Service quality is one of the reasons for business growth. It’s not always customized, but it is essential for it to be good. In addition to loyalty from your customers, they are likely to give positive references about services to other people, bringing more and more consumers to the company. But brands don’t always value a good relationship with customers, which can harm their image and growth. A good example of this is United Airlines.


You might have heard of it; it is the third largest airline in the world, also famous for its (bad) service. We have gathered some of those cases here, of what not to do with your customers:

Overbooking Problems

The most famous (and embarrassing) case of all. In 2017, a passenger was forcibly removed from an overbooked plane (excess of passengers). Four people needed to give up their places for the company’s employees who needed to be at the destination the next day, but no passengers accepted the proposal, even with an offer of $800. So, the company chose people at random. According to witnesses, one of the people chosen to leave was David Dao and, after refusing many times, security guards entered the plane to remove him.


See the video that one of the passengers published on Twitter, showing the moment David was dragged off the plane, having already been hurt:



United Airlines published a statement from CEO Oscar Munoz on Twitter admitting the mistake and apologizing for what had happened. A company policy review was also promised.


This is an extreme case of bad company-client relationship. The case became known around the whole world and was much discussed on social media. So, what to do in this situation? First, warn passengers about the overbooking problem before allowing them to board the plane. And never, under any circumstances, forcibly drag a passenger off a plane. It’s necessary to always empathize with the customer and preserve a quality service when faced with company problems.


2018 had barely started and things were already bad for United Airlines. In March, a puppy died during a flight after a flight attendant forced the animal’s owner to put it in the luggage compartment. The dog, Kikito, wasn’t in a bag made for animals — which made breathing difficult. Some passengers spoke out on social networks, which made the case become famous online. The negative feelings of users expressed online increased by about 140% on the day of the occurrence, according to data from Digimind. The company took responsibility and apologized for what happened, claiming that this situation should never have happened.


So then, what should have been done?

According to the company’s own rules on animal transport, the dog should have been under its owner’s seat in a rigid or flexible box approved for transport.


To make matters worse: in 2017, United Airlines had the largest number of animal deaths among all other United States companies. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), there were 18 deaths and 13 injuries.


United Airlines breaks guitars

It’s been a long time, but we thought it would be interesting to mention: in 2008, Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, were traveling to Omaha with United Airlines. At the connection in Chicago, he saw the baggage handlers throwing the band’s instruments. They broke his Taylor guitar, which had cost $3,500.00 and nothing was done by the company. After nine months of complaints, the final settlement was for $1,200 in air travel vouchers. Read the full story here.


Don’t mess with musicians

Dave told the company’s agent via his email that he was going to write three songs about his experience with United Airlines and make them available for download for free on his website. Guess what: that’s what he did. The song became a hit on the internet and one the most viewed videos. In addition, the musician published a book called ‘The power of a voice in the era of social media’ and also gave a lecture on the subject.


Listen to the first song here:


What can be done?

Deal with consumer claims carefully and be responsible for any damages. That is, don’t act as if the company was not a fault for what happened and solve problems in a fast and simple manner. It must be understood that companies don’t waste time or money paying due attention to its consumers, to the contrary.


In some cases with United Airlines, it is important to emphasize that the relationship between companies and customers should not be a choice but a duty. Consumer Experience must be good and personalized. Good for consumer loyalty, good to be praised, and especially, good enough to be passed on.


Nowadays, with the use of social media, access to information is much easier, which can compromise your company. So, it’s important to always be aware. So then, how is your relationship with your customer?

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