Social media went wild after a video was released of a United Airline passenger, David Dao, getting forcefully removed from an airplane by security officers.
This video was seriously damaging to United Airlines reputation and created a large crisis for the company after being released in early April. There was even talk of boycotting the company. Due to the flight being overbooked, the passenger was asked to give up his seat after he was already seated. Dao refused, which lead to his forceful removing and serious injuries (Zdanowicz ). This crises raises not only one, but two serious issues United Airlines has to deal with. The first, and obvious, one is making right what happened directly to David Dao. The other issue the company needs to address is the over booking of flights, which was essentially the cause of this crisis.
It is quite obvious that there are many ways this crisis could have been avoided. For starters I think United Airlines should have stopped over booking flights a long time ago. Asking customers to give up seats on their flight does nothing but anger them and hurt the companies reputation. If this issue was addressed by United’s crisis team earlier, this situation with David Dao might have been avoided completely. Although it is unfortunate something like this to happen first, United Airline has changed its overbooking policy. Passengers who are already seated can not be taken off the flight (Czarnecki).
United Airlines changing their overbooking policy was a step in the right direction. However, it is still going to take more from the company to heal from this crisis. After this violent event occurred, CEO Oscar Munzo released two public forms of apologies on Twitter and Good Morning America (Czarnecki). Although I think the public appreciated seeing this, I do not think it is enough. The airline is still being boycotted, and because of this I believe something bigger needs to be done by the company. I have not heard much in the news about things United is doing to recover from this. I think the organization and PR practitioners need to formulate a way to re-brand the company and hopefully gain the public’s trust again.
Czarnecki, S. (2017, June 7). Timeline of a crisis: United Airlines. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from http://www.prweek.com/article/1435619/timeline-crisis-united-airlines
Zdanowicz, C., & Grinberg, E. (2017, April 11). Passenger dragged off overbooked United flight. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/10/travel/passenger-removed-united-flight-trnd/index.html