Wednesday, April 12, 2017

United Scare Lines

The memes are coming fast and furious. Ignited Airlines. United Scare Lines. The best one I saw was an ad from Southwest Airlines with the tag line..."We beat the competition...not you." Earning a lifetime exemption in the CEO's hall of shame, United top dog Oscar "the grouch" Munoz, poured gasoline on the fire by praising his employees for their outstanding work in the case of one Dr. David Dao, who had made the ghastly mistake of paying for a ticket on Mr. Munoz's airline. When news came that the flight was "oversold" none of the passengers were willing to take United up on their offers of money, hotel vouchers, stock options and free cake, to get off the plane. That's when the stellar employees at the friendly skies broke out the best practices handbook, looked up "what to do when passengers will not agree to forfeit their seats" and read the words, beat the ever loving snot out of them.

It is for precisely this reason that corporate public relations departments exist, and this morning they sprang into action. The New York Post published a hit piece on the victim. Apparently, the good doctor Dao isn't so good, having had his medical licenses taken away from him...twice, for writing bogus prescriptions to various gay lovers. When he wasn't trading drugs for sex, he was attending anger management classes mandated by a string of employers. The snakes over in the PR department are hoping that this information will rehabilitate the company's battered image by suggesting that the bloodied doctor had it coming.

However, none of Dr. Dao's past troubles in any way change the fact that he paid good money for a ticket, was sitting in his seat minding his own business, when he was forcibly removed by the company who sold him said ticket. This is a part of the free exchange of goods and services that Adam Smith never imagined....the part where you sell someone a product, then right before he uses it, you rip it from his hands. Imagine for a minute that you're sitting at a very crowded Chick-fil-a about to take your first bite of that very delicious chicken sandwich, when suddenly the manager runs across the dining room and literally grabs the sandwich out of your hand, explaining that unfortunately they have discovered someone else who is even hungrier than you are, so that sandwich will have to be given to him. But, no problems because the management will give you a free sandwich on your next trip to long as you buy a large drink. Or, suppose you and the wife have just settled in to your comfy king sized pillow top at the Hyatt Regency in Boca Raton, when suddenly, several large men burst through the door to inform you that someone else far more important than you needs your bed. "Here's your hat, what's your hurry?"

The American airline industry is a hot mess at the moment. I don't know enough about the business to explain their incompetence, but my trick knee tells me that dragging paying customers off of planes in this age of cell phone cameras might be the single most epic public relations fail in history!