What a difference a couple of days makes: when United Airlines found themselves the target of a social media backlash over the incident at Chicago O’Hare Airport, where a passenger was forcibly removed from an aircraft as they had overbooked the flight, the Daily Mail and Mail Online started off by targeting the passenger. But that proved unpopular. So now they have joined the popular side - and have kicked United.
This means that Dr David Dao is now one of The Good Guys, so readers are told “The doctor dragged from an overbooked United Airlines flight says the treatment he received at the hands of 'storm trooper' police officers was more horrifying than when he fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon … the 69-year-old grandfather had been left with a broken nose, concussion and lost two front teeth as he was forcibly removed from the flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday night”. And there was more.
“The scale of his injuries meant Dr Dao was only released from hospital on Wednesday night - and is still to undergo further reconstructive surgery … Dr Dao plans to sue the airline”. Could it get worse for United? It certainly could: “Angry United Airlines pilots union issue statement denying ALL responsibility for forcible removal of doctor last week and say Chicago cops are to blame” reads another Mail headline.
Fellow passengers weren’t impressed, either: “A Louisville teacher who witnessed a passenger being violently dragged off a United Airlines flight said one of the police officers was laughing as the violent incident unfolded”. The teacher told that “It was the worst possible model for my students, and frankly, was traumatizing to many of us who watched this from such close proximity”. Then came United’s back catalogue of bad behaviour.
What's so f***ing wrong with U-Turns, c***?
“As United Airlines' continues to be haunted by its botched attempt to eject Dr David Dao from one of its planes … others are coming forward with stories of mismanagement … One of the most confounding was when staff tried to shame a family of five out of their first-class seats … because more important passengers had arrived … Those passengers? United Airlines' embattled CEO, Oscar Munoz, and his family”.
That could be excused by over-zealous handling agents: Munoz and his family were happy to sit in Coach when they found what was going on. But the Mail wasn’t done yet: “An elderly woman with a degenerative bone disease and severe arthritis was left 'in distress and pain' after a flight from LA turned into a 16-hour ordeal thanks to callous United staff, her granddaughter has claimed”. It sounds bad. Because it was bad.
“Australian Paz Orquiza, then 94 was returning from what will likely be her last-ever visit to family in Los Angeles … Orquiza's family had booked her a $3,596.24 business class ticket so she could fly in comfort. Her daughter, Rose Benedicto, was to fly in economy, and help out with feeding and chair adjustments … But … staff said Benedicto wouldn't be allowed to leave economy to help - and staff wouldn't help either”.
Strange how the Mail can U-Turn so shamelessly in a couple of days. But the press can get away with that. United Airlines, on the other hand, can’t. And it’s the latter’s reputation, and share price, that is going to suffer. Bad news being on the wrong side of the Mail.