United Airlines computer problem leads to delays on Tuesday morning

United Airlines is devaluing its MileagePlus program in 2014. Photo courtesy of the airline.

United Airlines had computer problems on Tuesday morning. Photo: United

United Airlines computer systems were down on Tuesday morning (L.A. time), leading to some flight delays and inconvenienced passengers.

When I inquired at about 10 a.m. United said in an email that the problem had been fixed.

“This morning we experienced intermittent issues with our passenger service computer system, causing some flight delays,” the airline said in a statement.  “With the system now restored, we are working to get our customers to their destinations as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

At least one passenger at LAX was taking it pretty well, according to a Tweet.


If you get the feeling that this happens a lot, it does. And not just for United. It seems that just about every airline has this problem once or twice a year. Sometimes more.

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United Airlines will no longer operate a hub in Cleveland. Read the internal letter

United will no longer call its Cleveland operation a hub.

United will no longer call its Cleveland operation a hub. Photo: United.

United Airlines will no longer operate a full-scale hub in Cleveland, many news organizations reported today.

The hub in Cleveland — a former Continental stronghold –was not profitable, United CEO Jeff Smisek told employees and was not feasible to operate such a robust operation there. By June, when the reductions are complete, there will still be 72 departures on peak days to 20 destinations. But now there are about 200 flights on peak days. Midwesterners will now do even more of their connecting on United in Chicago. (72 flights from Cleveland is still a lot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is further cut in the coming years.)

Sadly, this is becoming a thing for once vibrant hubs in the middle of the country. Cincinnati (Delta), Memphis (Delta), Pittsburgh (US Airways) and St. Louis (TWA) have all lost significant flights in the past decade. Meanwhile, major hubs, like LA, have stayed the same or gotten stronger.

Read on to see the letter Smisek sent to his United “Coworkers.”

Continue reading

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American Airlines and US Airways will give employee bonuses if planes leave on-time more often

Tuesday was 'Customer Day One' at the new American Airlines Group. Photo: US Airways.

It is time for the American Airlines Group Operational Olympics! Photo: US Airways.

Your American Airlines and US Airways flights and bags could arrive faster in 2014.

In a letter this week to employees, American Airlines Group president Robert Isom outlined a bribery scheme to keep employees on-target. The new combined carrier will compete with rivals Southwest, United and American on three key metrics:

· On-time arrivals – Arrivals within 14 minutes of published time;
· Baggage performance – Mishandled baggage reports (MBR) per 1,000 customers; and
· Customer satisfaction – Complaints sent directly to the DOT per 100,000 enplanements.

If the new American Airlines Group is above all of its rivals in any of the three components, every employee will receive a monthly bonus of $50. If the airline is on top in all three metrics, employees can earn an extra $150 per month.


There’s also another way employees can earn extra money without being No. 1. If American Airlines Group airplanes leave on-time 70 percent of the time, employees will receive $50. The metric here is called D(0), which means the aircraft must leave exactly on-time. The federal government usually considers a flight on-time so long as it departs within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.

This sort of bribery is fairly common, and United did it recently. I know we have a lot of airline employees who read this blog. My question to you: Do these bonuses make you work harder to keep customers happy?

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Policy change: United will only accept unaccompanied minors on nonstop flights

United will only accept unaccompanied minors on nonstop flights. Photo credit: United.

United will only accept unaccompanied minors on nonstop flights. Photo credit: United.

United Airlines is accepting unaccompanied minors only on nonstop flights, a policy change it made this month, according to its website. 

The change, which went into effect for tickets purchased after Dec. 5, was found by some attentive United.com readers who posted on the Flyertalk.com message boards. 

Previously, United would allow children to take connecting flights. But ensuring that a bunch of 5 to 11-year-olds are taken care of during a layover is not the easiest thing. I imagine that this policy change will make the program more efficient for United.

Here are the new rules on United.com

  • Unaccompanied minors can only travel on flights operated by United or United Express®. United does not offer unaccompanied minor service to or from other airlines’ flights. For tickets purchased on or after December 5, 2013, unaccompanied minors can only travel on nonstop flights.
  • Children younger than 5 years of age are not accepted as unaccompanied minors.
  • Children 5 to 11 years of age who are traveling alone must use our unaccompanied minor service.
  • Children ages 12 to 17 can pay the service charge to use the unaccompanied minor service for flights where unaccompanied minor travel is allowed, or they can travel as adults. Contact the United Customer Contact Center or your local travel agent to make arrangements for unaccompanied minor service.
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