By Kailey Williams
Since the early 1900’s, people have relied on airline services to provide for them a safe and comfortable flight to their given destination. Recently, these airline services have been failing to accomplish this goal and have been doing an unsatisfactory job in the views of the public. Due to this, Congress has stepped in to reprimand the airline companies and warn them to solve their issues. The airline services need to undergo a change in their customer service in order to gain trust back from the public.
One incident occurred on a United Airlines flight in April of this year. Due to overbooking, the airline staff randomly selected passengers to be forcefully removed from the flight. A video went viral that showed of one of the passengers, Dr. David Dao, being violently removed from a flight after he refused to give up his seat so an airline employee could have it. Due to this, lawmakers questioned airline executives about a number of customer service concerns, including overbooking policies as well as the lengthy fine print of so-called contracts of carriage, which are the terms and conditions passengers unwittingly agree to when buying plane tickets. The viral video of Dao being dragged from his seat through the airplane aisle caused public outrage to explode over Dao’s treatment. United Airlines announced new rules and said they will increase the maximum compensation offered to a passenger to voluntarily give up a seat on an overbooked flight to $10,000, though this doesn’t solve the issue. Airlines need to stop overbooking flights to compensate for passengers who may not show up, and stop selling tickets immediately after the seats fill on a plane. It is common sense to not sell more tickets than the capacity of a plane, and airlines need to begin to take these things into account.
Another incident occurred in April on an American Airlines flight, in which a male flight attendant upset a female passenger and then got in a confrontation with a male passenger who tried to come to the woman’s defense. A video shows the flight attendant violently grabbing the woman’s stroller and striking the woman, nearly hitting her child, and then threatening the male passenger who came to support her. One witness, Olivia Morgan, states, “The flight attendant wrestled the stroller away from the woman, who was sobbing, holding one baby with the second baby in a car seat on the ground next to her. The flight attendant was violent when taking the metal stroller from the woman and nearly hit the baby with the stroller.” Morgan said that afterwards she talked to the woman about the incident, who said a female flight attendant told her she could look for space to store the stroller because it folds up very small. She states she tried to tell the male attendant what the previous woman had told her and he would not listen. These altercations between attendants and passengers aren’t the only problems arising from the airlines. A few weeks ago, a man was stung by a scorpion on one of the planes. The conditions on these flights need to be improved in both customer service, comfort, and safety.
Due to the harsh conditions found on these flights, a trial has been brought to the attention of Congress in order to fix the issues at hand. United Airlines President Scott Kirby, United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz, and executives from American Airlines, Alaskan Airlines, Southwest Airlines, spoke as witnesses at one of the hearings. Munoz apologized again for the April incident, saying, “No customer should be treated the way Dr. Dao was, and we understand that. As CEO, at the end of the day, that’s on me, and this has to be a turning point. We will do better.” Even with the apologies, the airlines still have a lot of damage control to do to gain back the trust of the public. Representative Frederica Wilson suggested the airlines need to increase and improve the amount of training provided to employees. Munoz responded that United would strengthen training in customer service and how to keep complaints and conflicts from escalating.
The airline companies need to step up their performance and ensure that their staff know how to handle all types of situations. Whether it be overcrowding, a stroller, or a scorpion on a plane, airline employees must be prepared to properly and calmly react to a situation, without causing arguments or outrage with their passengers.