Disaster for United Airlines
On Sunday, April 9th, the Chicago Aviation Department brutally dragged 69-year-old Dr. David Dao off an overbooked Untied Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville. Numerous videos surfaced from nearby passengers with blood-curdling screams as they watched Dr.Dao being dragged down the airplane aisle, distinctly unconscious. United Airlines asked four passengers, including Dr. Dao to give up their seats to four crew members, because they needed to work an outbound flight in Louisville to avoid flight cancelations. However, United Airlines found themselves in a sticky situation when implementing the company's legal right to involuntarily remove passengers from flights that have been overbooked.
Overbooking flights is not new for the airline industry, according to TechCrunch five to 15 percent of passengers on average miss flights. Passengers can fail to show up for flights for a multitude of reasons, and flights can go out with empty seats, making the airline lose money. Airlines are heavily dependent on overbooking, counting on the miraculous error that people won't show up. According to the Department of Transportation, airline carriers have the right to deny boarding, but they have to provide compensation, i.e. a new ticket for a later flight or hotel accommodations.
The public relations disaster continued to spiral out of control on Monday when United CEO Oscar Munoz sent a company wide letter to employees, stating that "While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right," this letter was then leaked to the public.
Dr. Dao is not ready to sue as of yet but has suffered a concussion and multiple facial injuries.
A former United employee commented on the incident, "New management is concerned more with bottom line versus customer care. Secondly, this occurred on a subsidiary of United Airlines, meaning possibly different protocols. Third, passengers are quick to condemn without all facts from employee standpoints. Fourth, Oscar Munoz is a neophyte in the airline business where customer service is excellent considering the crowd--people want more for less these days in aviation."
Finally, as of Tuesday, United Airlines stock had dropped by four percent, which is equal to 1.4 billion dollars, according to Fortune.com.