Sorry for the inconvenience – Computer glitches worsen United Airlines 1Q loss: Bloomberg

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Airlines, USA
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[Bloomberg Business Week] Sorry for the inconvenience. United Airlines is experiencing technical difficulties.

That was the story in the first quarter for the world’s biggest airline. It lost $448 million as computer difficulties delayed flights, hurt bookings and frustrated passengers. A growing fuel bill didn’t help. And travel is usually weak in the first three months of the year.

United Airlines lost $448 million as computer difficulties delayed flights, hurt bookings and frustrated passengers

United Airlines lost $448 million as computer difficulties delayed flights, hurt bookings and frustrated passengers

To passengers, CEO Jeff Smisek apologized for poor customer service. To investors, he said the hiccups are mostly over and the computer integration that caused them should lead to more profits in the future.

“We weren’t able to deliver the level of customer service that we wanted and that our customers have come to expect,” he said on Thursday.

There was a bit of good news. On an adjusted basis, United’s loss of 87 cents per share was actually less than analysts had feared.

United and Continental merged in 2010, but only in the last few months did they combine frequent-flier accounts and retire Continental’s name from tickets and airport signs.

Behind the scenes, United combined two important, massive computer systems — one that helps it predict how many tickets it should sell, and another that tracks passenger information. The airline had practiced extensively for the switch, which Smisek called a “monumental task.”

Some parts went well. But others didn’t. One switchover on March 3 caused flight delays for several days. Customer frustration with upgrades and long waits to speak to United agents on the phone persisted for weeks.

To get ready for the switch, United overbooked fewer seats than…..

Read the full story at Bloomberg Business Post….


JOSHUA FREED
The Associated PressApril 26, 2012


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