Jeff Smisek

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Jeffery Alan Smisek
Smisek, Jeff.jpg
Born 1954 (age 60–61)[1]
Alma mater Princeton University, (B.A.)
Harvard Law School, (J.D.)
Occupation Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Airlines
Spouse(s) Diana Strassmann[2]

Jeffery Alan Smisek, commonly known as Jeff Smisek (born 1954)[1] is the Chairman, President and CEO of United Airlines. United and its United Express regional partner airlines operate an average of 5,100 flights a day to more than 370 airports across six continents.

Prior to this role, Smisek was Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Continental Airlines, which merged with United Airlines in 2010. Previously a partner at the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, Smisek joined Continental in 1995 as Senior Vice and General Counsel. In 2004, he became President and was elected to the company's board of directors. He became President and Chief Operating Officer in September 2008.[3]

Smisek graduated from Princeton University, A.B. summa cum laude in economics, in 1976, and Harvard Law School, J.D. magna cum laude, in 1982. Smisek is married and has two children.[3]

In 2014 Smisek was elected Chairman of the Board of Airlines for America.[4] Smisek serves on the board of directors of National Oilwell Varco, Inc. and the board of trustees of Rice University. In addition, he serves on the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association. [3]

He was named Aviation Week’s Person of the Year for 2010.[5]

In 2013 and 2014, Smisek was criticized for United's poor customer service and employee dissatisfaction,[6][7] problems with the integration of Continental[8] and severe quarterly losses of $609 million. There was also a reduction of the performance-based part of Smisek's pay from $3.5 million to $1.25 million.[9]

Following a strategy of cost cuts, share buybacks and conservative expansion of capacities, one commentator concluded that Smisek has regained the trust of Wall Street analysts by late 2014.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Jeffery Smisek". Marquis Who's Who. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  2. ^ Gregory, Karp. "United Continental's CEO has a daunting challenge before him". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c United Continental Holdings, Inc. - Investor Relations - Biography
  4. ^ Karp, Gregory (December 2, 2014). "United CEO Smisek to chair Airlines for America trade group". Chicago Tribune. 
  5. ^ Aviation Week Names United Continental CEO Jeff Smisek Person of the Year - NEW YORK, Jan. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/
  6. ^ Fagen, David (May 2, 2014). "Why United's Jeff Smisek Is Perhaps the Worst CEO in the Business". Huffington Post. 
  7. ^ "Viewers' nominations for worst CEO of 2013". CNBC. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Cahill, Joe (November 22, 2014). "United's Smisek back in analysts' good graces". Crain's Chicago Business. 
  9. ^ Knight, Meribah (April 25, 2014). "United cuts Smisek's pay by 16%". Crain's Chicago Business. 
Preceded by
Glenn Tilton
CEO of United Airlines
2010 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Larry Kellner
CEO of Continental Airlines
Succeeded by
Incumbent; merged with United Airlines