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.