When most people think of the dangers or the risks of traveling by plane, they usually think of technical issues that might make the plane fall to the ground, or perhaps a terrorist attack or even if their luggage will arrive unscathed to their destination.
However, I am pretty sure that people thought that being manhandled out of an airplane would not be in their list of possible traveling mishaps.
However, United Airlines showed the world that that’s a possiblity when they allow airport security to forcibly drag a customer, David Dao, out of his seat and through the aisle.
The incident happened on United Express Flight 3411 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Sunday, April 9.
Dao was bruised and bloodied after hitting his head on the arm of his chair.
Dao told WLKY from Louisville, Kentucky for a story published on April 11 that he is recovering in a Chicago hospital.
When asked what his injuries are, he said “everything” and that he was not doing well.
United is hurting as well. Its stock prices plummeted one percent following public outcry from the incident.
United CEO Oscar Munoz, who was ironically named Communitator of the Year by magazine PRWeek last month, did an embarrasing job while apologizying to both Dao and the public.
Later the same day, Munoz commended the team on how they dealt with the situation.
However, low stock prices and angry shareholders are seemeingly the only things that can melt the cold heart of some CEOs, considering Munoz apologized again.
In an interview with USA Today, Eric Schiffer, CEO of Reputation Management Consultants, termed United’s handling of the incident “brand suicide.”
As someone who has a marketing degree, I wholeheartedly agree. But you don’t need a degree to figure that out.
But apparently, Munoz should get one, because his handling of the situation was lacking both expertise and empathy.
Dao was randomly chosen by a computer algorithm to leave the plane, even though he is a paying customer. He had every right to remain in his seat.
People on social media angrily reacted by using a hashtag like #boycottUnited.
Now, United will need to change its slogan ‘Fly the Friendly Skies’ to something more appropriate to its actions like, ‘Why Fly When You Can Be Dragged?’