It’s alright it’s only a customer

They say a picture paints a thousand words and someone has done this well with the mock-up of a Lego set following the United Airlines customer controversy a couple of months ago.

You do remember the event, don’t you? It related to what United Airlines’ spokesperson called an “involuntary de-boarding situation.” To add insult to injury (quite literally) United’s CEO apologised “for having to reaccommodate these customers.”

It came about after United Airlines asked passengers to give up their seats involuntarily for compensation. Apparently four crew members needed to get on a flight “in order to work another one in Louisville or else that flight would be cancelled,” an airline spokesperson said.

It seems that by law in the US, and I assume elsewhere, the system allows airlines to involuntarily turf passengers off flights. After all, they are only paying customers!

Even though the system permits this, forcibly removing a paying passenger is what I call a Crime Against Customers.

When no-one volunteered, the airline selected four passengers. When one refused to give up his allocated seat, they followed US Gestapo protocol and had security staff forcibly remove him from the plane.

I read that the passenger, a doctor, suffered concussion, a broken nose and damaged teeth.

How can an organisation have systems and procedures in place that are so totally focussed on putting their organisational needs first and the customer experience last?

Further proof that big is incredibly stupid.

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email