Fortune interview with Jeff Smisek

Jeff Smisek, United’s CEO, sat down for an interview recently with Geoff Colvin about his career progression and role at United. He claims he actually reads all of the emails he receives (and even gives out his email address — not that it’s all that tough to figure out — and encourages people to email him).

He does seem pretty level headed…

Filed Under: United, Videos
  1. I urge all the followers of this blog, FT members, and Milepoint members to write Mr. Smisek and indicate their unhappiness with the reduced validity of United SWUs due to their posting immediately upon earning 1K status, and then they are only valid for 12 months. American airlines has a far better policy.

    American offers a minimum validity of 13 months for its SWU when members qualify at the end of the calendar year, so the SWUs would be valid through the end of February 2013 for those whom qualify in December 2011. What makes Americans SWUs even more attractive is that early qualifiers for American Executive Platinum have their SWUs valid for up to 26 months, so a member whom earned their status in February of 2011 would also have their American SWUs valid until the end of February 2013.

    United should match American’s SWU validity policy so that their SWUs are valid for up to 26 months. At a minimum, United should return to the old SWU deposit policy where SWUs post in January after the year of qualifying and have a 13 month validity. For those needing the United SWUs sooner, United can allow for an early deposit SWU program as it has done for years in the past.

    For contacting Jeffrey Smisek, send an email to [email protected] .

  2. @Chitownflyer —

    If we’re writing $misek about our complaints, why stop at SWU’s? I don’t think he’s brought one change that I actually like!

  3. @hobo13, the SWU reduced validity is a major change to United’s 1K benefits. Mr. Smisek indicates he reads and listens to customer comments, so this should influence United to reverse its policy.

  4. Jeff Smisek, President and CEO United Airlines.

    Dear Mr. Smisek,
    In what i hope is my last and flnal flight, I recently flew from
    Houston to London and back and read your Welcome Aboard
    column in the May 2012 HemispheresMagazine.
    You acknowledge Global Climate Change, but not its effects.
    Today in the US, capacity for rationalization in the pursuit of
    profit, comfort, security or…seems unlimited, and indifference
    to suffering is fairly common. So the response of ‘Is this new?’
    to the recent NBC Nightly News:
    1.5 Million children in imminent danger of starving to death in W. Africa
    West Africa is caught between climate change, conflict, and poverty.

    Airplane fuel comes from oil.
    Oil has a split personality.
    If you believe that modern industrial
    society coinciding with the use of oil and the increase of
    global population from 1 billion to 7 billion has been a positive,
    then oil is the sine qua non of modern industrial society,
    or the “platform” of modern industrial society,
    or the “blood” of modern industrial society–if electricity is
    the “oxygen,” the banking system… the “water”, etc.

    On its “good” side, oil is uniquely energy dense,
    convenient, and flexible–truly “black gold.”
    So far, none of the suggested replacements come
    close to it in those terms.
    It took hundreds of millions of years to create oil, and
    Humankind is going to use it up in a couple hundred years.

    Unfortunately, oil’s other personality is leading to
    changes in the “skin” of the Earth (the very thin atmosphere
    in comparison to the size of the Earth, or the Global
    Atmospheric Commons ) and is a threat to life
    on Earth.

    Also, some have said that the Earth can only support a
    maximum of 2 to 3 billion people without oil.
    How do we make the transition from 7 billion?
    Do we fight for the last drops? That has been the
    history of humankind–fighting over declining vital resources.
    Oil Depletion (and the violent response thereto–see the
    Middle East since the overthrow of Mossadegh 60 years
    ago or the Mad Max movies or the 2005 movie
    Syriana…) and the other side of oil’s personality,
    Climate Change, are not just overwhelming
    but will swamp everything else–maybe not
    in our lifetimes, but in the lifetimes of our children
    and grandchildren.

    Generally, not thinking about and not having open discussion
    about the big picture, as well as not setting and prioritizing goals,
    have been common mistakes in the U.S. and how the U.S. has
    addressed the overwhelming issues of our time–Oil,
    Global Climate Change, and War.
    For example, U.S.-centric focus on local, regional, and national issues has
    not reversed the “trend of global energy use running in the wrong direction,”
    or “evidence of climate change only growing stronger and falling further
    down the political agenda,” or oil and coal “consumption still rising around
    the world.”

    Roland James
    Seguin, Tx

    Bill Rees: Why We’re in Denial

    Bill Rees discusses cultural denial and how we could start adapting to our ecological challenges through a new cultural narrative.
    June 9, 2012 ~15 min video

    [The use of fossil fuels has brought ~1 billion people unprecedented
    prosperity, but now their use is like drinking Jonestown kool-aid for
    the survival of human civilization and thousands of other species.

    Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence…
    Christian Parenti (2011)
    From Africa to Asia and Latin America, the era of climate wars has begun.
    Extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and state failure…
    When the rain stopped, the genocide began…
    Climate Change is already affecting the “Tropic of Chaos.” Droughts
    used to come every 10 to 15 years to parts of Africa, but now they come
    every year or two. The famine resulting from the drought this year
    is expected to kill hundreds of thousands. It is not a
    problem of their making but of our making, the First Class of the World.

    Deepest moral question: whether we’re all in it together.
    Global Climate Change is a moral question on 3 levels:
    1. intragenerational re the poor and the rich of the Earth,
    2. intergenerational, 3. interspecies.
    The First Class on the Titanic, after doing little risk assessment and no risk insurance
    (no lifeboats on its deck so only lifeboats for 1/2 the passengers on the ship),
    tried to prevent the Second and Third Classes from accessing the existing lifeboats
    with locking gates and guns, but they couldn’t say to the Second and Third Classes,
    “Only your part of the ship is sinking.”
    Are USAmericans like the First Class on the Titanic re Global Climate Change?
    US-25 tons of CO2/yr/person Europe-11 China-6 India-2 Africa-.5

    To raise political awareness in the general public: the Initiative process
    available in 22 states.
    Carbon tax and 100% return across-the-board is one possible Initiative
    to plow the ground and to create a larger constituency so
    that a future Congress will address this existing and also
    looming disaster in the making.

    On Not Reaching Carbon Goals
    By MATTHEW L. WALD 6/11/12 NY Times

    Reducing carbon dioxide emissions by enough to prevent global temperatures

    from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is

    “still within reach,’’ the International Energy Agency reported on Monday,

    but at the moment, trends in energy use are running in the wrong direction.

    Déjà Vu at Rio+20
    Mark Hertsgaard
    | This article in the July 2-9, 2012 edition of The Nation.

    The message couldn’t have been clearer. The activists were shot, execution style, on the same day in May 2011 that Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies passed a rewrite of the Forest Code, the law governing economic activity in the Amazon. Zé Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo, a married activist couple, were gunned down near their forest home in Pará, in northeastern Brazil. They were the latest of the more than 1,600 activists who have been killed in the Amazon since 1985, including Chico Mendes, the rubber-tapper and political organizer whose 1988 assassination drew worldwide condemnation.

    Like Mendes, Ribeiro had received numerous death threats and predicted his own murder. In November 2010 the forest defender told an audience in Manaus, “I could get a bullet in my head at any moment…because I denounce the loggers.” Police immediately suspected that Ribeiro’s death was a professional hit, because his corpse, like his wife’s, had one ear cut off; in the Amazon, killers customarily present their paymasters with a victim’s ear to prove the deed was done. Hours later, when a legislator took the floor in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies to urge an investigation, he was booed by members of the ruralista caucus, lawmakers allied with the large landowners who advocate maximum exploitation of the Amazon.

    An ominous sense of déjà vu hovers over the United Nations Rio+20 conference on sustainable development taking place June 20–22. Twenty years ago, Rio de Janeiro hosted the landmark 1992 Earth Summit, which framed the problem that Rio+20 re-examines: how to reduce global poverty while preserving the planet’s life-support systems. Alas, two decades later, the Amazon remains a lawless place, where criminals loot natural resources with abandon and violent intimidation of activists is common. (A current example is forest defender Nilcilene Miguel de Lima, who, as reported by Brazil’s Publica news group, got so many death threats the government gave her twenty-four-hour security protection, then moved her to an undisclosed location.)

    Internationally, too, the parallels between Rio+20 and the Earth Summit are disturbing. Like George H.W. Bush in 1992, President Obama has not said whether he’ll attend the Rio conference, much less try to rally the world to avert planetary catastrophe. When Bush was trying to duck the summit in 1992, major media outlets ran a slew of stories reminding him of the potential impact on his re-election efforts, which helped change his mind. Obama has faced no such flak for being a Rio no-show.

    Why should he? After all, Rio+20 is only talking about the end of the world as we know it. A new study in the journal Nature warns that Earth is approaching a “tipping point” that could lead, within decades, to irreversible degradation of the natural systems that provide humans with food, water and other vital services. A team led by Anthony Barnosky of the University of California, Berkeley, found that the rapidly warming climate, the disappearance of countless plant and animal species, the spread of toxic “dead zones” in the oceans, and other disturbing trends could trigger a transition to a radically less hospitable planet that would be “extremely difficult or even impossible” to reverse.*….

    *Scientists uncover evidence of impending tipping point for Earth

    UC Berkeley professor Tony Barnosky and 21 scientists from around the world
    argue in Nature magazine that planet Earth is frighteningly close to a tipping
    point at which human activities cause a “planetary-scale critical transition”
    to a different environment…
    Consumption driving ‘unprecedented’ environment damage: UN
    Paris (AFP) June 6, 2012 – Population growth and unsustainable consumption are
    driving Earth towards unprecedented environmental destruction, the UN said in a report …
    TEDx David Roberts – Climate Change …
    6/12/12 David Roberts is staff writer at In “Climate Change is Simple”
    he describes the causes and effects of climate change in blunt, plain terms.
    text of Roberts TEDx video–
    Climate change is simple: We do something or we’re screwed …
    By DavidRoberts. Back in April, The Evergreen State College invited me to ……


    Guy McPherson (UAz Prof Em) on Climate Change, Sept 2011
    Couchsurfing with my soapbox
    McPherson goes through the following:

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): 1C by 2100
    Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (Late 2008): 2C by 2100
    United Nations Environment Programme (Mid 2009): 3.5C by 2100
    Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (Oct 2009): 4C by 2060
    Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (Nov 2009) 6 – 7C by 2100
    International Energy Agency (Nov 2010) 3.5C by 2035 !
    Proceeding of the National Academy of Science Climate change is irreversible (10 Feb 2009)
    Climatic Change: Only economic collapse will prevent runaway global climate change (21 Nov 2009)
    National Center for Atmospheric Research (Jan 2011) 16C by 2100 (including feedbacks):
    Science stunner: On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100
    will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29 degrees F (16 C) hotter……/science-kiehl-ncar-paleoclimate-lessons-from-ea…
    Jan 13, 2011 – Joseph Romm… Earth was 16°C warmer….
    effect of amplifying feedbacks in the climate system…

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