United Airlines stocks dipped dramatically the day after a social media nightmare. On an overbooked flight, a passenger was forcibly dragged from his seat and injured by Chicago police when he refused to leave after being randomly chosen to depart so that United staffers could board.
The initial response by United was a terse statement by CEO Oscar Munoz, apologizing for the overbooking.
“The response fell well short of what was needed,” wrote P.J. Crowley in The Hill the day after.
However, The New York Times is reporting the CEO is finally taking responsibility for the incident that has rocked social media.
Crowley, a professor of practice at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs also said that the airline handled the situation badly at every turn: first, letting the passengers first get on plane before being asked to give up their seats; then by not simply offering more money until someone came forward; and finally, by letting the situation devolve into what looked like passenger abuse to an entire aircraft full of smartphone users. “What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore, he wrote.
A “leak” this morning that the physician in question had a shady past did little to help United’s image. The public relations private Facebook page, PR, Marketing and Media Czars was filled with responses by PR reps who said that his background was irrelevant and the airline was making itself look even worse by potentially being behind “the leak.”
Above all the web buzz however is the question of passenger rights.
Paul Hudson, President of Flyersrights.org, a consumer watchdog organization, told us: “United Airlines violent removal of a doctor trying to see his patients on Monday morning from the last flight out of Chicago so it could save money on passenger compensation was a shocking passenger abuse.
“Flyersrights.org has proposed for several years ways to avoid such situations to no avail.
“Flyersrights.org is calling on DOT Secretary Chao to hold a summit meeting next week with airline and passenger reps to fix this problem and to declare that the passenger abuse and assault by airlines will not be allowed to continue under the Trump Administration.”