The story of a crashing plane

How United Airlines has been falling of the sky over the years

Over the years I have written different articles on what to do and what not to do during a media crisis. It is common to see brands sink under the weight of poorly prepared statements that rather than shed light on the issue in question, what they do is to further mess up the image of the brand in question.

Something similar happened again with United Airlines, an airline that over the years has been involved in a series of scandals about the way it treats its public. And is that for a company that has as a fundamental pillar the “good service to its customers” has failed miserably in undertaking that promise. And not only that, it has generated a wave of public opinion that is reviewed in many institutes as an anecdote or a kind of Manual of what NOT to do in case of a crisis.

During 2008, country music singer Dave Caroll suffered in his own flesh a bad handling of luggage that resulted in damage to a guitar of more than $ 3500 value. When Caroll tried to repeatedly contact United Airlines the company simply ignored it and tried to divert responsibility until frustrated, Dave did something impressive. He composed a song about the incident and how it had been treated and post it on Youtube.

The result? The first of three videos Caroll produced with his band reached 150,000 views the first day and more than 500,000 by the end of the month. To date, that video has surpassed 16 million views. Awesome, right? Something that could have been resolved by admitting responsibility and paying Caroll’s $ 1,200 for repairing his instrument, was translated for United Airlines into a 10% decrease in the value of its shares which would be for the time a loss Of approximately US $ 180,000,000.

A decade later United Airlines stars in another scandal that most are already aware of. On a fully loaded flight, United was forced to lose 4 passengers to dislodge the flight to include crew members. As compensation the airline would give them one night’s accommodation at a hotel, US $ 400 and a ticket for the next day. As no one wanted to abandon the flight they increased the offer to US $ 800 and as the answer was negative they proceeded to randomly choose passengers to get off the plane.

The problem came when one of the passengers, a doctor refused to get off the plane, stating that he had patients cited for the next day and that he could not wait for tomorrow. Despite his protests the United Airlines staff dragged the passenger. In videos that have been watered as dust on the internet we can see how he is dragged out of his seat with his face bloody.

The most unfortunate thing about the crisis situation is that United Airlines CEO Oscar Muñoz issued a statement apologizing for the airline’s overbooking policy. At no time apologizes after having abused and publicly humiliated a client for something that at no time was his fault.

This delay and the efforts of trying to solve everything in the shadows has caused another nefarious blow that the company that has finished of collapsing its pillar of attention to the client. With the reach of social networks today it is impossible to control that this type of situations occur, but it is essential to correctly evaluate the situation to perform a correct damage control.

What impact will this financially have on United Airlines? So far, the airline’s shares decline puts losses on over US $ 900 million, in addition China, one of the most important markets in the air transport industry, is planning a boycot against the company since the injured passenger was Asian-American. At the moment they face a negative press hurricane that will end up sending the AA plane directly to the ground. The SOS signal has been turned on, but this time there is nothing to do.


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