United Airlines finally apologizes, as image takes beating
CHICAGOThe chief executive of embattled United Airlines unequivocally apologized April 12 for an incident in which a passenger was dragged off a plane, and promised a thorough review of the airline’s practices.
The apology came after a torrent of criticism of the carrier’s action on a flight April 9 and its initial explanation of it. In images now seen around the world, a passenger was forcefully removed and bloodied in the process - the entire event captured on video by passengers and posted on social media.
The 69-year-old passenger had refused to be “bumped” off the overbooked flight - an airline practice that has come under increased scrutiny since the incident.
“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,” CEO Oscar Munoz said.
“I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.”
The comments were in stark contrast to the company’s initial response, in which it seemed to at least partially blame the passenger, inflaming worldwide outrage.
U.S. media published an email Munoz sent earlier to employees, in which he said the passenger “defied” authorities and “compounded” the incident.
“Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this,” the CEO wrote.
Munoz said April 12 that the company will conduct a “thorough review” of its procedures, including “how we handle oversold situations” and how the airline partners with airport authorities and law enforcement.
He promised to release the results of the review by April 30.
But the public relations damage was done, with calls for boycotts, the U.S. Department of Transportation promising a review of the airline’s actions, and even the White House weighing in.
“Clearly, when you watch the video, it is troubling to see how that was handled,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.