United Airlines CEO Escapes On Private Jet As Travelers Stranded

United Airlines CEO Escapes On Private Jet As Travelers Stranded

90

Oh, Scott Kirby… the optics of this are really, really bad.

United CEO flies private jet amid airline meltdown

United Airlines has had a really bad week, as the airline has canceled thousands of flights during one of the busiest travel periods of the year. The issue started because there was bad weather in the Northeast, and the FAA also doesn’t have enough air traffic controllers.

While the initial issues were outside of United’s control, unfortunately the airline just wasn’t ready to deal with a problem like this, in spite of there being plenty of warning of how vulnerable the Northeast was in terms of air traffic disruptions. So the airline went into full-on meltdown mode, leaving passengers and crew members stranded.

On a personal level, United CEO Scott Kirby was also impacted by these disruptions… sort of. He was trying to fly from Newark (EWR) to Denver (DEN) on Wednesday, but couldn’t get out, given what a mess United’s operation was. So he instead decided to charter a private jet, and flew from Teterboro (TEB) to Denver Centennial (APA).

Kirby reportedly paid for the jet himself, rather than having United pay for it. Kirby flew a Raytheon Hawker 800, and you can track the flight he took here.

As you’d expect, Kirby received a lot of backlash for this, and on Friday issued an apology:

“Taking a private jet was the wrong decision because it was insensitive to our customers who were waiting to get home. I sincerely apologize to our customers and our team members who have been working around-the-clock for several days — often through severe weather — to take care of our customers.”

“Watching our team firsthand with our customers at four different airports and during countless meetings this week, it’s clear to me they represent the best of United, and I regret that I have distracted from their professionalism. I promise to better demonstrate my respect for the dedication of our team members and the loyalty of our customers.”

It’s not stated one way or another whether he was traveling for work or leisure. Kirby has a house in Boulder, Colorado, so it sure seems like he might have just been trying to escape the mess for a long July 4th weekend, or something. If he was traveling to assist teams on the ground in Denver, I’m sure the statement would have made that very clear.

Furthermore, if the airline was experiencing the worst meltdown in Newark, you’d think that if he were a leader, he would have been there on the ground to support employees and apologize to customers, especially if he was stuck there anyway. Imagine what good publicity that would have been!

Scott Kirby abandoned his airline this week

What was Scott Kirby thinking?!

Honestly, the optics of this are so beyond bad, and undo so much of the goodwill that Kirby has been trying to build up in recent years. This is a massive slap in the face to both customers and employees.

Let me start by acknowledging that Scott Kirby is the CEO of a major publicly traded company, and he makes eight figures a year (or close to it). Under normal circumstances, someone with that kind of profile flying private shouldn’t come as a surprise.

But that doesn’t describe this situation. I mean, where do we even begin?

  • Kirby is the CEO of an airline that was in meltdown mode, and he wanted to get out of the carrier’s worst impacted hub while so many passengers and crew members were stranded
  • Kirby tried to shift blame for the meltdown from the airline to the FAA, as the FAA in the Northeast couldn’t handle the volume of traffic; yet once airborne, a private jet and a commercial jet use the same amount of resources, so he may have caused another United flight to be delayed
  • Kirby is CEO of an airline that claims to care about the environment, and Kirby has described himself as a climate change “geek,” all while flying a private jet

What Kirby demonstrated here is exactly the opposite of leadership, and this will haunt him for a long time. Worst of all, it comes at a time of contentious labor relations at the airline, and understandably this is a huge slap in the face to employees.

Here’s what I really can’t wrap my head around, though — ethics and leadership aside, what was Kirby thinking in terms of optics?

  • Did Kirby think he could do this secretly? Does he not realize that people in the industry talk, and that this would get out, especially when it’s in the news how United is melting down?
  • If he didn’t somehow think he could do this secretly, did he not think that this would get public backlash? If not, how out of touch is he?
  • Did Kirby not learn anything from when Ted Cruz escaped for the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, and how that was perceived?

It’s all just so strange, because it’s clear that a lot of effort at the airline is going into Kirby’s image, from his social media presence, to the way that his memos to employees are written. United’s Chief Communications Officer was a former White House Press Secretary, and I think he’s probably behind Kirby’s excellent communication. But then something like this happens, and you wonder if anyone was using their brain…

Bottom line

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has this week ruined much of the goodwill he has tried to build up in recent years. United has experienced an operational meltdown, which even meant that the CEO couldn’t get out of Newark. Rather than being a team player, helping however possible, and suffering in the same way passengers did, he chartered a private jet, probably to visit his vacation home for a holiday weekend. Yes, a holiday weekend that many people who put their trust in United won’t be enjoying, due to being stranded at an airport

Not only is this a failure in management, but the optics are just so bad that you have to wonder what was going on in Kirby’s head.

What do you make of Kirby’s private jet escape?

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  1. Amanda Chapman Guest

    Way to go on promoting your own product! Shameful……

    And yet again yesterday July 9 United had a meltdown and my son is still stuck in Denver trying to get to Newark. Perhaps Mr Kirby could charter a private jet and fly him home because somehow I think tonight’s flight that is taking him via Boston to get back to Newark tomorrow (36 hours late) will turn into another shambles. Hundreds of dollars spent...

    Way to go on promoting your own product! Shameful……

    And yet again yesterday July 9 United had a meltdown and my son is still stuck in Denver trying to get to Newark. Perhaps Mr Kirby could charter a private jet and fly him home because somehow I think tonight’s flight that is taking him via Boston to get back to Newark tomorrow (36 hours late) will turn into another shambles. Hundreds of dollars spent on hotels and food, and nothing offered to compensate.

    United needs to get its house in order and the CEO needs to use better judgement in his decisions.

    Very disappointed and if they didn’t have an absolute monopoly on Newark I would change airlines in a minute.

  2. SHERRY L WYATT Guest

    Reminds me of an incident years ago when Jake Brace was CFO of UAL had four full revenue passengers taken off a flt to the Bahamas so the hand his party could sit in FC. SOME of these guys just let the position rule their brain and they ultimately do horrible damage to the corporation. Maybe its time to rotate Kirby and bring someone who can actually run the airline.

  3. Bob Guest

    It says something. CEO Kirby won't even fly on the airline he runs . He would rather pay then fly UNITED

  4. iamhere Guest

    Problem is that he did not plan to fly private from the start. If that was his plan from the start it would have been fine. He was impacted by the United disruption so rather than suffer through like the passengers he flew private.

  5. John Guest

    As I expected, no shortage of pathetic hand-wringing apologists, at worst, soft shoeing this unconscionable act by Kirby. Then again, "It's Kirby......." What can't that horse's petunia do.......? Seriously.
    Word to the sickening sycophants....... You simply do not do what Kirby did when you're within such position. You fly your carrier whenever possible and you fly in - where a seat WAS available, egads......., "tourist", NOT First Class. You (dare to) mix with the...

    As I expected, no shortage of pathetic hand-wringing apologists, at worst, soft shoeing this unconscionable act by Kirby. Then again, "It's Kirby......." What can't that horse's petunia do.......? Seriously.
    Word to the sickening sycophants....... You simply do not do what Kirby did when you're within such position. You fly your carrier whenever possible and you fly in - where a seat WAS available, egads......., "tourist", NOT First Class. You (dare to) mix with the worthless tifosi, the great unwashed..... You know, actually you do not, Scott, nor have or will you ever........., the very people who make the overwhelming bulk of revenue for UAL or whatever previous or next airline you tragically will takeover as chief.
    As the hard corps (ethical, honest) capitalist that I am, I threw the towel in on (resigned) from corporate America decades ago in the face of my former boss at Pfizer : Ed Pratt, a 10 hour per week/40 weeks per annum sociopath.

    ps: Question....... When was the last, for that matter ever the first time Kirby and fellow officers at UAL (as well other carrier reges) found themselves spending an aggregate of around 100 hours per year as part of their "job" assisting at check-in, the gate, assisting with baggage, etc.......? In other words, getting in the trenches. What? That's NOT what officers do......? Of course not. Kirby just hangs out (sometimes) at WANKER. Wanker, I like THAT. How utterly fitting............

  6. KD Guest

    I’m missing something. If a person makes $10,000,000 a year and paid for his own jet and has a huge family. like 8 kids, he should take 10 seats from stranded passengers. That makes sense!!!!

    1. John Guest

      He could have done the unthinkable....... Made RESERVATIONS well in advance. The airlines actually allow THAT...... RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE, especially for more than one.... I and the famiglia do it all the time. It actually works.

    2. Chris Guest

      How does making reservations in advance not take up a seat on the plane?

  7. George Romey Guest

    Anyone that would expect anything different is a fool.

  8. Gary Guest

    Class envy. The guy spent his own money, and I daresay his time is worth more than any ten of the stranded.

    1. Pete Guest

      At least ten times. He can lead on the phone. What's he supposed to do? Load bags? Print boarding passes?

      It's a common misconception that CEOs of big corporations get to work at 10, leave at 4, & play rounds of golf on company time. The guy is probably doing 80 hour weeks.

  9. Alonzo Diamond

    This is only a story because it's 2023. People legit have nothing else to talk about. This story got more play than Bill Gates cheating on his wife.

  10. Ben Guest

    You sound so bitter that a rich guy has the means to do what they please to be with their family. Just cause they’re rich, they need to sacrifice potentially being with their family? Don’t they hire operations to deal with this sort of thing?

  11. BookLvr Diamond

    I have to agree that the optics on this are terrible.

    Think about Cory Booker back when he was mayor of Newark and a blizzard hit. He was shoveling people's driveways, delivering diapers, helping a pregnant woman get to the hospital. Are these things his "job" as mayor? No. Is there a publicity-stunt element to this? Sure. Is he only able to help a small fraction of constituents because he is just one person? Obviously....

    I have to agree that the optics on this are terrible.

    Think about Cory Booker back when he was mayor of Newark and a blizzard hit. He was shoveling people's driveways, delivering diapers, helping a pregnant woman get to the hospital. Are these things his "job" as mayor? No. Is there a publicity-stunt element to this? Sure. Is he only able to help a small fraction of constituents because he is just one person? Obviously. But he did what he could, in addition to staying in constant communication with the snow plow teams, etc. Same after Hurricane Sandy, when he invited people to his place to charge their phones. He's not a perfect person, but in those stressful weather episodes, he clearly mastered the optics game.

    Imagine if Scott Kirby had ordered pizzas for people sitting at the gates and/or had been visibly present at Newark, helping people find hotel rooms. It's "not his job," but it would be an opportunity to show that he understands what his customers and employees are going through and wants to help to the best of his ability.

    1. Pete Guest

      Politicians have to kiss ass to get re-elected. CEOs have to make money for the stockholders. They're different universes.

    2. BookLvr Diamond

      @Pete--Fair point, though arguably keeping the flying public happy is part of the way a CEO makes money for stockholders. Building goodwill does not hurt and could help.

      Furthermore, CEOs have some vested interest in keeping the larger voting public--or at least their elected representatives--on their side as they occasionally seem to expect the government to bail them out, e.g., during the recent COVID crisis.

  12. Janet Lewis Guest

    I just don’t think this is a big deal. He is a well paid CEO. It is not his job to sort out ground delays. His job is strategic thinking for the airline. If he wants to pay for a private jet to go on vacation, more power to him.

    US airlines are facing major staffing shortages as is the FAA due to Covid. Their survival depended on cutting costs. They were correct to...

    I just don’t think this is a big deal. He is a well paid CEO. It is not his job to sort out ground delays. His job is strategic thinking for the airline. If he wants to pay for a private jet to go on vacation, more power to him.

    US airlines are facing major staffing shortages as is the FAA due to Covid. Their survival depended on cutting costs. They were correct to downsize at the time. New people can’t be trained in minutes. My personal solution is to avoid travel on busy holiday weekends.

    1. OCTinPHL Diamond

      “His job is strategic thinking for the airline. If he wants to pay for a private jet to go on vacation, more power to him.”

      Yes, a CEO is supposed to think strategically. They are also supposed to lead. No one expected Kirby to load baggage. But he failed to lead. He also failed the perception He continued (continues) to blame the FAA (which has some blame) and took no responsibility until this PR debacle....

      “His job is strategic thinking for the airline. If he wants to pay for a private jet to go on vacation, more power to him.”

      Yes, a CEO is supposed to think strategically. They are also supposed to lead. No one expected Kirby to load baggage. But he failed to lead. He also failed the perception He continued (continues) to blame the FAA (which has some blame) and took no responsibility until this PR debacle. And downsizing had nothing to do with United’s meltdown. This was United not listening to the FAA about summer scheduling - and putting too many eggs into its Newark basket.

    2. OCTinPHL Diamond

      That should be “He also failed the perception TEST.”

      And as far as a CEO booking a private jet… no big deal. In most cases. Would you buy a Ford if the CEO drive a GM? It also isn’t that Kirby flew private - it’s that he flew private because he didn’t want to deal with the delays on his OWN airline. Fly another airline like Parker did; like a DL VP once did.

  13. Jordan Diamond

    Next week he will be sleeping at the gate on his way back to NYC or ORD. Acting like he is one of the people.

  14. jeffk Guest

    well, at least he paid for it out of his own pocket. you need to respect that for sure.

    1. Bob Guest

      Until he turns it in as business expense and gets reimbursed

  15. Hap H. Guest

    United DEVALUED their currency. Their FF miles are worthless even more now.
    Didn’t everyone get the memo?

  16. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    I'm quite surprised by the UA Fanboys on here saying this is being "overblown" and "won't be remembered beyond this post" and Yada-Yada. This instance will be reported everytime that UA has delays* and it will be used by the employees in every meeting they have with MGMT. This is especially bad because it was for his personal vacation and not to help the situation operationally. Scott Kirby ks a great CEO, but he isn't...

    I'm quite surprised by the UA Fanboys on here saying this is being "overblown" and "won't be remembered beyond this post" and Yada-Yada. This instance will be reported everytime that UA has delays* and it will be used by the employees in every meeting they have with MGMT. This is especially bad because it was for his personal vacation and not to help the situation operationally. Scott Kirby ks a great CEO, but he isn't invincible or bulletproof. Lastly, all the greenwashing he spouts should be taken with a MASSIVE salt lamp size grain of salt. That PJ didn't fly on algea or cow farts.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      agree here and below.
      I'm not sure, though, that it is particularly accurate that Scott Kirby has been a great CEO.
      He has aggressively moved to fix a lot of problems that UA had - but on one initiative after another, he has been unable to deliver because of constraints that he simply underestimated.
      And his biggest failings have been in his dealings w/ employees. UA has had bad employee relations for...

      agree here and below.
      I'm not sure, though, that it is particularly accurate that Scott Kirby has been a great CEO.
      He has aggressively moved to fix a lot of problems that UA had - but on one initiative after another, he has been unable to deliver because of constraints that he simply underestimated.
      And his biggest failings have been in his dealings w/ employees. UA has had bad employee relations for years. Oscar moved mountains to try and fix that as well as customer relations after the Dr. Dao incident, and yet Scott Kirby is very, very quickly undoing all of the goodwill that Oscar built up.
      I'm not sure you can call someone great when they lay out grand plans but fail at some of the key parts of running a business and then only be able to partially deliver other parts in part because you underestimated the challenging environment in which your compay works.

    2. Susan conway Guest

      Spot on Tim. I work in the trenches having to wait 4-5 hours to speak to the crew desk has been an ongoing problem. Made worse obviously by faa and weather issues. Also management not negotiating in good faith with pilots or flight attendants. Yet wanting them to bear the brunt of these meltdowns. It's going to be a long hot summer.

  17. Kevin Guest

    When United devalues your points followed by this; the way US3 operates vs ME3. MileagePengos

  18. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The lack of leadership demonstrated by Scott Kirby was also on display by French President Macron who attended an Elton John concert as violent protests occurred for yet another night as a result of a police shooting of an Arab descended French resident.

    some people didn't read enough Rudyard Kipling..."if you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue or walk with kings and not lose the common touch...."

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Totally agree with You on this Tim. This mirrors some of the "goodwill" and common sense that Macron just got the other night when he told the country that PARENTS need to be aware of where their children are, especially at this time and after curfew. These protesters are being taken advantage of by those that wish anarchy and want to just burn and loot. It's the same thing that's happened here and it's ridiculous.

    2. Bob Guest

      Umm this ain't about monsieur Macron or La France. Let's stay on topic. This is how 1 hour office meetings turn to 4 hours.

  19. carol Guest

    When American canceled our flight, the representatives rebooked us on United. When United canceled due to a mechanical, they decided not to be responsible and refuse to refund our money for the unused ticket. American refuses also saying it's United's responsibility.

  20. Eskimo Guest

    He can't be late for the Conquistadores.

  21. Brian Guest

    Why is this going to "haunt" Kirby? Is the public going to stop flying United or decide to fly another airline? No. Was it poor P.R.? Yes, but the effects will evaporate before this comment gets posted.

    1. Andrew Guest

      Labor relations. The public might forget this, but the labor groups will not I can assure you.

  22. Engel Gold

    Isn't this the same airline that had a doctor removed by force in 2019 to free up the seat for a different passenger?

    1. Chris Guest

      No. It was to free up a seat for a repositioning crew member so the morning flight didn't cancel.

  23. Roberto Guest

    Everyone is feeling @Tim Dunn’s rage after Delta got rejected for the HND slot relief that he was babbling on for the last 2 months. Hahaha.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Rage, not a chance.
      Ben hasn't written a story on the HND route case but I still think that DL was just looking for a way to use its 7 HND frequencies.
      And UA was hellbent to keep DL out of the NYC to Asia market which UA controls among US carriers given that it was certain DL would move one of the HND flights to JFK.
      I am not sure if...

      Rage, not a chance.
      Ben hasn't written a story on the HND route case but I still think that DL was just looking for a way to use its 7 HND frequencies.
      And UA was hellbent to keep DL out of the NYC to Asia market which UA controls among US carriers given that it was certain DL would move one of the HND flights to JFK.
      I am not sure if DL will abandon either of the two HND routes that that they are not currently operating - PDX and HNL.

      None of which changes the fact that UA had a massive screwup, its CEO is still trying to act as if he is leading (he just released another letter which Ben should be able to find and publish) and in it admits that UA is pushing EWR beyond its capabilities - exactly what some of us have said all along.

      And it doesn't change that the NYC market is highly competitive, UA has made some incredibly bone-headed moves in NYC even before Kirby showed up, UA will lose business if it cuts its operation to match the capabilities of the airport, while other airlines, esp. DL, has far more real estate and runways over which it can spread its NYC operation.
      UA's growth plans for global domination just hit a major roadblock this week and the significance of that is far, far higher than the outcome of 2 HND flights.

  24. tony Guest

    Ben,
    Why isn't there an article about the meltdown of United on your site?
    here in Europe we haven't heard a lot about it in the news

  25. Justin Guest

    Seems way overblown — I’m guessing many other passengers of means booked on United also opted to fly private this weekend. And the random stray at Ted Cruz was just bizarre. Out of all the “bad optics” examples you could’ve come up with, that seemed like the best analogy to you?

  26. DesertGhost Guest

    When did flying privately become a felony? Sure, it's not a good look but the overreaction is equally foolish, IMHO.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you apparently worked for America West with Kirby

  27. Seo Woo-Hyun Guest

    As expected from the guy with a superiority complex who called compensation for delays a “bad public policy"

  28. Pete Diamond

    This is just day one. The press generated here will sadly overshadow the actual meltdown and this is what happens with today’s media and so-called journalists.

    Agree with above, the optics of a multimillionaire CEO would not have reinstated my multiple canceled flights. But when you make your money by the number of clicks and page views, it’s more worthwhile to redirect your outrage here.

    1. Pete Diamond

      If I were a UA employee I would care about my salary and benefits and not whether my boss is greeting passengers on the ground. In fact part of me would be glad that now the press ammo is aimed directly solely at him and not at the employees and the company.

  29. S Gold

    If he was going on vacation in Boulder, would it have mattered if he flew private or UA? Headlines would be bad either way. "United CEO steals seat from stranded passenger to fly to CO on vacation" isn't really a better headline.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ S -- A CEO (especially one making $10 million per year) shouldn't just go on vacation when the company he runs is having its biggest meltdown in a very long time! Regarding your comment, we can just stop at "If he was going on vacation in Boulder..." He shouldn't be going on vacation!

    2. S Gold

      I agree with that, but just saying then I don't think it matters if he flew private or not. Didn't Delta's CEO do something similar once? These CEOs are pretty dumb for people getting to the top.

  30. Brian Guest

    You are now seeing the REAL SK! There is a reason AA employees celebrated the day he came to United. What CEO leaves thousands of passengers stuck.? Over 2000 Pilots and Flight attendants to fend for themselves in the operation over 5 days. Mind you United completely lost all of these crews. Were talking unprecedented violations of FAR 117 rest rules. The FAA could have shut United down for losing operational control.

    Kirby was...

    You are now seeing the REAL SK! There is a reason AA employees celebrated the day he came to United. What CEO leaves thousands of passengers stuck.? Over 2000 Pilots and Flight attendants to fend for themselves in the operation over 5 days. Mind you United completely lost all of these crews. Were talking unprecedented violations of FAR 117 rest rules. The FAA could have shut United down for losing operational control.

    Kirby was on vacation himself in Hawaii when the meltdown started. He did fly to Newark 2 days in but he did not meet with passengers or front line employees. He went to Denver where his family is for the 4th of July long weekend. Why not Chicago were United operations are?

    He will NEVER have the respect of one UA employee ever again. The BOD might as well start looking now for a new CEO.

  31. Ben Guest

    Agree with you 100% on everything.

  32. Dodson Guest

    Gordon Bethune would have also chartered a jet. TO TETERBORO, taken a cab to EWR, where he would have spent the day helping. Handing out water, setting up cots, anything he could do.

    1. XPL Diamond

      @Dodson: I had not heard of Gordon Bethune, so I looked him up and thank you for pointing me to him. This interview is well worth a read:

      https://www.uschamber.com/co/good-company/growth-studio/continental-airlines-gordon-bethune

      Best line: "So, it wasn’t anything wrong with the employees. It was the management — and it always is.”

  33. NSS Guest

    I dunno. We don’t know why he went. Maybe he had to do something for work? Maybe it’s terrible. Maybe it isn’t. Fly Delta jets.

  34. Icarus Guest

    Perhaps he missed what the CEO of Starlux did when they had aircraft stranded in Tokyo.

    Did he consider even assisting a few stranded passengers to take the flight ?

  35. David Guest

    Optics are bad yes, but wasn't it smarter for him to fly private, rather then bump a long delayed passenger off the EWR - DEN flight to make room for Kirby?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ David -- Quite to the contrary, his private jet taking off may have prevented a United jet with 150+ people from taking off, since it added to the congestion that was grounding flights.

    2. JonNYC Gold

      Ben, respectfully, I don't think that's one of the issues in play here.

    3. EmiratesFTW Guest

      He flew out of Teterboro for chrissakes. Not EWR JFK or LGA.

    4. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Why do it at all, and risk "all this?"

      I mean, what year is it again? What "assistance" could he possibly provide that couldn't be done by teleconference?

      It's not like he was going there to physically do something.

  36. Santastico Diamond

    It is so Kirby!!! This is who he is. And he only apologized because he got caught. It is so easy to apologize after he was at home while everyone else wasn’t because his airline couldn’t deliver their job. He is a typical CEO who makes a ton of money without deserving.

  37. Alex T Guest

    Kirby probably asked his assistant to write that "apology" statement while he was boarding his private jet and hasn't thought about it since. Everyone knows that this will be forgotten in the next news cycle, 3 days max. The wealthy don't give a F**k. They're going to enjoy their holiday weekend and relax knowing there's no real penalty. No sleep lost.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      let's not forget the ill-will that existed at United for years and that boiled over in the summer of 2000 when United pilots were determined to get a new contract.
      Fast forward to 2023 and Scott Kirby is 18 months past his statement to get his pilots an industry-leading contract - something that DAL and AAL have both managed to do.
      And let's not forget that UAL flight attendants also are working under...

      let's not forget the ill-will that existed at United for years and that boiled over in the summer of 2000 when United pilots were determined to get a new contract.
      Fast forward to 2023 and Scott Kirby is 18 months past his statement to get his pilots an industry-leading contract - something that DAL and AAL have both managed to do.
      And let's not forget that UAL flight attendants also are working under an amendable contract that trails what DAL is paying its flight attendants by a fairly wide margin.
      Those who forget history are bound to

    2. Timo Diamond

      Ahh, the noble savage argument. Poor people probably give less F***s that the rich cause they are often desperate. Observed from many years of direct experience.

  38. Parnel Guest

    Interesting to see the outrage about UA falling apart and stranding passengers! In Canada on a % basis this happens to Air Canada every few months! And it's accepted as normal !

  39. George Guest

    It's maddening to me that while Kirby was organizing private luxury travel I was stuck on the tarmac at BWI for three hours until our flight to LAX was finally canceled because they "couldn't find any pilots." This was a fully loaded plane, just waiting for pilots who did not exist. Just shocking incompetence from United. The PR hit will be severe, and it should be.

  40. David Guest

    Sorry, but I just can’t share Ben’s outrage. It’s perfectly normal for CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies to fly private. Yes, the optics were terrible, but would better optics get any UA pax to their destinations any sooner? It’s too bad as a society these days we’re more focused on optics than substance.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ David -- I acknowledged in the post that it's normal for a CEO at a major company to fly private. But in this case optics do matter, because leading by example is a key part of being a good leader.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      David
      if you don't understand that Scott Kirby is the CEO of one of the largest airlines in the world and he chartered a private jet while the company experienced the greatest operational disasters relative to its peers since the summer of 2000 when United pilots were willing to burn the entire airline to the ground, then you simply miss the significance of this event.
      Government officials and customers do understand what was...

      David
      if you don't understand that Scott Kirby is the CEO of one of the largest airlines in the world and he chartered a private jet while the company experienced the greatest operational disasters relative to its peers since the summer of 2000 when United pilots were willing to burn the entire airline to the ground, then you simply miss the significance of this event.
      Government officials and customers do understand what was at stake and what Scott Kirby and United did this week and that is what will cost United, not any public opinion on this site or any where else

    3. MildJuan Member

      He should have loaded up the PJ with stranded pax - and NOT just GS/elites. Imagine that headline.

  41. Tim Dunn Diamond

    This incident just validates what many people saw all along while others thought Kirby was the greatest thing since sliced bread in airline CEOs.
    Let's start first with railing against the FAA. Sure, EWR might well have been harder hit in closing arrival and departure corridors but that has as much to do with where the storms set up and what the FAA could do. All of the technology and staffing in the world...

    This incident just validates what many people saw all along while others thought Kirby was the greatest thing since sliced bread in airline CEOs.
    Let's start first with railing against the FAA. Sure, EWR might well have been harder hit in closing arrival and departure corridors but that has as much to do with where the storms set up and what the FAA could do. All of the technology and staffing in the world doesn't allow the FAA to route planes on arrival or departure right through thunderstorms.
    EWR has long been one of the most operationally challenging airports in the world because it has just two effective runways and UA tries to run more of its network through those two runways than any other airline runs that much revenue and flights through any other 2 runway airport in the world - and EWR is still part of the very complex NYC and NE airspace system. EWR is simply overhubbed for the amount of runway and airspace capacity.
    Scott Kirby burned billions of dollars worth of capital on Washington and at the DOT with his rant against the FAA.

    And you can also bet that, not only did this private jet stunt cost United financially - more than $1 billion in market cap this week while other airlines including Delta tacked on that much more - but tens of thousands of passengers bought tickets on American, Delta, and JetBlue to safe their July 4 weekend. All of those airlines will have sales staff out in full force winning over corporate business.

    This is the Doug Parker level of stupidity taken to a level of arrogance that Scott Kirby has uniquely shown. No other airline CEO has even come close.

    1. MaxPower Diamond

      Calm down with the hyperbole, Timmy.

      Lest anyone forget, in the world of CEOs doing dumb things during meltdowns, Ed Bastian was at the Masters during one of the many Delta meltdowns and flew to his house in Florida to vacation from there while passengers were stranded in Atlanta…
      Gee, I wonder how he got to his Florida house while Atlanta was in full crisis mode and his passengers sleeping in the terminals?

      https://www.ajc.com/travel/delta-ceo-meltdown-recovery-going-get-through-this-good-shape/Vekj4lBSE9Ct4nn1k1SPuO/

      ...

      Calm down with the hyperbole, Timmy.

      Lest anyone forget, in the world of CEOs doing dumb things during meltdowns, Ed Bastian was at the Masters during one of the many Delta meltdowns and flew to his house in Florida to vacation from there while passengers were stranded in Atlanta…
      Gee, I wonder how he got to his Florida house while Atlanta was in full crisis mode and his passengers sleeping in the terminals?

      https://www.ajc.com/travel/delta-ceo-meltdown-recovery-going-get-through-this-good-shape/Vekj4lBSE9Ct4nn1k1SPuO/

      No one cares in the long run.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      feel free to let me know where I ever defended that

    3. MaxPower Diamond

      I’m sure you’ll balance your commentary to call for the resignations of Scott and Ed then… especially since that sort of conduct is quite normal and ordinary for Ed
      …Since Ed actually has “uniquely shown” this level of stupidity before

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      trying to find dirt on someone else to deflect from Scott Kirby's failure is a losing strategy - but it should be no surprise that you would employ it.
      Leaders stay w/ their organizations or stay home.
      It doesn't matter which organizations or people are being discussed.

    5. MaxPower Diamond

      I agree. But you acting like Scott is the only one to do this is absurd when your beloved leader of Delta is the king of this kind of behavior.

    6. Tim Dunn Diamond

      feel free to let me know when I ever referred to EB as beloved or any other terms of endearment.
      he is smart and surrounds himself w/ a strong group of people that are also smart but Delta has had better leaders in the true sense of the word than Ed Bastian.
      But he is smart enough to keep Delta at the top of the industry which is something that United only aspires to do.

    7. Mitt Nud Guest

      Max,

      Tim is exactly right. He’s correctly called out Eduadro Bastian in previous meltdowns, calling him the arrogance of Richard Anderson without any of the brains.

  42. Kanaka Gold

    United is such a mess right now. I had a flight from Rapid City to Chicago on Wednesday to catch my flight to LHR, and my RAP to ORD flight was delayed 10 times while they tried to "find a crew," just to be cancelled 8 hours later. Apparently the same thing happened the day before. And the next two days the flight was 3 hours late, but at least it took off. And there are thousands of other similar stories from United travelers the past week.

    1. Kanaka Gold

      I just received an email from United saying they are giving me 30,000 miles for the inconvenience (I've been stuck in the States 5 extra days because of the mess.) Other travelers are receiving the email too.

    2. Benner New Member

      Yup. Got the email too.

    3. Robert Fahr Guest

      "Let them eat cake". Tone deaf to the employees and the paying customers.

  43. Nelson Diamond

    " Kirby has described himself as a climate change “geek,” all while flying a private jet"
    Off topic but the same happen to several "important" people like Leonardo Di Caprio, etc... Not to mention all those thousands flying private every year to ZRH to attend the WEF to discuss Climate Change.

    1. Teejay Guest

      Kirby and John "Lurch" Kerry can pat each other on the back about all they're doing to address so called "climate change" whilst jetting around on private aircraft....

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BookLvr Diamond

I have to agree that the optics on this are terrible. Think about Cory Booker back when he was mayor of Newark and a blizzard hit. He was shoveling people's driveways, delivering diapers, helping a pregnant woman get to the hospital. Are these things his "job" as mayor? No. Is there a publicity-stunt element to this? Sure. Is he only able to help a small fraction of constituents because he is just one person? Obviously. But he did what he could, in addition to staying in constant communication with the snow plow teams, etc. Same after Hurricane Sandy, when he invited people to his place to charge their phones. He's not a perfect person, but in those stressful weather episodes, he clearly mastered the optics game. Imagine if Scott Kirby had ordered pizzas for people sitting at the gates and/or had been visibly present at Newark, helping people find hotel rooms. It's "not his job," but it would be an opportunity to show that he understands what his customers and employees are going through and wants to help to the best of his ability.

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OCTinPHL Diamond

“His job is strategic thinking for the airline. If he wants to pay for a private jet to go on vacation, more power to him.” Yes, a CEO is supposed to think strategically. They are also supposed to lead. No one expected Kirby to load baggage. But he failed to lead. He also failed the perception He continued (continues) to blame the FAA (which has some blame) and took no responsibility until this PR debacle. And downsizing had nothing to do with United’s meltdown. This was United not listening to the FAA about summer scheduling - and putting too many eggs into its Newark basket.

4
Kanaka Gold

I just received an email from United saying they are giving me 30,000 miles for the inconvenience (I've been stuck in the States 5 extra days because of the mess.) Other travelers are receiving the email too.

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