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Everyone is talking about United today….and not in a good way

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OMG!  If you were ever going to want your crisis team to be “on it”… it would be in a case like this.  And of course, you already know, United apologized on Tuesday and said it would review its policies. Really…after videos showed a passenger being forcibly removed from a full plane to make room for its own employees, setting off public outrage. I understand the need to reposition staff but really?!?!?!

Oscar Munoz, the company’s chief executive, said in a written statement that United would take “full responsibility” for the situation and that “no one should ever be mistreated this way.” He committed to making changes to ensure that the situation would not repeat itself, adding that United would conduct “a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement.

That’s it?  Really?

The market had a lot to say today…. Shares in United Continental Holdings Inc. on Tuesday came off their worst levels, but ended off 1.1% as the airline continued to draw flak for having a passenger forcibly dragged off a plane Sunday. United UAL, -1.13%  wiped about $255 million off its market capitalization. Ouch, that is a big price.

Early Tuesday ahead of the market’s open, United shares had been down by as much as 6% in premarket trading, but shares pared their sharper losses late-Tuesday.

The court of public opinion has been off the charts and will impact the company’s brand for years to come.  Twitter and Facebook posts are in amazing numbers. Imagine the legal costs and the long-term cost of lost business. We’re just heading into peak summer travel. How many lost customers would you guess? Read some of the tweets posted to the CEO’s statement….ouch!Market Watch has a great response to Oscar Munoz lame apology and I call it to your attention.

Lastly, this is a great exercise demonstrating the power of social media. I strongly suggest you take this firestorm and learn from it.  Today would be good!



This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. From the perspective of the CEO, anybody can do a “heartfelt” apology…the trick is to know enough to do it BEFORE the shares plunge! This was probably the most insincere-sounding corporate “apology” that I have ever heard! It is essential to get in front of the problem…and to THINK before you speak. As bad as employee actions were, it was probably the CEOs initially “arrogant” demeanour which did the real damage!

    This scenario represents a further TWO FUNDAMENTAL FAILURES on the part of the airline. In Europe, airlines are simply not allowed to bump paying customers…period! Instead, they charter corporate jets to move staff around when necessary, because with the penalties and fines which would need to be paid if they had done this, the charter would have been less expensive. Non EU carriers operating in the EU are aware of this, because they HAVE to comply. Given what has now occurred at Chicago, it is going to turn out that this would have been a LOT cheaper than bumping paying customers.

    The SECOND FAILURE is in the basic training of frontline staff and management. Given the realities of social media, it is inevitable now that any time you decide to do something with potentially negative connotations, fully 80 percent of the people around you have the ability to film and record your actions. And if they decide that they dont like what you did…the whole world will know! In the Aziana crash at San Fransisco a couple of years ago, the first video hit social media just over 2 minutes after impact…shot and posted BY THE PASSENGERS!

    I find it incomprehensible that in this day and age, these things are not DRILLED into the front line staff of a major international air carrier! Apparently the staff know what to do when the plane is about to crash…but not when the company is about to crash…just my thoughts!

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more Norm. I was thinking of the charter option for moving staff is crazy, didn’t know they require that in Europe. Smart and likely cost effective. I am a 2.5 million mile flyer on United and I am very say for them and for the many staff of their who do a great job every day in spite of poor management. Thanks for your thoughts!

      1. Glad to see you’re doing well. These days I am semi-retired, living in a small fishing town on the southeast coast of Portugal. My first textbook is doing well, and the second is complete and at the publisher. Thinking of taking a crack at writing some fiction. Apart from that, travelling, painting, playing my guitar, and doing occasional pro-bono work. You???


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