How United Airlines Uses "Accelerate" To Train, Retain Employees - Live and Let's Fly

It may strike many as common sense, but training new hires in a thoughtful way with helpful feedback and the ability to ask questions is a great way to create and retain great employees. United Airlines is seeing the fruit of such efforts in its “Accelerate” training program.

United Airlines Has Hired Over 11,000 New People So Far In 2023

United has added over 11,000 new employees this year and expects to add a total of 15,000 by the end of the year. Breaking it down among departments, that includes:

  • 700+  pilots
  • 1,100+ flight attendants
  • 700+ maintenance technicians
    • including aircraft technicians, ground service technicians, and facilities technicians
  • 900+ customer service and ramp service employees
  • 100+ new contact center team members
  • 700+ corporate support team members
    • lawyers, marketers and communicators, accountants, technologists, etc

United is also promoting internally and has transferred over 450 rampers from Guam to Denver.

United Airlines “Accelerate” Program Is Creating Better Employees

That’s all fine and good, but what really caught my attention was a new initiative United has called “Accelerate” that seeks to offer better training new hires. Let’s take a look at that concept:

  • New hires are assigned to a team of 4-5 new hires and together work a dedicated zone of gates with trainers and mentors for four weeks
  • The Accelerate program has been in effect at every United hub airport as well in Orlando (MCO) and San Diego (SAN)
  • Gates staffed by the Accelerate teams are some of the “best-performing gates” in the entire airport, meaning:
  • Accelerate has shown a direct correlation to first year retention rates
    • For example, in Denver United’s current retention rate is at 73% for both ramp and customer service employees compared to 57% the previous 12 months

I think that last point is huge. And while I’ve worked for myself for over a decade now, my wife (a nurse) dealt with a very poor training model at her hospital. You do not set up employees for success when you do not train them how to do the little things right, allow them to ask questions, and even make mistakes in a controlled and congenial environment. This is what creates loyal and talented employees.

> Read More: Thousands Line Up For Jobs At United Airlines
> Read More: As United Airlines Goes On Hiring Spree, Should It Recall International Flight Attendants?


New job applications are up 56% over the last year at United Airlines, but much more importantly, retention is up and United is conscientiously thinking about how it trains employees through its Accelerate program.

It is this sort of training that should be fundamental to all customer-facing roles at the airline (and every airline…).

image: United Airlines

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