Aviation

United CEO apologises again, vows to stop using police to remove passengers

Hannah Edensor

United Airlines is in serious damage control, after a passenger was forcefully dragged off an overbooked flight, and its CEO Oscar Munoz offered a pitiful apology in response that in parts blamed the customer.

Heck, it’s even sparked calls for a boycott and people to come forward and share their own crappy experiences with United.

But overnight, Munoz appeared on Good Morning America, saying he felt ashamed watching the footage of the passenger bleeding and being hauled down the aisle to make room for crew members to fit on the flight.

“The word shame comes to mind,” he admitted. “The first thing I think is important to apologise to Dr Dao, his family, the passengers on the flight, the customers, our employees.”

Munoz claimed the carrier will no longer use police to remove passengers from full flights, with the airline’s passenger removal policy set to go under review.

The footage went viral after Twitter users posted it online.

“This is not who our family at United is,” Munoz told Good Morning America.

You saw us at a bad moment and this could never – will never happen again on aUnited Airlines flight. That’s my premise and that’s my promise.

Munoz assured viewers that law enforcement will no longer be involved in removing “a booked, paid, seated passenger” and called the appalling incident “a system failure”.

He added that United would also reassess its methods of sourcing volunteers to give up their seats when flights are overbooked, launching a “thorough review”. Or they could stop overbooking flights, but anyway…

“No one should ever be mistreated this way.”

Munoz was also addressed about calls for his resignation after the embarrassment, saying:

I was hired to make United better and we’ve been doing that and that’s what I’ll continue to do.

Meanwhile, new reports of another video, which shows Dao prior to being hauled off the plane, saying he’d rather go to jail than give up his seat because he has patients to see in the plane’s final destination. He was also quoted saying they’d have to “drag him” off the flight.

In a statement provided to Travel Weekly, a United spokesperson said, “United Airlines continues to focus on making this right, as no one should ever be mistreated this way.

“As part of our commitment to ensuring something like this never happens again on a United Airlines flight, we are in the process of conducting a thorough review of our policies.

“This review includes examining how we move crews, incentivize volunteers in these situations, handle oversold situations and work with airport authorities and local law enforcement moving forward. We look forward to sharing the results of this review by the end of the month and remain committed to doing better.”

Prior to this TV appearance, Munoz was embroiled in a bit of a sh*tstorm when he firstly issued a weak apology for “re-accommodating” passengers, which resulted in its own collection of memes mocking his choice of words.

He then sent out an internal email to staff, which hit Twitter pretty darn quickly, where he said Dr Dao was “disruptive and belligerent” and praised staff for “going above and beyond” to provide excellent service continuously.

The Chicago Police Department issued its own statement via social media, claiming the man “fell”, while other reports claim the security guard responsible has been placed on leave.

A group of 21 senators on Tuesday also sent a letter to Munoz, per reports, announcing plans to examine the incident, while New Jersey governor Chris Christie apparently called for the US Department of Transportation to suspend airlines from overbooking flights, pending a review.

Although per Yahoo7 reports, Delta chief exec Ed Bastian called overbooking a “valid business process”.

“There are things that happen that create overbooking situations beyond just pure oversales,” he told analysts and reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s not a question in my opinion as to whether you overbook; it’s how you manage an overbook situation.”

But, Bastian conceded, “The key is managing it before you get to the boarding process. And that’s what our team has done a very effective and efficient job over.”

 

 


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