United IT transition complaints

United Airlines performed its cut-over to the Continental based IT systems for reservations and frequent flier programs nearly 2 weeks ago.  By all accounts, this was probably about as smooth as it could have gone for merging two legacy airline systems.  That doesn’t mean there were no problems, it means it was better than most.  There was problems, some complaints and some frequent fliers saw accounts with incorrect mileage and other passengers found it difficult to get their seat assignments.

At present, there are a few who are still experiencing problems and United is still responding to larger than normal call volumes but here is the good news:  flights are flying and people are getting on those flights and arriving at their destinations.  There are issues that remain to be fixed.

There are, however, quite a vocal minority complaining loudly and I see media picking up on this and describing United’s transition as being far worse than any real appearance gives.  In USA Today’s Today in the Sky Blog, we see customer’s such as ultra elite frequent fliers making complaints about United (not Continental) agents being unfamiliar with Continental’s SHARES system still or having trouble making a seat assignment at a kiosk.   There are others from frequent flier enthusiast websites complaining that United changed the miles accrued for routes.  How much did they change?  In most cases by less than 20 miles.

I have message for those people:  Grow up and act like adults.

If someone is missing a flight due to incompetence or is unable to book a frequent flier award due to incompetence, I’m willing to hear your complaint.  If something is taking you 500% longer to accomplish than previously, I might even be willing to listen.   But, seriously, do we really want to be complaining about whether or not a gate agent knows the SHARES system completely yet?   Do you really want to moan about the fact that San Francisco-Hong Kong flight went from accruing 6921 miles to  6909 miles?  That’s a difference of 12 route miles or 0.17% change in mileage.  Not 17 percent but 0.17 percent.

Complaints like that give credence to my belief that the customer is absolutely NOT always right.  A principle that I will point out is in violent agreement with a former industry leader named Gordon Bethune.


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