So unless you’ve been living under a rock, the news coverage of United Airlines latest debacle has been unavoidable. The airline was in the news in late March for refusing to let a 10-year-old girl wear leggings on her flight, and then again a month later for dragging a passenger off his flight when it was over-booked.
The video of a man being dragged of the United flight went viral and I mean VIRAL. It was a lead story on CNN, the original tweet was seen thousands of times, we even stopped one of my PR classes to discuss it.
So I guess the question everyone has asking is how do airlines let it get this far? The answer is quite simple and one most companies should be familiar with: United didn’t respond correctly.
In the hours after the video went viral, United released a statement basically reiterating their airline rules. They didn’t apologize, they didn’t admit fault. It basically had every PR person with a braid cringing.
Flash forward to this past week, A man aboard an American Airlines flight tweeted a video of a flight attendant getting violent with another passenger who was with her two children. What’s the difference you may ask? American Airlines apologized and they did it quickly, and people noticed. Twitter users were quick to commend the airline for recognizing what the flight attendant did was wrong.
Sometimes it’s not the actual event that matters, it’s how you handle and respond to it.