In another note to employees, Kirby wrote: "Our intention was to introduce a better, more exciting program, but we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you".
On Saturday, Ken Diaz, president of the United Airlines chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, said employees did not appreciate the airline taking uniform bonus payments and condensing the pool of awardees into a much smaller, randomly-selected group.
United, which has more than 80,000 employees, did not respond to specific questions about either the lottery program or the current bonus program.
United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) is forgoing cash bonuses and will instead reward employees by entering them into a lottery in which they have the opportunity to win cash, a auto or a vacation, according to the Chicago Business Journal.
The short-lived concept had United saying that so long as United hit at least one performance goal, there would be a quarterly drawing for prizes including luxury cars, vacation packages or cash from two grand to $40,000, with one employee getting a grand prize of $100,000, the Chicago journal reported. It seems that negative publicity is not leaving United Airlines no matter what they do. Over 1,000 employees would win these prizes per quarter if certain operational criteria were met, according to the initial announcement sent to employees and obtained by ABC News.
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However, the new prize program has reportedly enraged United Airlines' employees as it implies that team efforts will not be recognized and only one employee determined by a drawing will receive the $100,000 prize.
These were posted on the internal United Airlines employee website, Flying Together.
"I can't imagine driving the Mercedes into the employee lot while everyone around me that worked just as hard, or harder got nothing", one flight attendant wrote.
"When no one "qualifies" because they called out sick due to the most terrible flu in years, or sick children, or life ... the company just makes more money for itself", she wrote. United Continental has about 88,000 employees. The report did not break out bonuses for executives and other workers.
Deb Garbor, chief executive of Sol Marketing, says United executives "clearly didn't think through their how employees might react, and they didn't hold their own corporate culture in high regard".