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Many solid steps have already been recommended by various authors so I'd probably sound redundant but I thank the "fools" for this chance to speak out.

To get United back into the friendly skies I would recommend the following ten steps.

1. Get a much better public relations firm to really bring out the many strong points of "Mother United". United has so many strenghts and does most things very well except managing its sad public perception.
2. Crank out a very positive advertising campaign to feature all United's strength which are good routes, with frequent flights to most everywhere, good hubs to serve this great network, nice clean relatively new airplanes, many new pleasant terminal facilities as well as dedicated employees world wide.
3. Empower employees to solve the many myriad complaints from the customers. Create customer relations ombudsmen, persons with authority and skills to quickly field complaints and turn them into commendations. Most United employees are very astute, very intelligent and very committed to help whenever possible or wherever properly directed by committed supervisors.
4. Change the management teams to allow these things to take place. Indeed, United needs a visionary leader and a modern practical team that can make new things happen.
5. Develop the United brand so that customers are willing to pay a premium for flying United. As United touted: "United should be the first choice airline of everyone." Strong words but as of today they are only that. This could be changed by among other things avoiding the mass mentality approach currently in vogue ie: eliminating all meals on short flights.
Take advantage of the times and offer even more.
6. Improve the political team to truly realize United's domestic and international strengths. Many of United's officers can't seem to lobby efficiently to improve United's advantages in various cities and countries.
7. Rationalize the aircraft mix. United has been trying that for years but has failed miserably in that department. Now, to its credit, they are parking the older albeit paid for aircraft and maybe getting that plan on track. Could they get to three aircraft types? Not likely but maybe four are feasible. 747, some as freighters, 777, 757, A320's and 737-300. Still five but eventually either the A320's or the 737's must go. I'd probably trade the A320's since they still fetch a good price and get for more 757's and 737's
8. The ESOP, a good idea, was originally developed as defense in an era of corporate take-overs and did do that but failed because of unrealistic expectations by management and employee alike. Management lost the trust of nearly all of its employees as they stuck to their old management methods and employees quickly became embittered and cynical as a result of doing business the same old way. Still, with the ESOP in place there is a convenient way to re-juvenate the empoyees spirit and can-do attitude that existed at United years ago. But again the employees must have more free reign and more instant authority and reward.
9. Settle open labor contract as quickly as possible and don't alienate the many long term loyal employees at every contract negotiations. It's cheaper to settle early instead of late. You pay now or you pay later but you will pay.
10. If the financials are truly worrying the loyal employee is far more likely to help out with time or money concessions.

Its the people that count in all cases be it customers, vendors, officials or employees.
Good Luck United.

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