In the wake of the violent expulsion of a passenger from a reportedly overbooked flight, United Airlines has been in a bad press free fall. First the airline apologized for overbooking, never mentioning the assault on 69-year-old passenger David Dao. Then chief executive Oscar Munoz’s email to employees drew ire for its tone-deaf response to the violent intervention. Munoz would go on to make a series of statements, and mounting apologies, all of which the New York Times has helpfully collected. Then it came out the flight from Chicago to Louisville was not actually overbooked at all, but that four paying customers were being bumped so United could fly their own crew to the destination. And all this came after United took heat for forcing a young girl to change clothes because they deemed leggings inappropriate flight attire, on a sexist, stupid whim. And the bad press just keeps coming as United fucks with the happiness of honeymooners.
USA Today shared the story of a couple who was booted off the half-empty flight from Houston to Costa Rica, where they were to get married. Basically, the couple claims their seats where overrun by a rogue napper, so they took others. United claims they had no right to take other more expensive seats (economy plus), and that the couple didn’t listen to the crew (which they deny). But even if the couple was willfully self-upgrading, what does it matter if those seats are empty anyway? Friendly skies my ass.
And New Now Next reports a gay couple was forced into a very stressful and expensive situation because of a screw-up with United at Newark Liberty Airport. The husbands were headed to a cruise, and in advance had checked to be sure the Segway miniPro one uses to get around would meet TSA standards. But United scoffed once they got through security, “We don’t even allow Samsung phones, we definitely won’t allow that.” The couple was forced to leave the scooter behind at the airport—an offense that got them a warning of a fine and potential arrest—and had to pay for a scooter on the vacation that was costly and less versatile, forcing them to cancel several activities they’d planned in advance.
Then there was the bizarre story of how a United passenger was stung by a scorpion that tumbled out of an overhead bin on his flight from Houston to Calgary. Because Snakes On a Plane was too on the nose for this ongoing nightmare factory for travel.
Considering all the victim-blaming United-apologists you find online, you might suspect that stories like these won’t actually hurt the company’s bottom-line much. But already there’s been a reported drop in ticket sales, and CNN reports United’s parent company United Continental is losing money besides. Turns out the increased costs of fuel and employee salaries means United needs customers now more than ever. So maybe they should reconsider their shoddy customer service and infuriatingly inconsistent policies.