NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The "One Sick Bird" in that headline, regarding United Continental Holdings (UAL), is straight out of a headline in today's Wall Street Journal, which refers to the airline as "one sick bird."
I fly United monthly from San Diego to New York. I have Gold status. I generally sit in first class, which means I should see the airline at its best.
What I see is an airline that offers zero consistency in product, morale or service.
And this is four years after the two airlines merged. Yet, as the Journal points out, they still haven't merged their fleets because they can't get the flight attendants to sign a new, joint contract. (Compare that with Delta (DAL), which somehow not only managed to rapidly merge two airlines, but do it swiftly and almost seamlessly.)
In the Journal piece, United CEO Jeff Smisek, who hit my list of nominees last year for Worst CEO, put the blame everywhere but at his office. He said, notably:
--"Every hub has to earn its keep every day. Nothing is sacrosanct at any hub. We will make adjustments as are appropriate." (Imagine trying to tell that to communities that rely on United for service. No, United isn't running a charity to lose money at hubs that can't support the service, but his words lacked empathy, which may explain why the merger has been so rocky. Mergers need a leader employees and customers want to follow, not fight. Gordon Bethune, the ex-Continental CEO, was the epitome of that.)