[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]
I don’t think they can really win on this one. This is where PR people and customer service reps earn their money…but they aren’t earning it here. This isn’t good.
David Swanson was on an United Airlines flight when news came in that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. That’s United Airlines, as in United Airlines Flight 93.
The pilot who works for United was apparently happy that the guy behind the terror attack that killed United Airlines pilots, crew and passengers. The pilot made an announcement expressing happiness.
David Swanson didn’t like that. Who is David Swanson? He’s the author of War Is A Lie and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org (the site formerly known as After Downing Street.)
So Swanson wrote a letter complaining. A long letter – you can read the whole thing here on the blog post he wrote his awful experience being forced to sit through a United pilot’s moment of happiness…
Dear United Airlines,
My United flight at 4:06 pm PT on May 1, 2011, landed in Washington, D.C., Sunday night, and the pilot came on the intercom to tell everyone to celebrate: our government had killed Osama bin Laden. This was better than winning the Super Bowl, he said.
I think he should apologize to those passengers who choose not to cheer for the murder of anyone, no matter how much of a murderer himself, as if it were a sporting event and an occasion for joy.
Set aside for a moment the morality of cheering for the killing of a human being — which despite the pilot’s prompting nobody on the plane did. In purely Realpolitik terms, killing foreign leaders whom we’ve previously supported has been an ongoing disaster.
Our killing of Saddam Hussein has been followed by years of war and hundreds of thousands of pointless deaths. Our attempts to kill Muammar Gadaffi have killed his children and grandchildren and will end no war if they eventually succeed. Our attempts to kill Osama bin Laden, including wars justified by that mission, have involved nearly a decade of senseless slaughter in Afghanistan and the rest of the ongoing global "generational" war that is consuming our nation.
The Taliban was willing to turn bin Laden over for trial both before and after September 11, 2001. Instead our government opted for years of bloody warfare. And in the end, it was police action (investigation, a raid, and a summary execution) and not the warfare, that reportedly tracked bin Laden down in Pakistan. After capturing him, our government’s representatives did not hold him for trial. They killed him and carried away his dead body.
You get the idea. No mention of Flight 93, either. No expression of understanding or sympathy.
So United wrote this back to him…
Dear Mr. Swanson:
Thank you for contacting us. We are currently experiencing a high volume of emails, and I offer my apology for the delayed response to your message.
I am very sorry to hear that our pilot vocalized his personal opinion with the passenger’s onboard flight 210 on May 1, 2011. It is definitely a personal opinion on the reaction or outcome of the fact that Osama bin Laden was killed. Please accept my sincere apology. I have shared your comments to the onboard flight manager so he can take appropriate action to prevent this from reoccurring.
On another note, your email was so interesting it prompted me to continue on to read your website and blog.
Thank you for choosing United, we look forward to serving you on another flight in the near future under more pleasant circumstances.
At the conclusion of this email, please fill out the survey where you can rate your experience with the Customer Care department. We value your feedback and hope that you are satisfied with our service.
United Airlines Customer Relations
Please provide us feedback on the correspondence you have just received from the Customer Relations Contact Center. After filling out our brief survey, you will be given a chance to fill out our longer survey. If you choose to take our longer survey, your name will be entered to win a $400 certificate. Please see more details by accessing the weblink below.
Also no mention of Flight 93. Bad PR. Totally tone deaf. Bad move, Cherie Stevens. Here’s hoping Mr. Swanson doesn’t win the $400.
– Lee Stranahan