Lately, United Airlines’ longstanding motto, Fly the Friendly Skies, has taken a serious tumble. On a recent flight four passengers were told they had to disembark to make room for airline personnel. One of the chosen was a doctor who refused to give up his seat, using a lame excuse that he had an ethical obligation to see patients the next morning. There’s one in every crowd. There are also cell phones in every crowd, and many took videos of security guards dragging the 69-year old Asian American doctor down the aisle, ejecting him from the plane, complete with a broken nose and two lost teeth.
The bad news for United: Within an hour those videos went viral, making international news. The good news: – United’s stock actually took off – soared – the very next day, increasing the company’s market cap by $355 million. Apparently, investors were impressed by United’s new slogan, “At United, we’ll treat you as well as we treat your luggage!” And now United now has plenty of ready cash for the lawsuits.
The airlines’ CEO, Oscar Munoz, wasted no time in defending their policy: “If you don’t have many Frequent Flyer miles and you paid a low price for your ticket, we have the right to remove you. Be grateful we carry this out while still on the ground. The Board of Directors argued for inflight ejections, but we couldn’t agree on whether or not to supply parachutes.” Today, however, amidst public furor, United reversed itself and issued several new policy guidelines to reassure hesitant travelers that once again, the airline is committed to bringing back the friendly skies. Effective immediately, United will make the following changes in its passenger policies:
No longer will passengers be tasered for asking for a second bag of peanuts.