United Airlines Hires Customer Service Specialist From Disney

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting article about the strategies that the big US carriers are taking to restore their tarnished (or completely obliterated, depending on how recently you’ve had to fly somewhere) reputation for customer service.

United Airlines, for example, has hired the senior customer service executive for the Disney Company to overhaul United’s customer service experience.

Sadly, unless you’re one of the 8% of frequent business travelers that make up 36% of United’s profit, you might not see a big difference.

“The skills I used at Disney are transferable and similar,” Higgins, an upbeat woman, said at San Francisco International Airport, which United is using as a test bed.

“We’re moving huge volumes of guests, we’re providing individualized service, we’re providing individualized meet-and-greet in the airport,” she said. “We can do that especially well with frequent fliers and provide a more intimate experience.”

Putting passengers first [San Francisco Chronicle]


Edit Your Comment

  1. bnet41 says:

    The airlines need to have a better PR campaign. Since all of the airlines are experiencing these massive delays the problem is obviously more of a system wide issue.

    We need more runways at the major airports, more atc investments, etc. From what I’ve seen I’m not sure if the airlines can do much to fix such a broken system. They need to get their customers to pressure their congress people to do something.

  2. overbysara says:

    United needs to address their phone customer service. It’s a nightmare when they can only repeat to you what you’ve seen on the web. The reason you CALL is to TALK to a PERSON about a situation that the computer can’t resolve. Not have the person act like a useless human robot.

  3. Falconfire says:

    @bnet41: not even. Its not the runways that are a issue as much as traffic control.

    We dont have nearly enough people running the Air Traffic Control structure in the US so much of the airspace that COULD be used is not being used because no one could monitor it safely.

    But more importantly the airline industry needs to SPEND MONEY. Congress will never bail out our air system because they already have, and it didnt work. Executives need to take major multi-million dollar paycuts and invest that money into fixing their own broken systems, instead of their own pockets.

    Its stupid idiotic CFO’s and execs who are killing the industry, and until you can beat some sense into them (which will never happen) nothing will change.

  4. bnet41 says:

    @Falconfire: How can the industry spend money on systems that are controlled by the government. Including ATC. This weekend all my delays were caused by ground stops ordered by the tower. The airline wasn’t not having any issues routing the traffic. The problems we’ve seen lately seem to be higher up in the system. Don’t go on rants about corporate exec’s when it’s not fully the issue. Just because you don’t like someone’s high pay doesn’t mean cutting their pay will suddenly fix the system. I think they would spent the money in a second if they felt it would do any good.

    I’m not saying they are perfect, but it seems like around here every time major delays and cancellations start, it’s because of holds at the major airports by atc.

  5. mopar_man says:

    Just blame it on the weather.

  6. I’m not sure what to make of this…

  7. ChrisC1234 says:

    I don’t see this making much of a difference. Unless they equip this woman with the power to actually CHANGE things, I don’t see much coming from it. Sure, the people on the phones may be a little nicer to talk to, but they still may have their hands tied as far as fixing the problems are concerned.

  8. juri squared says:

    @Papa Midnight: It’s a good thing. Think what you will of the company, but Disney’s customer service is unparalleled. I’ve never been treated as well as I was when staying at a Disney property.

  9. jamar0303 says:

    How about spreading the load more. Start having more airports handle trans-Pacific/Atlantic flights (Nashville, for one- it’s not that crowded even during the busy period, and one terminal/concourse has been closed because there isn’t any airline to fill it). Ease the stress on LAX/JFK/ORD/etc and have some more airports actually see some decent usage.

  10. JustAGuy2 says:


    Really not true. The biggest problem right now is traffic at the most heavily used airports, and we need to start slot controlling them and auctioning off the slots – want to take off from Laguardia at 5PM on Friday? Pay up.

    Good that they’re bringing her on board, and good that they’re being focused. Many leisure travelers are totally price driven, and will change carriers at the drop of a hat for a $10 price difference, service be damned. Makes much more sense to focus on the highly profitable business customers.

  11. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    @overbysara: yes! I’ve been having this problem trying to redeem some vouchers they gave me. It’s impossible -_-

  12. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Wow glad I never fly UA, I am not on the radar since I “only” fly about 9 times a year. I can say that SWA Customer Service rox though. I had to cancel a flight yesterday..on a holiday for a flight in about 3 weeks. I called got a rep within 45 seconds, told her what I wanted she cancelled the flight and issued me a credit to my account and I was off the phone in less than 2 minutes. I had to get a credit because the flight I booked was non-refundable. No big deal sine i fly with them all the time I will just use it later.

  13. scoopy says:

    I think they should also consider hiring some costumed characters to entertain us while we’re waiting in line.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    Do we really want a company which pioneered cattle-like lines to have anything to do with airlines?