In a week already rife with PR crises, a video of a man being ejected from a United flight left airplane customers all over the world concerned for their safety. However, according to the company's leader, you won't have any troubles — as long as you comply with everything the airline tells you to do, including de-boarding a plane you're already sitting in. United Airlines' CEO sent an email to employees regarding the incident, but unfortunately focused on the customer's allegedly problematic behavior rather than the company's.
According to CNBC, United CEO Oscar Munoz sent a company-wide message to employees that blames the passenger for uncooperative behavior which led to him being bloodied and dragged off the aircraft. Munoz told his staff that the flight's crew "sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation)."
"[Crew members] were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight," the United CEO wrote in the email, which was obtained by several news outlets, including TMZ.
According to Munoz, the passenger "continued to resist - running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials."
There is currently no video evidence to support Munoz' claims, but given the PR crisis this has caused for United, one senses that it will be released soon if video exists.
Less than 24 hours after the videos of the bloodied passenger leaked online, United is already suffering financially from the fallout over this incident. When trading on the New York Stock Exchange opened Tuesday morning, more than $600 million of the company's market value had been erased. The one-day fall of more than three percent of the company's valuation, which didn't begin until early Tuesday morning, appears to have been a reaction to the reactions on social media, rather than a reaction to the incident itself.
The company's revenue stream could also suffer significantly, and not just in the United States. Hundreds of thousands in China have shared posts about United's alleged discrimination against the Chinese American passenger and vowed not to fly with the airline anymore — according to BuzzFeed, Chinese nationals are extremely sensitive to foreign companies they perceive as taking advantage of or mistreating Chinese customers.
This could end up being a huge problem for the airline, because about 14 percent of its revenue comes from routes in the Pacific, according to Reuters.