After a passenger was dragged off a United airlines flight last week, the internet threw up its arms in outrage. The incident, which was caught on camera, has been watched millions of times by viewers around the world, and left viewers wondering how an airline can treat its customers so poorly and get away with it. Today, the airline's Chief Executive Officer, Oscar Munoz, announced that no one would be fired over the incident, Bloomberg reports.
"It was a system failure across various areas, so there was never a consideration for firing an employee or anyone around it," Munoz said Tuesday on a conference call with analysts.
This isn't a huge shock, considering that Munoz previously defended the security officials who violently dragged 69-year-old Kentucky doctor David Dao from his seat and off the flight. In the company-wide letter Munoz characterized Dao as "disruptive and belligerent" and said he "emphatically" supported the employees who removed him.
This was the worst of several recent missteps the third largest airline made, including the upset caused when two young girls were barred from boarding their flight because they were wearing leggings. Oh, and there was a scorpion on a flight that stung a passenger, too.
Dao being dragged off the flight was pretty unanimously seen as inhumane and an abuse of power. It felt like United might receive the #DeleteUber treatment, and face huge backlash, though Bloomberg noted that the airline said it's too early to tell if the bad publicity hurt their earnings for this quarter. Unfortunately, customers are often so limited when it comes to booking flights in the first place, that it might be harder to adhere to a boycott than with something like Uber, where there are plenty of simple alternatives. That's part of why the outrage over the incident was so fiery; customers already feel taken advantage of due to the lack of choice and high cost of flying, so to receive such horrible treatment on top of that feels like salt in the wound.
Munoz is specifically concerned about the Asian market, though, where the video of Dao's treatment rapidly spread, accompanied by anger. He has a trip planned to China in the coming weeks, which is one of United's critical markets, where he plans to meet with officials about the incident. The inherent racism of targeting Dao as the passenger to be removed from the flight has been noted, including a piece called "Why It Matters That the United Dragging Victim Is Asian" on The New Republic. Well, we'll see how this all shakes out for the airline.