PHOTO: United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz continues his apology tour. (photo via Flickr/Daniel Ramirez)
Following the sustained backlash from a viral video of a United Airlines passenger being violently ripped from his seat and dragged off a plane, the company’s head has changed his initially dismissive tune.
According to CNBC.com, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz spoke during a first-quarter earnings call, which saw the airline’s numbers actually beat previous expectations despite several recent public relations nightmares.
“It is obvious from recent experiences that we need to do a much better job serving our customers,” Munoz said in a statement. “This will prove to be a watershed moment for our company, and we are more determined than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do. We are dedicated to setting the standard for customer service among U.S. airlines, as we elevate the experience our customers have with us from booking to baggage claim.”
The continued apologies and explanations from Munoz are a result of the video of Dr. David Dao being ripped from his seat after refusing to give up his place on an overbooked flight. Dao was then dragged down the aisle and out of the plane, before returning to the flight a short time later covered in blood and dazed from the incident.
The video quickly went viral and has turned into a public relations disaster for United.
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While the airline has gone into full damage-control mode, there have been several other incidents over the last month which are being heavily scrutinized now that the travel world is judging United so harshly.
In March, United barred female passengers from boarding because their leggings violated the airline's clothing policy. This caused a backlash against the carrier before Dr. Dao’s video ever went viral. In addition, a scorpion fell from an overhead bin onto a Calgary man’s head during a United flight last week, and an engaged couple is accusing the airline of kicking them off their flight as they were en route to their destination wedding.
United's overall numbers may not have dropped as many expected, but the backlash against the carrier is still something the company will deal with for the foreseeable future, and hopefully will be (a lot) better for it.