Culture

I Can Fix United's Internet Outrage Problem

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The Internet has gotten mad about a few things recently. Most notably, the Chinese doctor who was unceremoniously knocked around and dragged off a United Airlines flight because he refused to voluntarily give up his seat for a United employee. I have to say, this is one of the worst episodes of bad customer service I’ve ever seen. Rush Limbaugh sagely pointed out that no other venue ever overbooks seats. Baseball games don’t sell one seat to two people. No sports stadium would ever do this, or any other venue he could think of. We all understand why the airlines do it, but it’s awfully shady. You know it, I know it, and they certainly know it. If it had been a simple matter of an overbooking, then I’m not sure this would have happened. Instead, you would have had paying customers unable to get on a flight in the first place and no one being dragged off. In this instance, however, it wasn’t overbooked as first reported. Instead, four United employees had somewhere to go to make another flight, and so management tried to boot four paying customers in favor of four non-paying employees. Where I come from this is called, “Hell to the no.” Flying is bad enough. You get treated like cattle, felt up in the “security” line, barked at, bullied about the size of your bag, charged extra for God knows what, squished into a too-small metal chair and numbed from the waist down, unable to get to the bathroom without putting your cleavage around the nose of the lucky chap next to you, and all for the bargain price of … hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

So when the beleaguered hordes of us out here who have suffered the “friendly skies” see a passenger who just wants to get to his @?#%#!? home yanked out of his seat and roughed up until bloody and dragged off a plane, we get a little upset. It doesn’t really even matter if he had it coming, we’ve had enough.

But I am about to be Olivia Pope for United CEO Oscar Munoz, and solve this right now because he’s doing a terrible job. He’s the living example of what not to do: Blame the guy who got a bloody face for being “belligerent” (um…have you been on an airplane? If the experience doesn’t make you a little belligerent you must be Mother Teresa), then leak details of his sordid past to the media before finally apologizing and admitting United’s mistake. None of that helps. Amateurs.

This is a new day. This is the timeline when the Internet decides one day that it wants something and it will not be satisfied until it gets that thing. So it’s time to outsmart the Internet. First, you pay that guy who got dragged a pile of money. A big pile. Do it quickly and publicly. Then you appease the Internet by solving some of its other recent problems. I suggest “Brad’s Wife,” who was suddenly and unceremoniously put out of work by her heartless employer, and April the giraffe, who will not give birth, angering millions.

Hire Brad’s Wife to be a flight attendant or a gate agent or, heck, even a greeter at the airport where she lives. Then create an entire marketing campaign (complete with its own hashtag, #UnitedForBradsWife) around the fact that United hired Brad’s Wife when Cracker Barrel threw her away like garbage after 11 years of dedicated service. Then you offer free flights to any veterinary expert who could make that stupid giraffe, April, drop that baby! Imagine the commercials they could make with an adorable baby giraffe and doting new mother, together at last because of United Airlines’ swift intervention. Maybe Brad’s Wife could make a commercial with April and the new baby. This would surely send the Internet into fits of uncontrollable glee. United stock would soar, the Internet would cheer and you could go back to treating all your customers like garbage again (except without the blood letting and violence) and no one would remember this poor bleeding man who just wanted to go home.

Problem solved. You’re welcome.