After watching the viral video of David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor from Kentucky, being dragged off a United Airlines plane, angry customers and members of public calling for a complete boycott of the airlines.
Overbooking is a disturbingly common but questionable practice whereby most airlines in the aviation industry do to ensure that there are few or no empty seats on board every single flight.
This method ensures maximum profits for airlines but clearly no benefits towards the consumer.
In this incident, a man who had paid for his seat was forced against his will, dragged off the plane and beaten on a United Airlines plane.
Worse still, the CEO Oscar Munoz and his PR team had chose to remain unapologetic towards their behaviour to the injured passenger and accused the man of being "disruptive and belligerent".
Ironically it was discovered by BBC that last month that industry magazine PR Week had named Mr Munoz as "2017 US Communicator of the Year" when he and his management's handling of this incident is a huge PR disaster in its own, broadcast over the news and social media channels.
Since Mr Munoz and United Airlines' poor PR management of the issue, close to $1 billion has been wiped off the airline's holding company’s value on Tuesday, forcing the CEO of United Airlines to change his stance and acknowledge the inhumane treatment towards their customer, calling it "truly horrific" and that “No one should ever be mistreated this way.”
The violent and aggressive behaviour of the Chicago Department of Aviation security staff was also nefarious- injuring an airport passenger.
The Chicago Department of Aviation stated that one of the three security officers involved has been "placed on leave", as his actions were "obviously not condoned by the Department".
Here are 3 simple solutions as to how United Airlines could have avoided the current predicament they are in now.
1) Be human
Part of being human is to have the ability to empathise with others.
By choosing to be self-protective instead of considering the interest of the public and evaluating the situation (every situation is unique in its own), Mr Munoz had made a bad decision to deny a glaring mistake on United Airline's part and insist that they his staff and service partners had done nothing wrong.
2) Be pro-active, not reactive
While Mr Munoz had promised the public to look into the airline's dire industry practice of overbooking and management of its staff and service partners, much could have been done before the situation would have spiralled out of control to such a level of PR disaster.
Instead of ignoring the need to deal with serious discrepancies in their service/ product, they should have pro-actively sought after independent, third-party professionals who could implement regular evaluation from the company's business process to marketing/ outreach efforts.
Sometimes companies need help from outside in order to discover faults that experienced but analogised internal staff who have been working in the same organisation or industry for too long, are unable to see.
3) Get professional help
For the CEO of United Airlines to release such a statement, resulting in their company value dropping drastically and a mass boycott from furious customers and members of public, the beleaguered airlines needs more than an apology and/or a marketing campaign to redeem themselves from such as crisis.
For professional help to avoid brand suicide, contact us.