Another epic PR fail from United Airlines yesterday. As the marketing department promote the airline with the tag line "fly the friendly skies" the video of a passenger being dragged off a flight can only be described as shocking.
Social media means incidents of this kind are instantaneously global. There is nowhere to hide. Brands cannot promote their service as friendly but treat customers with disdain. Michael O'Leary is a case in point. He tried to turn on the charm as Ryanair passenger numbers were in nose dive but it was hard to stomach after his customer service "which part of eff off don't you understand" blunder.
In the most recent Rail Passenger Survey, Heathrow Express achieved the top scores in the country for the most friendly staff. The train company works hard to understand what their customers want and how staff can make the journey as smooth as possible. "Re-allocating customers" is not part of this training.
I don't know if the United CEO was advised to respond as he did but this incident will be a case study in "how to make a crisis a million times worse" for a long time to come.
America's third biggest carrier is being slammed online for violently dragging a passenger - a 69-year-old Asian man, believed to be a doctor - off an overbooked flight. This comes just weeks after the company, whose slogan is "Fly the Friendly Skies", was ridiculed for refusing to allow two teenage girls to board a flight because they were wearing leggings. Chief executive Oscar Munoz added more fuel to the fire with his response, which didn't mention the use of force. "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers," he said in a statement.