This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Making Friends and Influencing People

Video for united airlines, brutalizing passengerStill from Video

"They say brand is culture and culture is brand, and what is happening at United is a very serious cultural problem."
"The leggings debacle is one thing, but then the fact that there were clearly no lessons learned after that happened shows that this is a brand that has completely lost its way."
"This is brand rot starting at the top. You could crash an airplane with a drunk pilot and not get this much negative press, and it is totally well-deserved."
Andris Pone, president, Coin Branding marketing, Toronto

"A cultural change is definitely something they need to explore."
"This clearly sends a message that the company values a 'profit over people' mentality and that is the kind of thing that comes from the CEO and trickles down from the top."
Anthony Kalamut, professor, Seneca College School of Marketing, Toronto

"I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard."
"I want you to know that we will take full responsibility and we will work to make it right."
Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines

"PR 101 is first you admit the mistake, then you apologize sincerely, and then  you talk about what you are going to do to make sure it will not happen again."
"CEOs are hired to respond to what the board sees as the biggest threat to the company (at) the time of their appointment. The reason Munoz is CEO at United, and his support at the board level has nothing to do with PR, and was more about the general drive to maintain margins in the face of falling oil prices."
"If that CEO [given the uproar and the liability to United's stock] is not fired, then his contract certainly should not be renewed."
Ken Wong, marketing professor, Queen's University School of Business
A man was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., after the flight was overbooked.
A man was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., after the flight was overbooked. (Jayse D. Anspach/Twitter) 

Public relations unconcernedly kicked aside into the ditch of public discrimination by an airline company that clearly thinks of paying passengers as cargo with the right to occupy a seat to their destination on the airline's sufferance. The flight out of Chicago was 'overbooked' only in the sense that all seats were sold, the most ideal conditions for any company to meet their profit margin and beyond. But inconvenient when the company felt it was more important to find seats for four employees than to discommode paying passengers.

There were no volunteers when the usual explanations and 'regrets' were aired and offers made to sweeten the sour taste of being requested to leave the plane where you reserved a seat in good faith. So airline employees took it upon themselves -- as they have been empowered by their head office to do -- to assign departees from the flight. One man, identifying himself as a doctor needing to report to the hospital he serves where he had patients awaiting his presence, refused to leave as ordered. And so, strong-arm tactics were employed, brutalizing the man in the process.

Scandalized passengers took videos of the man being forcibly dragged out of his seat, face bloodied and as they witnessed the gross stupidity of the airline, they resolved never to use it again. After the event, and a brief return by the passenger to the plane, leading to his final escort off, he was taken to hospital; as one passenger noted dryly; he entered a doctor and exited a patient. His own fault, obviously, said CEO Munoz, since the passenger had been "disruptive and belligerent", refusing to leave when invited to.
Still from video
That disruptive passenger will quite likely not have to pay the law firm representing his suit up front, since United Airlines is certain to either settle handsomely to make that end of the problem go away, or have a settlement imposed upon it in a court of law. It will be debatable whether that will be more costly to the airline than the loss of custom by air travellers choosing to take their business elsewhere. This airline won't really require a 'three strikes and you're out' pattern to its loss since two has proven to be sufficient for it to voluntarily reduce the public trust and interest in using its services.

From refusing to allow two teens passage on a flight resulting from disapproval of their leggings while taking advantage of passes given to family and friends of the airlines employees, to strong-arming a passenger to force him to 'agree' with a decision out of his hands. An online petition for the CEO's resignation quickly collected over 24,000 signatures. Mr. Munoz's initial statements via the media, a rather incomplete apology, failed to resonate with horrified passengers and the condemning public.

And nor did the initial reaction to this massive public relations disaster bode well for the future of a company hoping to turn its fortunes around, with shares in its parent company falling four percent before rebounding.

Leggings United Airlines
Nearly 63,000 passengers voluntarily gave up their seats in exchange for compensation on United flights last year. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)

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