Shame on United Airlines: Paying passenger handled like dangerous criminal

By now, you must have seen viral videos of an United Airlines passenger being forcefully dragged out of a plane by a few security officers.

His face appeared to have slammed against an armrest as he was bleeding from the mouth as they dragged him down the aisle. His glasses were askew and his shirt was riding up his belly.

Videos also showed him repeatedly saying “Just kill me” while looking dazed and blood all over his mouth.

The flight from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked and volunteers were asked to make room for four United employees who needed to be in Louisville for a flight the next day.

The airline initially offered $400 and a free hotel but they doubled it to $800 when there were no bites.

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The man who is a Doctor and his wife had initially volunteered to leave the plane but the 69-year-old later rescinded his offer when he realized that the next available flight was at 2.30pm on Monday.

He needed to see his patients in the morning.

When no one came forward, United then randomly selected four passengers to leave the flight including the Doctor and his wife.

The airline staff told him that security would be called if he refused to comply. The man explained that he was a doctor and had patients scheduled the next day and threatened to call his lawyer.

At this point in time, the security officers were brought in.

United Airlines’ CEO “apology” contradicts his email to staff

Chief Executive Oscar Munoz apologized for “having to re-accommodate” the passengers but the word “re-accommodate” sparked another round of public outrage.

As if the service recovery wasn’t bad enough, check out how the CEO commended his staff for “continuing to go above and beyond”.

(2nd para, last line)

Airlines have the right to remove passengers but certainly not in this brutal manner

Overbooking (selling more tickets than it has) happens and when it does, people are usually denied boarding in the first place.

Airlines will usually offer money or a voucher and increase their offer if no one volunteers to leave.

Under US federal rules, if the new flight’s arrival is more than two hours after the original arrival time, compensation is 400% of the fare, up to $1,350.

United offered $800 and two people accepted. But this wasn’t the maximum payout.

They could have increased the compensation amount when they found out the doctor couldn’t miss the flight as he had work the next morning.

Why didn’t they?

According to Tyler Bridges, one of the passengers on the flight, the doctor had shouted that he was selected because he is Chinese.

This is currently the top trending topic on China’s dominant social media site, Weibo, with 1.7 billion views on this issue.

Here’s why United Airlines has failed so badly

“Bad publicity is still publicity” – this certainly will not work in this United Airlines fiasco.


Many brands have showed that it’s actually possible to recover from a bad PR crisis. But from how the CEO handled the situation made it worse, you can tell that the airline is clearly unapologetic towards the injured passenger.

Three things we can learn from this saga. 

1) Mean what you say and say what you mean.

2) Think your customers will always be loyal to you no matter what you do? Wrong.

3) Your competitors are watching you very closely.

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