United Airlines employees slam 'lottery' bonus plan

United Airlines

United announced to employees March 2 that the company planned to change its company-wide employee bonuses from a quarterly payment (of up to $375) based on the airline meeting operational goals to a quarterly lottery system, in which only employees with a flawless attendance record could participate.

Kirby said Monday that United is now halting these changes to consider employee feedback, though he did not specify when the airline expects to have a decision about their next move.

The lottery, which the airline announced on Friday, would have paid $100,000 to one lucky employee selected at random, and smaller bonuses of $2,000 or $5,000 to about 1,300 more. A grand prize of $100,000 will be awarded to one eligible employee in each quarter.

"Why did they get the bonus?"

United Airlines employees riled against the lottery program, which they noticed would have saved the airline millions of dollars compared to the bonus structure that has been in place for years. Now, however, it looks like quarterly bonuses are being merged into the program.

United's line: A rep's explainer: "We believe that this new program will build excitement and a sense of accomplishment as we continue to set all-time operational records that result in an experience that our customers value".

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After the memo detailing the new lottery program was released last week, a petition was created on Change.org deriding the new system. "But we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you". "Great job everyone but I'm sorry".

"They took away our quarterly incentive bonuses, and changed it to a deplorable new system that only rewards an elite few", said the petition. Employees are said to be pretty displeased with the new approach.

After dealing with a string of scandalous incidents ranging from unsafe practices to mistreatment of passengers and from confusing ticket pricing to overbooking, United Airlines introduced a performance benchmark system in early January; the goal was to entice employees to exercise higher care for passengers and for overall operations.

Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly, said he couldn't recall another case where an airline swapped regular cash bonuses for a lottery system, "which I think is the problem", he said.

It was unpopular among employees, who thought it had the potential to divide them instead of encouraging them to work toward a common goal.

"You can't tell people, 'If all of you do a good job, a percentage of you win, '" he said.

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