You always have to put your Customer First

Yesterday a paying customer has been physically assaulted and literally with dragged by force of his United Airlines flight. The video has been recorded by several passengers. And it is shocking enough itself. The worst part was yet to come.

Just a second later, I read that United removed 4 passengers of the flight – voluntarily as they described it. Why did 4 passengers have to leave the flight? Believe it or not: For four flight attendances. How is this possible? An airline is removing and dragging paying customers out of the plane to find four seats for flight attendances.

@United overbook #flight3411 and decided to force random passengers off the plane. Here’s how they did it:

— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017

This is not only a PR disaster. It is an unbelievable customer service disaster. Since 30 minutes I am asking myself the same question. How is it possible that a company is treating a paying customer in such a shameful way?

Is an overbooking a valid reason to throw off 4 passengers – one of them apparently violently and against his will – of a flight? Isn’t every normal airline realizing an overbooking prior to the check-in?

Seven Scenarios how United could have reacted Differently

Let’s assume that there was no other option than to kick-off four passengers from the flight. Here are seven different scenarios how United could’ve reacted differently:

  • The United staff could’ve announced that all four passengers – who voluntarily take the next flight – will get a return flight for free.
  • The United staff could’ve looked for young passengers i.e. students and offered them a free night in the cities best hotel and $1000 as an immediate compensation. There are definitely students and teenagers who would love to say yes to this offer on every flight.
  • United could have looked for two couples who are obviously on a leisure trip. Then offering them an amazing 4-day wellness gift voucher including flights as an immediate compensation for taking the next flight.
  • United could have announced $2000 compensation for the 4 passengers who leave the flight voluntarily. The passengers would have argued on who is going to leave the plane.
  • United could have arranged a private jet for 4 business class customers. This would have represented an amazing upgrade for loyal business customers. And a private jet upgrade would’ve made for some positive PR on LinkedIn, what do you think?
  • United could have arranged a private jet for their 4 flight attendances. If you don’t decide to put your customers first — at least don’t drag them off a flight and fly your crew in a jet to the destination.
  • United could have booked the next flight on a competing airline for either the four crew members or four passengers (if possible).

The staff of Untied Airlines decided for the worst option. Now they lost thousands of customers, have a PR disaster, and an injured and denounced passenger. I am bewildered.

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