The customer isn’t always right
Turning the popular customer service adage on its head, United Airlines recently showed a customer how wrong they can be. A New Year’s Day flight destined for San Francisco hadn’t make it far from its origin in Sydney, when an aggressive passenger’s irate behavior forced the plane to make an unscheduled landing in Auckland, NZ.
Reportedly, an American man aboard flight UA870 began verbally abusing two Indian and Pakistani passengers whom he was seated between. The passenger became upset when the two men he was sharing an aisle with spoke over him in a non-English language.
A slew of racist remarks from the upset man quickly ensued, and the flight team was called to intervene. However, when they attempted to calm the man and deescalate the situation, he turned his vitriol in their direction instead. He unleashed a number of homophobic slurs and hateful insults, prompting the flight team to report the matter to the pilot.
An extremely costly outburst
While unnecessary flight diversions are extremely costly and inconvenient for all, particularly for intercontinental flights such as this one, the pilot made the decision to stop the plane in Auckland and remove the hostile passenger from the flight. The estimated cost of the emergency landing, which included one night of accommodation for the passengers stranded in New Zealand is said to be around $150,000.
The passenger was arrested, and apparently barred from entering the country.
Not an isolated event
However costly, the actions of the flight crew attending to this United Airlines flight speak volumes about their dedication to the comfort and personal safety of all their passengers over some.
The same can not be said of a recent Delta Airways flight that had two men ejected from a New York bound flight when another passenger aboard was uncomfortable with the men speaking to one another and to a relative in Arabic over the phone.
Earning positive PR
It takes very little to cause discomfort and upset in an enclosed and intimate space, such as on an airplane, and diverting a flight to have a single passenger removed was a bold move.
The best PR comes straight from customers themselves, and throughout the incident on the San Francisco bound flight, a handful of passengers on the plane took to Twitter to share their videos and laud the calm, professional demeanor of the in-flight staff.