Twitter is having a field day with the United Airlines rumpus.
A video clip of a United Airlines passenger being violently dragged off an overbooked flight went viral, and people just can't stop mocking the company.
Passenger David Dao, 69, had refused to be “bumped” from the overbooked flight - an airline practice that has now come under increased scrutiny. Usingthe hashtag #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos, Twitter users did not pull any punches.
#NewUnitedAirlinesMottos "This is your pilot speaking, we want to thank you for flying United today, now 'Leettttt's get ready to RUMBLE!'"— Kent Gilley (@kentgilley) April 12, 2017
Meanwhile the company CEO Oscar Munoz revised his view of the incident and apologised to customers. It didn't save his company that lost millions of dollars overnight as angry passengers cancelled flights and cut up their United Airlines credit cards.
The backlash wasn't just contained to Twitter though, Weibo users joined in, some complaining Dao had been targeted because he looked Chinese.
"The boycott starts with me," posted one online user, BJ Shizilu, along with a photo of his shredded Mileage Plus card. Another said, "Whether the passenger is Asian or not, this is abominable," according to a post by Koukou Liang.
Another Weibo user said, "No need to apologize or explain...please sue United Airlines till it collapses. Boycott fully."
It may be time to “re-accommodate” Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United Airlines. He might be “re-accommodated” in a different industry - mixed martial arts, for example, or corrections, wrote the editorial board of The Washington Post
Munoz was formerly praised as a modern-day corporate mastermind and communications expert for having spiffed up United’s once-pitiable record of customer service.
Munoz’s statement in response to the virad video was clueless. He called it an "upsetting event" on Flight 3411, and said the airline would reach out to the passenger. The passenger might be within his rights to feel that United had reached out to him quite enough already.
Strangely enough, Munoz has made a great show during his tenure of redefining his airline as a “people business”. But in a letter that was leaked of the incident he openlly blamed the victim.
was sending an altogether different message internally. Openly blaming the victim, he assured United personnel in a letter, quickly leaked, that “I emphatically stand behind all of you” and that it was the “disruptive and belligerent” passenger who had invited the assault upon him by refusing to yield his seat to one of the airline’s own employees, who needed to get to Louisville.
The victim on Flight 3411 was Asian-American, fueling the video’s virality on the mainland, where it has been seized upon by millions, at the urging of state media and others, as evidence of anti-Asian bias in the United States and Washington’s hypocrisy on human rights.
It also proved a very costly move for United, with Forbes reporting that the company lost US$255 million of its market value. At that rate they probably could have rented another plane.
Yet while passengers and other concerned citizens rant about boycots, Bloomberg's Matt Levine had this to say: "It was interesting to see people on Twitter talk about boycotting United over this incident, as though that was a possible course of action. Consider the revealed preferences: The man at the centre of the incident, who was violently attacked for sitting in the seat that he had paid for, tried to run back onto the plane. He’s not boycotting United! He just wanted to get home."