Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Coffee, Tea or Me: One Airline's Answer to Profitability

Combined Wire Services

CHICAGO – So they’ll have the money to serve Starbucks Coffee to their passengers once again, United Airlines announced Tuesday that newly minted prostitutes will replace its aging fleet of flight attendants.

“If this doesn’t work, I give up,” said Glenn Tilton, the airline’s chief executive officer, as he announced the changes at the Chicago-based carrier. This latest policy comes on the heels of charging passengers for checked luggage, which was announced earlier this year.

“Our customers have been beating me up about the loss of Starbucks,” Tilton said. “This is the only way I know how to get the money we need to bring back this premium item: Start selling an additional service – which people will buy.”

United plans to replace two rows of seats in the coach class section of its planes with what’s described as “comfort rooms,” where the carrier’s prostitutes and passengers will be able to engage in private, intimate activity, Tilton said.

“Of course, we’ll need to swipe a passenger’s credit card for $500 before anything happens,” he said. “But it’ll be the best lay … I mean 15-minute, intimate experience … our customers will ever receive.

The prostitutes, fresh off the streets of Amsterdam and other cities across the globe, will start working for the airline during the end-of-year holiday season.

“You could call it our way of making the Friendly Skies friendlier at United,” Tilton said. “Not only will our passengers arrive at their destination safely and on-time but, if they so choose, with a big smile on their face – and maybe with a Starbucks latte in hand, too.”

The airline’s customers will be able to reserve a prostitute when they buy a ticket on the carrier’s Web site. Passengers waiting to pick up a prostitute after they’ve boarded will be charged a 20 percent premium, or $600, for their 15-minute, intimate encounter.

The carrier’s flight attendants are expected to be replaced by December. Tilton said the “comfort rooms” should be completed on all of United’s planes at the same time.

Tilton said the airline will be able to accommodate a variety of sexual tastes and preferences.

“Our prostitutes will come in all shapes, sizes and genders,” Tilton said. “We’ll have male prostitutes, female prostitutes, even transgendered ones, too, so we can successfully service all of our customers – regardless of their sexual orientation.

“These prostitutes will also do all jobs our customers have come to expect from our current fleet of excellent flight attendants.”

Asked if the airline’s prostitutes will engage in sexual activities that might be considered unconventional, Tilton said, “We’ve formed a task force to uncover this issue and make recommendations for accommodating a variety of sexual requests that might be considered, uh, unusual

“Condoms must be used at all times,” he added.

In addition, Tilton announced that United will create a new customer loyalty program, called the Mile High Club. Passengers will be able to accumulate miles on their Mile High Club card as they buy the prostitutes.

United expects revenue from the prostitutes to generate 20 – 30 percent of the carrier’s total annual revenue, or an additional $4 and $6 billion a year.

“With money like that, we’ll be able to serve Starbucks again,” said Tilton. “It’ll be free, too, just like the soft drinks, and we’ll be profitable.”

Wall Street applauded the new policy, taking up the company’s stock (symbol UAUA) five points to close at $17.30.

“I’m going long on United because this is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we’ve been waiting for from them,” said Morningstar financial analyst Brian Nelson. “It’s fantastic! They’re a leader in their industry.”

Calls placed to American Airlines, Delta and Southwest Airlines were not returned but financial analysts following the airline industry expect United’s competitors to offer similar services.

The Association of Flight Attendants, the union representing United’s fight attendants, is expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the airline’s pending changes.


Anonymous said...

Young man, you must think you are Al Franken or the like. I hope you have no aspirations for public office as this article will haunt you. Also, I hope they provide the $50 option as they do on many of the Glen Ellyn street corners!

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