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 historical figure, dead or alive, would you love to have dinner with?
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.
As the vaccine rolls out and travel begins to pick up, it’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Panama City with us.
Boca Raton Resort & Club recently announced a new partnership with Major Food Groups, creating one of the best culinary destinations in the United States. Major Food Groups is the company behind some of the hottest restaurants, including Carbone, The Grill and Parm. This partnership will launch multiple dining concepts as part of the resort's $150 million transformation.
The Franklin London Launches Afternoon Tea Inspired by Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser”
The Franklin London – Starhotels Collezione, located in the heart of Knightsbridge, launched a new afternoon tea inspired by the “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser” exhibit at the nearby Victoria & Albert Museum. Diners booking the tea also have the option to book an offer including a pre-reserved ticket to the in-demand exhibition.
The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.
Pride Month is in full swing and to celebrate the community, make a colorful cocktail everyone will enjoy. These colorful ingredients will get the party started during Pride or any time of the year. Start this recipe the night before to create the rainbow ice cubes.
Hotel San Luis Obispo partners with Harmony Cellars for the SLO in Harmony offer. The offer includes 15 percent off a two-night stay Sunday–Thursday, a complimentary wine tasting for two at Harmony Cellars, club member discounts at the winery for the day and the opportunity to explore the town of Harmony, California, population of 18 and located 30 miles from San Luis Obispo. Book online.
The Sports Industry Awards returned with a bang last night as 200 guests packed the W Hotel Great Ball Room for the gala ceremony.
Enjoy additional perks at Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, with the Vitamin Sea, D & Me offer. Rates begin at $130 per night, including complimentary breakfast daily, a healthy starter at Arrecifes Restaurant, one poke bowl and one drink at El Palmar Restaurant. The use of one beachside pergola per stay is also included. The offer is valid on stays through Dec. 21, and use code S5706 to book.