By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Another day, another round of reaction to the mugging of a passenger on a United Airlines flight, an event that has the makings of an iconic moment.

It seems everybody and her brother have a hot take on Unitedgate.

But for me, the most important lesson here is about culture.

Here’s how United’s CEO put it in Tuesday’s revised apology, no longer referring to the mugging victim as someone who got “reaccomodated”:

“Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.”


This guy must know that this is not his own corporate culture. United has struggled with poor customer relations for years.

The L.A. Times reports on another recent case of the airline trying to bully a passenger into giving up his seat, and quotes a business professor at Azusa Pacific University describing the compassion-free culture United has apparently created.

“They’re so locked into their policies, there’s no room for empathy,” she says, suggesting companies need to empower and train workers to not always just follow bureaucratic rules.

Think what a better world this would be if more people made more room for empathy, and really did place treating others with respect and dignity at the core of who they are.

But don’t hold your breath while you’re waiting for it, at the airport or anywhere else.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:


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