United CEO Munoz Apologizes Again (This Time For Real?)

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United Airlines has been in the hot waters for the past two days after they kicked out paying passenger so that deadheading crew could get to their destination.

oscar-bleed

United CEO first issued very lame apology (read more here) and then issued another statement to the employees that he was standing by them (read more here).

Now, the United CEO Munoz came up with yet another apology:

Dear Team,

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.

I promise you we will do better.

Sincerely,

Oscar

Conclusion

United should use this as an opportunity to turn things around 180 degrees like what Continental did back in the 1990’s when their goal was “From Worst To First” under Mr. Bethune.

There is not much they can do immediately, but the airline should launch customer friendly policies when it comes to oversells and waivers. Too often the employees are also constrained what they can do: “this is what the computer tells” when using dumbed-down systems in place today.

Treat your employees with respect, give them the tools to required to get the work done and empower them to do what is right for the consumer. Eventually, the shareholders will be happy too.

The problem often is that many companies are just trying to hit their quarterly figures without paying enough attention to the long term. Surely, you can boost the profits in the short terms by jeopardizing the long terms success. The remuneration of the CEO and other managers should be tied to the long term. Usually failures are rewarded with huge bonuses and then with golden parachutes.

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  • McCaron

    I hope that not only this passenger will sue UA and win, but also the 2 girls who couldn’t board because they were wearing leggings
    The guy is only apologizing because of the massive UA bashing on social media. At first, he called the passenger disruptive and belligerent. Dude, when it’s too late, it’s too late.

    • Tim Fountain

      The leggings is a completely different issue. They were flying on buddy passes (i.e. they know someone at UA) and are subject to a dress code standard, which are essentially the same as deadheading employees.

  • Barbarella

    too little and WAY too late

  • Shinzy

    United Airlines put hospital in hospitality!

  • ralph

    This could have been handled better. United could have offered more $$$, the guy could have manned up and left peacefully (or not come back into the place according to some accounts). Also the concerned passengers didn’t give a shit until they had the chance to star in a utube video. None of them could be put out by taking a later flight.

  • disqus_tTCyjAfeVj

    Munoz was supposed to be the saviour of United putting out all these friendly customer messages. Well, it took him a long time to wake up to the gravity of the situation and to make a more or less adequate response, if we now believe what he says (Thank goodness for social media!) I guess we wait and see. As others have observed, presuming United’s pro forma modus operandi did not work as it should, the obvious solution was for the aircraft captain or his delegate to launch an auction. United say they offered $1000. Did all passengers know about this and have the opportunity to bid? If not, obviously the compensation had to go higher. I guess there was someone on that plane who would have been willing to accept $5000 + hotel and meals for their seat. Wonder whether the shareholders will respond adequately when they review Munoz’s salary. How not to run a business!

  • Mario Amadeo

    Hear Hear John. Great insight!. Advise to Muñoz Take the example that was Continental Ailrines. Customer Service second to NONE and respect to passengers. I was a die hard loyal CO flyer. Miss that great company that Gordon Bethune turned around with exceptional sucess.

  • Malcolm

    You are absolutely correct John, good PR is vital, but it will only work if Munoz and the other CEO’s understand the importance of letting your front line staff be human, even if it might cost in short term revenue. Examples being the recent incident of kicking the blind passenger and her dog off a flight, or the landing and removing a passenger on a flight to Hawaii simply because he asked for a blanket to keep warm and refused to pay the $15 charge. They should also get much more demanding of the airport administrations who often manage dirty uncared for terminals.

  • Paul Zeizel

    Empathy goes a very long way in resolving conflict. The lack of empathy also goes a very long way in demonstrating betrayal that passengers may feel. Airline travel in this day and age is anxiety provoking enough without wondering if you are going to be shamed and traumatized by inflexible policies. All relationships, personal and professional are built on flexibility and trust. The relationships can be easily destroyed when the trust is eroded.
    Ironic in a way that this event happened under the new CEO Munoz when there were too many passengers on board. The removal of the prior CEO, Jeff Smisek was the result of a Federal probe that investigated Smisek who used his position as CEO to have flights from Newark to his nearby home in South Carolina resulting in too few passengers being on board in addition to his abuse of power.

  • Joker

    Do you think they still said ‘Thank you for flying the friendly skies’ at the end of this flight? Obviously this event happened on the ground so it may still be true?

  • Xavier

    Are you aware of the tools to find an ñ character? Even with US layout?