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The CEO of United had an astonishingly bad “apology” for the overbooking fiasco

When you run a big company like United Airlines, it’s hard to prevent your employees from occasionally doing something dumb, like violently removing a paying customer from a flight. But what should be fairly easy is to issue a heartfelt apology once the issue comes to your attention. On Monday, United CEO Oscar Munoz screwed that up big time:

“I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers” is not something you say if you sincerely think your company made a mistake and you’re determined to make it right. It’s something you say when you think your subordinates did nothing wrong but you know you have to issue an apology.

No normal person uses the phrase “re-accommodate.” And United didn’t “have to” eject paying customers from its planes, violently or otherwise. They could have offered customers higher compensation to voluntarily take a later flight. And if they were going to remove someone involuntarily, they didn’t have to knock him onto the floor and drag him down the aisle.

On Tuesday, Munoz finally issued a real, unconditional apology for the incident.