An inside look at the operational challenges facing United and Continental as they merge—from the union negotiations to the choice of in-flight coffee:
“On July 1 the new United introduced its new coffee. Fliers on the ‘legacy United’ fleet, accustomed to Starbucks, let out a collective yowl of protest. Pineau-Boddison had expected some resistance—Starbucks, after all, is a popular brand—but this was something else. Flight attendants reported a barrage of complaints. Pineau-Boddison received angry e-mails from customers, as did Smisek. The coffee, fliers complained, was watery.
“The beverage committee launched an inquiry. The coffee itself, they discovered, was only part of the problem. Airplane coffee is made from small, premeasured ‘pillow packs’ that sit in a brew basket drawer at the top of the galley coffee machine. When the drawer is closed, boiling water flows through the pillow into the pot below. The old United brew baskets, the committee discovered, sit a quarter of an inch lower than Continental’s, leaving a space for water to leak around the pillow pack.”