For my peeps at United Airlines: the only way you are going to make a positive out of a negative on this f’ed up mess is by using Oscar. He is the airline’s strongest PR weapon, and folks, the power of this video making the rounds is off the charts. He has to get out there and apologize like he has never apologized before. He will be delivering a message to ALL United customers. (Not to mention ALL U.S. airline customers.)
Obviously United also has to find out why the boarding was so screwed up and the passengers were not bought off in advance before getting on the plane. If $800 is not enough, as the airline had reportedly previously offered passengers on this flight prior to boarding, according to some reports — offer them more. It’s that simple. Delta was handing out money over the last five days like a drunken sailor. Small price to pay to maintain positive customer relations in the face of a horrid ops situation that seemed, for whatever reason, to not be able to right itself.
But what if boarding has been completed and now you need seats on the plane for crew? Fine. Get on the plane and start the auction. Don’t pull this “random computer selection” bullshit to pull four people off the airplane. Get on the plane. Start the offer at $1000. Go to $1500 if you have to. I guarantee you’ll get four willing participants. Everyone wins. Airline gets seats, customers get cash, airline employees get to Louisville.
In this case, you HAVE to pay up. Or pay later. And as those who deal with sleazy-easy lending companies know all too well, the “pay later” option rarely works out well.
As for the airline’s reported refusal to give more information to reporters, instead telling them they had to “talk to the authorities” — SHAME ON YOU. No, that is not how this works. This was YOUR passenger. YOUR screw up. YOUR customers who witnessed what happened on that airplane. And now, everyone in the world has witnessed it.
You created it. You own it.
P.S. I just read the tweet from Oscar. A tweet? A tweet is not nearly enough. United, you just made it worse.
P.P.S Someone sent me a note and reminded me that this particular flight was a regional flight operated by Republic Holdings. That would explain the rather pathetic comms response from United re: the incident. And it would help explain the less-than-adequate tweet (supposedly from Oscar) that was released this morning. But you live by the codeshare, you die by the codeshare. The vast majority of those who will read about this incident know only this: It was a United Airlines passenger who was forcibly removed from that airplane. Doesn’t matter what company was operating the aircraft.