Just Plane Stupid

They are going to need to revise the list for the most moronic action and PR gaffes in history.

You can forget last week’s Pepsi ad, Krispy Kreme’s KKK Wednesday, Tesco’s ‘psycho’ Halloween outfit, Samsung’s exploding phone and the Hoover free flights fiasco.

United (soon to be rebranded ‘Unseated’) Airlines have just scored the own goal of own goals by forcibly removing a doctor from an overbooked flight.

Obviously the Doc was asking for it – he’d paid for his seat and had boarded – somewhat unreasonably he didn’t want to give it up for one of United’s employees who hadn’t paid or boarded.

Someone at United took exception to the Doc’s disgraceful refusal and called on some beefy blokes to shift him.

This decision is up there with Napoleon’s belief that it would be a jolly good idea to march on Moscow in the middle of winter.

UA rapidly called in their well -oiled PR machine – did they offer the Doc and his family free flights for life, upgrades to first and universal lounge access or an abject apology?

Apparently not – someone thought it would be best to blame the unhelpful passenger and the Chief exec sent out an e-mail to all his staff –

United Airlines has blamed the “disruptive and belligerent” passenger who was dragged off an overbooked flight on Sunday. In an extraordinary email to the company, United’s CEO defended the decision to forcibly remove the paying customer, saying that staff were “left with no choice”.

Footage of the incident, which involved a man being violently dragged off a flight booked to Louisville, sparked outrage.

The passenger can be seen in videos bleeding and disorientated.


Oscar Munoz said in the email yesterday: “Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.”

He continued: “When we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.

“He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent. 

“Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.

“Chicago Aviation Security officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.”

Videos of the incident led to a Chicago Department of Aviation Security officer being placed on paid leave.


Not only is it a Pontius Pilate moment but it is factually wrong – not least because Doc was in his seat – so how was he ‘denied boarding’. He also failed to mention that the passenger was a doctor who had to be at his hospital the next day.

When the story and video went viral (soon to be) Untried Airlines saw almost a billion $ wiped off their share price.

Cue Oscar offering a grovelling apology that was diametrically opposed to the message in his e-mail –

Great line Oscar – “I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers”

The first thing everyone in business should remember – you are not doing people a favour by serving them – they are doing you a favour by giving you their ‘custom’ – the clue is in the word mate!

Chief executive Oscar Munoz made another attempt at saying he was sorry. On Tuesday, he offered his “deepest apologies for what happened” and said the airline would conduct a review of its procedures and policies to be completed by April 30th.

“No one should ever be mistreated this way,” he said in a statement, calling the event “truly horrific”.

The chilling scene was turning into a public-relations disaster for United, whose fumbling response only served to demonstrate how a normally routine consumer interaction can expand into a brand-damaging event in a world of smartphones and Facebook.

The passenger, David Dao, was receiving treatment in a Chicago hospital for his injuries

If you fancy a new job there are likely be vacancies for a CEO, Operations bloke and an entire PR department sometime soon.

No experience necessary, obviously – we fly by the seat of our pants!



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