United Airlines is having a really bad couple of weeks, to put it mildly. In late March, a gate agent decided two teenage girls couldn't board a flight simply because they were wearing leggings. Despite an immediate backlash, United stood by the decision:
LeggingsGate was soon overshadowed by Pepsi and Kendall Jenner's collaborative attempt at eliminating police brutality, war, and all the world's other problems with free soda. It's going to be a while before a corporation matches that level of messy, we thought. Hold my beer, United responded.
By now, most of us have seen the horrifying videos of a man being assaulted and forcibly removed from a flight, not because he did anything wrong, but because United agents wanted to give his seat to one of their coworkers. Surely, the visual of police dragging this man's bleeding body down the aisle would inspire a more empathetic response than United's stubborn statement on the leggings controversy, right? Yeah, not so much:
Re-accommodate?! That's what we're calling this?
And United CEO Oscar Munoz was just getting started. In an email to employees, he stood by the "procedures" followed on that flight and didn't waste any time getting into some victim blaming, calling the customer "disruptive and belligerent." More disruptive and belligerent than calling in a mini militia to manhandle an innocent person while people scream in the background?
Turns out CEOs don't get to word vomit into the void without consequences. United stock took a huge nose-dive, losing nearly one billion dollars in a single day.
And just like that, Munoz is suddenly super duper sorry. Here's his latest attempt at putting words in a non-outrageous order:
The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.
I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.
It's never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We'll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.
I promise you we will do better.
Munoz wants to be on a first-name basis now, as if to remind us that he's just a human being doing his best (you know, kind of like how that customer is simply a human being who was trying to get from point A to point B without getting violently attacked and villainized for no reason). And to think, all of this could have been avoided if Munoz hadn't insisted that body-slamming an innocent person was normal.
So, in the words of great philosopher Justin Bieber, is it too late now to say sorry? Time -- and the stock market -- will tell.