FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Luc Bondar, President, United MileagePlus, and Vice President, Marketing & Loyalty

Nov 6, 2020
November 2020

PHOTO: © NICOLAS BATES

THE BASICS

Name: Luc Bondar
Title: President, United MileagePlus and vice president, Marketing & Loyalty
Company, city: United Airlines; Chicago, Illinois
First job: At 14 I worked at a bottle shop carrying boxes of booze to people’s cars. My first career job was in retail sporting goods.

A LITTLE BIT MORE

What actor or actress would play you in a movie of your life?
Either Hugh Jackman or Chris Hemsworth

What would you be doing professionally if you weren’t in your current industry?
Leading marketing for a global sports brand — Nike and Adidas, Quiksilver

What historical figure, dead or alive, would you love to have dinner with?
Bill Gates

 

THE BUSINESS

What is your most recent project, and what was the inspiration behind it?
In the face of recent challenges, we’ve been shaping the industry in ways others are following. Our corporate development team created a new model for loyalty-backed finance, raising close to $7 billion using MileagePlus, a model now used by Delta, Spirit and American. We removed change fees, giving customers the flexibility they sought so they could book with confidence. And we built our CleanPlus platform, leading our industry globally in building a relationship with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to assess our policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Every decision is backed by science in the interest of the safety, health and well-being of our employees and customers.

What is your favorite aspect of the job?
It’s people and performance. I love the interaction with customers. When flying for business, I introduce myself to customers and spend time with any million-milers on the flight. Our employees also offer great ideas. I get the whole spectrum of feedback every day, from fabulous to constructive to critical.

What’s the biggest business risk you’ve ever taken?
I have a high risk tolerance, so things that seem risky to others just feel like the right thing to do. I’ve swung for the bleachers with provocative marketing campaigns, removing miles expiry, eliminating change fees. Building a new model for loyalty-backed finance was risky, but we had the data to back it up, and I was confident we could land it. You only get the big rewards if you’re willing to take on the big risks.

Who is someone you admire profession- ally in the travel industry?
I’ve had the honor of working with two once-in-a-lifetime leaders at United: Oscar Munoz, a leader with great empathy who made transformational changes to turn the business around, and now Scott Kirby, a leader with clarity and directness who’s explicit in the goal of making United the undisputed best airline in the history of aviation.

 

AS A TRAVELER

Tell us about a travel nightmare: Getting stuck in the U.K. after the Icelandic volcano. The day I was to leave the industry was grounded, and I spent the next 13 days in my hotel, trying to work out how to get out of there.

Share a comical travel experience: On day 13 of being stuck in London, a colleague and I sat in a bar with our laptops and booked a taxi, hotel night, ferry, taxi and train to get to Paris. I booked a train from Paris to Barcelona, where I could catch a flight. You couldn’t book train tickets from the U.K., so I used a VPN and pretended I was booking from France; everything was in French, which I don’t speak, so I used Google Translate to decode every web page. But then the French rail system went on strike, so I ended up with a 14-hour bus ride to Barcelona, with no toilets on board. I made the mistake of having a few beers with my colleague before catching the bus. That was one of the most uncomfortable bus rides of my life.

What is your preferred method of travel — planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships — and why? I love to fly: the magic of getting on in one place, hopping on this incredible feat of engineering and getting off in a different culture and time zone. I love trains because it’s a different way of seeing a country, particularly on long train journeys where you see the geography change.

What has been the best example of customer service you’ve experienced during your travels? When I fly United with my family, I’m just a passenger; and I appreciate the amazing care our team takes, especially for our four little kids. It’s the little things I see all the time: customers in need, flight attendants helping them. We hold a plane for customers so they can make their connection with the introduction of our Connection Saver program that automatically identifies departing flights that can be held for connecting customers.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
March 2021
Mar 8, 2021

Venture Out in Vienna, a City of Opulence and Grace

Brewing long and deep at its center before radiating out to the rest of Europe, Vienna boasts an illustrious history and lasting intellectual impact. The Austrian capital dates back to Celtic and Romen rule, the latter inhabitants using the center city as a military hub among many other employments.

Daily
Mar 8, 2021

Redeem AAdvantage Miles for At-Home COVID-19 Testing

Whether taking a COVID-19 test before boarding a flight or looking up different travel restrictions before planning your trip, travel has looked a little bit different this past year. With all the extra steps for traveling, American Airlines is committed to finding ways to provide ease and more flexibility and choices for passengers when traveling.

January/February 2021
Mar 8, 2021

Take Time to Indulge in Well-Being at Canyon Ranch Lenox

Even in “normal” times, folks gravitate to wellness resorts to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, destress and be nurtured. In this COVID-19-era state of elevated anxiety, people seek even more natural beauty and caring hospitality, healthy food, fitness activities and beauty and body treatments. Canyon Ranch Lenox also provides an extensive staff of experts offering a multitude of health, wellness and spiritual well-being modalities that alleviate personal issues.

The Greatest Show on Earth

Step right up to the greatest show on Earth as FXExpress Publications, Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com celebrate their 2020 award winners! Join the big top on Dec. 14 as we virtually award the winners of the 17th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, including the Airline and Hotel of the Year; the 17th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Survey; the eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards; the sixth annual The Trazees; and the third annual Wherever Awards.

Daily
Mar 5, 2021

3 Recipes for Lent from New Orleans’ Top Chefs

The Lenten season continues through April 3. This year, New Orleans’ top chefs share some Lent-friendly recipes for at-home dining.

eFlyer News
Mar 3, 2021

Explore Fairbanks Highlights New Aurora Tracker Video

The lights of the aurora borealis appear frequently in the Fairbanks region of Alaska, with a growing number of Aurora Trackers in the area. A new video from Explore Fairbanks features five Fairbanks Aurora Trackers sharing their thoughts and photography on the northern lights.

eFlyer Deals
Mar 3, 2021

Gaylord Hotels Announces Spring Specials

Gaylord Hotels invites guests to Spring It On at Gaylord Texan, Gaylord Rockies, Gaylord Palms and Gaylord Opryland. March 12–May 16, craft the perfect spring break getaway with Gaylord’s themed family programming and more.

eFlyer Deals
Mar 3, 2021

Workcation Offer at Karisma Hotels & Resorts

Remote workers looking for an upgrade from their home offices might want to consider Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ Workcation offer. Those booking an extended stay of 10-plus nights are eligible for discounts of up to 15 percent off best available rates; those booking 20-plus nights enjoy up to 25 percent off. The offer is available at Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ diverse portfolio of properties.