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AOPA members: Respond to United Airlines' latest user fee gimmick: Tell them you're not fooled by e-mail campaign

United Airlines began an e-mail campaign on June 27, urging its frequent fliers to support FAA funding changes, but AOPA members were not taken in. By dinnertime on the same day, hundreds of you had contacted AOPA to let us know about the scheme.

"This latest airline effort to push through a user-fee-funded system is really not surprising," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But United may have miscalculated this time. Not only are AOPA members general aviation pilots, they are some of the heaviest users of the airlines, and they're not at all pleased at United's effort to use them as pawns in the battle over FAA funding."

All the airline has done, Boyer suggested, is antagonize an otherwise loyal customer base — one that disagrees with the airline's falsehoods about the causes of delays and opposes a user-fee-funded air traffic control system.

You can contact Glenn Tilton, chairman, president, and CEO of UAL Corporation (United Airlines' parent company), and let him know how you feel about his airline's campaign.

What to say

United owes it to me and my fellow frequent fliers to be truthful, and your e-mail of Wednesday, June 27, 2007, was anything but. Your e-mail directs frequent fliers to the Smart Skies Web site, which is full of offensive half-truths and misinformation about general aviation.

Nobody questions the need to modernize air traffic control, but your support for user fees has almost nothing to do with reducing delays and everything to do with getting yet another multi-billion-dollar tax break for you and your competitors. Weather and your own scheduling practices are the two biggest causes of delays. The business jets and general aviation planes you try to blame on your Smart Skies Web site make up no more than 4.5 percent of the traffic in and out of any of United's five hub airports.

I and my fellow general aviation pilots are heavier users of airline services than the general public. Stop telling lies about us. And stop pushing for user fees that will cripple general aviation to fund the FAA. If you do not, then whenever there is an alternative to United for the flight I need to make, I will take it.

United needs to stop wasting money on offensive e-mails and focus on better service to their customers.

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