United begins damage control; reaches settlement with victim, promise to do better in full-page ad

After a tumultuous month in which its public image has been dragged through a mire, United Airlines finally seemed to be getting their act together in terms of damage control.

Facing backlash from the incident of airport officials forcible dragging a man off a United plane, a rabbit dying midflight, and their advertisement getting laughed out of a festival, the airline started to take steps to resolve the crisis.

United Airlines
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

David Dao, a Kentucky doctor who was dragged off a United Airlines flight after he refused to give up his seat to employees of a partner airline, reached a settlement on Thursday with United for an undisclosed amount of money.

Dao’s legal team said in a brief statement that per the agreement the amount will remain confidential, and praised United CEO Oscar Munoz.

“[Munoz] said he was going to do the right thing, and he has,” Thomas Demetrio said in the statement. “In addition, United has taken full responsibility for what happened ... without attempting to blame others, including the city of Chicago.”

United also issued a brief statement, saying it was pleased to report “an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident that occurred aboard Flight 3411”.

The company took out a full-page advertisement in yesterday’s Washington Post apologising for the airline’s recent behaviour and promised to bring change.

The company also released a memo yesterday indicating practices United says it will follow to improve its service. 

One point in the ad states, “Law enforcement will not remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board ― except in matters of safety and security.” Another specifies that they will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking till up to USD10,000.

The memo includes a report about the incident, in which Munoz acknowledges that he “messed up” with his initial response to the incident.


Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Associate Editor

Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation. 


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