Why Airlines are Struggling

A little while ago the doorbell rang. When I opened the door to see who it was, Mr. Fedex stood there in his neat purplish-blue uniform, smiling his friendly Mr. Fedex smile. Then he handed me a thin blue box addressed to Jeffrey. “Million Miler” was printed on top.

The package was from United Airlines.

Photo of a box for Million Mile Flyers from United AirlinesJeffrey has flown well over a million miles gallivanting around the world on United so every once in a while they mail him a “Thank you loyal customer” letter.

This time they decided to Fedex it.

What could it be? I wondered as I handed Jeffrey the box and joked about all the possibilities. Round-the-world tickets? First-class upgrades? Yeah, right.

Clearly it had to be something of substance though since it was shipped via Fedex 2-Day service (ca-chiiing) instead of 3-Day, Ground, UPS or snail mail.

Photo of a luggage tag for Million Mile Flyers from United AirlinesThis is what United Airlines felt compelled to spend its precious resources Fedexing to Jeffrey: a leather luggage tag with his name printed on the insert. The packaging alone probably cost five bucks, not to mention the shipping. And don’t even get me started on the packaging waste.

Sorry mom, I know you always taught me to be grateful when I received a gift. “It’s the thought that counts,” you’d always say.

Technically this is not my gift though, since Jeffrey is the million-mile flyer and his name is printed on the luggage tag, so I don’t feel bad sharing the absurdity of this with you.

Here’s a crazy idea, United Airlines: perhaps instead of Fedex’ing tchotchkes to your best customers, spend your moolah figuring out innovative ways not to go bankrupt, or spend it on providing more than a bag of pretzels to everyone when they fly all the way across the country. Or spend it on lowering your fares so more people can afford to travel.

Just a thought.

PS: Jeffrey, ever more gracious than me, sends his thanks for the luggage tag. He’s still trying to figure out how his bags managed to make it all the way around the world multiple times without it.