United Airlines CEO: No one will be fired in passenger ejection

United Airlines’ CEO said Tuesday that no one at the airline will be fired in what’s perhaps the biggest PR blunder in the carrier’s long history. Oscar Munoz, head of the airline’s parent United Continental Holdings (UAL), told reporters and analysts that he had “never considered” firing any employee over the April 9 incident, when airport security men violently dragged a passenger off a United Express airliner in Chicago after he refused to give up his seat in exchange for $800. The passenger, David Dao, suffered a concussion and lost two teeth, according to his lawyer. Immediately after the passenger’s ejection, Munoz angered many with his defense of employees. In an email to United personnel, he labeled Dao “disruptive and belligerent” and insisted: “I emphatically stand behind all of you.” Asked Tuesday who was to blame for the incident, Munoz said in a call to discuss United’s latest earnings that “the buck stops here,” in reference to himself, but that the altercation was the result of a “system failure across various levels.” He said he had conferred with the company’s board of directors and expects to remain as the airline’s chief executive despite calls for him to resign.  Munoz and his top lieutenants indicated that it was too early to tell if bookings had been affected by the incident. The airline is conducting a review of what happened with Dao, which is due April 30. He again apologized to Dao and termed the episode “a humbling learning experience,” pledging that United would take pains to ensure better relations with passengers. In that spirit, Munoz said that from now on airplane crews traveling as passengers on United flights must be booked 60 minutes before departure. United picked Dao and three other already-seated passengers to exit the aircraft after none had taken financial offers in exchange for being bumped.  They Continue Reading

United, airlines slammed by lawmakers: “Something is broken”

Last Updated May 2, 2017 9:37 PM EDT Airline executives were grilled before a congressional panel on Tuesday about customer complaints, with lawmakers criticizing them for overbooking flights, denying boardings, and imposing fees for flight changes and checked baggage.At the House Transportation Committee hearing, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pennsylvania, its chairman, warned the executives to "seize the opportunity" to revamp customer service, "or you're not going to like it." Shuster said "something is broken" with U.S. airlines and "the obvious divide between passengers and the airlines needs to be addressed." He knocked United Airlines (UAL) for collecting $800 million in fees last year to change flights. "That's a lot of money," he said.United's president, Scott Kirby, defended fees and overbooking of flights as helping the carriers keep fares lower for passengers. Indeed, over the past 20 years, fares have declined 17 percent. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, asked the airline executives, "How much do you hate the American people?" He complained how when he flies out of his hometown, San Diego, he has little choice but to fly United. When Oscar Munoz, CEO of United, replied that he had worked for Coca-Cola (KO), Pepsico (PEP) and AT&T (T) "and that has worked out pretty well" in terms of pricing and choice of services, Hunter noted that with soda and telecom "you have a choice -- but people have to fly, and have no other option.""We're all sick of it," said Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Massachusetts, referring to the flying experience in general. He said passengers now had "lowered expectations" and that "we all know it is a horrible experience." Terming the airlines "monopolies" due to consolidation within the industry, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate for Washington, D.C., asked why the airlines' "contract of carriage," their agreement with customers, was so complicated -- and couldn't be boiled down to a single page. The chief Continue Reading

United Airlines mistakenly flies family’s dog to Japan in SECOND pet blunder

UNITED Airlines mistakenly flew an American family's dog to Japan in its SECOND pet blunder this week. Kara Swindle was travelling to Kansas from Oregon with her husband, two children and their 10-year-old German Shepherd named Irgo on Tuesday. But when they arrived at the cargo facility to pick up their beloved pooch, they were met with someone else's Great Dane. It comes just a day after an 11-year-old girl's pet puppy suffocated on a United Airlines flight when a crew member said the animal had to go in the overhead locker. A criminal investigation has been launched into the French bulldog's death on board the three hour flight from Houston to New York on Monday. United Airlines said it is now investigating the mix-up on Tuesday's flight, which left the Swindle's dog in Japan, and will put Irgo on a flight to Wichita, Kansas. The airline said the dog will stay in kennels overnight before being checked out by a vet and is expected to be back with the family by Thursday evening. But Kara, who is relocating her family to the west coast, said she is concerned about whether her pet will survive the return journey. She told KCTV5 News: "I don’t know if he’s going to be able to sustain this flight, because he is a 10-year-old dog, and he’s never been on a flight before. "I honestly don’t know if he’s going to survive this flight." A United Airlines spokesperson told the broadcaster: "An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations. "We have notified our customers that their pets have arrived safely and will arrange to return the pets to them as soon as possible. "We apologise for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened." Last year, 18 animals died while being transported in cargo holds on United flights, according to the Department of Transportation. Catelina Robledo speaks out after pet dog died from being put in Continue Reading

Peacock on a plane? What airline policies say about emotional support animals

Let’s take a minute to talk about peacocks.Beautiful? Yes. Majestic? Sure. Travel buddies? Not so much. Peacocks aren’t traditionally considered emotional support animals by airlines. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN At least according to United Airlines. By now, you’ve probably seen photos of the woman who showed up at Newark Liberty International Airport earlier this week with her emotional support peacock, hoping to board a United Airlines plane.According to the Associated Press, although the woman said she had a second ticket for the peacock, United denied her request. So what DO the various airlines say about emotional support animals? Here’s a sample: United Airlines: Trained service animals are accepted in cabin for qualified individuals with a disability. Emotional support and psychiatric assist animals are also accepted in cabin for qualified individuals with a disability if certain documentation requirements are met, the policy states, but “an animal should sit at the customer’s feet without protruding into the aisles to comply with safety regulations.” Customers traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric assist animal must also give the airline at least 48 hours advance notification. Delta Airlines: Delta made headlines on Jan. 19 when it announced plans to enforce stricter rules for transporting service and support animals, citing an increase of in-flight incidents and “a lack of regulation.” As of March 1, passengers must submit proof of health or vaccinations through Delta’s website 48 hours before a flight. Those traveling with psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals will also need to sign a document stating that the animal has the ability to behave in the cabin. Southwest Airlines: Southwest’s policy allows small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs to travel “in-cabin under the seat in front of you.” Animals on board must also Continue Reading

United Airlines Temporarily Suspends Nonstop Service From Bradley To Houston

United Airlines is temporarily suspending nonstop service from Bradley International Airport to Houston, as of March 1, a move blamed on a deepening national shortage of pilots and not a lack of bookings. The United Express service is flown by its partner, Mesa Airlines, a regional carrier that is experiencing the shortage of pilots. The shortage comes in the wake of regulations requiring six times more hours of training required for an air transport pilot’s license. “We’re disappointed that the service is being suspended,” Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said. “It’s being suspended because of the national pilot shortage. They simply do not have the pilots.” Mesa did not immediately return a phone call and an email seeking comment. Jonathan Guerin, a United spokesman, said the airline expects the nonstop service between Bradley and Houston will resume in the fall. Dillon said the decision by United to bring back the service to Houston in the fall after the typically busy summer season “indicates the popularity of the route.” Guerin noted that United plans to again offer seasonal service from Bradley to San Francisco, which typical runs June to September, and increased service to Bradley from New York and Chicago. Bradley has offered the nonstop service to Houston since October 2014. The suspension of service to Houston comes two weeks after Norwegian Air pulled the plug on its service from Bradley to Edinburgh, Scotland. The cancellation was blamed on limited connections in Edinburgh. The increase in hours required for licensing were put in place by Congress after a 2009 plane crash outside Buffalo, N.Y., killed 50. The number of hours rose from 250 to 1,500, as did the expense for securing a license. Dillon said the pilot shortage that followed hit regional carriers like Mesa hard because typically a pilot will start at a regional carrier and then move on to a bigger Continue Reading

United Airlines Bars Emotional Support Peacock From Boarding At Newark Airport

United Airlines employees at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey recently shot down one passenger’s request to bring her emotional support peacock on a flight, reports said Tuesday. Travel blog Live and Let Fly reported the incident first Monday. The unidentified woman reportedly tried to convince the airlines and offered to buy a separate ticket for the animal, but the airline denied all of her requests. “This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size,” United said in a statement to Fox News. “We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.” United Airlines told Business Insider that passengers need to “provide documentation from a medical professional and at least 48 hours advance notice” before bringing an emotional support animal onto a flight and asking for it to accompany the passenger. A female traveler was recently banned from taking a large "emotional-support peacock" on board a United Airlines flight, Jan.30, 2018. Photo: Pixabay Photos of the unusual scene were shared to Facebook by travel talk show The Jet Set, sparking social media users to both criticize and praise the airline's decision. The United Airlines' on its website states: "Pursuant to the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidance for the carriage of service animals, United requires a passenger with a qualified disability traveling with a psychiatric/therapeutic/emotional support type animal to obtain documentation from their medical/mental health professional. This form is valid for one year from the date the licensed medical or mental health professional treating the person has signed this form. Other documentation may be required for travelers entering or exiting an international location." "Service animals must be properly harnessed for the duration of the flight. Small animals may remain in the Continue Reading

U.S. airline passenger complaints jump 70 percent after incidents

By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. airline passenger complaints leapt 70 percent in April from a year earlier after a series of high-profile incidents including a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight, the government said on Wednesday. Complaints rose to 1,909 in April, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported, as consumer anger at airlines boiled over following video showing David Dao being violently removed from a United flight on April 9 to make room for crew members. This and other airline incidents caught on mobile phone videos have been widely broadcast on social media, prompting congressional hearings with airline executives that raised questions about customer service and airline cost-cutting. Congress may take up the issue of airplane passenger rights when it considers a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. "If airlines don’t get their act together, we are going to act, it is going to be one size fits all,” said Bill Shuster, chairman of the House of Representatives’ transportation committee at a hearing in May. "Seize this opportunity because if you don’t, we’re going to come, and you’re not going to like it." Southwest Airlines Co said in April it would end overbooking, while United announced policy changes, including boosting compensation for overbooked passengers to up to $10,000. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told Congress last week that the department had created a website to highlight passenger protections but she had not endorsed any new legal protections for airline passengers. Chao said it was in airlines' "best interest to treat passengers with respect." The Transportation Department also said Wednesday in a statement that carriers canceled 1.6 percent of scheduled domestic flights in April, up from 0.9 percent in the same month last year. American Airlines Group Inc said Tuesday it would reduce leg room by one inch instead of two as Continue Reading

US Airways, United Airlines in merger talks

News that United Airlines and US Airways are in talks about combining was met with approval by shareholders and analysts Thursday.Chairman and CEO Glenn Tilton and US Airways Chairman and CEO Doug Parker were both involved when their companies talked about a tie-up in 2008. They walked away then citing high fuel prices, but didn't rule out a future deal. That same year, Continental Airlines Inc. rejected United's attempt at a combination.J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker wrote.Kevin Crissey wrote that he thinks a major combination such as United-US Airways would reduce capacity as much as 3 percent, mostly in the U.S. With fewer seats and competition, fares should rise, he wrote.Star Alliance, which means their computer systems already communicate with each other because they sell tickets on each other's flights.Justice Department has put up roadblocks to a slot swap between Delta and US Air at LaGuardia and Reagan National airports.Delta Air Lines Inc., which became the world's largest airline after buying Northwest. It is unclear which name would survive, where the combined company would be based, or who would run it.Tempe, Ariz., still runs separate pilot and flight attendant groups after it was bought in 2005 by America West. And its pilots formed their own union after leaving the Air Line Pilots Association, the union that represents United aviators.James Ray, a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association.Washington or its hubs in Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, or Phoenix. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

United Airlines to require minimum stays from October

United Airlines said Friday it will start requiring minimum stays for nearly all domestic coach seats beginning in October. It is also raising its cheapest fares by as much as $90 one-way.U.S. carrier said the moves are among a number of changes, including flight and job cutbacks, it is making to combat record high fuel prices.Chicago-based airline has been among the industry's most aggressive in pushing fares and fees higher in recent months, and those efforts have often been matched by other carriers. The industry is scrambling to raise revenue in a fight to forestall what is projected to be a record multibillion industrywide loss this year.Robin Urbanski said. The policy does not apply to fliers in other classes.Mike Boyd, a Colorado-based aviation consultant. "It's one thing to simply raise fares. It's quite another to do it by imposing restrictions that appear to make it harder to conveniently fly."Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.Minneapolis or Boston and San Diego will now be forced to stay three nights or the entire weekend, Urbanski said.Denver to St. Louis now costs $99, up from $89 before. A bargain ticket for a longer flight like Austin, Texas, to Los Angeles — a journey of nearly 1,240 miles — now costs $139, up from $79 one-way, Urbanski said.US Airways last week joined American Airlines in charging passengers $15 to check their first piece of luggage. Like a number of other carriers, United also tacks on a fuel surcharge onto many tickets that can range from $5 to $75 on-way.Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, said that as long as fuel prices remain high, United and other carriers have little choice but to raise fares and find other ways to raise cash. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

United Airlines axes more routes from Cleveland

United Airlines' cuts at Cleveland will be a little bigger than first announced, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reports.The carrier announced in February that it would drop Cleveland as a hub, reducing its schedule there from 199 "peak day" departures to just 72 by summer. United also said it would it would slash the number of nonstop routes it flies from Cleveland to 20, down from 59.Now, United's number of nonstop routes Cleveland will drop by two more.TODAY IN THE SKY: United Airlines axing its hub in Cleveland (Feb. 2, 2014) FULL TEXT: : United CEO's letter on cutting the Cleveland hub (Feb. 2, 2014) THE PLAIN DEALER: List of routes United will drop at ClevelandThe airline says it will drop Baltimore and Albany, N.Y., from its Cleveland route map in early June, according to the Plain Dealer.United serves those cities from Cleveland via its United Express regional partners. Regional airlines across the country have complained about pilot shortages, which was one of several reasons United cited when it first announced it would de-hub Cleveland. United cited the staffing issues at its regional affiliates again in announcing the latest Cleveland cuts."As a result of regional-carrier pilot shortages, United will cease offering regional service from Cleveland to Albany and Baltimore effective June 5, and will end service from Cleveland to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh on April 30 as opposed to June, as originally planned," United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson says to the newspaper.United's pullout will leave Cleveland without nonstop service to Albany. Southwest, which operates one of its largest bases at Baltimore, flies several daily flights between Baltimore and Cleveland. USA TODAY: Cockpit crisis: Regional airlines struggle to hire pilots TODAY IN THE SKY: Delta, Frontier grow in Cleveland as United shrinks TODAY IN THE SKY: Frontier Airlines tabs Cleveland as newest focus city MORE: Airline cites 'pilot shortage,' suspends Midwest flightsAirport Continue Reading