Thursday, March 7, 2013

United Airlines kicks off passenger for taking picture, then reaches out to him

United Airlines frequent flyer and student Matthew Klint was flying from Newark to Istanbul last month and decided to take a picture of the seat in front of him with his iPhone to post it on his travel blog. This caught the attention of a flight attendant, and the next thing he knew he was being kicked off the plane.


The video monitor on the back of the seat read “Welcome aboard, sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.”

Klint says he was told by the flight attendant that photo-taking violating United’s policy.

The next thing Klint knew, a gate agent was escorting him off the plane.

The report goes on to say that United Airlines later contacted him days after he had posted about his experience on his blog. He says he wasn't apologized to but offered some compensation for the change of plans that resulted from him having to take a different flight to Istanbul.

Incidents like this are happening all the time in various industries. A customer is wronged and then later contacted or reached out to by upper management, which begs the question: why can't the company staff be all on the same page to begin with? Why are different parts of companies sending out different messages for what is and what is not appropriate?

In a related story, earlier today we read about the parent company of Glenwood Gardens (the assisted living facility which refused to perform CPR on a dying patient) issuing a statement saying that policy was in fact not followed, after Glenwood Gardens had issued its own statement asserting procedure was followed. Policy and communication needs to be consistent from the CEO all the way down the different levels of management and staff dealing directly with customers.

When policy isn't clear, it makes it very different for employees who need to be confident in their daily tasks that they're doing the right thing. In many cases, it seems that policy is in fact followed, but due to negative PR as a result of incidents coming to light, companies want to pretend like that wasn't the policy. If your policies can't stand the test of public scrutiny, that's probably an indication that it's a bad policy. Don't wait until an incident becomes public before making those changes.

In Matthew Klint's case, he uses the old cliche that it's not about him anymore - he just wants to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else. You don't have to lie Matthew, we get it. You want United to kneel before you and kiss your feet apologizing and throwing money at you. And why shouldn't you?

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