Delta Airlines is breathing a huge sigh of corporate relief. Storms last week in Atlanta, Delta’s hub, forced the cancellation of more than 3,000 flights. This was the top story in the airline industry, and a train wreck for Delta Airlines, and then United oversold one flight from Chicago to Louisville, and that’s all anyone is talking about.
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United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was named U.S. Communicator of the Year by the PRWeek. This award given just last month would suggest that United would skillfully handle the public relations nightmare caused by the now viral video.
“Munoz has shown himself to be a smart, dedicated, and excellent leader who understands the value of communication,” PRWeek wrote. “His ability to connect and share with employees his vision for the airline, and get them to rally behind it, is a key reason PRWeek named him 2017 Communicator of the Year.”
Or maybe not.
United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411. pic.twitter.com/rF5gNIvVd0
— United (@united) April 10, 2017
Many have noted that the phrase “re-accommodate these customers” shows just how out of touch the corporate bosses really are with the people who use their services. Munoz, personally, is now responsible for making a very bad situation much worse.
This incident has driven a large grass-roots boycott of the airline. Many are cutting up their United sponsored credit cards in retaliation. There’s no estimate on what this debacle will cost the company. Yet. They’ll know soon, though.
There is an upside to this. Many Americans are getting a good look at corporate greed. This is, for many, a wake up call. And for United, the overwhelming financial impact that this will have will likely spur reform.
Late night television host Jimmy Kimmel had an apt response. He pointed out the ludicrous response. “That is such sanitized, say-nothing, take-no responsibility, corporate BS speak,” Kimmel said Monday on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. “I don’t know how the guy who sent that tweet didn’t vomit when he typed it out.”
Kimmel noted, though, that we are humans. While we want to pretend like we care, we don’t. As soon as we need to book a flight, we’ll choose the cheapest option. That may well be United.
Kimmel’s social critique was backed by a hilarious send up of United’s advertising message. The video mocking their customer service strategies is making the rounds, too.
“We’ll beat you so badly you’ll be using your own face as a flotation device,” the smiling flight attendant says. Yes. That much seems clear.
How will United pull their collective plane out of this tailspin?