On Sunday night, United Airlines Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville received media attention following a violent confrontation on the plane. The flight was overbooked, and when a passenger wouldn’t leave, he was forcibly removed by two security guards who physically dragged him out of the plane. The man was allegedly picked at random from four overbooked passengers, and the extra seats were needed for the standby crew, the Guardian reports. An $800 flight voucher was offered for one of the four volunteers, but nobody took the offer, resulting in the violent confrontation.
The victim was David Dao, a doctor. The man allegedly claimed that he couldn’t take the voucher offer because he had patients he needed to see early the next morning, the New York Daily News reports. The overbooking of flights has always been a big issue and complaint among customers. However, never before has a violent attack because of it been caught on video.
Of course, the attack was recorded by a fellow passenger, and video of the incident soon spread across the internet. Since then, United Airlines has received widespread backlash.
In the most recent development, the Guardian reports that shares of the airline have plummeted in the days since the incident. The shares reportedly dropped a shocking 4 percent by noon on Monday, equating to nearly $1 billion off the company’s value. Afterward, there was a small rally, resulting in a total drop of 2.8 percent since Sunday. This leaves close to a $600 million loss for the corporation.
This share value decrease spells big trouble for the airline, but that isn’t the only consequence of the incident.
The passenger’s removal caused controversy in China, as the man believed he was being racially profiled due to being Chinese. The nation has called for a boycott of the company since Sunday, Buzzfeed reports. The bloody photos of the man that emerged after the attack did not help matters, either. A country like China (which is massive and very wealthy) boycotting the brand could mean trouble for the airline in the future, as plenty of profit comes from the Chinese market and United is a very popular airline in the country. Only time will tell how this controversy and the boycott will affect the company further.
In a press release from the company afterward, CEO Oscar Munoz claimed the passenger was “disruptive and belligerent,” sparking further backlash from the public, Fortune reports. He also defended the staff members by claiming that they followed the established procedures during the incident. In the same release that he seemed to blame the passenger, he also apologized and said he “continues to be disturbed” by the footage. He promises a look into what’s broken in the hope that it can be fixed and never happen again.
In the meantime, social media has caught fire, with many new parody slogans for the airline emerging since Sunday. As CTV News reports, the hashtag #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos has poked fun at the company, mocking the attack itself and the airline’s subsequent response.
Why beat your competitors when you can beat your customers?
— Zeldro (@byzeldro) April 11, 2017
"We will seat you, beat you, and blame you for our overbookings"
— Missy See (@MyNameIsSee) April 11, 2017
Fight or flight #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos????????️????️
— cynthia (@cynthialoves1) April 11, 2017
On the political side of things, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has commented on the incident. He called the event “unfortunate” and says the handling of it was “troubling.” In a racially tense time in the U.S., this incident is only one of many that have been deemed by some as “racially motivated.”
There’s no telling just how far this backlash will spread, but things are unlikely to calm down anytime soon. With shares down and boycotts on the rise, the negative affects have already been plentiful as public reactions to incidents like this are anything but predictable.
[Featured Image by Rick Kern/ Getty Images]