PhotoNobody likes being delayed or late, especially travelers that have to make connecting flights in other cities. But worry not! United Airlines will be guaranteeing on-time arrivals for its future customers. . . well, for a select few of its customers, anyway.

The company has announced a new reliability guarantee for its business and corporate travelers, saying that it will get them to their destinations on time. If it isn't able to follow through on this promise, these travelers can expect credits towards upgrades and fees on future trips.

Only certain travelers qualify

The new guarantee is being called the “global performance commitment,” and will be covering all domestic, international, and regional flights starting in 2016. Travelers who qualify for the program will be guaranteed to arrive at their destination before or right at the scheduled time.

For every time that United isn't able to live up to this promise, travelers will be given credits to be used on future flights. The credits are accepted for certain ancillary fees and upgrades, such as upgrading seating, waiving change fees, and things of that nature.

“Great,” you might be thinking. “I travel for work all the time. I'm sure to get some benefits from this change.” Well, that might not necessarily be the case. Unfortunately, travelers are only eligible for the new program if they work for one of United's bigger corporate customers. Depending on how much business your company does with the airline, you may not be able to reap any benefits at all.

Small chance of payout

Despite this limitation, many eligible travelers will feel great about the new change. Dave Hilfman, senior vice president of worldwide sales for United, says that these customers will see that the program has “every bit of as much value as if they were offsetting fares.” He does admit, though, that the chances that United will have to pay for anything is “slim to none.”

This confidence might come off as strange to some who may recall being delayed on United flights. In 2014, the company ranked 10th out of 13 carriers when it came to flights arriving on time. However, recent months have shown something of a turnaround; United has moved up to fifth on that same list in a short amount of time.

Airline competition

Another airliner, Delta, introduced a very similar plan earlier this year. However, their provision for paying out credits hinged on their on-time rate staying above American and United airlines; if they fell behind both of these competitors' on-time average over the course of a year, then they pledged to give $1,000 to $250,000 to businesses they have contracts with.

In the end, Delta will probably be saved from paying out anything due to its program's stipulations, though. In their program they do not count international flights or regional affiliates, so it would be surprising if United and American could catch up. Regardless, the program has been deemed “overwhelmingly positive” by the company. 

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