It doesn’t look good, does it?
CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
First, the good news.
United Airlines has already changed its policy with respect to crew members turning up at the last minute and expecting to get on a flight, even bumping paying passengers as they do.
Now they must report at the gate 60 minutes before departure, so that disappointed passengers can be bumped at the gate, rather than be dragged out of a plane and have their faces smashed in.
Now, the not so good news.
It seems that after paying passenger Dr. David Dao was dragged away and taken to hospital, no one at United considered that he and his wife might need their bags.
As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Dao’s lawyer Thomas Demetrio revealed that Dao and his wife’s bags weren’t dragged off the plane.
“The airline didn’t even have the courtesy to give the Daos their luggage,” Demetrio said.
Please, let me guess. The staff were just following procedure. Or perhaps, no one gave it a second thought, as the priority was to get the plane to leave, now that the entirely non-belligerent passenger had been forcibly removed.
“Instead, the airline flew their luggage to Louisville, Kentucky. And instead of delivering it to their home, they sent it to their medical practice office,” added Demetrio.
I know he’s a lawyer, but could this look any worse? The sheer customer-unfocused mindlessness appears to reach an exalted level.
United didn’t drag itself to a reply, when I asked it to confirm these sad details.
Demetrio says that Dao and his wife simply had none of their stuff. And how is Dao himself? He has left hospital, but hasn’t yet gone back to Kentucky.
“He [Dao] has memory of being dragged off the plane, but has no memory of rushing back on the plane. He is still missing two of his teeth, which were knocked out by his forcible removal, although I hear one of them may have been inventoried by the Chicago Police Department,” said Demetrio.
Where did the other one go? Did someone keep it as a souvenir?
Ultimately, all parties will move past this incident in a hopefully improved state.
United will institute (slightly) more customer-friendly policies. Dao, I suspect, will end up just a little more wealthy.
Yet the fact that no one at United seems to have even considered his bags — bumped passengers surely deserve to get their stuff back, as they get shuffled to a hotel or, who knows, a bench in the airport — will make one or two people wonder what policies were in place before all this happened.
Sometimes, it takes a large incident to remind a company how small-minded it’s become.
As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pointed out only this week, if you’re governed by slavery to a process, no one might admit that the process is counterproductive and that outcomes are awful.
And still we have one tooth unaccounted for.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.