United Airlines have managed to turn a PR crisis into a total disaster – for the moment at least
This week the title the World’s Least Favourite Airline must surely go – by a couple of million air miles – to United Airlines of the US.
The debacle where a passenger was forcibly dragged from a plane by three officials (one of whom was later suspended) couldn’t get any worse, you’d think until the CEO kicked another own goal with the way he handled media coverage.
Yet history proves that airline companies seem to be able to literally fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to this kind of PR disaster – Ryanair has had many yet continues to do business, and United has had its fair share – remember Musician Dave Carroll who wrote three catchy songs to share his account in 2008 during a trip on a United Airlines flight that resulted in a broken guitar , all viral hits on YouTube.
CNN’s analysis tells the story, and reading it one has to marvel at the kind of PR advice both the company and CEO Oscar Munoz have been getting.
The sheer lack of sympathy in Munoz’s first statement speaks volumes about how his airlines really regards its passengers (the line apologising for having to re-accommodate these customers manages to neatly sidestep humanity in favour of corporate-speak) and one would hope a lot of reputation-building work will now be needed to get UA back to where it was.
Sadly, their strategy will probably just be to wait for the fuss to die down, knowing that as long as they are in the marketplace people will buy seats on their planes at the right price even though the chances of flying are much less than 100 per cent.