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Other airlines capitalize on United’s bad press

It took less than 48 hours for other airlines to start kicking United while it’s down.

United Airlines’ stock reportedly dropped $1.4 billion Tuesday following a video of the airline’s violent ejection of a passenger from an overbooked flight. United needed four people to give up their seats to stand-by employees on a flight from Chicago to Louisville Sunday night. When two incentives to wait for a flight Monday afternoon — the higher of which was $800 plus a night in a hotel — failed to convince anyone on the flight to volunteer, the manager of the airline started selecting passengers randomly to give up their seats to stand-by United employees, according to an account relayed to the Courier-Journal by Audra Bridges, who posted the viral video to Facebook.

A man identified as Dr. David Dao was one of those forced to give up his seat. When he refused, saying he was a doctor and had patients he needed to see Monday morning, United employees called security to force him off the plane. Three officers are shown in the video, with one slamming a screaming Dao against the armrest before dragging him off the plane. Subsequent video shows Dao’s face was bloodied in the violent confrontation.

Public backlash was severe, on social media in addition to the stock market. Emirates and Royal Jordanian quickly joined the fray.

“Those [Gulf] airlines aren’t airlines,” a 34-second Emirates video ad begins by quoting United CEO Oscar Munoz from March 2.

“Well Mr. Munoz, not only are we a real airline, according to TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, we are the best airline,” the ad says next.

It finishes with “Fly the friendly skies, this time for real,” a dig on United Airlines’ motto “fly the friendly skies.”

Royal Jordanian’s ad was simpler but only slightly more subtle.

An ad circulated online for Southwest that also mocked United, but the company was quick to distance themselves from the image on Twitter and said the ad was created by someone outside the company.

On Monday afternoon, Munoz issued a statement saying they were reaching out to the passenger to “further address and resolve this situation.” It is unclear if Dao and United officials have been communicating.

But in a note to employees that day, Munoz described Dao as “disruptive and belligerent” and said he stood behind the employees, according to CNBC.

Later that same afternoon, the Chicago Department of Aviation announced the officer who dragged Dao out of his seat had been suspended.

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