United Airlines hit by backlash after passenger removal controversy

18th Apr 2017

United Airlines have seen stocks fall and bookings cancelled after a video of a passenger being removed from an overbooked flight emerged last week.

The US airline had asked for four volunteers to take compensation in exchange for vacating their seats from the flight departing from Chicago, in order to accommodate staff due to work the following day.

When no volunteers were forthcoming they randomly selected four passengers to vacate the plane. While the first three left as asked, the fourth customer refused.

Cabin crew then called law enforcement officials to physically remove him from the flight.

The passenger resisted and was dragged from his seat and down the aisle. Other passengers filmed the incident, which left the passenger hospitalised.

The videos were widely shared on social media, causing international outrage, resulting in a $1.4bn fall in the airline’s stock market value and threats of boycotts from other passengers.

It serves as a reminder of how quickly poor customer service can affect organisations, not only reputationally, but also at the bottom line

The company has since released several apologies and will be refunding all passengers on the flight. It also pledged there will be no repeat of the incident and to review policies in order to prevent similar controversies in the future.

The CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, said: "That is not who our family at United is. This will never happen again on a United flight. That's my promise. No one should ever be mistreated this way.”

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