Every so often, a new airline incident seems to appear across the news and social media. As we get into 2017, every incident seems to be more extreme than the prior incident, and it has to make you wonder if the airlines consider social media. Obviously, the airlines all carry social media positions at this point, but is there training for employees, who under tense scenarios, should consider they are being snapchatted or filmed through an Iphone? Well if there isn’t, I think it’s time they develop policies to have their employees trained under potentially documented interactions that lead to overnight viral social media threads. All airplane incidents will lead to the streaming of Iphones and this blog will show why handling tense scenarios, under scrutiny, with social media awareness, are vital to an airlines brand and business continuity.
#1 Kevin Smith Fat Shaming 201
Kevin Smith is a director/actor famous for his role as Silent Bob and films such as Clerks, Dogma, Chasing Amy, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
While sitting on an Oakland Southwest flight, Smith was approached by a flight attendant and informed he was declared “Too Fat to Fly” by the captain of the plane. Publicly shamed and possessing a powerful online presence, Smith took to his twitter account, openly shaming, and recounting his experience with Southwest. Fortunately for Southwest, the employees in charge of the Southwest Twitter Account held high professionalism through communication with Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith was given a public twitter apology, contacted personally by the airline, maybe it was because he was a celebrity, but they made a genuine effort, and he has flown them since. Their social media staff probably saved themselves from hours of PR, refudnds, and a worse night mare by diffusing a Hollywood celebrity. Think twice about who you shame in front of others…especially if it’s a very influential person.
#2 Adam Saleh
Personally, I don’t believe Adam Saleh was threatened or kicked off a flight for “using his native language” or any discriminating reason. Saleh is a notorious Youtube prankster, an individual who understands how powerful social media can be, made a coordinated scene with his phone, turning it on at the appropriate time to film his Delta incident. Delta employees did not use force, Saleh’s own brand seems to have left a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” feel, and overall has not seemed to damage Delta’s credibility. Nothing seems to have surfaced, but in a 21st century that has seen a lot hostility towards Muslim communities, employees on airplanes should be the most prepared. There is a chance when Saleh posted that video, a random passenger could of ignorantly yelled a racial slur, it would force an employee to impulsively take action, and show Delta has no tolerance for racism. These incidents that threaten to go viral are what should always be planted in the back of airline employees minds as they are demanded to instantly represent their brand.
#3 United Airlines
In 2008, David Carroll sat helplessly in his coach seat as he watched United employees tossing around his $3,500.00 guitar. The employees destroyed Carroll’s guitar leading to his famous youtube video “United Breaks Guitars.” United’s customer service showed no sympathy to Carroll and his video led to full retaliation. Carroll’s video went viral, everyone learned through song about his experience, he’s traveled the world playing the song, and publicly speaks about their poor contradicting culture as a company. This was back in 2008, but the scars of David Caroll’s tribute to his instrument have never gone away.
Now in 2017, United has gone viral, for demanding a customer give up their seats for their own employees, and letting it escalate to a bloody altercation. A United Passenger was dragged off a plane for refusing to give up his seat that he paid for. This incident isn’t just inhumane, you have to ask, how did Delta allow anything like this to happen? You’re not fully recovered from one youtube video 9years ago and now a new video of a bloody fat man being dragged appears? Do you want your brand to be that you break employees belongings and beat them infront of audiences. All airplane incidents are being watched by in person audiences and online audiences. Delta has failed to understanding the pace of social media or how to adapt in the social age.
For future reference, I just want to repeat myself, airplane incidents will always have in person audiences, and online audiences. Any airplane incident is going to lead to our newer natural instincts to whip our cell phones from our pockets. All airline employees must understand, that even if they don’t work in the social media department, they could be forced to represent the airline’s brand on social media. I’m sure another incident will appear, and hopefully it is the well prepared employees who rise to the occasion.