United Airlines made quite the controversy when a video went viral of police officers forcibly removing a passenger on one of their airlines. The man was dragged with a bloody face off the flight. In jest, humorous memes have been circulating the internet making fun of the airline’s poor customer service. Rival airlines are trolling them over this embarrassing gaffe.
On Sunday evening the gentleman was flying on United from Chicago O’Hare International airport to Louisville and he declined to give up his seat after he was repeatedly asked to leave. The gentleman’s name is Dao and he is 69 years old. He and three other people were randomly chosen to leave the oversold and overbooked plane. United was trying to give the seat to a commuting crew member. But when he refused and put up a fight police started engaging him and then dragged him out.
The CEO has apologized in a public statement on Monday. However, it was not much of an apology or any form of taking accountability because he said the reason Dao was arrested was because he was disruptive and belligerent. Because of the terrible incident, it was reported on Wednesday by the Associated Press that all passengers on that airline flight will be refunded their ticket price.
In the defense of the airline, they did offer the passengers a free hotel room as well as a $400 voucher. This was in order to compensate them for the inconvenience and loss. But nobody took them up on their offer. When no one accepted they increased the offer to $800. It ended with Dao being dragged away.
United’s Megan McCarthy who is a spokesperson said that passengers can be recompensated in several ways including cash compensation, travel miles or credits. The Chicago Department of Aviation also took some responsibility. They publically noted that all three officers involved in the scuffle have been placed on an administrative leave but their names remain unknown.
Watch as the man was dragged from the airline,
Look at some of the jestful comments rival airlines made. They certainly wasted no time in profiting off their foes downfall. And they added a little humor to it.
— Royal Jordanian (@RoyalJordanian) April 10, 2017
Fly the friendly skies with a real airline. pic.twitter.com/wE5C5n6Lvn
— Emirates airline (@emirates) April 11, 2017
We’re united in our goal to always accommodate our passengers, even with our app updates. pic.twitter.com/1K3q76qOp6
— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) April 12, 2017
Qatar Airlines, Royal Jordanian, and Emirates Airlines were just a few of United’s rivals who took this embarrassing moment to crack a joke at the airline’s expense. In the video from Emirates, it referenced the crack that United CEO Oscar Munoz made previously where he criticized his competitors in the Middle East.
The video responded,
“Well Mr. Munoz, according to TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, not only are we a real airline … we are the best airline.”
United’s competitors could certainly profit a pretty penny off of customers who no longer want to use United. By sarcastically joking about the controversy they have set themselves apart.
The CEO also said the following about the incident,
“This will never happen again. We are not going to put a law enforcement official onto a plane to take them off … to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger; we can’t do that.”
This incident has been so widely reported even the Wall Street Journal asked the President his sentiments on the issue. The President advocated for removing the upper limits on vouchers given to people for giving up their seats. He said,
“You know, there’s a point at which I’m getting off the plane … seriously. They should have gone up higher. But to just randomly say, ‘You’re getting off the plane,’ that was terrible.”
Even if United Airlines is completely in the right it is not a good look for them to be forcibly removing passengers to the point where they have bloodied faces. Especially when they are paying customers. Not only have they lost that one customer they have likely lost the business of every other person on that plane.
It just is not good business. United Airlines is known as one of the worst airlines. They have a reputation for poor customer service and overbooking flights. This terrible incident definitely reaffirms any stereotypes good or bad that people had of them. No amount of refunded tickets or nice press statements will change this fact.
Middle Eastern airlines, despite originating in war-torn countries, will definitely take advantage of this gaffe by pushing in on the United customer base looking to leave. Their humor is certainly being noticed. Their quarterly reports will tell whether or not their humor was effective in achieving that goal.
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