United CEO Speaks Out

SW competitionAfter an insufficient apology, United CEO Oscar Munoz has changed his tune. In an interview with ABC News, Munoz said, "This first thing I think is important to say is to apologize to Dr. Dau, his family, the passengers on that flight, our customers, our employees. That is not who our family at United is. You saw us at a bad moment."

Munoz also changed his view of the passenger. In a letter to employees, he seemed to blame the passenger, but in the interview, he said Dr. Dau wasn't at fault at all, although he did pause before saying so.

When asked why he didn't communicate "that shame" (he said he was "ashamed"), Munoz said he wanted to get the "facts and circumstances first." He also said his words didn't reflect what they were really feeling.

He explained that the incentive model needs to be re-evaluated because it clearly works better before people have boarded. For the future, Munoz said they will never bring a law enforcement official on a flight to remove a paying passenger again.


  • How did Munoz do in the interview? What principles of crisis communication did he demonstrate, and where did he fall short?
  • What else should Munoz have said?
  • Analyze Munoz's delivery skills. How would you advise him to approach future interviews?
  • Southwest and other airlines are taking full advantage of the situation. What are the potential downsides of ads like the one here?