Perception Is Everything

united-airlines-logoUnited Airlines announced Economy Basic fares last week. What an utter disaster it’s been. The perception of most people appears to be that United is taking away even more services from the beleaguered coach traveler. Scrooge.

The truth is far different and it doesn’t matter because perception is what matters. The perception is that United announced cuts in their economy fare offering including only being able to bring one bag on board. Last boarding status, etc. Jerks.

The reality is much different. United has offered two classes of economy fares for some time (not including refundable fares). Economy and Economy Plus. For the non-frequent traveler you could purchase a seat in the Economy Plus section (more leg room) for a fee if you so desired. Otherwise you were treated like everyone else on the plane. That is, with equal disdain and uncaring attitudes for the most part, despite videos to the contrary.

The announcement was actually about a THIRD class of Economy to be called Economy Basic. For an even lower fare, one could opt out of a preassigned seat and be limited to only one carry on, plus last group boarding. This was a bare bones fare to compete with bare bones airlines. The theory being you could get the extra value of flying on United (unclear what that actually is, but that is another conversation) while paying the bare bones fare of the lower cost airlines.

Not a bad strategy (delusional in terms of the value add they think they offer, but at least the passenger would have another low-cost option). Horrid announcement. But then if you don’t see yourself remotely through your customers’ eyes, it is easy to make such a simple mistake.

The biggest problem with communication is the illusion it occurs. Focus on how your customer and potential customer will view it, not how you or your C-Suite will view it.


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