It hasn’t been a very good month for airlines. After a passenger was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight, media spotlight has illuminated a number of other airline’s faux pas in the wake of the outrage. Customer service is in shambles and odds are stacked against airlines in the public eye.
Following the incident below, here’s what else transpired over the past few weeks…
That same day, another passenger travelling on a United flight was stung by a scorpion after if fell from the overhead luggage compartment.
Less than 24 hours later, a couple travelling from London Luton to Catania in Sicily were ordered to leave the aircraft because easyJet had overbooked the flight. While these passengers weren’t forcibly removed, they were still treated poorly by the airline, which failed to correctly inform them of their rights. Both passengers were entitled to €400 in compensation, but this fact remained unstated. To make matters worse, the only replacement flight offered was four days later, meaning that their six-day Easter break holiday was completely pointless.
One week later, United once again came under fire for removing a couple from a flight travelling to their wedding. After finding a man sleeping across their allocated seats, the two passengers decided to sit a few rows forward as the plane was virtually empty. According to the passengers, they moved back to their seats after being told to do so, but were then escorted from the flight by a federal marshall. The version of events described by United differs quite substantially, who claim that the passengers repeatedly tried to sit in higher-class “economy plus” seats that they did not pay for.
American Airline’s soon followed with it’s own scandal: a mother was struck by her stroller when a flight attendant attempted to remove it from the aircraft:
The airline apologised for the incident, suspending the employee and upgrading the mother and her family to first class on their flight back home.
Next up in the month of horrible airline publicity is Delta. The video below shows a family eventually escorted off a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles because of an issue with seating and infants.
This led to Delta cancelling it’s ‘media day’.
So the spotlight was briefly shifted from United, but only for a few days. At the end of April, a potentially record-breaking bunny rabbit died on a United Airline’s flight from London to Chiago. The animal was alive after landing, but died soon after in a pet facility run by the airline.
Shortly after, at the beginning of May, United apologised after accidentally flying a passenger 4800km in the wrong direction. Allegedly, the passenger was not notified of a last-minute gate change, and was subsequently allowed to board a flight from Paris to San Francisco, instead of her intended destination Newark. Upon arriving at the wrong destination, the passenger had an 11-hour layover before flying back home.
A couple of days later, outrage broke out at Fort Lauderdale airport after Spirit Airline’s cancelled a number of flights. Industrial action led to the airline filing a suit against its pilot union for “unlawful job action by Spirit pilots”. Three people were arrested and charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and trespassing. See video footage of the chaos below:
To top it all off, we come right back to United once again. Just two days ago, a passenger claims she was told to urinate in a cup on a flight from Houston to Kansas City, as she was not able to go to the lavatory while the seatbelt sign was turned on.
So there you have it, folks: a whole month’s worth of PR scandals. Let’s just hope that lessons were learnt from all of this. When it comes to customer service, airline’s can never be too cautious.