I am almost certain you have heard of the incident, last month that occurred on United Airlines flight 3411 departing from Chicago, bound for Louisville, Kentucky. The story of a medical Physician who was dragged out of his seat by airport Authority on April 9th of this year has gone virtual. The airline was attempting to make room for staff when they offered passengers compensation to disembark and board the next flight. David Dao had initially agreed to take the following flight until he learned it would not depart until the following day. When United Airlines staff were unable to obtain the required number of seats to fulfill the requests of their fellow employees, they resorted to forcefully remove Doctor Dao. Video of the incident had made its way, far-and-wide, on the internet, which has not only caused damage to the reputation of the airline but the pockets of the shareholders. United Airlines stock dropped $1.4 billion following the recent incident involving unnecessary violence towards a passenger.
American Airlines Takes Some Heat
Not long after this well-known, inexcusable event, American Airlines found themselves in the spotlight. Nearly two weeks after the United Airlines incident, an American Airlines flight attendant is accused of violently obtaining a stroller from a female passenger, hitting the women in the process, and nearly missing her baby. From a video taken in the cabin, a male passenger can be seen defending the women and getting in the face of the aggressive flight attendant. The attendant shows zero remorse or fear, instead, he encourages the male passenger to “hit him first”. Although the male passenger displayed aggressive behavior and threatened to “knock him (the flight attendant) flat”, his anger is understandable to many. The video taken during the American Airlines flight 591 heading from San Francisco to Dallas shows the aftermath of the alleged violent event between a flight attendant and female passenger with a baby. The pilot, who is sworn to ensure the safety of all passengers and flight crew is seen leaning against the cabin wall observing the confrontation between his crew member and an angry passenger. He does not seem very concerned with the safety of either one of them, let alone any of the surrounding passengers. Both of these Airlines have felt the heat from these unfortunate events, however, the way in which they were handled is what matters most.
United Airlines CEO Makes An Embarrassing Statement
The initial reaction of United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, was one he would later regret. Mr. Munoz was quick to blame Dr. Dao for the situation that occurred aboard flight 3411. He also made the point of stating that he (David Dao) wouldn’t have been injured if he voluntarily got off the plane. These remarks, amongst others mentioned in Mr. Munoz’s statement, shows a very ignorant and cold perspective from the CEO of United Airlines. Munoz’s second statement rang a different tune. The very apologetic CEO made ever effort to withdraw his initial statement, pushing the blame towards him becoming desensitized by seeing people treated poorly by police and airline staff. Unfortunately for United Airlines, Oscar Munoz’s apology came a bit too late.
Who Handled It Better?
American Airlines handled their, in-cabin situation very differently. Their initial statement regarding the incident had something Mr. Munoz’s lacked; remorse, positivity, and class. “What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers. We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident, we are making sure all of her family’s needs are being met while she is in our care. After electing to take another flight, we are taking special care of her and her family and upgrading them to first class for the remainder of their international trip.” This was the initial statement released by American Airlines management. The flight attendant accused in this incident has been removed from duty pending investigation. The upgrade to first class is a nice gesture, but I am sure the apology meant a lot more.
The Classier Airline Did It Right
Taking ownership of our faults is what makes us responsible adults. One would thing a successful airline like United would employ a responsible adult as their CEO. The difference in behavior between the management of both of these airlines is tremendous. One made the right choice, only after witnessing their initial ignorant response cost them billions, while the other decided to make the right choice from the get-go. Whether the United Airlines incident set the stage for all other airlines to think before they react and to understand the power of the internet and modern day boycotts, or whether American Airlines is under smart management, their quick and positive approach to their onboard incident, wins the day over their national competitor.