11 April 2017

airplaneAs a CEO you have a responsibility to ensure that your business does the right thing. It’s an unenviable responsibility. So to read a statement from United Airlines this morning in which CEO Oscar Munoz commends his team following the now viral, forceful removal of a passenger from one its flights is beyond concerning.

The statement reads: “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.”

Supporting a team is of course, essential, but is this what Mr Munoz believes is ‘flying right’? Physically removing and dragging a man from his seat on the plane to make room for four members of staff who needed seats on the flight?

Additionally, for the CEO to say that the passenger was ‘disruptive and belligerent’ is a further insult to this passenger. You can clearly see that the man is distraught at being removed from the flight and repeatedly says: ‘I have to go home.’

How is this acceptable? How can this even happen?

I have never witnessed anything like this, where a brand puts itself above the law, common sense and its customers. It’s an absolute disgrace.

Ultimately this was a greedy business move in overselling seats and the result is a physical assault and viral PR disaster. It goes to show that you really do reap what you sow.

Too many big businesses put profit before people and finance before feelings. It’s absurd. (I’ve moved this down so it explains why this story is profit before people)

It’s astonishing that American customer service used to be something we admired across the globe; it set the bar. Nowadays it’s a very different world! Is that since the Trump administration and election campaign rallied certain sections of society and behaviours? I don’t know.

What I do know is that one day everyone will see that it pays to build a caring business. When you’re too focussed on profits, you miss the basics.

I will be interested to see the steps that Munoz and United Airlines take to recover from this.


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