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Crisis Case: United Express Flight 3411 Incident

The United Express incident happened at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport in the United States on April 9, 2017. The airline managers offered travel vouchers to four passengers who would vacate their seats for four staff members of the company. However, no passenger accepted, and the managers randomly selected people, including Dr. David Dao, who refused to vacate his seat (Feng, Zhao & Feng 2020, 11). Dr. Dao refused to surrender his seat and take up the vouchers as he claimed that he had a patient to treat the next day. The United Airlines managers called in the Chicago Department of Aviation Security officers to forcibly remove Dr. Dao from the plane (Varma 2020, 15). While the officers were forcibly removing Dr. Dao from the plane, they accidentally struck the latter’s face on an armrest, making him unconscious. The officers continued to drag Dr. Dao out while he was still unconscious.

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The key players in the incident were Dr. David Dao, United Express airline managers, and the Chicago Department of Aviation Security Officers.

The United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, issued a statement the next day on behalf of the company. According to Feng, Zhao, and Feng (2020, 11), Munoz defended the removal of Dr. Dao from the plane, referring to the incident as “re-accommodating the customers.” Munoz sent an email to the United Express staff justifying the removal of Dr. Dao, which contradicted accounts of other passengers and the viral video of the incident. Mr. Munoz later apologized and retracted his statements after suffering sharp criticism from the public. The stock price of United Airlines dropped because of the incident (Ma et al. 2019, 203). Munoz also offered an apology promising such an incident will not happen again.

Several stakeholders were affected by United Express Flight 3411 (2017) such as the airline company, airport staff, and shareholders of the company. The incident affected several other stakeholders, such as the Chicago Department of Aviation Police. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board decertified the Chicago Department of Aviation Police to become a security agency.

References

Feng, Jieyun, Fan Zhao, and Aiqing Feng. “Strategic Manoeuvring by Dissociation in Corporate Crisis Communication: The Case of the 2017 United Airlines’ Passenger Dragging-off Incident.” Argumentation (2020): 1-18. Web.

Ma, Jie, Ying Kei Tse, Xiaojun Wang, and Minhao Zhang. “Examining Customer Perception and Behaviour through Social Media Research–An Empirical Study of the United Airlines Overbooking Crisis.” Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review 127 (2019): 192-205. Web.

Varma, Tulika M. “Responsible Leadership and Reputation Management During a Crisis: The Cases of Delta and United Airlines.” Journal of Business Ethics (2020): 1-17. Web.

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