Three Reasons Why You Can Do Better Than United Airlines

Started in 1926, United Airlines is the third largest airline company in the United States. On April 9, 2017, the company’s reputation was tainted forever when Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed for United Airlines flight 3411. There was an issue with overbooking and when the doctor from Kentucky was asked to be switched to another flight, he refused and airline security dragged Dao out of the plane. While this is a public relations nightmare for United, other airlines have the opportunity to benefit from their competition’s mistake, here’s three reasons why…

  1. United Airlines can be deemed as racist.

There may or may not have been racial implications in choosing to remove an Asian passenger over any Caucasian passenger, but anything can be deemed as a hate crime as long as the victim is not White. Americans are skilled at making generalizations (Denton, Jr. and Woodward 65), decisions based on non-descriptive, vague events. For example, Dao may have been asked to leave because he booked his flight after all the other passengers or any other number of reasons, but if you analyze the situation by listing what the public knows, an Asian man was pulled off an airplane by a White man, giving the public what they find to be ample evidence to claim the incident of Flight 3411 a hate crime.

Dr. Dao’s face, covered in blood after being pulled from the plane.

2. United Airlines did not respond well.

Situations like these, when companies make such monumental mistakes, require a strong public relations team to save their image and brand. In this case, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz submitted a public statement apologizing for having to “re-accomodate customers.” According to CNN, he later issued an email to United Airlines employees saying, “employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.” WHAT?? If you overbook your plane, you’re supposed to pull passengers from their seats and drag them out of the plane until they are bleeding?? Suffice to say, the PR team has some more work to do.

3. Other airlines have the opportunity to benefit from United’s mistake.

The Southwest Airlines logo now contains a heart.

The airline company has a lot of trust to rebuild with its customers at this point. Not only were their acts distasteful, but they were outright violent. How will people learn to trust United again? That’s for their management and PR teams to figure out, but for now, other airlines have the opportunity to steal United’s business. If you look at Southwest Airlines’ website, you’ll find that they’ve re-branded themselves as Southwest Heart. Their core of their company is founded on heart and how much they care for their passengers. The front page of their website sports the slogan “you’re not a seat number to us — you’re a person,” which contradicts United Airlines actions completely, where Dr. Dao was just a seat number…that needed to go to someone else.

Companies are fueled by the customers, and without customers, they won’t survive. That means that customer service is of the utmost importance, and a public display of poor customer service will spread not only throughout the internet, as this case did, but through word of mouth like the common cold in December. Soon, everyone will know about the violent act that occurred on Flight 3411 (if they don’t already), and United Airlines will face the consequences of their actions, whether it be by people refusing to fly with them, or as is already happening, their stock falls monumentally.