Dennis Cary, United Airlines vice president of revenue management, on the airline’s drive to create programs and services tailored to meet its customers’ diverse needs.
Global Traveler: Tell us a little about your background, and what you are doing now at United.
Dennis Cary: In June 2004, I joined United Airlines as vice president of revenue management responsible for pricing, inventory management, global-distributionsystem management, and revenue forecasting. In my new position, I am responsible for the development of marketing strategies and the implementation of marketing programs, including United’s awardwinning Mileage Plus program. I will also lead United’s product development, customer research and online efforts.
Previously, I was at American Airlines for 13 years in revenue management and alliances. I then took on the responsibility of heading up the sales operation in Europe and the Middle East before returning to Dallas to head up American’s AAdvantage program.
GT: United has several products of interest to business travelers. Tell us about P.S., TED and MAINLINE.
DC: United is very excited about the segmentation of its product into many choices for various markets. For example, Ted, our discount carrier, offers service to our leisure markets and is an alternative for travelers on a budget. Ted also appeals to business travelers when they are traveling on vacation or with family. Ted brings a fun and exciting atmosphere to travel; for example, we have Ted drinks and Ted-inspired meals. Passengers can access information about our simplified fare structure at www.flyted.com. And, like all United flights, Ted offers Economy Plus.
We are all very proud of P.S., our new all-premium service between New York (JFK) and the cities of Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). P.S. is a totally new concept. It’s the only branded aircraft flying domestic routes that has lie-flat seating and premium classes: first class, business class and Economy Plus (no regular economy class). P.S. customers are interested in the latest technology, like our entertainment options; have an appreciation for fine food and wine; and are interested both in traveling in comfort, with individual space, and in an international style of travel experience. Our P.S. customers are high-end professionals and frequent trans-continental travelers looking for greater and more-personalized in-flight entertainment options. The balance of United’s domestic and international flights – our MAINLINE service – offer a full range of service, including first class, business class, Economy Plus and economy.
GT: United is the only U.S. carrier to offer a premium economy class. Where does premium economy fit into United’s overall plan? Who are the passengers flying premium economy?
DC: We introduced Economy Plus based on a great deal of research and feedback from our most frequent flyers – business travelers who want to fly in comfort. It offers more legroom, seats toward the front of the plane and priority boarding at an affordable fare. Economy Plus is an option on all domestic and international flights. United has 21,000 economy-plus seats in the air, more than any other carrier in the world. Advance seating assignment in economy plus is available on a first-come, first-serve basis to Mileage Plus members who have Premier status or above; Star Alliance Gold and Silver members; and customers traveling on fares booked in Y, B or M class. Passenger may also upgrade at a self-serve kiosk, based on availability, for a nominal fee.
GT: Global Traveler readers voted United Mileage Plus as “Best Frequent Flyer Program.” Which Mileage Plus features appeal most to business and luxury travelers?
DC: United Mileage Plus is a great product, enhanced further by our partners in the Star Alliance, which offers tra velers a broad network of destinations and venues for which to redeem points. As with our airline product, we’ve segmented Mileage Plus to cater to the needs of individual flyers. For example, we’ve created a dedicated site for our 1K (million-mile) flyers offering special programs and deals created just for them. Our standard portal, accessed through our Web site (www.united.com), lists deals and program for all of our Mileage Plus members.
GT: Looking ahead to fall and into 2006, what is in store for United travelers?
DC: United is serious about segmenting its market to identify the needs of our customers, and tailor programs and services to meet those needs. We will continue to launch innovative programs and services like P.S., Ted and Economy Plus. We will also continue our expansion into the international market. We understand the regional market, and have addressed this segment with the EMB-170 jets in our United Express fleet. United understands your market, the readers of Global Traveler. We understand that business travelers work hard, but also want to enjoy leisure time with their friends and families, so we offer products that cater to both business and leisure travel. We are also planning to aggressively target the Chicago market and the frequent travelers who call this city home.
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