United has had a very bad several weeks, in particular when Dr. Dao was dragged off United 3411 from Chicago to Louisville last week. We can talk all day about whether any regulations need to be changed, whether the airline or Chicago police are more to blame, etc.
However, there’s no denying that United’s PR approach to this situation has changed drastically. When the situation first unfolded, United responded to it horribly in more than one statement. They were completely dismissive of what occurred, and it made a bad situation even worse. Then about 48 hours later they finally issued an apology and took full responsibility for what happened.
United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, even had an interview on Good Morning America, where he seemed to genuinely feel bad about what happened.
Well, in their latest attempt at crisis control, Oscar Munoz has just sent out an email to many frequent flyers apologizing for letting them down, sharing his shame, and asking them to let United re-earn their trust. Here’s the letter:
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.
I’d like to think Oscar is being sincere here. I genuinely believe he’s a good guy who seems to be trying to change United for the better, especially in comparison to the past several CEOs that United had. I think Oscar miscalculated this situation (as did I at first), and perhaps let himself be influenced a bit too much by the legal department rather than the PR department.
In terms of the concrete actions they’re taking, there’s not much here, really.
It’s good of them to say that they’ll only use law enforcement to remove passengers from plane if it’s a matter of “safety and security.” That should go without saying, but it’s what led to this situation to begin with, so…
The other concrete action here is that they won’t book crews on a flight within 60 minutes of departure, presumably in an attempt to avoid having to bump passengers once they’re on the plane.
Other than that, Oscar says they’ll share their policy updates by April 30, 2017. I’ll be curious to see if we see any substantial or concrete changes then.
What do you make of Oscar’s email?