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United Airlines debacle

Useful safety tip –
Big Business doesn’t care.

Qantas has a homosexual general manager. Nobody cares about how he gets his jollies so long as he heads the profit up. But this guy uses his position to promote political views like same-sex marriage and homosexuality generally.

Doesn’t he care that 97% of his passengers are not homosexuals? Doesn’t he care that Muslims abhor homosexuals so much that they throw them off buildings when there is no gallows handy? Doesn’t he care that they might internationally boycott Qantas?

No. Because this is Big Business. And Big Business, particularly Airline Big Business, doesn’t give a toss for the paying customer. All they do is promote a load of hypocritical bollocks about how nice their hostesses are and how much they care for passengers.

On April 9, in a story which flew around the world (so to speak), a 69-year-old doctor with a Vietnamese background, David Dao, refused to “deplane” on a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. Why should he? He had paid for the flight. The plane was not over-booked, either. The company simply wanted to “reaccommodate” four paying passengers to accommodate four staff members.

Three big security guys dragged Dr Dao screaming down the narrow aisle. He suffered a concussion, a broken nose, a sinus injury and two missing teeth. There was blood on his face.

Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United Airlines, issued a brief apology. He said: “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United, I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers.”

But in a private email to staff – promptly leaked to the media – Munoz was more defensive. It said: “As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help”. It added that Dr Dao was “disruptive and belligerent” and that staff had “followed established procedures”. Munoz congratulated the staff for “continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right”.

On April 11, however, he issued a wider ranging apology. Just as bloody hypocritical when you know about the private one. Also he is knee deep in a damages case. The jury will have something to say. And they will tell him, “When you apologise to a customer, sound like you mean it. Ten million bucks, please.”

The apology eventually issued by CEO Munoz appeared heartfelt and genuine, but it was too late. The damage, across social media and in the press, has been done. For the next little while, at least, anyone choosing an airline in the US and seeing United’s name will be reminded of the man with the bloody face – and that ghastly word “re-accommodated”.

A bit like the “re-educated” you get in Communist China.

United should learn from rival Delta, which was once one of the best-known airlines in America, highly profitable and popular with customers. Then the culture at Delta changed, and customer service suffered. Customers switched to other airlines and Delta went bankrupt. Now, Delta is thriving again, in large part due to its focus on keeping both staff and customers happy.

Will the same thing happen to United? The damage could be serious, especially if there is another similar incident in the future. In the age of smartphones and social media, any misstep gets blown up and broadcast across the world.

Yet it is also highly possible that United will get away with it. Standards of service across the US airline industry are already low, and it probably won’t be long before another scandal at another airline is splashed across social media, and the headlines.

In the meantime – Fly United? Not on your life. That man could have died if he had a dodgy pump.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Honeybadger 20/04/2017, 7:18 am

    One of the conditions of flying is that you must obey directions by the crew. I am glad that is the case. This man Dao refused to do so, became belligerent and given the confines of an aircraft, was injured because he was so determined not to cooperate. No sympathy for him. When I fly I understand amd accept there can be all sorts of reasons as to why I might not get to my destination on time. Bad weather, aircraft problems, I can be bumped and so on. None of us like it but that’s part of the deal. Glad no United employee is going to be sacked and hope Dao does not profit.

    • Penguinte 20/04/2017, 7:30 am

      On the contrary HB when I book and pay, in advance, for a seat on an aeroplane I expect to be able to use it on the prescribed date and time. Obeying direction of crew apply only in cases of emergency. I do not accept over booking as a reason.

    • Spinbuster 20/04/2017, 7:46 am

      Agreed, the way to go is not to disobey the law, but to change the law.
      Dao’s disagreement should be with his local congressman.

      • Spinbuster 20/04/2017, 8:05 am

        In fact his behaviour reminded me of the snowflakes on the street post US election.

      • Albert 20/04/2017, 8:47 am

        And just what law did the good doctor disobey. A request from an airline lackey to give up his paid for and occupied seat so they could provide a seat for their own staff?
        This bloke was not bumped prior to boarding. He was arbitrarily selected after all paying passengers were seated and ready to go. Just when did that become law?
        The article is correct. The disrespect that airlines right throughout the world show to their paying customers is appalling and Dao was right to make a stand.

    • Albert 20/04/2017, 8:49 am

      Honeybadger, if you are prepared to accept such demeaning behaviour on the part of the airlines and their staff as justified then you are part of the problem.

  • Penguinte 20/04/2017, 7:25 am

    Flying United? I’m reminded of a poster showing two ducks flying in close proximity! Could this be the new Qantass?

  • sabena 20/04/2017, 10:03 am

    Honeybadger,the problem is that he had boarded the aircraft.United’s conditions of carriage(which are incorporated into the ticket) do not permit removal of the passenger after boarding, unless the passenger was endangering the safety of the aircraft.A refusal to obey an unlawful direction from the cabin crew does not fall into that category

  • Bill 20/04/2017, 12:31 pm

    Whilst I agree the whole sorry episode was very badly handled, in the days before mobile phones, similar incidents have quite possibly happened many times and gone unreported (or not gone viral) because there was no ‘vision’ (video) to outrage those who were not witness to the actual event.

    However, what needs to be said (and isn’t by anyone I seen or read in the MSM) is that the airline wasn’t kicking the passenger off “to give the seat to a staff member” because the staff member was going on holiday. The four “staff members” were a crew required to operate another flight that, which, because of some operational reason, (exceeded crew duty, the original crew delayed by weather or an aircraft unserviceability – there could be many reasons), AND, without that crew reaching the destination without delay, 250 passengers, not four, would have been “severely disadvantaged” by not being able to get to THEIR destination. The airline was quite within its rights to ask – even demand – that the four passengers get off. However, the way they handled it left a lot to be desired.

    • Penguinte 20/04/2017, 2:08 pm

      Bill, understand your concern for the “knock- on” affect but, in the event, it would have been better, financially, for United to charter a small aircraft to report the flight crew.

    • Spinbuster 20/04/2017, 3:58 pm

      Always two sides to a story.

    • Albert 20/04/2017, 10:24 pm

      The placement of aircrew in position to man another flight is the responsibility of the airline and is not and should not be made to disadvantage paying passengers. The airlines actions not only demonstrated a lack of planning they were unlawful and were contrary to their own stated conditions of carriage.

  • Peter Gough 20/04/2017, 2:04 pm

    Remember “United Breaks Guitars”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
    It cost United Airlines millions! and they learned nothing! Who would be stupid enough to buy their shares?
    The Youtube video has reached 17,271,284 views and still going strong.

  • Ozisceptic 20/04/2017, 5:17 pm

    The guy was probably very belligerent, ( and I would have probably been as well ) but that is the problem in the USA. Actually I was thrown off a intercity bus 15 years ago in the USA for objecting to how the Mexican driver spoke to a black passenger, who was publicly embarrassed while with his son. I had no redress. That’s how it is in the USA. Funny place but I keep going back.

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