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Air NZ boss to United: Don't waste a good crisis

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon says United Airlines ''shouldn't waste a good crisis'' created when a passenger was dragged from an overbooked plane. He said the US airline's ''abysmal failure'' to handle the situation was a great opportunity to completely turn around its culture. ''When you see big failures in customer service like that, it is really linked to the failure of a development of a culture over 20 or 30… ( More...

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Donald Parsons 12
With good training and guidance, let the front line agents handle events with the knowledge that management will back them up. Read the Tom Davis story of how he started an airline - Piedmont - and began a culture of training and trusting the front line employees. Then look at what the employees gave him - one of the best run airlines in history with both on-time and customer service excellence. Hire good people, train them well, trust them, back them up - and let them handle the situations. It's a good working environment for everyone - especially the customer.

[This poster has been suspended.]

ken young 1
Flew Piedmont several times. For the price of fares, staff etc, Best air carrier of its time
Hugh Somsen 1
Loved to fly the old Piedmont.
bruce hall 4
As a former UA executive, I have to agree with Chris Luxon's comment that the Dao case was a symptom of a broken culture that dates back to the management of Wolfe and Pope. For the sake of safety, an airline has to have strict procedures and rules but UA has never rewarded its people for using common sense and using judgement in a situation outside of normal parameters. Empowerment is a powerful tool in building an effective workforce and I look to AL, VX and WN as examples of how successful this can be.
Ronald Price 3
Let's remember that the "United" flight in question was actually operated by Republic Airlines and the crew that was being accommodated was a Republic crew. The primary connection to United in this case was the aircraft livery. Republic should have used reserve pilots to get to fill in if their crew could not get there. It is amazing that the Republic brand has hardly been mentioned. If I ran United, I would hold Republic responsible for this fiasco.
Mike Bogue 2
While that may be true, the majority of the flying public doesn't draw a distinction between the regionals and their mainline counterparts. If United tried to throw Republic under the bus their reputation would suffer more than it already has.
Wow, I didn't know that. It is odd that the media never mentioned the flight being operated by Republic.
James Colby 2
I am only a flying customer of United; I have no credentials that would give me insight into the company's culture or management. [Please go easy on me here; I know that so many of you who comment on these pages are professionals in the airline industry]. I don't see a cancer infecting United's entire organizational culture. I think the flight that night from Chicago was a contractor-originated flight by Republic. If the crew were not mainline United staff, then United's biggest future challenge is to ensure adequate training for contractors who wear the uniform of the major airline they represent. I have 32+years working across two branches of the federal government; I am deeply aware of the problems that contractors can create when rigorous guidance and evaluation by the parent is lacking.
Sam Johnson 2
I concur with Mr. Luxor. United missed a golden opportunity to take United back to the days when passengers were treated like valued customers. The only really nice flight that my wife and I have been on was a Swiss Air flight from Copenhagen to SFO. The service was excellent and the food was the best we have ever had on an airline. Delicious and fresh. On United flights that long from SFO to PEK at about the halfway point to we were served noodles in a Styrofoam cup that had tepid (never close to hot in 12 flights!). The flight attendants acted like they were doing us a favor. Most people would take 1 or 2 spoons of it and that was it. The Chinese know a little about noodles, they were the first to develop them, and the looks on their faces after tasting them was incredible.
One steward said right in front of two older ladies, who only spoke Chinese, "I don't know why these people can't learn to speak English." I said warm water or orange juice is what many Chinese like to drink. It was my understanding that on flights such as that there was at least one airline person on board who could speak the language of the people from the origin country. He did not attempt to get any help.
Fran Turner 1
A positive culture is paramount in ANY business model. It's nothing new.
Jim Burger 1
Ronald, good point. That it was a United commuter was not in most stories. But it doesn't absolve United of responsibility. Most people that go into a McDonald's don't realize that it is a local person that owns the franchise and operates the store. McDonald's rigorously regulates those stores - after all their name is on the big pillar outside. They send inspectors to periodically to make sure their franchisees are living up to McDonald's standards. United's name is prominently displayed on the fuselage of the aircraft, in the gate area, etc. Thus, United bears a responsibility to ensure its "franchisees" share a corporate culture of respect for passengers. You are right, between UAL and Republic, UAL should hold Republic responsible. But UAL has a responsibility to the public that sees UAL's name on the aircraft, on the flight code, boarding pass, etc. that it can't slough off onto its commuter operators and say "it wasn't me."
Jim DeTour 1
See what happens when you don't allow Australian football teams to fight on flights? You get a bunch of pansy's. I'm sure the Australia Rules Football League Commission would agree on that. Nothing better than a good scrum in the isles all tanked up with alcohol.
mikeNY 1
Deregulation in 78 brought lower fares, but with consequences adversely affecting behavior, respect, and common decency.(121)
An option to 'pay more/expect more' remains available for those who can afford ... flying private.(135)
Mock Bawad 1
I have news for Mr. Luxon: AirNZ isn't so great, either. They had pretty p-poor customer service in Rarotonga one day, when they canceled a flight back to the US and didn't have anyone at the airport counter until much later in the evening. Lines of passengers expecting to leave impatiently waited while it took the airline hours to sort out our accommodations, and they didn't give us dinner. My letter to Mr. Luxon was barely answered, with a paltry 7,000 mileage goodwill bonus, nothing more. AirNZ isn't so great, either, and I would fly United before I ever set foot on ANZ again.
ken young 1
There is a fine line here. When an individual customer or a plane full of them is mistreated by the company, yes, then there is a problem with the culture of the company.
On the other side. if a passenger acts in an uncivilized manner and refuses to comply with FAA rules and crew instructions, then creates turmoil by deliberately acting in a combative manner, the crew is then forced to act.
Air carriers have a duty to treat their customers as "guests", but must not be forced into the trap of kowtowing to the lowest common denominator.
beilstwh 2
Exactly and since he was not being disruptive and they were illegally attempting to remove him from a flight AFTER he was in his seat it is 100% a culture problem. The law says you can eject someone from the flight if the airlines overbooked the flight. They did NOT overbook the flight. They just decided to throw out 4 PAYING customers so 4 of their nonpaying employees could dead head.
ken young -1
And here is the fine line. Contract of Carriage gave the carrier the right to pick a passenger for removal. The guy that was selected was offered , depending on which report one wishes to believe, $800 to $1000 and a night in a hotel with transportation to and from the airport. The passenger became non cooperative and belligerent. At that point, the carrier was well within in the FAA rules to summon the authorities. ....We CANNOT allow individuals to decide to disrupt and act out whenever they feel like it. There are OTHER people involved. That man was disrupting the lives of everyone else around him. Now, should the situation been handled better? Sure. The fault there lies with the people who removed the man being ill trained. In my opinion NO one should be allowed to carry a badge and a gun without intense training in negotiating skills and one of the martial arts that trains in submission holds and pain compliance.
In many instances, a person with these skills and end a situation in less than 30 seconds and do it quietly. The affect on the unruly individual is temporary. No one gets hurt. And that's that
beilstwh 4
They can pick passengers to remove in cases of OVERBOOKING. There was no instance of over booking.
VL Chenevey 1
I have questions. I'm a frequent flier and have never worked for an airline. Help me out here.
1) Is there more to this story? Dao and his spouse accepted an offer to take a later flight (regardless of the airline's reason) and left the aircraft. Then Dao decided he didn't like the offer, and returned to the aircraft, leaving his spouse in the terminal. Apply a reasonable person test here, what would you do? You've deplaned by choice, then changed your mind. Do you reboard and argue with the flight crew?
2) Is part of the problem that airfares are nearly the same as they were 30 years ago? I know there are baggage fees and no free food, etc. but airfares seem to be the only consumer price that hasn't risen at the same rate as comparable services. That Republic pilot probably makes $40k/year, and the FAs (who aren't paid until wheels-up) and the ground agents likely make less than $30k/year (please correct me here). Their schedules are lousy and now they have an unruly passenger. Safety first, want none of that in the air. Time to call in the thugs.
What do you think? It seems that mistakes were made on both sides and we do not know the whole story.
beilstwh 1
no, Dao never agreed to leave the plane and said that he had patients to see first thing in the morning. He was just chosen "randomly" from the people who were not in first class, frequent flyers, or paid full fair for their ticket. Instead of avoiding the confrontation by selecting someone else they decided to have him assaulted and dragged off the plane by the airport mall cops.
In addition to the money and hotel, he should've also been offered another round trip ticket to anywhere in the contiguous USA. Since this man was so adamant about not giving up his seat, they should've moved on to other passengers.


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