And the award for worst airline CEO goes to …

uniUnited Airlines’ Glenn Tilton. He was the third-worst chief executive officer in a survey of American executives, according to a new employee poll by Glassdoor, a company that conducts online salary reviews.

Employees complained that United’s management treated them disrespectfully, were too bottom-line oriented and had run morale into the ground. Here’s a typical response:

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines. The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

United has the worst management of any airline. The treat their employees with disrespect and have little interest in changing their ways. Upper management have no idea how to manage employees, the airline’s assets or money.

You can read more employee comments here.

There’s something of a silver lining for Tilton. He came in second during the last survey at the end of last year. This time, two other CEOs out-underperformed him: Krishna Srinivasan of Frost & Sullivan and Steve Odland of Office Depot.

The top travel company on Glassdoor’s survey was also an airline: Continental Airlines and its chief executive, Larry Kellner.

He was #12 on the list, exceeded only by superstar CEOs for the likes of General Mills, Apple and Google.

The Continental comments were a little over-the-top. Here’s a typical rave from a happy employee:

Working in reservations was wonderful. Extremely flexible hours with the ability to pick up additional shifts or drop shifts as needed. The commission plan in reservations is one of the best in the industry. There are also many opportunities to take familiarization trips that are organized and leader by the company, giving the agents the ability to visit the location that they are actually selling to our customers. Continental is also very community involved, sponsoring golf tournaments, cook-offs, etc.

Come on. Is this an airline they’re writing about?

And speaking of non-airlines, the other major travel company in the top 50 list was a Marriott. Bill Marriott, Jr. took a respectable 16th place on the list.

I like the idea of employees rating their CEO. It’s usually done the other way around — a boss will review an employee. When the tables are turned, the results can be interesting, don’t you think?

How does this affect travel? Well, competent leadership can improve employee moral and lead to better customer service.

And incompetent leadership, obviously, has the opposite effect.

(Photo: Telstar Logistics/Flickr Creative Commons)