Advertisement found on the Washington, D.C., Metro.
It's generally not a good business practice to alienate loyal customers, but United Airlines has done that to its frequent fliers who are general aviation pilots and aircraft owners. And United is paying the price.
More than 1,700 AOPA members (and counting) have written United in response to an e-mail campaign on June 27 that urged its frequent fliers to support FAA funding changes, including user fees. This is the second time in less than a month that United has offended loyal passengers, including their premier executive million mile fliers. (The first was an editorial in United Hemispheres, the company's in-flight magazine.)
Many vowed not only to stop flying with United but also to encourage their family, friends, and coworkers to boycott the airline as well. Some of those customers had flown with United on a weekly basis.
"As of today, all employees of our companies will be notified that United/Ted will be added to the list of 'no fly' airlines," one AOPA member wrote on Friday to Glenn Tilton, chairman, president, and CEO of UAL Corporation. "I am sure that is the considered consequence of your action, enjoy it!"
Members pointed out and corrected the misinformation spread by United.
Fasten your seatbelts for a turbulent ride. The airlines are pulling out all the stops — inaccurate TV spots, e-mails to frequent fliers, and in-flight magazine editorials. Continental, US Airways, and American Airlines are the latest to publish editorials that contain factual errors and portray general aviation in a negative light.
Join with your fellow pilots to counter this misinformation to airline passengers. Print this rebuttal ad and place it in the in-flight magazines, not only for Continental and US Airways, but for every airline you use for travel.
"But in reality, you must certainly realize that the system is not overloaded by corporate and general aviation. Your insincerity regarding commercial traffic delays is offensive, to those who know the truth," another wrote to United. He went a step further to better illustrate the airline's move:
"I suppose if your company name was 'United Bus Lines' you would waste your political capital to try to convince Congress to tax the corporate car user to pay for all of the roads!"
One AOPA member took a different approach and used an opportunity during a recent flight to educate passengers and crewmembers about the FAA funding debate.
"I came across [the] statement you wrote about user fees and modernizing the ATC system," the member wrote to United regarding an editorial in United Hemispheres. "It was so grossly single sided and self serving that I had to respond by explaining to every passenger and the crew its obvious flaws. By the end of the flight many agreed with me, and came away with a different view of UA.
"For myself, I will never fly UA or TED again and encourage others to follow suit."