In an upbeat message directed at employees, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby focused his Thanksgiving Day message on thanking employees for their service.
United Airlines CEO 2021 Thanksgiving Video
While Oscar Munoz was much loved by United employees during his tenure as CEO, he took a more impersonal approach to communication, preferring notes and letters versus videos. Kirby doesn’t write much to employees, instead speaking to them face-to-face with video messages.
This Thanksgiving, instead of a flowery note, Kirby produced a 90-second video shared with Live and Let’s Fly that centers on distinguishing United from its competition and thanking employees for their service:
“…Onboard our aircraft and in our airports, the environment feels so different at United Airlines than what you read about at some of our competitors. And it’s a testament to all of our customer-facing employees and the amazing job you do both at the airport, or our flight attendants once you get onboard the airplane, taking care of customers and deescalating those tense situations, and really just doing the right thing to take care of customers.”
We speak to a lot of employees at United at Live and Let’s Fly and it is amazing to me how high morale is right now. Kirby has largely earned the respect of employees, but it is not just reluctant support or recognition United has fared better in the pandemic than its competition. Rather, it is enthusiastic support, which goes beyond policy to show how important it is communicate, whether expressing good news or bad. Face-to-face communication seems to work best.
There’s still a disconnect between Kirby’s emphasis on delivering a premium product and the actual product delivered, but that is a separate issue from United’s employees, which have largely rallied around Kirby.
On this Thanksgiving Day, United employees are thankful for their CEO and their CEO is thankful for them. It’s quite a different picture than the tense holiday travel periods in the Tilton and Smisek eras. Where will all this lead? Kirby says (and repeated in the video) it will lead United to becoming the biggest and best airline in the world. But only time will tell.