damaged or delayed in transit. Of 19 airlines in all, low-fare AirTran Airways topped the list.

[April 29, 2009] In addition to waiving change fees, United Airlines "stepped up cleaning and disinfecting jets returning to the U.S. from Mexico" in response to the Swine Flu outbreak that continues to grow. " The government has advised against nonessential Mexico travel" , and travel agents are discouraging vacationing in Mexico. "Among U.S. carriers, Continental Airlines Inc. has the largest share of its seating capacity on Central American routes" which includes 500 flights a week to 29 cities in Mexico. Canadian carrier TransAT has suspended flights to Mexico and added flights to bring customers and employees home.

[April 28, 2009] Stock values are dropping for United Airlines and others as Swine Flu spreads. "If the outbreak spreads rapidly and nervous travelers decide to stay home, airlines already struggling to endure the economic slump could suffer another setback during their peak summer months."

This commentary by frequent flyer Bryan Clapper covers just about every airline out there although it focuses on the Southwest experience. Good description of the business traveler's experience of a budget airline.

United Airlines announced another change in management last week. In addition to Mark Schwab, senior vice president of alliances, and James Mueller, vice president, Pacific, R. Douglas Rose is now vice president of human resources. Lots of turnover among the top ranks could mean managers are leaving for greener pastures, like Dennis Corrigan whose move to Jet Blue was announced 2 weeks ago.

[April 27, 2009] United Airlines and others respond to Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico with a waiver of change fees for those traveling through Mexico. International travel could spread this outbreak quickly so take precautions. See today's posting in the SANS.edu leadership lab for more info.

In other United Airlines news, CEO Glenn Tilton's compensation for 2008 was announced and valued at $1.7 million. "United lost $5.35 billion in 2008" so this announcement is sure to bring criticism.

"A federal court jury in Denver has awarded $3 million to a former United Airlines employee after finding the company retaliated against her because she complained about gender discrimination." Here's an insightful blog post by one of the jurors now that the trial is over. "We all agreed that the saddest part of the entire affair was that it all could have been easily avoided if United Airlines had just used some common sense."

[April 24, 2009] Airlines Feel Pinch of Falling Business Traffic. This article shows Jet Blue posting profits as United Airlines and others in the airline industry post losses. "Fare sales have kept vacationers traveling, but there's been no sign of improvement from business travelers."

Two new appointments on United Airlines management team.


[April 23, 2009] "United Airlines trimmed its work force from 52,400 to 45,800" from Feb. 2008-Feb. 2009 while Southwest Airlines added 1,473 workers according to Sacramento Business Journal. In a related article, United Airlines parent company posted a $382 million loss in Q1 '09. "The revenues were particularly hurt by a 30 percent decline in premium cabin traffic, as more travelers opted for economy class."

Newly DOT approved Star Alliance member, Continental Airlines, posted its first quarter losses. "Continental said second-quarter bookings for the next six weeks are ahead about two to three percentage points above a year earlier." At the same time, Star Alliance is being investigated by European Union regulators over concerns that carriers are illegally cooperating on routes and prices.This is the next "routine procedural step" in adding Continental to the Star Alliance.

United Airlines is taking leadership in the air travel industry to protect the environment. "United Airlines today launched a carbon offset program designed to give customers the opportunity to help protect the environment by supporting renewable energy and reforestation projects".

[April 20, 2009] United Airlines now has company as Delta sites customer dissatisfaction as the reason they are pulling call center jobs back from India. "US President Barack Obama had vowed to bring outsourcing jobs back to the US and has made [it] a precondition to financial support for US businesses." In February, United Airlines announced it was closing its outsourced customer relations phone line and directing customers to email their complaints as this would improve customer service.

24/7 Wall St. examined 100 large brands that are facing troubled futures. and named United Airlines as a brand that is likely to disappear. ."If the revenue problems facing the industry get worse, a stronger carrier such as Continental (CAL) is almost certain takeover one of its weakened peers."

"United Airlines parent UAL Corp. reports first-quarter results on Tuesday."


[April 17, 2009] United Airlines now has a policy governing "passengers requiring extra space". Policies are good, even though this one may be unpopular with some people. It's much more comfortable in a business class seat anyway, so it's worth the cost. Studies show an increase in obesity among US workers so setting a policy has logic behind it. "United's new policy comes into play when a heavy passenger cannot lower the armrests, close the seat belt even with a seat belt extender and seats next to that passenger are full." Travel security and passenger safety are at stake.

United Airlines is not the only US carrier with a policy on extra large passengers. US Air and Southwest outline their policies here.

This customer service story puts United Airlines in a bad light, but it makes me wonder what is reasonable to expect. A woman's mother lay dying and she wants to get there asap and chooses a flight that she doesn't really have time to catch. Our hearts go out to her certainly and compassion is called for, but how is this the airline's responsibility?

[April 16, 2009] Scott McCartney's Wall Street Journal article on frequent flyer elite status programs gives an overall all view of the current deals and how to get the most out of them . "Jeff Schley found a way to vault to United's elite 1K status -- which requires that travelers log 100,000 miles annually -- with just one week of flying across the globe."

United Airlines' revenue management leader moves to JetBlue.
Dennis Corrigan named Vice President of Revenue Management - an interesting turn of events.

Justin Baer of Financial Times takes a look at United Airlines
position in the industry. "United may never recapture the glory that made it the envy of every US airline executive. But if it can get through the downturn intact and return to profitability, United’s current management will have forged a legacy of their own."

United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton is quoted in this article on first quarter losses
for the 9 largest US carriers. They may have a combined fifth straight quarter of multibillion-dollar losses.

[April 13, 2009] The president of United Airlines' Mileage Plus frequent-flier program answers questions about double elite-qualifying-mile promotions.

Kralev's latest column has some eye opening information about how United Airlines has handled third party websites posting availability of mileage redemption seats

George Boelcke gives his view of the whole frequent flyer scene
and recommends redeeming as many miles as possible and getting off the treadmill y switching to a cash back rewards program.

[April 10, 2009]
United Airlines announced that it took the top spot among major carriers for on-time performance in the first quarter of 2009 and its customer satisfaction rating is improving. The reduction in the number of flights has improved United's on-time performance and frequent flyers notice both fewer flights and flight delays. I look forward to better customer service on my flight back to Kauai in a couple of weeks.

More on Continental joining Star Alliance appeared in the Washington Post. "The approval is the first major airline immunity deal of the Obama administration."

[April 8, 2009] Here's the long awaited news on the tentative approval of Continental's entrance into Star Alliance. United Airlines now has a new partner so more code sharing. And frequent flyer miles can be earned with another major carrier.

Bloomberg's story on United Airlines March traffic announcement spells out more clearly what's being indicated - a slowing of the decline in seat sales for several airlines. A good sign for the economy overall.

[April 7, 2009] Labor union contract negotiations are in United Airlines news today and both sides are posturing. The flight attendants are entering with hopes of reducing or removing concessions made after 9/11 and United Airlines is playing the downturn in the economy card. No doubt, a few months down the line they'll meet somewhere in the middle and live happily ever after.

Travel columnist Christopher Elliot
predicts that one of the major US carriers will go belly up in this recession and politicus.us claims Flying Has Stopped Being Fun, pointing out United Airlines shortcomings. With the service I got on United flight 317 from Lihue to the west coast last week I'm not surprised. Frequent flyers and especially United 1K members are feeling the crunch. I hear folks singing the praises of Southwest, the emerging economy airline that seems to be doing well in these hard times.

In stock market news, United Airlines was up 10.8% after announcing March traffic. "Better than expected demand" still doesn't look very good. I'll post more on this tomorrow when I've got more information.

[April 6, 2009] "United Airlines is retiring all 94 of its Boeing 737s by the end of this year" and the Arizona desert is becoming one big parking lot. I didn't notice anything while I was in Phoenix, but it doesn't surprise me a bit that the growing number of downed planes is piling up somewhere. What's a planet to do?

Here's another article on antitrust immunity and the airlines, including Star Alliance, United and Continental. The issues become clearer the more I read. Oberstar's position and that of United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton are at odds and the tension is building as a decision is awaited.

In the area of customer complaints against United Airlines, this post has me a bit perplexed. The customer is blogging and using twitter and doing all the social media marketing activities that are the hottest thing out there, but I honestly don't see how using as many expletives as possible is really going to draw business towards him. I agree that he should be compensated, but how about a little maturity? It can be heady knowing your post can go far and wide and even hurt a company's bottom line, but think about your own while you're at it.

[March 25, 2009]
United Airlines is among the carriers represented in this story noting the magnitude of international airline losses projected for 2009. "I.A.T.A. said last week that airline revenues from executive-class tickets were down by a quarter in January from the same month in 2008 and said increasing numbers of business passengers were buying less expensive economy tickets."

Kralev raises some questions about "What to do with Empty Business Class Seats?" in his Washington Times column. "Free upgrades for their best customers seem to be the solution for the major U.S. carriers" including United Airlines. Those lie-flat seats on the Australia-West Coast flights may take a while to pay for themselves.

[March 23, 2009] The woes of traveling these days! United Airlines is now charging $15 per checked bag, so everyone carries on their luggage making for overloaded overhead bins and no room for all the carry-ons. Duh! Here's one way around it. Bring your luggage to the gate and they'll put it with the checked bags for free!

Here's a United Airlines customer with a positive experience getting a phone call and a cash refund for a missed flight due to circumstances beyond her control. It seems rare not to have to duke it out to get good service! On the other hand, my luggage did come out first in Phoenix with its 1K priority sticker on it.

This post has United Airlines wooing passengers with Double Elite Miles so they can earn premier status quickly, but as I've seen in previous United 1K member posts it doesn't mean much. Just try cashing them in and you'll see what I mean.

[March 19, 2009] Joe Brancatelli's column in the Washington Post gives a good historical perspective on business class travel and shines a light on what's happening when United Airlines gets involved in promotions like their new business class to Australia.

For more on the big picture of discounted airfares see "Airfare bargains in 'worldwide distress' sale". United Airlines is quoted as showing $184 round trip from San Francisco to London in this article with hidden costs bringing the fare to $545, still a great price.

Vegans Rejoice! United Airlines offers a vegan lunch, photographed here on flickr.

[March 18, 2009] "United Airlines agreed to pay $850,000 to settle an old Equal Employment Opportunity Commission disability-discrimination lawsuit involving overtime-pay practices the carrier once held." It's best not to allow issues like this to keep following you around. Good for United for settling this case!

Tensions build as United Airlines fires one pilot and suspends another before entering contract negotiations with the ALPA. Both men were involved in a 'sick out' that hurt the airline last summer. A United Airlines spokeswoman said, “When a federal court finds that employees have intentionally and unlawfully acted to harm our company and our customers, we will hold them accountable.”

Scott Kirby, president of U.S. Airways Group Inc. recently said "A close relationship between Continental and United Airlines, a unit of UAL Corp. (UAUA), wouldn't stand in the way of a potential deal between United and U.S. Airways." That raised my eyebrows. More consolidation in the airline industry among the big carriers? What's happening to the healthy competition that keeps prices from skyrocketing? Well, I suppose in this economy there's not much to worry about.

[March 16, 2009] Aviation Week ran this article on US airlines and profitability in 2009. United Airlines, Delta, Southwest, American and Continental all chime in on the prospects. From a United Airlines spokesperson: "United, like other carriers, believes 'our fuel hedging losses are behind us,' so lower fuel prices will only be a positive this year."

I found these two posts on the antitrust immunity issues facing United Airlines, Continental the Star Alliance. This one gives the perspective from a small city and the benefits Cleveland travelers are expecting to receive from a favorable ruling. Two sides to the story are laid out in this article by D. R. Stewart. "Arbitrarily terminating antitrust immunity will have a harsh impact on airline employees and cause a ripple effect across the travel and tourism industry..." says James May of the Air Transport Association. "I have become increasingly concerned with the decline of competition in international markets, particularly between the United States and Europe," said James Oberstar of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

This United Airlines 1K member rants about his travel experience in December that was unfit for Premier Executive status. It started out like my flight to Los Angeles on March 15, but got progressively worse.

[March 13, 2009] United Airlines Red Carpet Club lounge at SFO tops David Armstrong's list of ten best airport lounges. With fewer flights and longer layovers, United 1K members will want to keep this in mind when making travel arrangements. This lounge "has a large expanse devoted to work cubicles" so business class passengers can make best use of their time.

United Airlines Scores Best in On Time Performance
for January among the 20 largest US carriers. A big improvement over a year ago when United was dead last. Fewer flights obviously is a factor, but this always looks good and is appreciated by frequent flyers.

Internet access in the sky!
Here's the run down on several airlines' status on adding this service for their customers. United Airlines plans to install access on 13 Boeing 757-200s in the second half of 2009. These planes will fly coast to coast with power outlets at every seat. That would certainly help increase my productivity while traveling. Couple that with SFO's 1K member lounge and I won't be so unhappy about having fewer flights to choose from.

[March 11, 2009] I found this article pretty helpful in navigating the world of travel deals. It mentions United Airlines in among the other hotel and flight price reductions, and using social media to get the most up-to-date deal and lock in at the best price. These tips all come in handy when making travel arrangements.

This interesting article showcases United Airlines pilot and physician Dr. Bill Hammam's work on risk analysis in the airline industry and how it can be applied to the field of heath care. As a United 1K member, it'll give me something to think about the next time I hear the safety instructions while waiting for takeoff.

United Airlines is planning to cut more flights from its schedule
which could mean even longer layovers for frequent flyers. "Responding to falling passenger demand in a contracting global economy, Delta Air Lines, American and United airlines said Tuesday they would further reduce seat capacity this quarter and allowed for further cuts if needed."

[March 10, 2009] United Airlines and Star Alliance member airlines stand to be negatively affected by legislation passed last week regarding antitrust immunity laws. eTurboNews reports "The chairman of the U.S. congressional committee that oversees airlines is pushing an aviation bill that would automatically withdraw antitrust approval for alliances within three years, although they could be restarted under more stringent rules." This item on the antitrust immunity law appeared in GulfNews.com. "United Airlines would need to seek US renewal of the immunity after three years should the measure become law." Airlines say 15,000 jobs are on the line. What's interesting is the global nature of the airline industry and how it's affected by national laws.

The Air Line Pilots Association goes into contract negotiations next month and United Airlines is poised for battle. United took out a restraining order to prohibit union leaders and members from instigating a work stoppage.

In his column this week, Nicholas Kralev points to the airline industry and community service, mentioning United Airlines' partnership with the American Cancer Society in an effort to help children who need to travel for treatment. The feel-good publicity that comes out of this article doesn't quite balance the other items in this post, but there are two sides to every company. You can be popular one day and a real cad the next.

[March 6, 2009] As of July 1, 2009 a seat in the front of the plane will not just be more miles, it will require a cash co-pay that could be as high as $500.00. As a 1k, I can get seat preferences if we book early enough and so I can get exit rows. Travel will be just a bit harder. From United's web site: "Effective July 1, 2009, we are generally reducing the miles required and will collect a co-pay when miles are redeemed to upgrade a United Economy ticket. (Upgrade awards requested prior to the effective date for travel after the effective date will not be affected.)

The co-pay amount will depend on the origin and destination cities, as well as the type of ticket purchased. If you upgrade from a higher class of service, your co-pay will be lower or even non-existent. Award upgrades from Business to First will not require a co-pay." This means going forward it is going to be much more important to pay attention to the class of ticket. Y and B class are what you are going to want to achieve.

Also, with United Airlines cutting down the number of flights I'm experiencing longer layovers and less convenience in getting where I'm going. 1k club membership comes in handy when an airport lounge is where you'll be for 5 hours. See my Information Security Travel Guide for more.

United Airlines is running a special on fares to New Orleans- just in time for SANS Security East 2009 in May. There's nothing wrong with flying in economy class if it means getting hands-on training to get the job done.

Ronald Bloom, who worked on the restructuring of United Airlines, is now advising President Obama on auto industry issues. The upcoming meetings in Detroit with GM and Chrysler executives are part of the plan to stimulate the economy and make the US an "energy independent and fuel efficient" nation. I wonder how all this translates to air travel. What plentiful natural resource could we possibly make jet fuel out of that would keep all those planes in the air? Or are we talking about a change in lifestyle?

[March 5, 2009] Reuters ran this 4 page article on the current state of the travel industry and suggests airlines were well prepared for a shift in the economy by downsizing early. "The U.S. airline industry, perpetually in survival mode, is in a rare and enviable position now in which it finds itself somewhat insulated from the recession." United Airlines is noted as one of the companies assuming a defensive posture early. This is where Glenn Tilton's leadership is making a difference.

On the flip side, you'll read many bleak predictions in this Chicago Business article on United Airlines' report of a 15% drop in traffic in February. "International travel continues to deteriorate rapidly as the economic downturn spreads across the globe. United said the number of miles flown on international routes by paying customers dropped 22% in February, compared with a 14% decline for North American traffic. "

On the customer service side of things, this customer appreciates the new clean-up campaign United Airlines announced last month. Momathon.blog says "How clean is the airplane? United Cares."

And this articulate United Airlines customer describes the 'partnership' he has with United in his blog about customer service.

This unhappy customer is done with United Airlines. "I collected miles in good faith, and now they are basically USELESS". Oh, the frustration of those frequent flyer restrictions, and the practice of blocking award seats on STAR Alliance carriers.

[March 2, 2009] Here's another technology update on using wireless devices to speed up airline check-in. Pretty soon we'll all be using cell phones to download boarding passes. What a boon that would be for United 1k members assuming security isn't compromised. "...mobile ticketing could endear airlines to flyers who find the technology convenient — particularly business travelers who may have to change flights or book another reservation." There's a good mention of United Airlines testing wireless baggage tags and some interesting info about how Europe is leading the way with this technology already being used to purchase train tickets, etc, in the comments below the article.

In stock market news, J.P. Morgan Chase downgraded the airline sector's credit rating last Friday "citing falling aircraft values and declining lease rates." United Airlines stock fell 18% according to the article and J.P. Morgan Chase told investors "Our expectation is that we could return to a more bullish view on airline credit later this year, when the revenue environment stabilizes and the improvement in credit quality we expect becomes more apparent to the market."

[February 27, 2009] Here's the latest innovation for United Airlines - debit and credit cards only for in flight purchases. "United said it will stop accepting cash for purchases on flights within the U.S" perhaps as early as April. The advantage is earning miles on the credit card so no complaints here.

About United Airlines' Australia routes "United vice-president Pacific Mark Schwab hit back this week at speculation by British billionaire Richard Branson that United might be forced to abandon the Australian market". Interesting story about the competition for US-Australia routes among several airlines. United recently upgraded these planes with reclining seats in business class (see Feb. 19 post in this blog).

It seems United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton and I will both be in Phoenix at the end of March. He's giving the keynote at the Aviation Symposium while I'll be teaching Management 512 a few miles away. I'd like to have dinner with him and some of the other airline execs if it can be arranged.

[February 25, 2009] The New York Times carried this article by Joe Sharkey about retiring from business travel while maintaining a consulting business. New technologies are allowing business class travelers to leave their United 1k status behind, have more time with the family and continue to do business. “We’re talking mostly about the productivity benefits of using Web 2.0 tools,” Mr. Allen [a consultant who often flew 200,000 miles in a year]said. “The ancillary benefit is the ability to cut down on business travel. People will still need to travel, but not at the levels we did.”

A companion article shows working moms using business travel to get away from it all and take time for themselves. None of the women interviewed are at the level of the 1k business traveler, but the point is well taken. Lifestyle issues take their toll on men and women and business travel is a part of the mix.

Business travelers' concerns about flying on small commuter planes are addressed in Joe Brancatelli's article in Conde Nast. United Airlines gets a mention as one of the major carriers contracting smaller airlines to fly its commuter routes.

David Grossman sums it all up in 'Ten Trends Affecting Business Travel in 2009'. He addresses all of the above and then some including the opportunity for the savvy planner to get some good deals on hotel meeting rooms, domestic and international flights, and accommodations. United Airlines is mentioned with regard to ancillary fees travelers can expect to pay as airlines drop fares, but collect on checked luggage, in-flight entertainment, meals and faster check-in.

[February 23, 2009] Here's some info on the partnership between Aer Lingus and United Airlines. "Glenn Tilton, United Airlines' Chairman, President and CEO said 'Our expanded agreement takes advantage of new opportunities under the US-EU Open Skies Agreement, benefiting our customers with additional competition and capacity in these markets. This partnership provides for a deeper commercial relationship with Aer Lingus, and capitalizes on the unique strengths of both our companies."'

In International business news, "the Bloomberg US Airlines Index, which includes 13 U.S. carriers, fell 4.1 percent to 18.80, the lowest value since June 1999." United Airlines led the decline. "Until recently, international demand and fares had held up in the recession better than in the U.S. " This is exactly when a manager needs a creative strategy to stay competitive.

Speaking of creative, here's a laid off United Airlines pilot 'taking off' on a career in standup comedy. "Even with the recession, people are paying money to see comedy," said [Mike] Orensteen, a commercial airline pilot who moonlights as a standup commedian. "It does take you away. It's a release." Ain't it the truth.

I couldn't resist sharing this heartwarming story about a United Airlines pilot who flew president-elect Obama to Ohio to make a speech days before the inauguration, then drove his wife and kids to the inauguration - from southern Florida! It's amazing how many people are touched by his presidency. We feel it in Hawaii, too.

[February 19, 2009] "United Airlines Offer Lie-Flat Seats in Business Class" on trans-pacific flights between Australia and the US. Great timing as SANS has Melbourne and Canberra on the schedule this year.

This article on a Safety Audit scheduled for the Jackson Hole airport reminds me to avoid flights with layovers there. I'm noticing lots of air traffic safety issues in the news lately and several of them involve United Airlines. Clipped wings at O'Hare, the flight that crashed near Buffalo. Somber reminders of the risks of flying, yet it's still said to be safer than driving a car. I'll keep taking my chances.

[February 16, 2009] The "virtual merger" between United Airlines and Continental is again in the news, this time in an article about gate shuffling at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. "Their 'virtual merger' involves a host of cost cuts, including the sharing of airport facilities." This could easily cause confusion for business travelers who fly frequently out of O'Hare expecting to make connections out of certain gates. Star Alliance, Continental and United Airlines will need to do some solid publicity to avoid customer complaints.

Here's Nicholas Kralev's latest post on changes to frequent flyer benefits and the effect they're having on customer loyalty. United Airlines' practice of blocking "award" seats on Star Alliance partner flights gets a good mention along with Delta ending free changes to "award" tickets. My response to this situation was to buy a small house on the mainland so I won't be flying back and forth to Hawaii as often.

[February 13, 2009] The story about United Airlines' call center in India closing was reported from different angles and carried far and wide this week. United was either unplugging their complaint line or returning jobs to the US depending on who told the story.

Disclosure on the amount of money spent by United Airlines and Continental on lobbying in Q4 08 showed up in the news. The original post I saw in Forbes focused on United Airlines lobbying on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and homeland security. Anti trust immunity was pretty far down the list and the article was fairly neutral. A more recent post on Continental, also in Forbes, highlighted antitrust as the impetus for the expense and left Continental more open to criticism. This may just be a case of more savvy public relations on the part of United Airlines.

[February 10, 2009] Technology advances are in United Airlines News today. Those radio frequency baggage tags I mentioned on Feb. 3 got a full write up in RFID Journal. "'The approach we're taking,' [Aman] Khan [VP of Information Technology of Star Alliance's Technology Innovation Board] states, 'is to start by making the check-in process faster and more efficient.' The next step, he says, will be [to] discuss with airports the options involved in deploying RFID in their own terminals. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that mishandled luggage costs the airline industry almost $4 billion every year. " As long as security isn't breached, bring it on! The technology would have helped when my bag got lost last month on my way to Las Vegas. I'll watch for the follow up story on feedback from the 1000 frequent flyers who are part of this test.

Speaking of baggage, this story of a United Airlines luggage handling mishap that was eventually resolved by a media consumer advocate made the Chicago Tribune. $3000 worth of incinerated wardrobe would have me fuming. I wonder what kind of reprimand the employee received due to a mistake that could have been avoided.

This article about a settlement between United Airlines and Los Angeles World Airports caught my eye. The $35 million will help United's bottom line.

Here's more on the issue of United Airlines blocking reward seats for Mileage Plus members on Star Alliance partner flights. Mr. Credit Card says "request your mileage in the program of another Star Alliance carrier such as US Airways. When your reward comes due, they won’t actually block you." Sounds like good advice.

[February 6, 2009] More changes among the executive ranks at United Airlines this week. "Tony Cervone is leaving General Motors Corp. (GM) to head corporate communications at United Airlines". Glenn Tilton came to United from the oil industry and is joined by an auto industry exec, broadening the perspective to include overall transportation issues. I'm interested in seeing this perspective support President Obama's plan to make the US an "energy independent and fuel efficient" nation.

Another United Airlines executive will be speaking at TravelCom'09 in Atlanta in April where the founder of Southwest Airlines will receive an award for Innovation. "Herb Kelleher is one of our industry's greatest leaders and true pioneers. His ingenuity, competitive spirit, and drive for excellence have not only challenged his aviation peers to strive for higher standards, but he has blazed a new path for everyone in the travel business," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the US Travel Association. Congratulations, Herb!

If you like hearing about Herb Kelleher, then you might be interested in this. I admire innovation and have interviewed several founders of computer and Internet security companies - industry "thought leaders". You can read this series here.

This item on the Denver International Airport's new passenger record caught my attention since this is one of United Airlines' hubs. Airport expansion is the focus of the article, but business class travelers, frequent flyers and United 1K members take note. This is one of the best airports for a layover.

[February 3, 2009] Here's an item I enjoyed seeing: "United tests paperless bag tag system". I like technology and if there's a way to speed up the check-in process then I'm all for it. Good for United Airlines for being a front runner!

Well, the announcement of United Airlines' partnership with Continental has finally hit the press. Star Alliance has a new member as of this fall. "As part of the pact, Star is seeking antitrust immunity for Continental..."

I found this follow-up to the price fixing article I posted on December 15. So far "Three Airlines Are Paying Price Fixing Fines" for participating in conversations and meetings on cargo rates for shipments into and out of New Zealand. United Airlines is the largest of the 13 named in the lawsuit.

This blog sparked some good discussion about customer service, long term loyalty and United Airlines. In "Why the Airlines Are Dying", Frank Fortin and his readers raise some good issues on what's important to frequent flyers.

[January 28, 2009] Here's more on the antitrust immunity issue I mentioned last week. United Airlines, Continental and Lufthansa are the three carriers involved. According to the Washington Post, "Airlines view 'immunized' alliances as one of the few tools they have to bring about business cooperation on cross-border routes. However, airline unions have demanded tighter scrutiny of such deals. Senate Judiciary Committee leaders are also demanding that U.S. regulators strengthen the review process. "

United Airlines shifts its focus to international business travel with reduced business class fares to several European cities. The timing of this deal won't assist those attending SANS Secure Europe in Amsterdam this May or Infosecurity Europe in London, but other low fares may be available soon.

This new credit card offer for UK Mileage Plus members caught my eye after reading that article a few days ago about United Airlines raising cash through partnering with credit card companies, then making it difficult for travelers to redeem miles. I'd be a bit wary of this offer.

[January 27, 2009] President Obama mentioned United Airlines' recent layoffs in a press conference yesterday during which he introduced his economic recovery plan. "At a time of such great challenge for America, no single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy." The Washington Post published his entire speech. It's worth reading.

The recession and United Airlines also factor into these two news items. Here's ETravelBlackboard's criticism of the O'Hare airport expansion project in tough economic times. This related item reports the closing of the Palmdale airport outside Los Angeles after United Airlines discontinued flights there.

[January 26, 2009]
United Airlines was among several asking the new administration to "withdraw a government plan for boosting competition and reducing congestion by auctioning takeoff and landing rights at New York-area airports." La Guardia, Newark and JFK, airports I try to avoid due to congestion and delays, definitely have problems, but there's got to be a better way to streamline operations. Maybe with the decline in business travel described in articles about O'Hare and Denver International Airport the congestion problem will take care of itself.

I found this commemoration of 50 years of transcontinental nonstops an interesting reminder of how few of the original players are still in business. Pan Am and TWA are no more. Numerous international airlines and small carriers have more than taken their places as the demand for flights has swelled and declined with changes in the population and the economy.

This story on retiring airline pilots leaves me concerned about the level of experience among the pilots who are left flying. I'd like to see those statistics.

Finally, this article on frequent flyer programs raises plenty of issues for United 1K members and other business travelers. United Airlines pre-sold miles to its credit card partner Chase to raise cash when it was needed, and has made it difficult for travelers to redeem miles by blocking access to seats on Star Alliance carriers. "Even though United increased the mileage required to redeem 'awards' by as much as 40 percent earlier this month and halved the lifetime of unused miles to 18 months last year, the blocking of partner flights is still around. " The original idea was pretty creative, but the management of the plan is losing friends for United since more than a temporary measure was required.

[January 22, 2009] United Airlines is taking further measures to decrease expenses as Q4'08 losses were announced this week. "Last year was by any measure a challenging year -- defined by unprecedented volatility and unpredictability," Chairman and Chief Executive Glenn Tilton said. The losses were followed up with this announcement of job cuts that will affect "domestic salaried and management staff".

At the same time, United Airlines disclosed its agreement with the City of Chicago to relocate a cargo facility to make room for new runway construction, raising $163 million in the process. Reducing losses is about all an airline can do in this economic climate.

Even in these tough economic times, there's more talk about Continental partnering with United Airlines in this report on the airline industry's losses. “Continental will make a significant contribution to the Star Alliance when they complete their plan,” [Glenn]Tilton said. I'll be looking for more information on the antitrust immunity laws to be newsworthy in the coming weeks.

[January 21, 2009] United Airlines is announcing business class specials on flights to Melbourne just in time to book travel to our upcoming SANS training event in May.

United has also gotten alot of 'mileage' out of Barack Obama's travel arrangements in the days before the inauguration while Air Force One was not yet available to him. Do you suppose he'll lose his United 1k status once he has his own "private" jet?

Here's a post recognizing United Airlines flight crew members for their hard work and professionalism during a recent US Airways emergency landing. This is where the Internet goes beyond the media coverage of an event, and it's even more meaningful that the writer is "a retired United Airlines captain with 25,000 hours of flight time."

[January 16, 2009] Here's some news I've been waiting for. United Airlines is trying out in-flight Wi-Fi on selected flights beginning this summer. Sign me up and let the hackers get busy. SANS instructor Josh Wright has been watching this technology since it was first introduced in 2004.

I'm including this post from MarketWatch since I haven't mentioned airline industry stocks in a while. Reporter Christopher Hinton has this uplifting news: "many [airlines] are expected to record strong earnings in 2009 due to the combination of capacity reductions and cheaper jet fuel."

[January 13, 2009]
This news caught my eye about United Airlines avoiding flight attendant furloughs "because it needs more international flight attendants". Being an international company certainly broadens the playing field.

Here are David Grossman's ideas about how to fix the US's transportation problems. I'm curious to see if the new administration acts on any of this. I love his points about high speed rail and alternative fuels and the responses are worth reading as well. United is mentioned in his suggestions about airport improvements some of which are already under way.

I also like this article from the Chicago Sun-Times recognizing exceptional advertising by Chicago-based companies. Now, I don't watch TV and haven't had a TV for 25 years so I never saw the commercial they're referring to, but I love encouraging creativity and it's great for United Airlines to be recognized this way.

Money Magazine ran this story about the US Senate's warning on the dangers of antitrust immunity and how it would affect the airline industry - especially Star Alliance members. "It emphasized the potential for companies to undermine free-market competition" and harm the consumer in the process.

Here's a United Airlines business traveler's negative feedback about a recent trip. Forget the sick dog and frustrated husband. She's got a point about no recourse.

[January 9, 2009] Airfare deals are all over the news these days so get 'em while you can! One of United Airlines' specials has travelers vying for a free vacation. Incentive programs are a great way to stimulate sales and are welcome after seeing the numbers for December. The fares sales have got to affect the United 1K traveler's experience. A friend arriving on Kauai this week remarked on the high percentage of 'interesting looking people' on the plane coming over from LA.

Here's an unfortunate story about a guy on his way to his own wedding who made an offhand joke about a shoe bomb while on a United flight to DC and ended up in jail. I wonder what United Airlines new vice president of corporate security would have to say about that.

[January 6, 2009] I found Gregory Robinson's 2009 predictions for the airline industry pretty interesting. On United Airlines he says "I’ll go 'all in' and bet that we see a US Air / United Airlines merger announcement by December of 2009." Hmmm. What would happen to all my frequent flyer miles if United disappeared? I know I'd miss my United 1K member benefits, but the Star Alliance would still be there.

This link to Chris Barnett's blog has tips for business travelers for 2009 that might benefit other United 1k members. This article on leg room on different airlines is much appreciated by a tall guy like me. Comfort when flying depends on it. United looks good in third place behind US Airways and American Airlines.

A lawsuit against the FAA by several airlines is in the news today. Here's Reuters version of the story. The other big news story has to do with the decline in passengers flying United for the month of December. Forbes covered this story very well.

[January 2, 2009] I can't resist this opportunity to let you know that Southwest Airlines recently ran a 50% off fare to Las Vegas from many points across the continental US. I hope some of you caught that in time to book travel to our upcoming event, SANS Security West 2009 taking place January 24-February 1. Other airlines including United are also offering some great deals. Use a fare-comparison website such as Farecast or OneTime to check out the competing airlines’ fares. This article in Forbes.com about 2008 in the airline industry mentions Allegiant Air as one company that did well in 2008 specializing in flights to destinations like Las Vegas.

Here's public response to the United pilots' criticism of CEO Glenn Tilton's leadership. Ouch!



[December 31, 2008] Here's yet another article on the slump in the economy and its effect on the airline industry. Even with the economy the way it is and the reduction in business travel, I still see a high need for computer and Internet security training. I predict 2009 will be another great year for SANS. Nothing beats live SANS training, but one of our best business decisions in 2008 was to make all our courses available in an online format. We also have 6 other options for Training Without Travel that makes us independent of fuel prices, air travel and the global economy. As long as people rely on computers to do business, communicate, manage finances and handle a myriad of other tasks, there will be a need for information security and the knowledge to do it well.

I saw this blog post about the lack of Internet access on airlines. I'm sure the security issues are addressed in our course on Wireless Networks. Regardless, check out this interview with Josh Wright or see his blog on wireless security.

I'll close the year with our 2009 Security Predictions.

Travel safely and may you have friendly skies in 2009!

[December 30, 2008] A big 'vote of no confidence' today for Glenn Tilton from United Airlines' Pilots Association. These sound like very convincing arguments although the press has presented things quite differently over the past several months. Like I always say, there are two sides to every story. It pays to listen to both sides before drawing any conclusions.

Chicago O'Hare, United Airlines largest hub, topped Travel and Leisure magazine's 10 worst airports list for the 7th year in a row. Guilt by association? I wonder if this offer of discounted passes into the Red Carpet Club lounges is designed to smooth things out.

This year-end you can donate frequent flyer miles to families of wounded soldiers.
"...across the nation nearly 16-thousand tickets have been issued with an estimated savings of 21-million dollars to military families". United is one of several airlines participating in this program. If you've got miles expiring, then you can put them to good use this way.

[December 29, 2008] This article caught my eye because of the Kauai connection with United bumping passengers over the holiday. A friend's sister arrived from Denver a few days late and was in the same boat as these savvy flyers. It's interesting how having the right information can get you to your destination quickly. If we all knew what these folks knew...

Another story had Hawaii and United Airlines in the news - a lightning storm on Friday night took the power out all over O'ahu for a few hours and United shut down because runways didn't have enough lighting to take off safely and computer systems were down. A travel nightmare for many, but I'd prefer the inconvenience under the circumstances. Management should insure good communication as quickly as possible in these situations. While interisland airlines resumed service using some creative problem solving methods, United canceled all 5 outbound flights.

This tongue in cheek article by Christopher Brauchli is pretty entertaining about travelers and their baggage and United's new service that has your bags waiting for you when you arrive at your destination. The things we used to get for free we're now grateful to pay for.

Here's a local perspective on how changes in the economy are affecting one town in California. It mentions United Airlines as one of the few survivors at the Bakersfield airport.

This last article contains a spectrum of airline industry analysts' predictions for 2009. Interesting thoughts on the alliance between American Airlines and British Airways and some speculation on Southwest Airlines as the one to watch.

[December 26, 2008] Plenty of bad weather stories have been in the news of people not being able to make it home for the holidays. Flight delays, cancellations, people sleeping in airports and train stations. I guess that's what happens when the biggest travel time of the year takes place in winter in the northern hemisphere. My favorite story has the stranded passengers chartering a bus to their destination sparking others to do the same. I also liked hearing about a stranded passenger getting a ride from a ticket agent who was driving to her destination.

Well, now that Christmas is over we can all get back to normal and see what 2009 has in store for us. Our Security Predications for 2009 have been posted and are getting a bit of attention. I'm curious to see if my predication about iPhones will become a reality.

[December 24, 2008] Joe Brancatelli's 2008 retrospective of the airline industry in the Washington Post is pretty entertaining. Having lived through many years as a frequent flyer I appreciate his perspective.

More on the 'merger' between United Airlines and Continental hit the news today. Aero-News.net uses the analogy of the 'non-traditional relationship' to describe the agreement. [Airline industry consultant Robert] "Mann notes the alliance proposed by United and Continental would result in shared frequent flier programs, reservation systems and airport lounges... many of the same benefits Delta netted with its acqusition of Northwest Airlines this year, but without the need for renegotiated labor contracts and other messy formalities. 'If the carriers get comfortable over time, who knows what it might lead to?' Mann says. 'It's kind of like the dating process.'
'Financing a transaction in this credit environment would be very difficult,' admits United CEO and merger advocate Glenn Tilton."

It'll be interesting to see the results of this agreement in the STAR Alliance lounges and on the ticket lines.

[December 23, 2008] Good article on airline mergers in today's Flightglobal.com with quotes from several worldwide execs. There's been plenty of speculation about United Airlines being involved in merger talks. "Speaking during a recent Star Alliance meeting in Chicago, both US Airways chief executive Doug Parker and United Airlines head Glenn Tilton predicted more consolidation....Tilton, while sceptical of cross-continent moves, says 'consolidation is inevitable'." This article takes a good look at the global economy, the airline industry and international alliances.

Polar routes and the environment is the topic of this article in the NYTimes. United Airlines is cited as being a leader in this aspect of air travel.

"Members of United Airlines' frequent flier program, Mileage Plus, can earn bonus miles when they register with the online movie/TV rental company, Netflix."
Now, that's a clever alliance. Netflix increases its membership and frequent flyers have an incentive to remain loyal. The selection of inflight movies increases as well.

[December 22, 2008] More job cuts are on the horizon at United Airlines in the New Year. This article highlights the potential furlough of flight attendants, but buried at the bottom is the announcement that United will close it's Seattle base in March. Couple this with an announcement of incentive bonuses for on-time flights. Keeping employee morale up can be challenging at times like these.

United received an award for being the best American airline serving China, reinforcing the focus onto international business travelers. I, for one, will continue to fly on business in the US over the next six months. As much as I travel, I've been pretty well taken care of by United Airlines. However, I'm on the lookout for how all the recent changes will affect my travel experiences. Comfort, safety, security, on-time flights and good customer service are most important as far as I'm concerned.

For now, Kathy and I are home on Kauai for the holidays surrounded by family and friends. We've got good company on United Airlines flights to Hawaii. The new first family to be arrived over the weekend. I'm glad to have time to rest a bit now and enjoy the beauty and the warm weather. I fly next to Las Vegas at the end of January to teach again at SANS Security West 2009.

[December 18, 2008] United Airlines reports that it expects a drop in unrestricted cash of $1billion this quarter. "The company did not detail its cash-raising plans, which it said are expected to close in the first few months of 2009. Last month United said it still had more than $2 billion in assets it owned free-and-clear, although that was down from $3 billion earlier this year...... United said passenger revenue per available seat mile will rise 3 percent to 4 percent for the quarter."

Here's a customer service strategy that shows forethought. United has a plan for helping passengers whose flights are canceled due to bad weather that has been forecast in the Midwest. I'll watch for blog posts with kudos or problems related to these travel waivers.

And this holiday season note from United pilots stirred up a lot of response from passengers. I wasn't able to verify the source of the note, but this is an interesting way to gage public opinion.

No comment on this lawsuit that's causing quite a stir. United Airlines is accused of over serving alcohol leading to domestic violence.

[December 17, 2008] The Dallas News reported on employment statistics for the airline industry today. "According [to] the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the decline in jobs is hitting all levels of airlines – major network carriers, low-cost carriers and regional airlines, with the major network carriers such as American Airlines Inc. and United Airlines Inc. showing the largest declines."

By cutting back in the small seasonal tourism market, United Airlines is making way for a smaller airline called Spirit to pick up a daily route from Chicago to Myrtle Beach. The resort town's business owners are happy about that. "The new route has created hope that lower fuel prices will help the airline industry battle back against the recession and bring flights back to Myrtle Beach. Earlier this year, several airlines, including Delta Air Lines and United, said they would be cutting back in the relatively small, seasonal market."

Here's a nice human interest story about a flight attendant who has been with United Airlines for 40 years. I'm sure she's never at a loss for dinner conversation. "It gets in your blood, and you don't want to retire," says Julie Hamilton.

On the customer service side, these two posts recount passenger difficulties in dealing with United Airlines. This billing mistake took another newspaper consumer advocate to resolve. The other story relates to the reduction in seats making it hard to change travel plans once they're made.

[December 16, 2008] A few items caught my attention today. The Examiner reported on third quarter losses posted for the airlines flying out of Denver International Airport. "Among larger carriers, United Airlines posted an operating loss of $469 million." Now, that's a lot of money. The report doesn't mention percentages for United, but a loss of that size requires decisive action. I think Glenn Tilton is doing the right thing by cutting operating expenses.

Speculation about airline mergers was reported in the International Herald-Tribune, United and Continental being one possible pairing. "As we are in a recession that is becoming worse, there is going to be an impact on air travel," said Bruce Zirinsky, a bankruptcy attorney at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft. "There is already shrinking demand and if that continues, it is fair to say we will see more consolidation." This article sheds light on the strengthening of international routes that United is engaged in.

Lastly, UPI posted an article on 9/11 families pressing for a public trial in their lawsuit against United Airlines and others. "To date, nearly 3,000 families have agreed to more than $7 billion in private settlements that averaged $2 million each from the federal Victims Compensation Fund, but no Sept. 11 negligence suits have yet proceeded to trial, the Boston Globe said." A New York judge hears their arguments this week.

[December 15, 2008] So the deal between United Airlines and EGYPTAIR is in the news and this sparked my interest because I'm arranging to teach SANS Security Leadership Essentials in Egypt this spring. The announcement also prompted me to learn more about STAR Alliance of which United Airlines is a founding member. This growing alliance has allowed me to earn miles on many airlines, and increase my frequent flyer status more quickly. The STAR Alliance lounges in many airports are a real plus when you travel as much as I do. In this case, cooperation vs. competition is a win for airlines and passengers.

Today I also spotted this article about 13 airlines, including United, being prosecuted for price fixing on air cargo into and out of New Zealand. "The Commerce Commission said the airlines had colluded to raise the price of air freight by imposing fuel surcharges for more than nine years...The commission said the alleged price fixing would have caused more harm to New Zealand because of the country's distance from its markets." A court decision is due in January.

In the area of United Airlines customer service nightmares, here's a tale of a recent travel experience gone bad. As a result of cutting back seats, flights are being oversold and air travelers with paid reservations can't get where they're going. The passengers are stressed, the customer service reps are stressed and the airline is losing customers. Maybe this strategy isn't the best way to stay profitable in hard times.

[December 11, 2008] Here's United Airlines using another well-established business strategy - promoting from within. Congratulations to the new Vice President of Resource Planning, Gregory Kaldahl.

United's holiday fare sale will be over soon and includes special fares for active-duty members of the armed forces, their spouses and dependent children. I look forward to seeing our son who's recently returned from Iraq. I'm sure other proud families will be happily reunited this holiday season.

ChicagoBusiness.com reported United Airlines improvement in on-time performance as a result of cutting back on the number of flights it has scheduled. Ah, the silver lining on that black cloud begins to show itself.

[December 10, 2008] This article in today's Business Week highlights more of United's business acumen. "United Airlines parent UAL Corp. said Tuesday that it raised $150 million with a sale and leaseback deal involving 15 Boeing aircraft." UAL stock prices rose following this announcement.

Time is running out on those first class and business class deals on United that I mentioned a few days ago, especially for SANS Cyber Defense Initiative attendees.

Just when you begin to appreciate United Airlines goodwill efforts to compensate for a lack of customer service, there is a chance they will come up short. Here's another posting on getting satisfactory customer service from United representatives.

[December 9, 2008] Speaking of good leadership, United Airlines CEO , Glenn Tilton, was elected chairman of the board of directors of the Air Transport Association of America. “Glenn has proven time and again his strong leadership ability during the most tumultuous of times," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. Tilton commented “Airlines are a driver of economic growth, contributing more than $1.1 trillion in value to the economy and creating more than 10 million jobs. With a modernized air traffic control system, we can deliver better financial, operational and environmental results to the benefit of our customers, our employees, our stakeholders and the communities we serve.”

Here's a pretty good article I found in the Dallas News about all the a la carte fees airlines are charging to enhance travelers' experience of flying. Brilliant way for the airlines to recoup losses while increasing customer satisfaction. Couple that with this Washington Times article about United Airlines award blocking practice that may be alienating business class travelers.

[December 5, 2008] I'll be headed from London to DC on United Airlines in the next few days to teach MGT512: SANS Security Leadership Essentials for Managers for the last time in 2008. The London event is going well and I even got an unsolicited blog post from one of the students in the course.

I found some great low airfares from DC and other cities on United.com this holiday season, so if you're attending SANS Cyber Defense Initiative 2008 which ends on Dec. 16 you can get home for the holidays for a great price.

United announced upcoming layoffs yesterday which is the correct response to the shift in the economy and the declining number of business class travelers which is projected to continue into next year. Grounding 100 planes means layoffs. Reducing the number of seats means layoffs. It's great that there is holiday season travel to keep people working into the new year. The reduced airfares for holiday travelers is a good way to keep seats filled for the short term. By announcing cutbacks early, and then holding off on actual layoffs until after the holidays, United's management is at least keeping people employed through the most stressful time of the year. "United announced in October that it expected to shrink capacity 8 percent to 9 percent in 2009. 'These difficult but necessary decisions are all part of United's work to remain competitive in this extremely difficult economic environment,' McCarthy said."

[December 3, 2008] CNNMoney.com covered the Credit Suisse conference I mentioned yesterday. "Now that oil prices have fallen from a high of $147 per barrel in July to below $50 per barrel, United Airlines' current plans to cut capacity by 11% this year should suffice, said Kathryn Mikells, chief financial officer of the airline, a unit of UAL Corp. (UAUA). As with other carriers, United will lose money this year on out-of-the-money fuel hedges. By next year, the airline expects to turn a profit, if fuel prices stay about where they are now, Mikells said."

Airline stock prices rose as a result of the announcements. Forbes.com covered this angle of the story.

[December 2, 2008] I saw a good article today on Bloomberg.com. Major US airlines are planning seat reductions as a way to protect profits in 2009. "Investors may get clues to airlines’ plans tomorrow at a Credit Suisse Group AG conference in New York." United Airlines is scheduled to present early at this conference so I'll be watching for announcements. "Credit Suisse is sponsoring a transportation conference Tuesday, with executives from the big airlines lined up from early morning to early afternoon to talk about the current state of affairs," said Airline Biz blog last Friday.

I also found these unhappy United Airlines customers posting their travel tales.

[November 26, 2008] Two stories in United Airlines News caught my eye today. One is The Wall Street Journal's coverage of the effect of falling oil prices and United's agreement with J.P Morgan Chase on UAL stock prices.

The other one is a comprehensive look at declining revenue from business class passengers as the global economy forces companies to reduce spending. The Transnational Travel Newsletter covered this story quite well. " 'Many of those high rollers that once nestled in those pricey [premium seats] are now far more focused on job retention than seat selection,' according to a recent note from Unisys Transportation Management Consultants. 'The front of the airplane, source of most airline profits, is feeling the pinch. It is very worrisome to carriers that are seeing prime revenue generators either disappear or move to the back of the airplane.' At United Airlines, 'we have seen a corresponding drop-off in our corporate ticketed revenue, basically a direct match to our declining capacity,' said COO John Tague."

[November 25, 2008] Well, it seems Kathy and I are not the only Kauaians in Italy this month. Hawaii State Senator Gary Hooser posted this note on his Roman Vacation and he flew on United as well. We'll have to compare notes sometime.

I've got many stops to make before I'm home - London to teach Management 512: SANS Leadership Essentials for Managers with Knowledge Compression at a SANS conference, then SANS Cyber Defense Initiative in Washington DC to teach the same course again. A few more stops and we'll be home before Christmas. We'll be earning lots of miiles on this trip and look forward to spending them on more leisure travel combined with business. In the meantime Italy is great.

In United Airlines News, I came across this customer service nightmare that eventually got resolved with intervention from a third party. Here's another example of a local newspaper taking action on behalf of a reader with respect to customer service with United. An interesting trend.

I also found this article in Forbes Traveler on the ten most reliable airlines that was posted on October 1, 2008. United made the list, but was ranked 9th. Criteria included customer satisfaction, asset to liability ratio, on-time arrivals, cancellations, complaints and mishandled baggage.

With a shift in the economy, airlines are seeing declines in the number of business travelers. Projections say this decrease in dollars spent on domestic air travel is likely to continue and airlines like United are hoping to pick up the slack by increasing the number of international routes they service. United added flights to London in addition to the Geneva and India flights announced recently.

"United Airlines will fly the official national turkey from the White House to Disneyland" on Wednesday. Two birds who have received the presidential pardon, plus an entourage of handlers, will take up the entire first class cabin from DC to LA. Great PR for the holiday season.

This Thanksgiving, there's another interisland carrier serving Kauai - Mokulele Airlines just added a few new routes with low fares. They also operate Go! Airlines and are picking up some of Aloha Airlines employees and passengers. Maybe United will consider partnering with Mokulele since their former partner, Aloha, is no longer in business. I'd sure appreciate the opportunity to earn interisland miles.

[November 24, 2008] Several news services reported last week on the US court ruling won by United Airlines against the Air Line Pilots Association. "A US court has ruled that a summer campaign of work-to-rule and reporting sick by some United pilots was illegal. The airline said the action had led to the cancellation of 329 flights and cost it $8m (u00a35.3m)", reported the BBC.

In a follow up to a news release about United Airlines efforts to reduce emissions, Environmental Leader posted the results of that experiment. This definitely sounds like a step in the right direction. United is setting a good example of a worlwide company treading more lightly on planet Earth. A modernized national air traffic control system is another effort that might make a difference.

International travel is looking better every day. Fare Compare Travel Deals posted United Airlines flights from DC to Geneva Switzerland for under $500 each way in celebration of a new nonstop route, and e-Travel Blackboard reminded me that United Airlines new frequent flyer partnership with India’s premier international airline, Jet Airways is now in effect. I can earn and redeem miles on its flights to 64 destinations in India and beyond.

[November 15, 2008] According to Contracostatimes, "Los Angeles World Airports will cede control of Palmdale Regional Airport next month to the city of Palmdale, where officials hope to finally attract a major airline that might actually stick around. The city will take over the airport's terminal lease, taxiways and parking lot, which sit in property owned by the Air Force, according to Palmdale Mayor James Ledford. City officials likely will hire a private contractor to oversee daily operations and draw flights to the beleaguered Antelope Valley airport. "Palmdale will now control its own destiny, and we will not be subservient to LAWA any longer," Ledford said. "We're keeping an open mind about everything right now, but controlling our airport within our own jurisdiction is what's paramount here." The move comes after Ledford and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Atonovich expressed frustration with LAWA for failing to retain a major airline carrier at Palmdale airport, which will lose its sole commercial carrier when United Airlines ends its four daily flights to San Francisco on Dec. 7. A total of eight airlines have attempted to launch service at Palmdale airport since 1971, only to pull the plug after a brief run."

This is a sad story, according to Wikipedia, "In 1966 The Los Angeles Department of Airports, now called Los Angeles World Airports, LAWA, acquired several thousand acres of land around Plant 42 to be developed into the future "Palmdale Intercontinental Airport," with the goal of surpassing the air traffic of LAX. To date, LAWA has so far not developed its Palmdale airport beyond that of a small commuter airport serving only the Antelope Valley. With few airlines able to sustain long-term service from the airport, only recently in 2000 has work towards the construction of a larger terminal been started. LA/Palmdale Regional Airport Terminal. The current terminal was remodeled and reopened in May 2007 for the return of commercial service to the airport. The City of Palmdale has promoted the airport to attract more commercial carriers to the existing terminal, but convincing airlines of the marketability of the airport without subsidies has been difficult. Palmdale airport offers airline passengers a quicker ground transportation travel time from Sherman Oaks than the standard LAX airport car trip down the San Diego 405 freeway, but so far the airport does not provide the range of destinations that would convince passengers to try Palmdale as an alternative to relieve the overcrowding at LAX and Bob Hope Airport. Most of the communities surrounding more crowded airports do not want the added traffic volume and noise to the area. Expansion of Palmdale Regional is also welcomed by a good number of Antelope Valley residents, and is seen by some Valley residents as the long awaited foundation for stabilizing the local economy."

It happens to everyone. You get to your destination and your checked bag does not appear. United now has online baggage tracking. You still have to file a report, but then when you get to your hotel you can track the status of your bag online.

MAC OSX Hints has a comment on Macs in United International Business Class. "Not sure this is a hint, more a warning and how to get around it. I fly often and have to upgrade to Business so as to ensure a power socket at the seat. And I fly United because of their generous air miles packages which make upgrading affordable. However, United Business have new lie-flat seats, with a new 110V power supply instead of the old airplane-style one. The problem is that the socket is recessed in the console, and even the smaller power brick for the MacBook Air won't fit (you can insert the pins, but not far enough)." They are talking about the 97 aircraft, mostly that fly internationally, that have lie flat seats in business class. NOTE: this discussion is continuing so you should be able to get a few solutions, one clever thought, since these flights are international, bring your power adapter kit with you in your carry-on and put the right pieces together.

United is not currently accepting applications for new flight attendants. "In response to extraordinary cost pressure placed on the airline industry by increasing fuel prices, United is reevaluating staffing needs for our Onboard Services Division. As a result, we are not accepting applications for Flight Attendant positions at this time. We appreciate your interest, and we encourage you to continue referring to this page for updates to the status of our hiring program."

Apparently United's Door to Door baggage program is a success, According to Business Travel Logue, "United Airlines recently became the first U.S. airline to offer overnight baggage shipping for customers. There are hoards of companies taking advantage of Joe Public’s mistrust of airline baggage handlers, and United has decided to cash in on the lucrative business. You could say they’ve been in the business for a while."

KXLY runs a story about a lady that is terminally ill with a lung disease and needs to be on oxygen at all times. She bought her plane tickets and an FAA approved oxygen concentrator. The family was shocked to learn they couldn't use the medical device on-board. Instead they would need to buy United Airline's in-flight oxygen. The cost for oxygen to passengers is $125 dollars per plane ride. For Sharon that would mean four planes and shelling out $500 dollars for oxygen. A company spokeswoman said the policy exists because employees are trained to use only one device. That is until KXLY 4 got involved and called United Airlines. A spokeswoman said they'd consider waiving the oxygen fee but warned that is was just this time.[Stephen Northcutt] OK, this is complicated, what happens if she gets on one of these four planes and her device fails, or she doesn't know how to use it and they have to declare a medical emergency? Then all of the other passengers get to land at dimwiddie nowhere airport. $125.00 for oxygen, plus the service, plus the fact United has to stand behind it working does not sound unreasonable, but you have to hand it to the KXLY folks for strong negotiation.

As the cold continues to grab the Hawaiian islands (we had to wear a jacket for our evening walk), it is summer in Australia and United has a hot promotion: LAX to Sydney and back.

[November 12, 2008]
Have you heard of ASPIRE? Stands for Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions. I first heard of it in Randy's Boeing Blog. Well, a United Airlines 747, is about ready to join Qantas in a test of the concept. From the Chicago Tribune, "A United Airlines jumbo jet soaring across the Pacific Ocean Friday will test a new means of flying, and landing, designed to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions. It's the third trans-Pacific flight this fall to test new concepts and technology designed to improve air-traffic management and reduce harm to the environment, and the first involving a U.S.-based airline." The idea is profoundly simple, plan jet routes better, quit wasting fuel, reduce emissions. In practice, this takes a lot of planning, but the potential savings are incredible.

MSNBC carries a story about statistics and problems for holiday travelers, "The Airline Quality Rating looks at the performance of the nation's 17 largest airlines. It finds that airline quality has plunged during the Thanksgiving to New Year period over the last three years, with things bottoming out in December. American Airlines was found to have the worst on-time performance, while American Eagle had the most mishandled baggage. United and Atlantic Southeast also showed up on the "worst" lists, with United getting the most customer complaints." Meanwhile, Fox5Vegas, is predicting a price war over the holidays between the airlines.

And a big wow, Peter Greenberg, travel author, warns "I worry that United Airlines, which has already wrung everything they could out of bankruptcy, will fail in the fourth and the first quarters—which are the toughest to get through. It’s not a coincidence that most airlines go under in March, because they just can’t get enough money to make it to summer. I am not sure what other cuts United can make. So, if you have any miles accumulated on airlines like United, I suggest you figure out a way to redeem those miles on their partner airlines." Thanks Peter, but I flew United through the last bankruptcy and I am flying them now. I guess I will be like the captains of yore and go down with my miles. I am good at that, I held my worldcom stock all the way to the bottom.

[November 11, 2008]
India Aviation and numerous other sources report, "Jet Airways will forge a frequent flier partnership with United Airlines effective 15-Nov-08. With this partnership, Jet Airways’ JetPrivilege members may now earn and redeem JPMiles on the entire global network of United Airlines. Similarly, United Airlines’ Mileage Plus members may now earn and redeem their miles on Jet Airways’ network." If you are traveling around India, this is huge for you.

[November 10, 2008] United 1k News
Mike Madison blogs a bad experience with United. He clearly had a rough trip which you can read about, but he noticed something worth mentioning. His words are, "In the event of an overweight plane, the gate agents are SUPPOSED to take customers off the planes and put luggage on instead." I had not heard of an overweight plane other than a puddle jumper, but on my flight to Richmond, they were looking for five people to take alternate flights and partly because the plane was overweight. So, something may be going on.

Also, an unfriendly blog posting about United Airlines Ticket Kiosks. Actually, I find the kiosks to be useful; as people learn to use them they should start to reduce wait times in line.

SF Gate, and many other sources, announce that United Airlines on Nov9-08 dropped its plans to double the fee - to $50 - to check a second bag, and also said it will discount the $15 fee for a first bag for customers who pay for it on the airline's Web site between Monday and Jan. 31." Well, this seems really nice. I am not sure I agree: if there is an issue with overweight planes, maybe second checked bags are not going to help. However, it shows customer focus, and that is very positive. Let's get back to the friendly skies concept and this counts as a step in that direction!

[November 5, 2008]
Another unruly passenger is reported by Stuff.co.nz, "Maria Esther Castillo, 45, was on a United Airlines flight from Puerto Rico to the United States when she is said to have struck a flight attendant on the buttocks and repeatedly pulled the hair of a blind passenger seated near her. The flight crew originally tried to restrain her with ankle cuffs but when these repeatedly slipped off, they were forced to use duct tape. US authorities said Castillo calmed down when the plane was forced to divert to another airport to unload her but became disruptive again when authorities tried to remove her. The FBI said Castillo had been seen drinking at an airport bar and on the flight before her behaviour became unruly and flight attendants refused to serve her." Bummer, this is a serious problem if you force the plane to divert and that affects all the passengers. I hope they make it harder for her to fly, the rest of us don't need that. According to Aviation Herald, this resulted in a 60 minute delay for arriving in Chicago, which is remarkable if that is all the time they lost.

The Guardian reports on the economic health of the airlines, "While the long-term impact to passenger demand from a slowing economy is not yet clear, we continue to believe the magnitude of industry capacity cuts should offset the impact of a weaker economic environment," US Airways' Kirby said in a statement on Wednesday. Glenn Tilton, chief executive of United Airlines parent UAL Corp, expressed the same optimism in an Oct. 21 message to employees."The convergence of falling oil prices with our capacity flexibility, strong improvement on costs and competitive revenue put us in a position to make our margin and return United to profitability," Tilton said. BOUNCEBACK? Industry experts generally predict airline profits in 2009 despite ominous signs that economic weakness will further erode travel demand. Jamie Baker, airline analyst at JP Morgan, said in a research note this week that he was anticipating the third-worst demand environment on record. But the "fast and furious descent" of oil may further bolster profits, he said." I sure hope they get well, I need airlines to do my job.

This blog post was picked up by Google about a bad experience with United. I have had a similar experience in Dulles so I understand, but it is hard to believe you can get to the airport 3 hours early and still miss your flight.

According to Forbes/AP, "United, a unit of UAL Corp. (nasdaq: UAUA - news - people ), said preliminary results showed that its revenue passenger miles fell 9.7 percent to 8.68 billion. A revenue passenger mile is one fare-paying passenger flown one mile. Dropoffs in United's two biggest categories included North American traffic, down 10 percent, and Pacific traffic, down 17.1 percent."

Portfolio.com has a great blog about "Secret Societies." Think you're the cream of the crop because you fly 75,000 miles a year on Delta Air Lines and have reached the Platinum Medallion Level of its SkyMiles frequent-flier program? Think again. There's a secret level above that called Executive Partner. Continental and United Airlines have unpublished, u00fcber-elite tiers too. InterContinental Hotels' Priority Club program has a little-known level called Royal Ambassador. And Hertz Car Rental has a secret society so exclusive that one of the company's long-time executives didn't know the color of the card (platinum) or how many renters had one (fewer than 10,000)." And he goes on to explain why these work for customer loyalty, "But the ultimate advantage of these secret travel societies, at least according to one hotel executive I know, is the recognition itself. "Of course you shower these folks with gifts and upgrades and more fruit and cheese plates than they can eat, but the recognition is what matters," he explains. "You tell a good customer that their business is so important that they qualify for a secret level of status, well, that's a 'wow' factor, a real ego boost." For more, read the blog, it is worth your time.

[October 31, 2008]
A blog by Richard Levick talks about the importance of communications in a crisis and uses the United Chapter 11 announcement as an example of the way to do it. "On the same day that United filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court, CEO Glenn Tilton flew to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to explain the company’s decision to customers and employees face-to-face, rather than through an impersonal news release. Other United executives made similar trips to Denver, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and other cities in the U.S. to assure key audiences that the airline was still viable and put a human face on what could have been perceived as just another cold corporate entity." Nice piece of writing if you follow United, you might want to read the blog.

And a press release states that United won best Business Class Award by Executive Travel Magazine. I know I am very thankful when I can score business class on United on a long hop. Keep bringing in the awards United!

[October 29, 2008] According to MarketWatch: "NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- United Airlines is betting that vacation travelers with bulky, overstuffed luggage will pay for the airline to pick up their bags from home and deliver them directly to their final destination. In a news release Wednesday, the Chicago-based carrier said it is the first U.S. airline to begin overnight, door-to-door delivery service for its customers as part of an ongoing effort to generate new revenue without raising ticket prices. Passengers can get their luggage delivered for $149 for flights less than 1,000 miles, or $179 for longer flights, be it standard suitcases, golf clubs or skis, the company said. That could be beneficial for traveling families, as each passenger would otherwise pay $15 for their first checked bag at the airport, and $50 for the second bag." Wow, I would love to try that sometime, especially when we are packing for an international trip. Aviationblog adds, "Door-to-Door Baggage may be purchased on united.com and shipments can be easily tracked online."

Of course, the biggest news of the day was reported by the Journal, "Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. closed their merger transaction just hours after the U.S. Justice Department said it wouldn't block the plan, in a step that creates the world's largest airline company by traffic."

Is anyone using Award Accelerator? On my flight tonight, if I pay an extra $1,558.00 I can buy 52k miles. It might be a good deal if I needed a few miles for an award, but I don't want to spend the money; the Upgrade: Travel Better blog weighs in on the real cost effectiveness. According to United, "With Award Accelerator you have the opportunity to purchase extra Mileage Plus miles for this itinerary. You can take advantage of this extra miles offer for any or all eligible Mileage Plus members in your reservation. Each passenger's Mileage Plus account will be credited within 48 hours of your purchase. Award Accelerator miles are in addition to your earned flight miles."

I read a sad story today, about a 1k that says he is giving up on United, the blog is available here, "Now, I can put up with all that if United at least treated its 1k passengers with some respect (after all, we are dedicating our travel budgets to them!). But the straw that broke the camel’s back was my latest overseas trip when they basically told me that they can give a rat’s ass about my 1k Membership. Now, they didn’t use the “rat’s ass” part, but the rest is absolutely true. I was trying to upgrade on a segment of my airfare that involved a partner airline (yes, I know now that’s impossible, see above). But the problem is that the partner airline was telling me that it was United’s problem to resolve. United was telling me it was the partner’s problem. I bought my ticket from United, so I was inclined to believe the partner." [Stephen Northcutt] If you check out the travel tips section of my blog, you can see that code shares are dangerous. Just the way it is. Kathy and I will be traveling internationally on code share partners, and I will try to journal our experience.

Finally, if you are friends of ours, espeically friends we have not seen in a while, United is offering reduced fares to Hawaii, think about coming to visit, we can hook you up with a nice place to stay so you only need to come up with the money for the tickets and a rental car: http://www.united.com/page/article/1,,50076,00.html


[October 28, 2008] Global Services are the best of the best of the best in the United family, the highest level of privilege. However, people, including United families, often do not seem to know exactly what Global Services is, so it was fun to read Conor Cahill's blog and have it described. Here are two examples (you can go to the blog for the whole story):
  • Top of the list for upgrades and they clear 120 hours prior to departure (1K members clear at 100 hours). With this status I was able to upgrade 68 of my 70 flights last year.
  • Automatic re-booking with highest priority if there's a schedule change or cancellation - usually before I'm off the airplane. I've even had them re-route me when it looked like there would be delays on a connection through Chicago -- without my asking for it.

[October 27, 2008] If you fly United there is a must-read article posted by the Washington Times. It claims United has been blocking award travel on its code share partners, here is a quote: "Then a couple of years ago, one of the Star members, Japan's All Nippon Airways, made the alliance's award "middleware," called StarNet, available on its Web site. The discrepancies between what one could find there and what United agents saw on their computer screens became painfully obvious." So click on the link and let's stay tuned on this issue.

[October 22, 2008]
Woo Hoo, Go United! The International Business Times reports, United Airlines is bringing home the gold after being named the best North American airline by two Asian travel publications. Travel Trade Gazette Asia honored United today with the award, and Business Traveller Asia-Pacific recently recognized United with the same accolade for the eighth consecutive year.

Also, Easier.com reports that United is making significant progress with their payroll reduction in a sensitive manner:

Since July, when United announced significant capacity reductions, resulting in the need for 7,000 fewer positions, the company has been working with all unions representing its employees to explore viable alternatives to reduce furloughs. More than 1,500 flight attendants represented by the Association of Flight Attendants have taken advantage of a voluntary furlough program, completely eliminating the need for involuntary furloughs for flight attendants. The company also offered furlough mitigation to pilots and mechanics, and approximately 200 pilots and 100 mechanics have taken advantage of the program to date.

The blogoshphere is continuing to comment about the United Pilot that was too drunk to fly, looks like "drunks on a plane" is a new perjorative phrase.This whole "drunks on a plane" thing is getting out of control. First it was the passengers, then the flight attendants... now it's the pilots. Additional discussions can be found here and here and here, including a guy who got drunk on the plane and decided to hijack the plane. And finally, a blog that points out, it has been done, it is cliche, move on already; I surely agree.

[October 21, 2008] Right now I am just hoping United can hold things together, they are a good airline and that is where I have all my miles. The news today was not encouraging. According to BizJournals, United Airlines parent UAL Corp. posted a third-quarter loss after taking a non-cash charge on its fuel hedges. According to the NY Times, many of the airlines lost money, but United lost the most money (779 million). Last week, Southwest said it lost $120 million, its first loss in 17 years, because of its own charge to reflect the declining value of hedge contracts. Without the charge, Southwest earned $69 million. AMR, the parent of American Airlines, reported a $360 million loss and Continental Airlines $145 million, while Delta Air Lines lost $26 million. And it seems to be causing friction between the pilots and corporation, according to Sys-Con, "How is it that an oil man such as Glenn Tilton can't figure out how to stem losses from hedging jet fuel?" asked Captain Steve Wallach, chairman of the United Chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association. "United's shortcomings under Mr. Tilton's direction are well chronicled, but this latest reported loss is a real head-scratcher. It took him too long to realize the value of hedging, and then he entered the market too late. "It is the hope of the pilots I represent that this oil man's inability to properly hedge fuel at an airline doesn't translate into additional charges being passed along to our passengers as a way to compensate for his failings."


We have current posts on United travel as well as posts for 2010 Q1-3.