This story is about businesses facing up to the reality that developing a healthy positive work/ business culture where the consumers and the employees are treated with respect and dignity have to be part of its risk management plans. Making this a priority should be as important as improving revenues, market shares and profits. This pro-active practice would be an insurance policy towards corporations avoiding real damage done to its branding with all the negative associated consequences like bad publicity going viral, dramatic loss of reputation, customers, market share and revenues. In short, businesses which forget the importance of providing its customers with an outstanding positive experience and at the expense of valuing its employees, will eventually lose its lucrative branding and possibly could place its very existence in peril.
Remember the story about a family vacationing at a famous hotel on Disney property where a child was dragged into nearby waters by an alligator. The news story faded away as the family decided not to file suit. The real rest of the story is that the family’s attorneys uncovered Disney emails where Disney employees had been observed feeding the alligators in this very same pond. While the employees had been admonished, the Disney management chose not to remove these alligators in this pond which is a common practice in Florida. It could be said that Disney placed its brand of being a safe, fun place for families to vacation, at risk because those in power forgot about what was most important, its customers.
If this strategy of establishing positive work environments where the consumers’ needs are highly valued had been the norm, then entities like Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, GM could have saved its organizations from a lot of pain.
Now we have the example of United Airlines were the executives appear to be tone deaf as to why the public is so outraged and contemptuous of its recent action of forcing a paying customer who was sitting down on a United plane, to be removed against his will because the airline needed room for four of its own employees.
Fortunately, passengers were astute enough to film the entire event as the gentleman doctor of Asian decent was on the ground screaming as he was being dragged away by his arms. While the video has gone viral in the USA, it is nothing in comparison to how it is being viewed in China. The tweeter feed is buzzing with comments along the lines. “and the U.S. dares to talk about “human rights.”
The airline had alternative solutions like offering greater compensation to encourage passengers to voluntarily relinquish their seats. In this case, United had decided that $800.00 was adequate compensation but its competitor, Delta had been enticing volunteers with $1300.00. And then United decision makers could have opted to hire a driver and a car to relocate its employees to a destination of about 4 1/2 hours away in travel time (from Chicago to Louisville, Ky). But the company would have considered these options only if it truly honored its obligations to its paying consumers.
Here is the rest of the story…
On 4/11/17, Alana Wise of Reuters told the following story, “United Airlines under fire after passenger dragged from plane; officer put on leave.”
“United Airlines (UAL.N) sparked outrage on Monday (4/10/17) for the treatment of a passenger who was physically dragged off a plane the airline had overbooked, and one of the security officers involved in the incident was placed on leave pending an investigation.”
“Videos posted online by other passengers showed a man screaming as officers yanked him from his seat on United Flight 3411 before it departed from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday (4/9/17).”
“The man, who appeared to be Asian, was seen being dragged down the aisle on his back by his hands, body limp, bleeding from the mouth, glasses askew and shirt pulled up above his navel. The videos sparked outrage on social media, the second time in less than a month that United was criticized for its treatment of passengers.”
“In a letter circulated to employees and seen by Reuters, United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz did not apologize for the way the passenger was handled, writing that the passenger had “defied” security officers.”
“Munoz said there are lessons the company can learn from this situation, though he impressed that he “emphatically” stands behind his employees.”
“We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation),” Munoz wrote. “When we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions.”
“The Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement that one of the officers did not follow protocol and added that he had been placed on leave pending a review for actions not condoned by the department.”
“The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it was reviewing whether United complied with overbook rules that require airlines to set guidelines on how passengers are denied boarding if they do not volunteer to give up their seats.”
“While it is legal for airlines to involuntarily bump passengers from an oversold flight when there are not enough volunteers, it is the airline’s responsibility to determine its own fair boarding priorities,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement.”
‘JUST KILL ME’
“The incident was one of the top-trending topics on Twitter as users took to the website to express their anger toward the airline.”
“Video of the incident posted to Twitter account @Tyler_Bridges shows three security officers huddling over the seated passenger before dragging him to the floor.”
“Bridges said the man told United staff that he was a doctor and had to return home to his patients.”
“The airline said it had asked for volunteers to leave because additional flight crew needed to get to Louisville.”
“Many social media users criticized United for how it handled the situation.”
“Apologize for saying you ‘had to’ do this. There were other options and you know it,” user @TessaDare wrote in a series of posts retweeted thousands of times. “Apologize for creating and allowing a corporate culture that says it’s okay to treat passengers with such disregard and disdain.”
“In Bridges’ video, a woman asks: “Can’t they rent a car for the pilots and have them drive?” Two uniformed men then reach into the man’s seat and snatch him from his chair.”
Fellow passenger Jayse D. Anspach, who goes by @JayseDavid on Twitter, wrote: “No one volunteered (to leave), so @United decided to choose for us. They chose an Asian doctor and his wife.”
“It looked like he was knocked out, because he went limp and quiet,” Anspach wrote, “and they dragged him out of the plane like a rag doll.”
“Another video shows the distressed man, still disheveled from the wrangle, returned to the cabin, clinging onto a curtain at the back of the plane and repeating: “Just kill me,” and “I have to go home,” as blood streaked down his mouth.”
Update on 4/27/17: Reuters has reported that “United Airlines (UAL.N) has a reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum with the passenger who was dragged from a Chicago flight earlier this month in an incident that sparked international outrage, an attorney for the passenger said on Thursday.”
“Dr. David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American doctor, was hospitalized after Chicago aviation police dragged him from the plane to make space for four crew members on the flight from the city’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky.”