United Airlines Will Delay Flights If Multiple Passengers Connections Are Delayed

United has announced a new unlikely business policy, delaying their own flights on purpose to ensure passengers make connections.

This is one of many new policies being launched by United Airlines President Scott Kirby to put customers first, above on-time statistics and other metrics.

United Aircraft
United’s first Boeing 787-10 entered regular service earlier this month. Photo: United Airlines.

What are the details?

Speaking at the JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation, & Industrials Conference, Scott Kirby revealed that to win customers business, United will be focusing on better service rather than lowest cost.

This means a reshuffle of United’s core four metrics; Aircraft Safety as number one, followed by Customer Comfort as a close second, with both Operations and Efficiency bringing up the rear.

United Airlines Boeing 737
United Airlines Boeing 737. Photo: United Airlines.

As fellow publication View From The Wing discussed, United intends to roll out this comfort focus with the following new policies:

  • Delaying flights to ensure connections. If a few passengers are flying in other United flights and their plane is running late, United will delay their connecting flight to ensure they reach their destination. This is rather great for those passengers with short nail-biting delays, of only around 5-10 minutes, that could easily be made up in the air on their second leg. However, how this will be implemented is a little tricky, as gate agents or pilots may not have all the operational information in front of them. A simple delay of 15 minutes in one small regional airport could cascade throughout the United network.
  • Real-time detailed information. Instead of just delaying or canceling a flight due to ‘weather’ or ‘maintenance’, United will endeavor to explain delays in as much detail as possible to passengers and give them accurate contingency information. This will include problems with aircraft, delays for other passengers like above, and even geographical details of weather delays
  • Investment in lounges. United is also investing more in their lounges in order to give customers who are waiting for their flights a better experience.
  • New aircraft. United has also revealed that they will be operating a new jet from Bombardier that only sits 50 passengers, focusing on comfort rather than increased capacity.
  • Investment in premium for regional carriers. Whilst United has always offered a range of premium products for its long-haul services, it’s short-haul operations have actually had a limited capacity for premium travelers. United has decided to roll out more seats (and bring some its newer premium seats) for its A319, 767, and CRJ-700. They are also adding premium economy to their 767 fleet.
United
The United Polaris cabin. Source: United

Also during the conference, Scott also discussed how previous United management made the mistake of leaving JFK airport. He lambasted that it costed United lucrative international contracts for passengers flying onwards to London and other European destinations. Whether or not this is a precursor to United to operating back to JFK remains to be seen.

“You can probably personally blame me, at least to some degree, for the fact that United pulled out,” Scott Kirby in 2017. “When I was at American Airlines, we were consciously trying to push United out of JFK. That was our goal.”

What do you think of these new comforts for United passengers? Let us know in the comments. 

3 comments
  1. I am so happy to see United Airlines focussing on safety and service as the main company goals

    This is a win-win for the Passengers and the Airline

  2. I am a regular United customer, flying internationally at least four times a year. Under the category of “Customer Comfort” is the issue of quality food on international flights. To be quite honest, United is drastically behind most other international carriers in this regard. Flying from the States to Frankfurt, I get one hot meal (mediocre at best) and a croissant before we land. On Lufthansa, I would get two hot meals and both would be better than United’s. I submit this as constructive criticism. Hope someone is listening.

    1. As an airline pilot, it drives me crazy that management for decades is so bent to hell on pushing back on time. If you ask me or any customer, “would you rather be a few minutes late pushing off or a few minutes late arriving at your destination on concerting flight” and the answer will always be “be a few minutes late pushing off”. I’ve watch countless times passengers standing at the window watching us push back because they’re connecting flight was late, held up or perhaps the gate they came in on was a 1/2 down the terminal. United is going the right direction and hopefully all airlines will follow suit and not abide to the silly “must push back on time” rule. Who cares! We’re here for the customers and when you diss them with poor service, they will move on.

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