United CEO: Social Media Means People Will Pay Attention When Passengers Are Dragged Off Planes

Image courtesy of MBQ

Months after United Airlines found itself in the middle of a social media crap storm over a video of a ticketed passenger being dragged off a flight so an employee could take his seat, the airline’s CEO admits that the company has to learn to adjust to rapid spread of news online.

Talking with CNBC’s Squawk Box on Wednesday, CEO Oscar Munoz says he’s “very concerned” with that whole overbooked flight problem. To that end, the company is now focusing on being reliable, flexible, and communicating with customers.

“We have such rigid rules sometimes that they don’t have to be rules. They can be policies and procedures that can be adapted for the moment,” Munoz said. “And when things do go wrong, it’s so important that we tell customers what’s going on as best as we can.”

It seems Munoz can feel the beady eye of the internet drilling into his back, as he also admitted that “it’s a new era in regards to social media.”

“That’s just something we have to accept,” he acknowledged.

Making Changes

Along with acknowledging the role that social media can play in such controversies, the airline has been introducing various changes in how it deals with overbooked flights.

United recently unveiled a plan to buy seats from ticketed passengers on popular flights in advance so it can resell them for a higher price, and has also revamped how it compensates passengers who are bumped from flights before boarding.

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