United CEO Issues Third Statement, This Time Apologizing Directly To The Passenger
In a statement on April 11, Oscar Munoz, United Airlines CEO, called David Dao's removal "truly horrific." This third statement comes after two others that many considered inappropriate.
Shortly after the video became public on Sunday, a United spokesperson confirmed that the incident had taken place.
Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.
On Monday Munoz made statements directly to the incident. In the first, a press release, he claimed that "this is an upsetting event to all of us here at United," and apologized "for having to re-accommodate these customers" while vowing to investigate what happened.
In the third statement, Munoz appears to take responsibility for what happened on Flight 3411, and also expressed apology to Dao, though he refers to him as "the customer forcibly removed." It's a departure from Munoz's second statement, an email sent to company employees Monday evening, in which he described Dao as "disruptive and belligerent."
The fallout from the viral video of the United fiasco has been swift and intense, and grew even more complicated when Dao's identity was revealed and media outlets and Twitter users began blaming him based on his criminal record. Luckily, Munoz's third statement does not mention Dao's history.
Along with an apology to Dao and to the other customers on Flight 3411, Munoz said "it's never too late to do the right thing," and promised a "thorough review" whose results would be released by April 30.
The fallout from Dao's viral (and violent) removal from the flight stems from what many consider an offshoot of police brutality and the current state of air travel. Paired with responses to Dao's history of criminal offences and his race, there appear to be many conflating factors not just to the incident itself, but to the public outcry about it as well.
The ongoing scandal also stems from United's earlier responses, both of which were unsatisfactory to many in their attempts to defend airline and airport staff and blame Dao for his removal. They appear to be paying for those mistakes — reports that they have lost hundreds of millions in stock value since the incident and their responses show that consumers and stock traders aren't happy with this PR nightmare.
This third response is certainly a step in the right direction, but some Twitter users feel that their third statement and apology is a response to their lost shares. There's lessons to learned from this fiasco about victim-blaming and not taking responsibility for massive missteps like this one, but it remains unclear if United or other companies will be proactive rather than reactive in implementing those lessons.