I never blog about stuff like this.
But the reports and video coming out regarding a passenger’s forceful removal from an aircraft at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport yesterday have me incensed.
Let me clarify my modest credentials for expressing my opinion: I am a Million Miler on United Airlines. My butt has been in a United Airlines seat more often than I care to remember. Sadly the incident that’s hitting the news today is the logical conclusion of the contempt for its passengers that United displays far too often. Many of us fly this airline only because we must.
I was safe at home in Indianapolis yesterday. But I feel like I’ve been on that plane in Chicago, minus the dragging of a passenger down the aisle, the bloody face, and most of the screaming.
With some regularity, United flight attendants, gate agents, and pilots show extraordinary human kindness and patience, often in the face of stunningly belligerent passengers. The ones who do know who they are and they are likely almost as embarrassed and upset about this incident as the passengers on that plane at O’Hare who were forced to live through what happened.
According to news reports, United needed to get four employees from Chicago to Louisville and could persuade no paid customers to defer their travel for a day in exchange for $800 in highly conditioned and caveated United travel vouchers (I’ve got enough of them to know) and a hotel voucher. I’m not surprised.
In regular life, this is a company problem, not a customer problem. United, true to form, chose not to find a way to solve its problem by itself (offer the passengers $2000 if that’s what it takes; get their employees to Louisville by another way, just as the four passengers who were forced to abandon the aircraft would need to find another way; good grief you can drive to Louisville).
Take some responsibility, United. And, please, turn off the ‘friendly skies’ music until you do. Is that too much to ask?
A lot went wrong here. An awful lot. Clearly, United could not have anticipated the behavior of the security officers charged with removing (forcibly if necessary) four ordinary passengers whose day went badly south in an instant.
I hope Mr. Muñoz, by all accounts a decisive and highly relational CEO, is on this. I hope he’s doing nothing else for the next week but fixing this problem and then getting in front of a camera to explain that this will never happen again at United Airlines.
Meanwhile, United Airlines, be ashamed. Be very ashamed.