United Airlines Is Working Hard to Become the Most Hated Company in America
United Airlines just seems to keep on making bad headlines for themselves. I cannot believe they are still engaging in public relations fiascos like this after receiving so much bad press:
United Airlines has managed a feat to which no company aspires — outraging the world twice in less than a year. The death of a puppy in an overhead bin this week raises anew the question of whether the carrier’s CEO can hang onto his job.
United has sustained a series of embarrassments on Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz’s watch, from the tragic loss of a French bulldog on Monday to a gaffe on Tuesday that sent a Kansas-bound German shepherd to Japan. Munoz survived one of the worst corporate scandals in recent history almost a year ago, when a video captured airport officers forcibly dragging a United passenger down an airplane aisle.
Airline insiders say this latest blunder is unlikely to cost Munoz his job, given his successes with stabilizing the airline’s workforce and improving on-time performance. Yet Munoz, 59, already lost his elevation to chairman of United Continental Holdings Inc. over his handling of the dragging incident. And escalating social media attention to each gaffe extends their life in the public’s mind.
“The problem is United has long had a culture that some might describe as not customer-oriented and others might describe as anti-customer,” said Bruce Hicks, a former head of communications for Continental Airlines who has consulted for several airlines for more than a decade.
Ultimately, Munoz probably will survive this latest scandal, given the goodwill he’s been building within the company, observers say. Munoz has improved morale among United’s almost 90,000 employees and boosted its position in monthly on-time performance rankings of U.S. airlines to middle of the pack or better from near the bottom.
An airline that historically has had a difficult relationship with labor now has all of its major union groups under contracts. After the passenger-dragging scandal, several union leaders supported Munoz amid speculation about his future.