Jeff Smisek just quit as the CEO and President of United Airlines amid a corruption probe by federal investigators. He denies any wrongdoing.
Consider his performance: During his five-year tenure, the company stock is now down 15%, the merger with Continental has been horrid, labor unions are ignored, and J.D.Powers puts United LAST in customer satisfaction among the big carriers.
I attest to the latter. United was once my carrier of choice — but not any longer as flights have been cut, seats scrunched, prices raised (despite a drastic reduction in jet fuel), and only the highest-priced tickets are rewarded with full mileage credit.
Smisek’s reward: PLENTY. Because he quit rather than being fired, he walks away with $5 million in cash as well as other financial consideration that could be valued as high as $20 million. And oh yes: while the rest of us suffer in the coach sections, he gets FREE first class travel for life, health insurance until he’s eligible for Medicare, free airport parking for life and the keys to the company car. Poor duckie: he will lose his gym membership.
What is wrong with this picture?! It’s all about the ‘Golden Parachute.’
He is not the only CEO to screw a company and get rewarded in the bargain. Remember Robert Nardelli and Home Depot? Only the shareholders and employees were nailed in his over-the-top compensation for bringing that store down.
Maybe it’s time for a shareholder revolt. Perhaps it’s time for an employee revolt or a customer revolt. Come to think of it, United better quickly change their in-flight safety announcement. Smisek’s welcome in the opening video will bring nothing but sneers and derision.
There’s something rotten in the not-so-friendly skies.