Tidbits of information about forthcoming improvements to SHARES, the reservations system for United Airlines, were revealed during the second quarter earnings call last week.
In addition to apologizing for a range of customer disservice issues we’ve all experienced since March 3 (seat assignments falling off, missing upgrades, miles not posting, etc.), CEO Jeff Smisek said, “We plan a number of improvements, including an enhanced front-end interface for our airport and contact center agents.”
Apparently a beta test of a new “fastair” and “fastres” (the old nicknames for Apollo’s efficient front-end GUI) were conducted last month. Some of the improvements said to be coming for airport and reservations agents will be an easier ability to handle premium cabin up-sells, same-day upgrades and standby requests.
A full release is expected in October and Smisek says it will include “a new user-friendly design and experience, easier elite recognition, automatic calculation of service charges and better flight amenity details.”
Sometime in 2013, United plans to roll out a “comprehensive new front-end for our airport and reservations agents, which enables us to deliver a higher level of service than we’ve ever been able to offer in the past,” he added.
I’m sure there’s a little PR going on in what he said, but I’m happy to hear improvements are coming – and I’m certain airport and reservations agents are happy, as well. I still have a feeling that within five years, United will dump SHARES for a new reservations system, as United executives had previously noted that SHARES was “the best short-term solution” when it was announced as the system to be used in the merged airline.
What I’m still having a hard time swallowing, though, are the policy changes (from pre-merger United, anyway) of selling “tens of dollars” upgrades to non-elites reducing my upgrade chances and giving a higher priority on each ticket’s transactional value over long-term loyalty for the same upgrades. Ah well… revenue-based loyalty will soon be the norm. I guess these changes are slowly getting me used to the eventuality of it.