United Airlines Offers On-Time Guarantee For Corporate Travelers, Probably Won’t Have To Actually Pay Anything

With accusations that airlines have padded flight schedules to improve on-time performance stats still fresh, one carrier is hoping to prove it’s all about valuing your time — as long as you’re a big corporate client. United Airlines launched a new reliability guarantee for some business travelers, promising to get them to their destination on-time or it will provide them with credits for upgrades and fees. 

Bloomberg reports that United’s so-called “global performance commitment” is the airline’s way of attracting more corporate travelers and showing that it’s conscientious of their time.

The program, which will cover domestic, international and regional flights starting next year, offers travelers credits if a flight fails to arrive before or right at the scheduled time.

In the past, United has struggled to meet on-time marks. Last year, the airline ranked 10th out of 13 carriers when it came to on-time arrivals, but in recent months it has jumped to the fifth spot, Bloomberg reports.

The credits can only be used for ancillary fees and upgrades. For example, a traveler can upgrade to Economy Plus seating, get out of change fees and other similar charges.

While the program might seem pretty cut-and-dry, it comes with several limitations: it’s only available to United’s bigger corporate customers and is tied to how much business that company gives the airline.

United’s senior vice president of worldwide sales, Dave Hilfman, estimates that the likelihood the carrier will have to pay anything is “slim to none.”

Still, he says that the airline’s bigger corporate customers will find the program has “every bit of as much value as if they were offsetting fares.”

The program is similar to one launched by Delta earlier this year. That guarantee offers business customers credits if its on-time rate dips below both United and American Airlines.

If both — not one or the other — American and United beat Delta’s on-time and completion rates for a year, Delta will award travel credits of $1,000 to $250,000 to businesses with a contract. The amount of credits offered will vary depending on those who suffer the most delays and cancellations.

However, as with United’s program, the likelihood that the carrier will actually pay-up is minuscule: the program doesn’t take into account international flights or regional affiliates, and United and American would have to significantly up their game to outdo Delta.

Still, officials with Delta tell Bloomberg the reception of the program has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

United Airlines Answers Delta in Offering Reliability Guarantee [Bloomberg]

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