In laying out what happened on the United Express flight headed from Chicago to Louisville last night, I’ve largely felt that United was doing its best under a set of bad circumstances.
- They had to get 4 crew members to Louisville to operate a flight the next day.
- They offered voluntary denied boarding compensation up to $800, a hotel night, and re-accommodation the next day.
- When there weren’t takers at that price, they asked 4 passengers to get off the plane.
Passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding are generally entitled to cash compensation, in this case 4 times the cost of their ticket up to $1350.
United CEO Oscar Munoz in Chicago
It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but if they didn’t want to fly the next day an Uber should have been about $300 (and a four and a half hour drive).
We don’t know exactly what transpired from the time the customer was asked and refused to leave. Three officers were called, and ultimately dragged the man on the ground off the aircraft and bloodied him in the process.
Without access to video and audio of what happened leading up to this, I cannot say for sure, although my hunch is that the officers could have managed the situation less confrontationally so that it didn’t come to this. In assessing blame between United, the officers, and the passenger my guess is that United is the least to blame here.
United CEO Oscar Munoz Cutting the Ribbon on the Airline’s First New Boeing 777-300ER
But once the incident did occur, the airline’s response has been asinine.
Here’s their statement attributed to United’s CEO Oscar Munoz apologizing that customers had to be re-accommodated — as opposed to being shocked, angry, or disappointed that a customer was dragged off and bloodied.
United flight 3411.
That’s the exact wrong way to go with this. When a crisis event happens, don’t run from it run towards it so critics have nowhere to go.
Munoz shouldn’t say the customer was inconvenienced, he should say it was a terrible, horrible experience. He shouldn’t say it’s upsetting, he’s angry and he’s going to get to the bottom of it. Be active. Show actual concern, don’t be mealy mouthed.