United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz on Tuesday apologized to the United States Congress for his company causing a passenger to be dragged off a UA flight last month.
United failed its customers and failed as a company in that incident, and this has to be a turning point for the airline, Munoz told the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee at a hearing into airline industry practices.
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United should not have called on law enforcement to drag the passenger, David Dao, off the plane, Munoz told the committee. It also should not have rebooked crew at the very last minute, which led to its requesting passengers to deplane voluntarily and switch flights. When none did so, Dao was selected at random to give up his seat.
Dao informed the crew that he was a doctor who needed to see patients, and refused to comply. Law enforcement officers then dragged him off the plane by force, bloodying his face in the process.
United should have offered more compensation to persuade passengers to give up their seats, Munoz said, acknowledging that the company’s protocols detracted from customer service.
Committee chairman Bill Shuster warned the industry that the committee will take action if it does not see meaningful results that improve customer service, and that companies would not like the outcome.
Committee members discussed the level of competition in the industry.
They said they were looking into what Congress could do to get airlines to address customer service issues better, and warned they would hold airline executives accountable.
In addition to Munoz, United Airlines President Scott Kirby and senior executives from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines attended the hearing. William McGee, aviation consultant with the Consumers Union, also appeared.
Room for Improvement
United’s apology to Dao and…