United Airlines will stop offering proactive compensation on flights delays of less than six hours. The move marks a tightening of what had been a fairly generous policy, but does not the limit individual compensation flight attendants and gate agents can extend.
First reported by Brian Sumers of Skift, United will makes changes to its “delay compensation matrix” based upon “customer feedback”. Proactive compensation will no longer be offered to entire flights for delays under six hours. Currently, some delays as little as 3-4 hours trigger emails to everyone onboard. Those emails include a secure link to choose compensation on United’s website.
Individual compensation will vary based upon MileagePlus status, but every passenger receives either credit toward a future flight or miles. This compensation is not triggered by weather delays or other acts beyond United’s control, but for mechanical or crew delays within the control of the airline.
I asked a front-line contact at United if that memo went out and was forwarded it. The memo is only two paragraphs long and was issued on December 16, 2019.
While stressing that United will trim back its proactive compensation, United also stressed that its gate agents and flights attendants are empowered to offer compensation on the spot with their “In-the-Moment Care” app:
“As always and in the frontline operation, you’re empowered to make great service decisions in the best interest of our customers. Our core4 standards serve as the foundation of how we make decisions with each other and our customers. When situations arise, and they warrant compensation outside of this guideline, do the right thing to take care of the customer. With the ongoing enhancements within the In-the-Moment Care app, you can issue compensation on the spot, recover service disruptions, and avoid sending the customer to a website or service desk.”
It’s A Cutback Only If You Don’t Ask
United claims this is not a cutback. A spokesperson said:
“This policy empowers our employees to make more personalized service decisions for our customers when a disservice occurs. We will continue to analyze feedback on our policies and further invest in approaches that are most appreciated by our customers.”
Can I stop here and question that “customer feedback” excuse in the memo. It undermines the argument that this isn’t a cutback. What customer would NOT want to be proactively compensated for a delay? Who wants to have to ask for it?
I’ve received a handful of proactive compensation emails over the last few years and don’t expect United to fail to make right wasting my time with a delay within its control. I don’t want to have to ask for it, but United has made it super easy for flight attendants and gate agents to issue compensation: it isn’t the end of the world.
There’s bad news here: unless you know to ask for it, you will not be receiving delay compensation from United on many flights. But there’s good news here too: United has given its employees broad leeway in offering compensation to customers. That is something to be celebrated.
Don’t forget to ask for it…
image: United Airlines