How Customer Feedback affects United Airlines

How Customer Feedback affects United Airlines


This report seeks to benefit American Airlines which must build a positive reputation to avoid the tribulations that United Airlines face. Creating a reputable name encompasses a broad range of activities with the most essential ones being focusing on how to satisfy the consumers. The United Airlines started off as a reputable company but some occurrences that contravene the organizational ethical requirements and customers’ wants expose the enterprise to criticism from stakeholders. The management realizes that the institution faces a wide array of tribulations that encompass overselling of tickets, delays, mistreatment by flight attendants, and escalated prices. The challenges that emerge at United will make it difficult to achieve customer satisfaction and may even lead to a decline where the aviation company cannot progress any longer.

Background Information

United Airline also referred to as United is among the leading American aviation companies that has its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. Presently, the airline stands as the third largest firms in the globe in terms of revenue generation after the American Airlines and the Delta Air Lines (Greer and Kurt 427). The airline company operates in international and domestic routes although it pays attention to the Asia-Pacific region. United started its operations in 1926 as Varney Airlines and has experienced tremendous growth over the years. The airline company operates in nine hubs placed in different locations including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Guam (Greer and Kurt 427). The firm witnessed an increase in the number of its customers after the 2nd World War due to its quality services and affordable prices. United introduced flights strictly for men in the late 1950s and also allowed passengers to smoke while on board. The airline marked a milestone in the 1960s when it became the initial aviation company to apply improved simulators that had motion, visual, and audio cues to facilitate the training of pilots. United Airlines witnessed significant growth in terms of customer attraction and satisfaction until the beginning of the 21st century when travelers and stakeholders developed constant complaints.

Reports indicate that United experiences a reduction in its market share because of the escalating cases of customer mistreatment and carelessness displayed by the members of staff. Gunter describes the scenario where the security officers serving for United harass a man who refused to be ejected after claiming that he was a doctor and had critical matters to perform the next day. An eyewitness said that the traveler became very upset when it became evident that he could not travel. He tried to call his lawyer but an airline official told him that the security would evict him by force if he does not comply. The video shows the conversion between the officers and the traveler ending with the man being pulled from his seat, blood visible on his forehead. The management responded to the unfortunate occurrence by stating that the company has the right to apply force on anyone who does not want to leave a flight upon an order. Yaverbaum terms the action where the officers at United Airlines mishandle the ticketed traveler for the crime of wanting to go to his destination to be stupid because it was possible to avoid the incident. The incident that occurred in April 2017 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago puts the company on the limelight on a negative aspect thereby harming how the customers view the foundation. The occurrence may continue to affect United considering that it happened recently and many people can still refer or remember the happenings.

The actions where a man is pulled out of his seat confirmed that United has problems with the way it communicates with the clients after the occurrence of an unfortunate occurrence. Yaverbaum states that it could be easy to solve the case if the management offered a swift apology and even go ahead to give assurance that no future occurrence of similar manner would occur in the future. The company’s leadership, unfortunately, released an incredible response that signified a defiant and ignorant attitude. The inability to communicate in the right manner may cost the company in the future when travelers will be looking for organizations that address the customers’ queries in the shortest time possible and does not seem to deviate no matter the nature of the issue. The management might have the feeling that doing wrong to a single individual might not have a tarnishing impact on the industry not knowing that the person who faces discrimination or any other form of mistreatment may incite the others not to use the carrier anytime they need to travel. The ultimate effect of lack of communicative skills would have a long-lasting effect that may be difficult to address and which may even lead to permanent breakdown.

A case of harassment was also evident at United when the travelling officers mishandled a disabled lady without recognizing her state. Yaverbaum who strongly believes that United has a problem with how it deals with cases of harassment describes a scenario where the staff reprimands a woman because she was in a wheelchair. Qin and Monica (510) also write about the same incident and they write that the flight attendants constantly bugged her to find a location for the wheelchair since it blocked the aisle. The case develops another issue that depicts the company as having poor care and interaction skills with its buyers, a situation that may lead to the company’s demise after many customers will not be able to cope with the problems any more. An airline company that seeks to top its industry needs to be cautious with the way it treats people with special conditions such as pregnancy or other disabilities. Otherwise, mishandling customers, especially who have disabilities, may have adverse implication on the airline and such behavior can even lead to closure.

The report by Gunter further depicts United as being selfish with the motive of generating more money without considering their customers’ desires. A spokeswoman for United confirms through an interview that in case of overbooking and the attendants must postpone the schedule for some travelers, the selectors give priorities higher fare-payers and frequent fliers. Even though the selection may appear normal to any organization that seeks to gain profit from its activities, it may be unethical to cancel the flight of low-paying or new passengers without considering the urgency of the reason for making the flight or the created inconveniency. Apart from depicting the carrier as being in quest for making additional gains, selecting customers who travel during overbooking based on discriminative features confirms that the company is choosey in the way it handles its customers. Two weeks earlier before the forceful eviction, the flight attendants refused two girls entry because they were dressed in leggings (Gunter). Segregating customers because of the attire or for any reason for that matter is unacceptable in any business and United may continue to receive criticism if it does not act with speed to resolve the issue.

Apart from the man who refuses to get out of the plane three left after accepting $800 and a hotel room as compensation instead of the $1,350 mark set by the company. The act depicted the company as being insincere and out to making huge profits in the expense of molesting its customers (Worden). It is difficult to tell why the management could not give the full amount to the persons who missed their trip but is obvious that the persons in charge were dishonest in their acts. Dishonesty facilitates the rate of collapse because consumers mostly prefer where they get truthful information, and where the groups in charge of the enterprise do not acquire additional gains using unscrupulous means.

Customers complain that the quality of service at United is deteriorating despite its merger with Continental Airlines in 2010. Mouawad and White write that the coming together was supposed to solidify the reputation for consumer service but instead the partnership turned into frustration. Mouawad and White feel that the quality of the airline that has its base in the U.S. is going down due to the frustrations customers experience due to delay, lost bags, and cancelled flights. Mouawad and White include the opinion of Mr Wigdor who resides in New Jersey and takes flights a couple of times in a month from Newark to Huston on United who feels that the quality of service at the company is low and would prefer Continental Airlines. Mr. Wigdor who says that “they treat you as a commodity and not a valued customer” further blamed United’s quality of service by stating that the services are poor and the Wi-Fi is unstable and unpredictable.  Mr. Wigdor mentioned that United being the largest shareholder (70%) in Newark, he does not have other alternative but would be quick to change the service provider if he gets the opportunity.

Many other complaints that happened in the past put United on the spot for bad things. The harassment displayed by United in April was not the first of its kind. Dave Carroll (a Canadian musician) produced YouTube videos that showed his ordeal after the luggage handlers at United Airliners destroyed his guitar in 2009. The incident happened without any form of concern from the management because as it comes out in the article by Hartung neither did the customer service department nor the baggage department take up the issue with the magnitude it deserves. Hartung describes how even after making numerous calls to have the compensation, the personnel at United could not help the complainant in a satisfactory manner. The explanation in this instance confirms that United has the habit of mistreating travelers and this can be a reason why the firm continues to have a negative name.

Earlier in 1996, the company developed a feud with Jeremy Cooperstock who complained about the mistreatment he experienced during his trip from Toronto to Tokyo with a pass in Honolulu. The traveler noted that the sitting arrangement had problems that made it difficult for him to settle upon entering the plane. The 49-year-old tutor of electrical and computer engineering narrated to The Independent how the management put a deaf ear to his letters that sought explanation to the incident (Coffey). The first response from United’s leadership showed up after a couple of months but unfortunately, the reply did not address the issue under question. Cooperstock said that “I realized that nobody spend time to read my letter and decided to take another approach” (Coffey). The strategy was to post the complaints online and to identify whether other people experience similar challenges with the airline. The engineer narrated how he received numerous letters from other passengers who experienced similar tribulations with the carrier. The engineer proceeded with the trend of collecting the complaints about United until they reached 32,000 and brought the matter before the court in 2012 (Coffey). The case further confirms that United neglects the complaints it receives from its customers which make it difficult to address their tribulations.

The constant calls that term United as being incapable of handling customers in the right manner has negative implications on performance and general wellbeing. Hartung informs that the poor manner in which the company handles its customers resulted in unwanted results with the firm holding the last position in the Airline Quality Rating. It is not uncommon for organizations to lower their ratings when they handle customers inappropriately because the purchasers serve as the cornerstone for growth of any company. JetBlue Airways led the standings with a total point of 82 then Southwest became second and Alaska Airlines third (Channik). Apart from lowering the firm’s quality, the harsh criticism from customers puts the company in a clash with the legal forces, especially after the occurrence including Dr. David Dao. The CEO informed the team that the Senate is conducting an inquiry into the matter. Thomas Demetrio who also serves as a Chicago-based attorney representing a case where a flight attendant for the American Airlines violates a customer is set to file a lawsuit that will look into the happenings at Louseville bound flight (Channik). It is definite that United’s decreasing quality and the increasing legal violations will have more harm on performance and the company’s reputation.

The negative feedback from customers may affect the enterprise’s leaders desire to serve thereby leading to poor outcome. United’s CEO received information that his elevation to the board chairman in the coming year as earlier set and the executive compensations would be cut because of the failure to achieve customer satisfaction. The announcement will most likely demoralize the leader who may not see the point of working hard yet his efforts will not pay back. Osabiya (63) writes that motivation serves a significant role in building the interest to serve and goes ahead to state that service providers may record lower output when they lack the support or encouragement. The news that reached the CEO will certainly affect performance and will generate more criticism from the consumers who will have no option but to find suitable alternatives.


Even though United seems to be hitting the headlines for bad news, it is significant to mention some of the achievements attained in the recent past. The aviation firm purchased new business-class vessels, and also bought Boeing 737s and 757s. United also received acknowledgement for being the pioneer of flying the Boeing 787 that increased revenue because of the escalated number of passengers. Mouawad and White inform that United has put in 200 airplanes since 2010. The increase in the number of carriers makes it possible to ply several routes and also facilitates the transportation of many customers at a go. The newspaper article by Mouawad and White that appeared on the New York Times goes ahead to mention about United’s improved on-time performance that has minimized the gap with its leading competitors. The company, for example, run neck-to-neck with Southwest and American based on the findings of an evaluation of on-time arrivals. Even though United came after Delta, the standings generated so much interest from stakeholders. In addition, the company has its improved its food that customers can get at the clubs and airports. Megan McCarthy (a spokeswoman for United) said that the strategy seems to improve the customer’s experience and instills courage that the firm will introduce more attractive features. Unfortunately, the negative effects that stand out make it difficult for newcomers to recognize the appealing features that were introduced several years ago.

It is clear that United requires a cultural shift to attract more customers and to build the tarnished reputation. Even though critiques such as Hartung fell that it is unlikely that Munoz (United’s COEO) and his team may see the sense and rectify their problems at the right time. Hartung writes that “Munoz appears to have no common sense in the way he handles the customers and running the enterprise thus making it difficult to attain long-term profitability.” Hartung refers to the views of Richard Branson (the beginner of Virgin Airlines) and Herb Kelleher (the proprietor of Virgin Airlines) who understood there was more to a prosperous airline that purchasing fuel at cheap prices and flight schedules.

Even though it is common to encounter chronic delays among several U.S. fliers, United still finds it problematic to get away from the scenarios that force it to make trips past the scheduled time. Charles Leocha (the creator of passenger advocacy group Travelers United) blames lack of readily accessible information that would guide customers to make the right choices or ease communication with the service providers (Gunter). The staff at United does not avail all the travelling information and the attendants seem not to be active at all time to respond to the queries that come from the customers. The report further confirms that the employees in charge of the bookings are not honest which deter them from informing travelers when the airbus is full to avoid inconveniencies where the attendants must spend more time resolving cases dealing with overbooking or seat conflicts.

It is apparent that the company does not make timely preparations and does not consider all travelers to be equal regardless of the economic, religious, or social status to avoid instances where passengers are denied boarding regardless of their wish. Information from the Department of Transportation show that out of the 613 million passengers who flew on leading vessels in the U.S. in 2015, up to 46,000 failed to travel without their wish (Gunter). The data might be a reason to worry for United now that some cases erupt from the station. The team does not ensure that the bookings match the number of available seats to stay out of cases where some persons cannot travel because of their incapability. It is also evident that the company fails to pass adverts that it treats all its customers as being equal and that they are not likely to witness any form of discrimination while travelling using the carrier. The failure to carry out sensitization programs that inform about the company’s interest to serve everyone without considering their background further reveals how the company does not intend to spend in critical matters that may influence performance. The consumers on their part would not want to relate with a firm that does not seem to care for their wants and shall find suitable alternatives.

The management at United Airlines seems not to understand that customer satisfaction is a mandatory requirement for the growth and development of any business establishment. Felix who performs a study of how service provision influence customer satisfaction at the various branches of Banque Populaire du Rwanda in Kigali reports that failure to embrace features that satisfy customers may affect operations (Felix 6). The scholar mentions that it is essential to consider what customers want before proceeding with any major decisions terming buyers an important aspect of the business. Felix (5) feels that a business is likely to achieve customer loyalty if it attains reliability, assurance, and responsiveness. It is apparent that United is not reliable from the way it prevents some customers from travelling in case of an over booking and from the way it creates unnecessary delays. It is also obvious that the company may experience problems upholding customer satisfaction from the way it does not provide assurance that would help travelers understand their schedule. The responsiveness at United still needs quick address to prevent scenarios where the management cannot react in good time to help passengers who land in troubles that they do not cause. The leaders at United should understand that customer satisfaction serves as a differentiation technique and is increasingly becoming a key aspect of business strategy in a competitive market (Felix 5). The struggle to become a leading flight operator within the region and beyond may become impossible as the participants show in the study if the leading parties continue to consider the emerging issues as being light.


The management of American Airlines faces problems that make it difficult to achieve customer satisfaction and this may facilitate the rate at which the business collapses. It is evident that delays, harassment by staff workers, and poor relation skills prevent the establishment from achieving its goal of becoming the leading aviation provider in the sector. Various sources confirm that a majority of the travelers detest the conduct displayed by the company in the recent past and further reveals that some buyers may consider other alternatives if United fails to address the eminent issues. The company should consider providing all the vital information to customers prior to their bookings and should make timely preparations to avoid delays and over bookings. The leadership at United seems to be putting little effort to salvage the situation and this shall have more negative effect unless quick changes take place. Finally, business leaders should always understand that customers are a critical part of a business and their opinions come first.













































Works Cited

Channick, Robert. “United Scores Lowest among Legacy Airlines in Customer Satisfaction; JetBlue Tops Survey.” Chicago Tribute, April 25, 2017, Accessed 20 September 2017

Coffey, Helen. “Canadian Man who set a Parody United Website has Received Court Injunction.” 28 June 2017, Accessed 22 September 2017

Felix, Rubogora. “Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction in Selected Banks in Rwanda.” Journal of Business & Financial Affairs, vol. 6, no. 1, 2017, 1-11.

Greer, Clark and Kurt Moreland. “United Airlines’ and American Airlines’ Online Crisis Communication following the September 11 terrorist attacks.” Public Relations Review, vol. 29, no. 4, 2003, pp. 427-441.

Gunter, Joel. United Airlines Incident: What went wrong?” BBC News, April 10, 2017, Accessed 20 September 2017

Hartung, Adam. “Why United Airlines Abuses Customers: The Risks of Operational Excellence.” Forbes, April 10, 2017, Accessed  20 September 2017.

Mouawad, Jad and White Martha. “United Airlines Customer Dissatisfaction Festers, 5 Years after Merger.” The New York Times, September 14, 2015, Accessed 20 September 2017

Osabiya, Joseph. “The effect of Employees’ Motivation on Organizational Performance.” Journal of Public Administration and Policy Research, vol. 7, no. 2, 2015, pp. 62-75.

Quinn, Ryan and Worline Monica. “Enabling Courageous Collective Action: Conversations from United Airlines Flight 93.” Organization Science, vol. 19, no. 4, 2008, pp. 497-516.

Worden, Skip. “Company Police-States: United Airlines Attacks a Passenger.” LinkedIn, April 11, 2017, Accessed 20 September 2017

Yaverbaum, Eric. United Airlines has a Bigger Problem than you think.” Huffpost, April 21, 2017, Accessed 20 September 2017

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