United Airlines’ CEO called this an "an upsetting event to all of us here at United." I’m 100% sure that the man who was dragged (literally) off the plane is not using the word “upsetting” to describe the event. This is just another example of how the airlines believe it is okay to treat their patrons like luggage. Based on my personal history with United Airlines and recent (negative) publicity, it is pretty clear to me that their workplace culture needs some work, and plenty of it. This type of employee behavior towards customers doesn’t happen randomly, rather it is deeply rooted in the fabric of the business which is based on the beliefs and behaviors of leadership which always starts at the top. Pay attention CEO.
For the passenger it was surely a very uncomfortable and degrading experience which he could have avoided by getting off the plane when asked. But he decided to take his chances after he was randomly selected. It was clearly a mistake but who will pay the bigger price? The passengers name will be forgotten but the airline is sure to suffer another black eye and unwanted publicity.
United made a big mistake by letting him on the plane in the first place, so they should have gone to the greatest lengths to resolve the situation, which they didn’t. I can think of number of ways to avoid this in the future.
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Although airlines are in the people moving business, they need to remember that people are not objects and they do need special handling. Let’s see if United can get back to those “friendly skies.”
David is the founder and President of SKYE Business Solutions. He regularly contributes his thoughts and ideas on LinkedIn. Connect with him here.
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