With United, automation may be trying to compensate for a toxic corporate culture.
Historically, United Airlines has practiced the “hot potato” problem solving methodology. When anything went wrong at United, management would find which employee was to blame and punish them.
The result of this management style, was UA employees would go to lengths to avoid being involved in any potential problems… ignoring problems rather than addressing them. You can’t be blamed for something you weren’t involved with.
If avoidance was impossible, then UA workers would do everything “by the book”, so their actions will be defensible to management.
Inevitably, small easily solved problems grow into larger problems… and UA workers would put their efforts into evasion, deflection, and shifting responsibility rather than putting their heads together and solving a growing issue.
To combat the resulting chaos, management put more energy towards rules, regulations and strictly defined roles and responsibilities.
watch Barry Schwartz’s TED talk on: Our loss of wisdom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA-zdh_bQBo