United's Computer Glitches: Nearly Half-Billion Loss for the Airline

Back in March, FareCompare alerted passengers that United’s and Continental’s websites were combining to create a new United.com – one of the final steps toward completing the merger of the two legacy airlines. However, it wasn’t long before FareCompare reporting focused on the new site’s glitches – again and again.

See What Those Glitches were All About

First-Quarter Loss: $448 Million

Turns out those glitches were expensive. It helped account for the first-quarter loss posted by United – a loss of $448 million. As United CEO Jeff Smisek reportedly said this week, “We weren’t able to deliver the level of customer service that we wanted and that our customers have come to expect.”

UPDATE: According to news reports, Smisek’s compensation last year was valued at $13.4 million – more than triple what he made in 2010.

United: Exclusive Talks with Boeing for 200 Planes

Another matter affecting United’s financial performance: the steep rise in the price of fuel over the past year. As the airline points out in its latest press release, “First-quarter consolidated fuel expense increased 20.8 percent, or $557 million, year-over-year.”

Website Back to Normal – Or is It?

But back to the website. Smisek’s statements would appear to indicate the glitches are history. Indeed, the airline finally removed the warning about high volume of calls due to website problems. However, a quick look shows not all the Deals & Offers on the site actually show up when clicked, and site comments left as recently as April 25 do not indicate universal satisfaction. As one frustrated commenter wrote,  “I have tried to call and ask about my air miles for days and keep getting disconnected.”

Nevertheless, the airline thanks customers “for their continuing support.”

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Published: April 27, 2012