2017 has been an interesting year for United Airlines to say the least. On one hand they’ve gone through one of the worst PR nightmares in recent history. On the other, they’ve aggressively expanded service and consistently reported positive financial results both quarters of the year. United just reported its June 2017 Operational Performance and by looking at the numbers no one would think that it’s been such a tumultuous year for United reputation-wise. But one factor that we mustn’t forget about United’s 2017 is the Polaris seat delays that had several brand new planes parked in storage for weeks. Though Zodiac, the Polaris seat manufacturer, seems to have gotten their act together and now United has announced more Polaris routes on the new planes, the Polaris tracker on United’s website showed a new Polaris-related delay: Polaris Lounge delays.
Take a look at the Polaris Lounge completion roadmap:
Just weeks ago the San Francisco and Newark Polaris Lounge opening dates were in 2017 – fall and winter, respectively. As you can see that has now changed. When the Polaris seat was delayed, it was quickly pointed out that the manufacturer was the culprit. This time, however, nothing. Which points to poor planning…something that unfortunately you must be used to if you’re a United flyer. It’s truly a roller coaster ride being a UA flyer, or at least there’s always something to talk about.
This, however, is a bit problematic or the traveler in those airports which already have begun Polaris Lounge constructions. Back in May I visited the partially open United Club in the SFO international terminal. I wrote that even though toward the end of my stay the club was 85-90%, it didn’t feel that full, at least to me. However, that’s certainly not what I’ve heard from others. Folks in general mind way more than I do about a packed club, so United will continue to have unhappy campers at these clubs that are in construction, or at airports were standard United Clubs aren’t sufficient and are pending a Polaris Lounge to ease that problem.
I suppose United can always point to the numbers and say that they’re doing great. But us the customers, and especially loyalists, we do care about promises; and regardless of the reasons, so far Polaris has broken more promises than it has kept. I work in a consulting capacity and one basic rule is that you under-promise, and then try to exceed expectations by delivering earlier. Otherwise, you might find yourself on a bind and no wiggle room. United seems to have outlined the ‘ideal’ rollout timeline and it’s great to go for it. But they should ask themselves why is Delta the airline with the most on-time arrivals? They pad their schedules the most out of the big 3. I’d suggest that United begin padding the rest of the United Polaris program deliverables and this type of posts will be a thing of the past.