Angry United Airlines customers can now vent their fury at a juicy target: the chief executive’s pay packet.
United ties about $500,000 of chief Oscar Munoz’s annual bonus to customer satisfaction questionnaires. The manhandling of a doctor dragged off an overbooked flight in Chicago— and Munoz’s response, widely viewed as ham-fisted — doesn’t seem likely to help his cause.
Each day, United collects about 8,000 customer surveys on items such as legroom and the quality of in-flight coffee. Fliers were already pretty disgruntled. In 2016, researcher JD Power rated United last of traditional North American carriers. Early returns are now even less promising.
“United Airlines just sent me a customer survey about my flight yesterday,” Meredith Tucker deadpanned on Twitter after the overbooking episode. “Looking forward to sharing my thoughts.”
Of course, Munoz won’t be begging on street corners if he’s docked the half a million. The chief executive has 2016 target compensation of about $14.3m, according to his employment agreement. The actual amount for last year is expected to be disclosed by month’s end.
In a filing, the company’s board said executive pay is “designed to further our objective of aligning the interests of our employees with those of our stockholders and customers.” United declined to comment.
United shareholders have sent the stock price down 1.3 per cent this week to Wednesday.
Southwest Airlines also ties part of chief executive Gary Kelly’s bonus to a measure of customer loyalty. Delta Air Lines links a part of chief executive Ed Bastian’s annual long-term stock award to customer service.
At the airline officially known as United Continental Holdings, the board mentions “customer satisfaction” in the pay filing no less than 20 times. The company didn’t specify exactly how that’s calculated, though the bonus is tied to improvement of the survey results.
Presumably, dragging customers out of their seats won’t help. A Twitter wag named Joe Householder wrote, under the hashtag, #awkward: “Based on experience, the guy on the #united flight is getting his, ‘tell us about your trip,” email survey about now.”
Another Twitter commentator said he actually received one, which asked, “According to you, why do we consider ourselves the best airline to fly with?"
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies