United Airlines is by any definition getting exactly what it deserves — a long-running public relations and financial nightmare. The violent removal of a doctor from a flight in Chicago on Sunday — the airline wanted to put airline employees in four seats and remove four passengers — is the “gift” that keeps on giving. Dr. David Dao had more bad news for the airline when he hired one of the country’s foremost trial lawyers to represent him. Thomas Demetrio will take no prisoners. And he’ll take millions of dollars from United by the time this is over.
United CEO Oscar Munoz keeps apologizing, but the cell phone videos of Dao’s removal — he is 69, by the way — keep playing. The company’s stock nosedived, and Munoz appeared a little slow to reach the proper level of outrage.
Other airlines probably aren’t crazy about this, either, as it going to focus attention on passenger service and treatment industry wide. Some few years ago, the practice of keeping people waiting for hours in planes when there were delays brought congressional action. After this, airlines better brace for another inquiry and more scrutiny of their policies on overbooking flights.
What happened to Dr. Dao cannot be excused or explained, beyond the fact that someone in the chain of command showed incredibly bad judgment. What United is getting in the way of horrendous blowback from the public is entirely justified.