By now, I’m sure you have seen the video of the man being dragged off of a United Airlines flight (here’s a link to the video clip in case you missed it). Apparently, there wasn’t enough room for everyone who had actually paid for their seat plus the standby, crew so somebody needed to volunteer to get off the plane. When the airline couldn’t get any takers, they had their computer randomly pick somebody. The problem is the man who got picked had a Dream Girls “And I’m telling you I’m not going” moment. Well, the airline disagreed. Then somebody thought it would be a fantastic idea to have the police drag him off the plane since he wouldn’t leave when he was “voluntold”. So much for “I’m staying and you’re gonna love me”.
Back in 2013 United Airlines resurrected its former slogan, “Fly the Friendly Skies. It did this because it wanted to be more customer service focused. Can I tell you this is not good customer service? And that brings me to this week’s business tip.
Remember, your brand identity isn’t what you say about yourself, it’s what people say about you. You can run an ad that say’s “fly the friendly skies” but this video clip looks anything but friendly. What it says to me is that accommodating a standby employee was more important that honoring the commitment that you made to a paying client when you sold them the seat.
And maybe the standby passenger was a pilot who needed to get to the next destination so he could meet up with his flight crew. We don’t know yet. But it seems at a minimum, the airline should have realized that they had overbooked the flight before they actually let everyone get on the plane. This would have been great time to find a volunteer who was willing to take a different flight. Then if they had no takers, they should have sweetened the deal until they finally got a volunteer. It may have cost the company a little more but I’m sure they will pay a price for all this negative publicity. Sometimes it’s not good to be trending on social media. This would be one of those times.
Even if the passenger is ultimately found to be in the wrong, always remember that cameras are everywhere. If anything goes wrong in a public client situation, you will probably see it posted on social media before the day is over. And people are so “woke” these days, generic apologies are no longer enough to sweep things under the rug once the masses have seen the video. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how powerful is a video clip?
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