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US Airways – Recovering from a Black Eye

A US Airways flight attendant caused a stir last week when she refused to hang a US Army Ranger’s “Dress Blues” in the coat closet for first class passengers. First Sgt. Albert Marle was denied his request because he was not a first class passenger, the attendant told him. Marle did not dispute the attendant’s response and returned quietly to his seat after his request was denied, but the public is outraged.

US Airways has since apologized about the incident via social media, saying on Twitter, “We hold those serving our country in the highest regard and apologize for any offense caused. We are reviewing the incident internally.” A Facebook post followed sharing similar apologetic remarks by the airline.

There are four “don’ts” we like to say when responding to crisis or reputational damage. Don’t:

  • Ignore the press
  • Release false information
  • Compromise your values and ethics
  • Panic

It seems as if the airline has handled this situation properly thus far, but the question remains if apologetic remarks alone are substantial enough to gain back respect of not only military members and their families, but civilians who frequently fly US Airways.

Now, we wait to see if US Airways will take further action to repair its reputational damage following an act of blatant disrespect. In the meantime, we can’t help but ask, should the flight attendant be terminated? Should the airline do more to heal this black eye or will social media apologies be enough to satisfy stakeholders?

For more information regarding crisis management and crisis communications, do not hesitate to contact Fallston Group at 410.420.2001 or by email at info@fallstongroup.com.

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