United Airlines PR Failure: 5 Similar, Terrifying Incidents from the Past

The internet is roaring with calls to boycott United Airlines. United is perhaps one of the worst airlines when it comes to customer service. The worst thing about the company is that it never apologizes, and its executives appear to take pride is standing behind the pathetic customer service and somewhat terrifying incidents. In the wake of the recent incident in which United dragged, bloodied, beat and threw out a customer, I decided to enlist some of the worst customer service experiences faced by people in United flights. However, this list also involves an incident which involved JetBlue.

But first the details of the most recent PR debacle by United.

1- On April 9, a United Airlines flight was scheduled to depart from the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago for Louisville. The flight was overbooked. A representative of the Airlines announced that four passengers were to be de-boarded from the plane because some United employees were on a standby and they had to reach Louisville. The system randomly picked four people from the plane. When one of these four passengers denied to de-board the plan, citing his right to take the flight for which he’d paid for, the company called several guards to drag him off the plane. The rest is history, and you can watch all of it in the video below. The Chicago Aviation department issued a statement that the procedure followed by United Airlines was wrong. Customers have a preference over employees. Several witnesses also say that the passenger who was dragged told the airline representatives that he was a doctor, and he had patients to see, and that’s why he couldn’t miss the flight.

2- In March, United Airlines barred two teenage girls to board a flight Minneapolis at Denver International Airport because the girls were wearing leggings. The airline’s representative told the girls that their dress was not in accordance with the United’s “dress code”. The incident was reported by Shannon Watts, a passenger. United Airlines was brutally grilled after the incident. But again, the company defended

its decision.

3- In 2010, a JetBlue flight attendant named Steven Slater took the airplane mic, hurled abuses to passengers, grabbed a bottle of beer and pulled the emergency parachute to go out of the plane and quit his job at JFK Airport.  Slater was later arrested and charged with criminal mischief. Slated got flared up when a passenger stood up from his seat to pull his bag from the overhead space while the plane was taxing after the landing. When the passenger denied to sit down, Slater took the intercom and started using obscene language against all the passengers. He then grabbed a beer and used the emergency slide and using it to leave the plane.

4- In 2015, a  Muslim chaplain and director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University, Tahera Ahmed, was rebuked and humiliated by a United Airlines (again) flight attendant. Miss Tahera had asked for an unopened can of diet coke, but the attendant refused to give one, citing that the passenger might use it as a weapon. Her exact words were “You Muslim, you need to shut the f*ck up”. Surprisingly, United offered an apology to Tahera in this case, but not without ifs and buts. United said that the flight attended had tried several times to “accommodate”.

Muslim chaplain Tahera Ahmad responds to a question during a news conference Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Chicago. A Shuttle America flight attendant “will no longer serve United customers” following an investigation into the Muslim chaplain’s complaint of discriminatory treatment during a flight last week, an airline spokesman said Wednesday. Ahmad said a flight attendant declined her request for an unopened can of Diet Coke because it could be used as a weapon. The flight was operated by Shuttle America for United. (AP Photo/Christian K. Lee)

5- Musician Dave Carroll and his team boarded a United flight that was scheduled to depart for Nebraska on a fine, sunny day in 2008. After boarding, Carrol randomly looked out of his window and saw his dear wooden guitar being thrown out of the plane by a luggage worker of United. He instantly freaked out and called the flight attendants, who showed no care in the world for the problem. Unlike normal people who would have filed a complaint or wrote posts on social media, Carrol made a song “United Breaks Guitars” which went very famous.

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Fahad Saleem

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