There is no one on this planet who hasn’t seen or heard of the United Airlines service fiasco where the video went viral. It is absolutely terrible what happened to the passenger Dr. David Dao and there are no excuses for it. What is even worse is the fact that policies and procedures which were in place may not have been designed with the customer in mind.
Please note that this blog is my opinion and my opinion only. For those of you who follow me you know that I have millions of logged miles in the air and my preferred airline is United Airlines. It was my #1 choice in flying and it still is.
What also needs to be noted is that our society has gone overboard with jumping to conclusions so fast and shouting their thoughts, opinions and so called facts before reality even sets in. Again, I am not justifying what happened – it was BAD. But now think about your organization if you are a leader. How many times do you offend a customer because of policy. There should never be a tone in any business that says ‘this is how we do it, so shut up paying customer and deal with it.’ Ever since 9/11, the world of flying has been extremely sensitive. Customers are on edge, flight attendants get cranky and pilots are locked up for hours in their small cabin in the front.
Again – I am not making any excuses for United, but here are my thoughts and if I were in charge this is how I would have handled it.
1. The gate agent should never have boarded the plane before he/she got the 4 volunteers needed – there should have been an authentic explanation of why they needed the 4 seats for Republic Airlines crew that needed to get to an unstaffed plane
2. The incentive money for giving up your paid seat should be a minimum of one round trip anywhere in the USA (domestic flights)
3. If I were Oscar Munoz I would have immediately apologized for the incident and shared his thoughts of looking into it. The airline is operated by Republic Airlines doing business as United Express (those of us that fly a lot see the difference in the service on these express jets). He needed to be brief, empathetic and say he would look into exactly what happened.
4. It needed to be shared that United Employees did not drag the passenger off the plane – but it was actually Chicago Police Officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The processes and policies were not in place or executed properly. If United Airlines is going to partner with these smaller airlines to fly these regional jets than they need to go through the same service training and live to the same high standards.
So in an effort to be real, it is so easy to jump on the band wagon of boycotting businesses.
Let’s just hope one of your employees doesn’t make a mistake that goes viral!