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Thoughts from Chicago...

Source: Archived Content

Date: Jan 21, 2002

I just returned from attending the MEC Meeting in Chicago last week in which Jack Creighton, the new CEO of UAL Corporation, conducted a Q&A session with the AFA Master Executive Council and other flight attendants about the state of United Airlines.

Jack made me slightly nervous during the meeting for three reasons:

  1. He didn't wear a suit. 

    Call me crazy, but the CEO of any Global Fortune 500 Corporation ought to wear a suit when attending an important scheduled meeting with representatives of 1/4 of his workforce.  It's a sign of respect.  That, and showing up on time. 

    The fact that he didn't bother to wear a suit tells me that either a.) He was trying to simply be 'one of the troops' with his relaxed sweater/tie look.  He may have done this during his former days of addressing the workers in the Northwest forest while at Weyerhaeuser, or b.) The new corporate culture 'relaxed look' has finally gotten to even the CEO of UAL Corporation.

    And so, I noticed that detail.  Which, of course, tells me that either a.)  I either need to seriously get a normal life and stop worrying about these ridiculous things, or b.)  I may have a point on this one.  Probably A.
  2. He wasn't sure why Companion Travel benefits had been removed late last year.

    Now hear me out on this one:  The head of a major airline, an airline for heaven's sake, wasn't exactly sure why one of the major employee benefits (companion pass travel) had been removed from the work force between October 1, 2001 and December 1, 2001.  He wasn't aware that it had to do with mostly security precautions and employee misuse.

    Remember, this man had been on the UAL Board of Directors since 1998.  And although he's only been around a few short years at UAL, I was surprised that he wasn't familiar with the specific reasons the temporary removal of that important benefit.
  3. He referred to our flight attendant group in the audience as 'stewardesses' at least once during his visit.

    An innocent mistake, but again, that term went out of existence sometime in the 1970's.  Not that 'flight attendant' is a better job title, either.  (It's actually worse--but that's another topic for another day)  Nevertheless, there were almost as many men in the flight attendant audience as women!

    But I'll give him a break on that one as I'm sure he was nervous also.  A member of UAL Senior Management having to Q&A with UAL flight attendants (and a union group to boot) during these particular times is truly a tough job.  An assignment that I sure as heck wouldn't want.  I do respect him for making the effort to show up.

In the end, he didn't say much.  Nothing concrete or specific or with dates, except perhaps that Avolar statement that was reported in DEAR AFA.  But nothing that would make you want to leave the meeting with an 'Oh Yeah!  We have a new direction!' ringing in the back of your mind.  It honestly just wasn't that memorable of a Q&A with him.

And so, besides the above Three Things That Made Me Nervous During the Meeting, there wasn't that much else to bother reporting.

As I'm so fond of saying, only time will tell us how our CEO will handle his new job.  I wish him well---he does have long road ahead of him. 

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