United Airlines flight UA3411 was the widely-published flight incident, where law enforcement officers were was asked to remove a passenger on an overbooked flight, and did so by literally dragging the passenger down the aisle of the plane as other passengers witnessed the horror. Smart phones caught the incident and within minutes, millions had also seen the badly injured Dr. Dao being removed from the flight with blood coming from his mouth.
The end result was that Dr. Dao was pulled so violently from his seat for refusing to leave, because he had patients he had to see the following morning, that he lost his front teeth, his nose was broken, and he may need sinus surgery as well. That’s just the physical damages. The emotional and psychological shock of the entire incident is sure to linger for a long time to come.
United CEO Oscar Munoz first stood behind his crew, but after the public backlash began spreading, he later issued numerous apologies to the public and to Dr. Dao for what was without a doubt the largest PR disaster of any airline.
Today, the airline CEO issued a personally addressed letter to all of United Airlines Mileage Plus members – the passengers that fly the “friendly skies” the most. eTN’s publisher, Juergen Steinmetz, is a Mileage Plus member and shares that letter which reads:
Dear Mr. Steinmetz,
I’ve heard a lot of understandable anger and disappointment from customers and, as one of our most valued customers, I wanted to be sure you heard directly from me.
The awful event that occurred on Flight 3411 has elicited many responses from our customers: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments. For me personally, I’d add shame. No one should ever be mistreated this way.
In addition to offering my profound apologies to the customer forcibly removed, as well as all the passengers aboard that particular flight, I also offer my sincere apology to you for not living up to the values you expect of us.
Our customers’ satisfaction must be the center of everything we do and your opinion of our service is the measure of our success. We know we did not measure up, and for that we will redouble our efforts to earn your trust.
This situation has provided a humbling learning experience from which we will take immediate, concrete action. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to make this right so nothing like this ever happens again.
First, United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from our flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. Second, crews traveling on our aircraft must book at least 60 minutes prior to departure. Third, we will fully review and improve our training programs to ensure our employees are prepared and empowered to put our customers first. Our values will guide everything we do. We’ll communicate the results of our review and the concrete actions we will take by April 30.
You expect more from us and I promise we can and will be better. I am committed to putting proof behind our promise.
Thank you for granting us the opportunity to re-earn your trust.