It turns out that not only was this a terrible moral decision, it was bad business as well.
By now you’ve all seen the horrific incident on the United Airlines flight over the weekend where a doctor was literally dragged kicking and screaming off the flight because the airline was stupid/greedy enough to overbook it.
This led to a whole bunch of very justified rage on the Internet, and now we’re learning that it also led to a huge drop in the company’s share prices.
Whether due to principled objections or the awful PR, people have been putting their money where their mouths are and dumping their United shares en masse.
At one point overnight, their value dropped some $800 million AUD (strangely enough, $800 was the offer United offered the doctor to get off the plane – in hindsight, they probably could have bumped that up a bit).
So here's what just happened to real-time sentiment for United.
— StockTwits (@StockTwits) April 10, 2017
It’s a small silver lining to see that companies can be so seriously impacted and influenced by the public – especially after an incident where the public was treated with such disdain.
People power, yeah.
It seems to have also had a material effect on CEO Oscar Munoz, who has quickly changed his tune after assuring his staff in an internal memo that they had done nothing wrong.
— United (@united) April 11, 2017
“It’s never too late to do the right thing. I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will make it right,” he said.
“No one should ever be mistreated this way.”
Ohh United Airlines lose nearly $1bn from their share price and now the CEO is horrified? Thought he backed his staff for their great work?
— MarkDandySC (@MarkDandySC) April 11, 2017
The lesson here for everyone: sometimes the little guys win.
…And also, don’t treat your customers like crap – we all have smartphones now.
United Airlines CEO:
Tues morning: "Passenger was disruptive belligerent"
*share price plummets*
Tues evening: "It was a horrific incident" pic.twitter.com/pDPR2o93f2
— Tom Holder (@tomholder) April 11, 2017