United’s Jeff Smisek Is Out!

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Update: Bloomberg posits that Smisek was likely doomed due to performance issues even before the current corruption investigation that appears to have been the nail in the coffin.

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Effective immediately, United’s Jeff Smisek is stepping down from his positions as chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer, Oscar Munoz is now United’s president and chief executive officer and he will also continue to serve on United’s board of directors. A shareholder conference call is expected at 5:30pm EDT.

It’s no secret that I’m not a Smisek fan.  Even if he did give me a framed photo of me sitting at his desk.

-He created a United flight called the Chairman’s flight for Chris Christie’s top Port Authority official in exchange for projects that United wanted in Newark. This seems to be what has caused his sudden departure, though it’s not what has made him one of the most vilified airline CEOs of all time.

-He lied about the Cleveland hub not being profitable in a decade when the real reason was pilot shortage.

-He’s done everything in his power to chase away and anger elites. Not a good idea to refer to your best customers as over-entitled…

-The merger brought misery to both Continental and United flyers by combining the worst aspects of both airlines.

-Innovation at Smisek’s United has become just copying whatever Delta is doing.

-Smisek’s United devalued the once industry leading MileagePlus program, which was the only excuse for many for sticking to a substandard airline.

-The new United.com is a hot mess. It’s been down for much of the day today, it’s very slow, and it has been full of bugs and errors causing people to book elsewhere. It stripped out vital functionality from the old site. And it has security holes.

-He retreated from JFK rather than provide a competitive product.

-Mr. Smisek claims that an airline can’t do anything to create demand but can only react to it. This despite the fact that the man who hired him, Gordon Bethune, wrote in his excellent book “From Worst to First” exactly how that kind of reactionary thinking is what nearly drove Continental out of business is the early 90s. Or as he put it, “You can make a pizza so cheap, nobody will eat it. You can make an airline so cheap, nobody will fly it.”

Gordon is revered as one of the best airline CEOs of all-time. I only wish United would have been able to coax him out of retirement just to right their ship. Then again Mr Bethune once caught flak for calling United “HIV-Positive”…

Bethune’s successor Larry Kellner ran a tight ship as well, but was forced out of Continental for not wanting to merge with United. And that’s what brought us Mr. Smisek, a merger that has benefited noone, and a sorry excuse for an airline:

 

Smisek promised “changes we were going to like” when he merged Continental with United. After years of devaluing both mileage programs, worsening the flying experience on both airlines, getting rid of free meals at mealtimes and special meals on almost all domestic routes in all classes, stripping free premium drinks out of clubs, closing hubs, and single-handedly ruining 2 once proud airlines, this is the first change that all Continental and United flyers can finally get behind. Good riddance Mr. Smisek!

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37 Comments On "United’s Jeff Smisek Is Out!"

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Joe

UAL down 3% in after hours.

Amiel

Three words… WTF?

jeff

Maybe now we will get the ORD-TLV flight?

Fan of Dan

You see Dan. Dreams do come true. Don’t forget to use your Sapphire Preferred card to pay for the store the will be providing food for the Kiddush you’re gonna make and remember Dan dreams do come true!

P.S. Any chance Cleveland will be REhubbed? 🙂

Sim

A scathing goodbye if I ever read one!

Me

Wow! Nice write up. You would think this was written up before the news went public

Mikel t.

While it’s a good change. I don’t think it’s appropriate to celebrate anyone losing their job. Your tone is a little too gleeful.

Dan

@Mikel t.:
He caused hundreds of fellow Clevelanders to lose their job and lied about the reason for it.

Only difference is that he’ll get a golden parachute worth millions of dollars and get free flights and healthcare coverage (among many other benefits) for life.

I don’t apologize for my tone.

Isramen

Thought his office would be nicer!

Dale M

Dan, love your style. Best write up ever!

Eli

MAZEL TOV! it’s about time!

Good bye Jeff, you won’t be missed.

Mordy

my 1k account was shut down over a year ago, with global upgrades inside, do you think I have any chance to have it reopened?

Chao

Tried to book flight on United.com today, not a chance!!! how can a big airline’s website out of service the entire day. unbelievable!!!!

Yosef

@Dan – The good news is that his free flights will be on United. Hopefully in coach. 🙂 Like he needs free flights with the millions he will be getting.

mark

I’m a typical passenger that any airline would love. I don’t know how to game miles or have the time to play games even if I did. I buy tickets a few weeks before I travel, not months ahead.
I was a super loyal United flyer traveling overseas at least 6-10 yearly. United screwed with me big time when it came to my mileage status and refused to make it right although I tried multiple times.
Now Delta has my business and I aint looking back. I don’t love Delta, but for me, it’s anything but United. A lot will have to change at United to get me to ever try them again.

Joel

UA original (old) site back up B”H… let’s hope it stays

Hi

Dan, tell us how you really feel………

OMG- IS THIS DAY Actually here!

Wow! The day we all dreamed of. I see hope in the future and not just for bargain hunters. For quality, service and maybe some continental values back on the table!!!

Achshell

Mazal Tov Dan!!! Now I’ll read the post.

Srulky

@Already improving!: wow. Wish I was there.

AA Flyer

Dan you might have already read this but but had to share…nothing like a Federal investigation to shake things up.

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/united-airlines-ceo-quits-amid-probe-involving-ex-n-y-n423726

At Dan

@Fan of Dan: Break the empty bottle when you get shikur and maybe amex will reimburse you hahahah.

YA

@Dan: +1 This guy doesnt care if we all sit on a plane full of doody, in the doody all the way to Tel Aviv. He doesnt care about 10’s of thousands of people he fired. Your pretty naive if you think Dan should change his tone.

WHY

@Mordy: WHy was it shut down?

TC

He ruined a great airline, Continental, and drove United into the ground Good riddance!! Hope he goes broke

Not enough Credit Cards

Anyone notice how many credit cards Dan has stacked up on his desk to the left of the photo of Dan in Smisek’s office ? Yowser… Dan please post your credit score… 🙂

YYZer

How did you get the photo at his desk?

YYZer

@Not enough Credit Cards: Holy,,,, did you notice they are all Amex?? Prob ready for SBS. Haha Dan, what do you have to say for yourself? We want full transparency of your credit score and exactly how many cards you have.lol

ramsey

but Jeff has GREAT HAIR

Ben

Now all those safety videos with Jeff’s introduction will have to be removed. Hoping the new administration reconsiders the ORD-TLV route.

mh

$4.8 million cash severance
Vesting of $3.5 million stock
He still gets a performance bonus (!) — a pro-rated based on the portion of the year he served as CEO and United’s meeting stated performance targets.
full family benefits for the next 4 years (until he becomes eligible for medicare)
flight benefits and parking (and cash to cover taxes on those benefits) for life.
He also gets to keep his company car.

YYZer

@Dan: THX!

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