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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

David Dao

Oscar Munoz
Oscar Munoz
Oscar Munoz, born 1960, is an American businessman. He was named president and chief executive officer of United Airlines on September 8, 2015. | Oscar Munoz, United Airlines, Businessman, Airline, Flight,

United Airlines and their stand-up response

A passenger was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight by law enforcement recently after refusing to give up his seat. According to a person who says they were on the flight, the airline needed room on the overbooked aircraft to reposition crew for another flight. But when it couldn't find enough volunteers, even after offering $800, the airline selected the man, who is a doctor, and several other passengers to deplane. The video quickly made its way around the internet and social media. In a statement to Business Insider, United Airlines said:

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.

There is a point where corporate policies are placed ahead of common sense and shared values. As a frequent, frequent flyer of United, I was incredibly relieved (and somewhat proud) to receive a statement from Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. It is incredibly difficult to appropriately rectify an unfortunate event like this, especially when it's social media sensationalized and numerous witch-hunts are afoot. Regardless of how one likes or dislikes a United, there are tens of thousands of great people working there and hopefully this incident can help prevent similar scenarios from ever occurring again. With their permission, I am sharing the letter with you;

Letter from Oscar Munoz
Letter from Oscar Munoz

A letter from Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines. |
Dear Mr Stipkovich,

Each flight you take with us represents an important promise we make to you, our customer. It's not simply that we make sure you reach your destination safely and on time, but also that you will be treated with the highest level of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.

Earlier this month, we broke that trust when a passenger was forcibly removed from one of our planes. We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words.

For the past several weeks, we have been urgently working to answer two questions: How did this happen, and how can we do our best to ensure this never happens again?

It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.

Fixing that problem starts now with changing how we fly, serve and respect our customers. This is a turning point for all of us here at United – and as CEO, it's my responsibility to make sure that we learn from this experience and redouble our efforts to put our customers at the center of everything we do.

That's why we announced that we will no longer ask law enforcement to remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board – except in matters of safety or security.

We also know that despite our best efforts, when things don't go the way they should, we need to be there for you to make things right. There are several new ways we're going to do just that.

We will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000 and will be eliminating the red tape on permanently lost bags with a new "no-questions-asked" $1,500 reimbursement policy. We will also be rolling out a new app for our employees that will enable them to provide on-the-spot goodwill gestures in the form of miles, travel credit and other amenities when your experience with us misses the mark. You can learn more about these commitments and many other changes at hub.united.com.

While these actions are important, I have found myself reflecting more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to you and the communities we serve.

I believe we must go further in redefining what United's corporate citizenship looks like in our society. You can and ought to expect more from us, and we intend to live up to those higher expectations in the way we embody social responsibility and civic leadership everywhere we operate. I hope you will see that pledge express itself in our actions going forward, of which these initial, though important, changes are merely a first step.

Our goal should be nothing less than to make you truly proud to say, "I fly United."

Ultimately, the measure of our success is your satisfaction and the past several weeks have moved us to go further than ever before in elevating your experience with us. I know our 87,000 employees have taken this message to heart, and they are as energized as ever to fulfill our promise to serve you better with each flight and earn the trust you've given us.

We are working harder than ever for the privilege to serve you and I know we will be stronger, better and the customer-focused airline you expect and deserve.

With Great Gratitude,


Oscar Munoz
CEO
United Airlines

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:01 PM EDT | More details

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