United Followup: Beaten and Bruised

Last week I did my movie pitch monthly about United Airlines’ decision to not allow two eleven year old girls onto a flight because they were wearing leggings. This was already a PR annoyance for the company, but on April 9th the annoyance escalated into a PR nightmare scenario.

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According to CNN Money, four passengers boarding a flight from Chicago to Louisville were told that they must give up their seats to four United employees. When no one volunteered to give up their seats, United decided to pick names at random. One man refused to give up his seat. What followed made the previous United incident look like a slap on the wrist.

Airport agents boarded the plane and brutally dragged the man from the plane by his arms. Other passengers recorded the unfortunate encounter and screams are heard in defense of the now dazed passenger.

Now, after an incident like the legging scenario from a couple of weeks ago, you would think that the airline’s CEO would want to apologize to the man and save a little face by blasting the extreme tactics utilized by the officers, but that is not what happened. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, who was ironically named U.S. Communicator of the Year by PRWeek, instead said in a tweet from the United account:

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is working with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out this passenger to talk directly to him to further address and resolve this situation.”

As Vox discussed in their account of the encounter, the company should have offered higher incentives and compensation to leave the flight voluntarily, but instead they decided to beat and drag a passenger after no one volunteered to give up their seat.

Unfortunately this was not the end of the CEO’s putting his foot in his mouth. Munoz then went on to defend the actions of the officer, who was later placed on unpaid leave for his actions, according to CNN Money and the Chicago Department of Aviation.

“While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”

It has only gotten worse for United Airlines since I covered their legging debacle. Hopefully, the company will see the issue with treating it’s customers like prisoners sometime soon.

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