Tone-deaf United does it again: Will only reimburse passengers who promise not to sue

Already reeling from the disastrous fallout from the airline knocking a passenger unconscious, breaking his nose, knocking out two teeth, and then dragging his seemingly lifeless body down the aisle in order to make room for a United employee who wanted the man’s seat, United Airlines apparently felt that it wasn’t hated quite yet enough.

CNN just announced that United’s promise to reimburse the cost of the flight to the other passengers who had to witness this carnage now comes with a price: You have to promise not to sue United, or you don’t get your money back from the flight of the damned.

Unconscious United passenger — after Chicago police threw him into a headrest, giving him a concussion, breaking his nose, and knocking out two teeth — being dragged out of the plane.

If you’re asking WTF, you’re not alone.

United has handled this issue disastrously from the beginning. The airline started by blaming the unconscious bloody passenger for the incident, and praising the behavior of its crew who thought this was a good idea. After the uproar got too loud even for United’s tone-deaf CEO Oscar Munoz, Munoz changed his tune and offered a full-throated apology.

But that was yesterday.

Today, newly-emboldened by some equally tone-deaf lawyers, one assumes, United is saying ixnay on the free tickets unless the other passengers promise not to sue.

Please join the over 75,000 people who have called on United to fix this situation now, and change its policies to ensure this never happens again. United still clearly doesn’t get it.

The other passengers can sue? That’s what I’d be thinking if I were one of those passengers. If United wants you to sign something promising not to sue, then you might have a real case against United in court — they seem to think so. And after United reneged on the deal to compensate them, with no strings attached, I’d be hopping mad, and ready to drag United down the courtroom aisle — just out of spite.

What could United possibly be thinking? Hasn’t that been the question all week. Hubris doesn’t stand down easily.

Today was already bad enough for United, with the Dr. Dao’s (the passenger) attorney, Thomas Demento, holding a tour de force of a press conference this morning in Chicago. Demento was amazing. (Someone on Twitter tweeted “Demento 2020.”) And after that performance, United should have been running for cover. But this is United. Never one to miss an opportunity to create an even larger public relations disaster, United responded to Demento’s devastating press conference by acting like an even bigger bully.

One wonders about the conversation in United’s board room this morning:

Munoz: That Demento presser really killed us, huh?

United PR flak: Yep.

United lawyer: Hey, how about we tick off a couple hundred more people who are contemplating suing us?

Munoz: That’s why I pay you the big bucks.

It’s harder to know who is worse at their own PR, United or Carter Page?

Please join the over 75,000 people who have called on United to fix this situation now, and change its policies to ensure this never happens again. United still clearly doesn’t get it.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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