United Airlines CEO Admits The Company Should Probably Treat Customers Better

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

There must be something in the water this week: while American Airlines is urging customers to stop being such jerks in order to have a better flying experience, United Airlines’ CEO is admitting that the carrier could probably improve its relations with customers.

United CEO Oscar Munoz looked back at his year in the top spot at the company, a year that was interrupted by a heart attack he suffered shortly after landing the job in September 2015, in an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC this week. When Cramer brought up a comparison between airlines and Munoz’s previous experience with railways, Munoz admitted that while both are tough industries, United could do better.

“I think at the end of the day, the difference is that it is more of a people business at the airline,” Munoz told Cramer. “Over the course of a year, we have 140 million customers, and I have 86,000 professionals that in some way, shape or form, touch those people. So I need to absolutely engage and create that shared purpose for our employees. And we’ve been hard at work with that from our labor perspective, from our management groups — we need to treat people better.”

However, Munoz says the company is already doing better on baggage, on-time arrivals, and other areas during the transition from former CEO Jeff Smisek’s reign.

“The operating team at United has done an amazing job at transforming,” Munoz told Kramer.

The company is continuing those efforts to improve by building a core team of leaders to continue the transition that started when he took the job in September 2015, but was disrupted when he suffered a heart attack shortly after. That includes new acquisition Scott Kirby, who came to United this week in a surprise move from American Airlines.

“He’s “sort of the icing on the cake, so to speak,” Munoz said.

United CEO reflects on one year at the helm: ‘We need to treat people better” [CNBC]

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