Media

Here’s The Apology Email United’s CEO Just Sent Out To Customers

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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.

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United Is Refunding The Fares Of All Passengers On Flight 3411

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United is really going into crisis control mode today, following a very bad couple of days (and I guess a very bad couple of weeks, given the previous leggings incident). This morning Good Morning America ran an interview with United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz. There’s no denying his tone changed drastically, as he took responsibility for what happened, saying (after a long pause) that the passenger had no fault in what happened. I suspect United’s PR people were thrilled to hear him say that, while United’s lawyers probably weren’t.

As of the time of the interview, Oscar said that they hadn’t yet been able to get in touch with the passenger, and that the first thing they wanted to do was apologize. If I had to guess, I’d say that Dr. Dao’s lawyer will be getting in touch with United, rather than the other way around. 😉

United is now taking their apology to the next level, and extending it to the other passengers on the flight. USA Today is reporting that United will be refunding the fares of all passengers on United 3411 on Sunday, April 9, or as they explain it “compensation for the cost of their tickets.” In practice I’m not sure what that will look like, since most passengers were probably connecting from elsewhere. Hopefully it’s a full refund, rather than a partial refund for just that segment, which would seem like a very cheap way to handle this PR stunt.

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Fascinating: Good Morning America Interviews United’s CEO

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I promise our coverage of this United incident is slowly coming to an end, and there will be several miles & points posts today. However, Good Morning America just had a fascinating interview with United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, that I think is worth sharing.

This follows United management responding to the situation horribly for 48 hours, only to finally issue a real apology after their market cap dropped somewhere around a billion dollars yesterday. Here’s the interview, where they ask him some really good and tough questions:

Some of the questions he’s asked include:

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FINALLY: United’s CEO Issues A Real Apology For What Happened

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Following the horrible incident that transpired on a United flight Sunday night from Chicago to Louisville, United’s management team somehow managed to make things even worse. United’s CEO issued two statements, both of which were horribly insulting, apologizing that the customer had to be “re-accommodated,” etc. I’ve had respect for United’s new and well regarded CEO up until now, but this was just terrible and undid any goodwill he has generated up until now.

I fear this is probably too little too late, and of course it comes after United lost a billion dollars worth of market cap in a day, but I guess better late than never. United’s CEO has just issued the following statement:

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Pathetic: United’s CEO Makes The Denied Boarding Fiasco Even Worse

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My gosh, United just keeps digging themselves a deeper hole. This is sort of unbelievable.

If there’s one thing United should have learned from their leggings incident a couple of weeks ago, it’s how important having a quick and coherent response from upper management is. That situation could have been largely diffused if they corrected themselves on Twitter quickly, and also issued a high-level explanation and apology within a short period of time.

Now, just a couple of weeks later, United once again finds themselves in the midst of a viral news story, as a customer is dragged off a plane by police while bleeding, because he didn’t want to give up his confirmed seat. This time around United responded to the incident more quickly, all the way from the top.

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Why United’s Incident Is A Much Bigger Deal Than You May Think

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Seems like at least a half-dozen times a year Ben reports on an unruly passenger being escorted off a plane, sometimes forcibly, sometimes not, almost always involving a fellow passenger recording the incident on video. It’s become, for better or worse, pretty routine. It’s easy enough to glance at a headline and scroll down.

Being in the OMAAT world as a contributor, commenter or regular reader, and being involved with the miles-and-points and aviation world directly or even tangentially gives you a certain bit of distance from this kind of situation, a certain inside-baseball-y “oh, well you have to obey a flight attendant’s orders!” kind of knee-jerk reaction.

This is not that kind of incident. It’s doing this incident an injustice to say it’s “gone viral.” Prank calls, parody music videos and misguided Pepsi ad campaigns go viral; this is an example of citizen journalism in action. What was a line-item news story on some miles-and-points blogs this morning has now dominated my social media news feed, and, in very quick order, become the topic of discussion in offices and in public.

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United’s Leggings Fiasco: The False Narrative Needs To Stop

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If you’ve been on a plane or under a rock, you might have missed the story of the two young women who were denied boarding a United flight from Denver to Minneapolis yesterday. I get that manufactured outrage and hot takes are a way of life in 2017. I don’t love it.

The news cycle is driven by these stories, and outlets often have no choice but to participate in the frenzy or be left behind. I mean, I really would rather be spending my day writing my overdue report on Swiss First (sneak peek: it was amazing, and they had fondue onboard), but even here at OMAAT we’re being inundated with questions about this story.

Which wouldn’t even be a story, if folks could acknowledge that they might not have had all the facts initially, and would stop perpetuating a false narrative and witch hunt. Just as United apologized for their initial tweets, Shannon Watts and others should retract theirs, or at the very least recognize that they didn’t have their facts straight.

And as so often happens, the more attention this story gets, the murkier the facts become, and the details are obscured by sensationalism.

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Airbus Is Considering An “A380-Plus,” With Up To 50 More Seats

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As a passenger, my favorite plane in the world to fly is the A380. It’s massive, quiet, a smooth ride, has some of the best onboard products in the world, and has a very cool tail camera.

While it’s a great plane as a passenger, unfortunately it’s a bit of a flop financially. While the A380 is the backbone of Emirates’ fleet, other airlines haven’t been as happy with the plane.

Why? Because filling as many seats as the A380 has can be difficult, at least at decent yields. Airlines would rather buy planes like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, which are also fuel efficient, but lower capacity. This allows them to achieve better yields, and also to operate longhaul routes that previously wouldn’t have been practical. Airlines also care about operating competitive schedules, so on most markets they’d rather have two flights a day on a smaller plane than one flight a day on a bigger plane.

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How JetSmarter Tries To Fine Journalists Who Don’t Write Nice Things About Them

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A vast majority of my travels are self funded (through miles & points, or through cash). Over the years I’ve had a few travel experiences that were comped in one form or another, though I always disclose it, and it’s a tiny percentage of my overall travel.

However, not once have I ever been told what I needed to write. I’ve always been told to share my honest opinions, whether those are positive or negative. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Well, it looks like JetSmarter takes a different approach. For those of you not familiar, JetSmarter is basically the Uber of private jets. While I think it’s an innovative concept, I’ve never used them, and don’t really see all that much value in it. That’s because JetSmarter gives you access to shared private jets in exchange for an annual membership fee.

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Kim Jong-Un’s Half Brother Assassinated At Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Well, we’ve certainly seen some airport “attacks” over the past few years, though nothing quite like this. The older half brother of North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur Airport this past Monday, while waiting for a flight to Macau. Per the New York Times:

“He seemed like an ordinary passenger in the departure hall of the airport for Malaysia’s capital, awaiting a four-hour flight to Macau. Moments later, he felt dizzy and was carried out on a stretcher, apparently dying from poisoned-needle punctures or perhaps a toxic liquid splashed on his face by two women who ran away.

The ruckus caused by the man’s death on Monday at the international airport for Kuala Lumpur was minor news until a thunderbolt from the South Korean and Malaysian news media a day later: The victim was Kim Jong-nam, 45, the estranged older half brother of Kim Jong-un, the unpredictable and ruthless leader of North Korea.”

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What Does Qatar Airways’ CEO Think Of Donald Trump Now?

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Qatar Airways’ CEO is known for being one of the most outspoken people in the airline industry. He has called Donald Trump a “good friend,” and back during the election claimed that Trump’s “Muslim ban” idea was just rhetoric, and that he wouldn’t follow through on it. Well, where does he stand now?

First let’s take a look at what he has said in the past. Going back to December 2015, Al Baker had the following to say regarding Trump, per CNN:

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“Cash Me Ousside” Girl Kicked Off Spirit Airlines Flight — How Bow Dah?

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Let me start by saying that some of the videos below contain bad language, so if you’re sensitive to that, I’d recommend skipping this post and the videos.

Someone named Danielle Bregoli has made a bit of a name for herself after recently appearing on the Dr. Phil Show. She’s perhaps most well known for her “cash me ousside, how bow dah?” catchphrase. Here’s the Dr. Phil segment, for those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about:

The phrase has gained so much popularity that you can even make Bitmojis with the phrase.

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Royal Jordanian References U.S. “Muslim Ban” In Latest Ad

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From Aeromexico to Air Canada, we’ve seen quite a few airlines get political lately in light of the U.S. election. Last November, Royal Jordanian tried to capitalize on the U.S. election with an ad saying “Just in case he wins… Travel to the US while you’re still allowed to!” Not surprisingly, this was in conjunction with a fare sale for travel to the U.S.

Well, in response to the recent “Muslim ban,” Royal Jordanian is back with yet another ad promoting travel to the U.S.:

Now in fairness, Jordan wasn’t one of the countries on the ban list, so perhaps the sale should really be for travel from Syria, Yemen, etc. Quite to the contrary, Jordan is known for being welcoming of refugees. Furthermore, there’s no indication that the ban will be lifted permanently, so I’m not sure it would be good advice for someone who was previously on that list to book a ticket now.

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Donald Trump Blames Delta For Airport Chaos This Weekend

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On Saturday, Tiffany wrote about President Trump’s executive order, which created chaos for many international travelers, as those with passports from seven countries were banned from entering the U.S., with immediate effect.

Regardless of how you feel about the decision as such, I think we can all agree this created confusion and chaos, given the lack of notice, and the lack of clear directives for those who were supposed to enforce the rules. Trump insisted this was necessary, because all the bad hombres could have entered the country if there were a week of advance notice:

So, what caused big problems at airports this weekend, according to Trump? Delta’s computer outage, of course… even though it just happened late yesterday evening.

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