Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CEO Munoz And Tough Love For United Airlines Customers

Last edited on April 11, 2017

United Airlines (UAL) had an unusual day on April 10, 2017, thanks to a video showing three Chicago Aviation Security officers dragging a customer off United Express Flight 3411. To say the video of the incident went viral may be considered an understatement. United's CEO could have handled the situation better. But is there enough public relations smarts in his business toolkit to recover, or will he double-down with tough love in this new and supposedly acceptable politically incorrect environment?

CEO Munoz from United Airlines response was horrible
The actual United Airline CEO Facebook post from April 10, 2017

Watch a YouTube video of the "big drag": https://youtu.be/gUHJjmOhUuE

Within 21 Hours Of The Facebook Post, The Public Spoke

Within 21 hours of that April 10, 2017, Facebook post from the United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, he received over 85,000 comments and about 10,400 Facebook "shares" on his post. That's viral in anyone's book.

A quick scan of the top 100 comments showed the public overwhelmingly sees United Airlines and the police officer as the goats in this story. I'm on the side that thinks the CEO is a ninny and that he handled the initial stages of this business and public relations opportunity rather badly.

"I see no reason to ever book a flight on United Airlines.
A former customer"

It Was A Viral Opportunity 

CEO Munoz could have spun this incident in many directions. He chose the to spin it into an anvil shaped blob of crap and he is getting hammered in the court of public opinion. The opportunity to excel as a businessman and in crisis-management have passed. United Airline failed that test, miserably.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Department of Aviation Security appears to have handled the spin rather expertly. They put the dragging officer on "leave" less than 24 hours after the video surfaced and issued a public statement.

"The officer's actions were not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned," a Chicago aviation security official said.

Immediate Memes That Crushed United Airlines Is Why ...

Fight Club diagram in United Airlines meme
United Airlines Fight Club?

This meme showed up on Twitter sometime during the late morning of April 10, 2017. Not exactly the meme I would want floating around social media if I was responsible for that airline company.

And a worse "Southwest Airlines" meme showed up later in the day:

Southwest, we beat the competition. Not you

Southwest Airlines will likely benefit from CEO Munoz's handling of the PR crisis. Why would United Airlines learn anything from this crisis? Memes the reason.

Call To Action

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Originally published on April 11, 2017.


Tim Bondy
Freelance Writer & Citizen Journalist

I am currently a proud citizen journalist, aka "enemy of the American People!"

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