United Airlines has had it’s share of shaming this week as the story of the airline’s treatment of David Dao went viral after a video showed the physician being dragged from his seat and off of a late night flight.
UA’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, poured gasoline on the fire with his heartless response to the horrific incident that has shocked the public around the globe.
He commending his flight staff “for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right” and apologized for “having to re-accommodate these customers.” In a subsequent message to employees, the CEO called the passenger “disruptive” and “belligerent.”
While some are now engaged in a character assassination of Dao, another passenger has now come forward with a similarly disturbing story of his experience on the airline.
Geoff Fearns is president of TriPacific Capital Advisors, an Irvine investment firm that handles more than half a billion dollars in real estate holdings on behalf of public pension funds. He had to fly to Hawaii last week for a business conference, according to LA Times.
“I understand you might bump people because a flight is full,” Fearns said. “But they didn’t say anything at the gate. I was already in the seat. And now they were telling me I had no choice. They said they’d put me in cuffs if they had to.”
When Fearns complained, they sat him in economy class in the middle seat between a couple having a nasty fight and refused to sit next to one another.
The 59-year-old, upon returning home, requested a full refund for his flight from Kauai and asked for United to make a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
He received an email back from a United “corporate customer care specialist” apologizing that Fearns apparently had an unpleasant experience and offered to refund him the difference between his first-class ticket and an economy ticket and give him a $500 credit for a future trip on the airline.
Dao and Fearns’ experiences aren’t new to United and reflect a coldhearted mindset focused solely on policy procedures. Without public pressure, the airline carries on with it’s hardline stance.
One example of public pressure forcing UA to change its policy regarding baggage handling came about in 2009 when a musician produced a song about his expensive guitar being ruined by the airlines employees. After the song went viral, United changed its stance – but only because the fallout eventually cost them more than ignoring the claim.
You can view a video of that hilarious song HERE.