United Airlines: Here Are All the Ways Twitter Mauled Them Last Week

April 16, 2017, 5:01 PM UTC
Key Speakers At The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Aviation Summit
Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Continental Holdings Inc., listens during a discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce aviation summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 2, 2017. The 16th annual summit is entitled Technology, Innovation and the Future of Aviation. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg via Getty Images



Video showing the violent “re-accommodation” of Dr. David Dao has become a PR nightmare for United Airlines—and a goldmine for internet wits. Twitter users in particular are always quick to sharpen their knives for any company unlucky enough to make a misstep (or, as in United’s case, a compounding series of missteps), and the platform has been full of memes and jokes about the incident since the video emerged on April 10th.

Some of the most memorable jabs have been spins on classic film lines, under the #unitedmovielines tag. Harrison Ford, we’re reminded, has spent a lot of screen time throwing people off planes.

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Comedy, it seems, has mostly overtaken outrage at the incident. A few users have shared their own stories of mistreatment by United, though.

But those stories, and more serious critique, have largely been overshadowed by memes and one-liners. That might actually be a good thing for United—being the butt of a joke is arguably preferable to being the target of fiery anger.

If recent online ‘movements’ like #deleteuber are any indication, all this social media manhandling may not have much lasting impact on United. The stock has taken a minor battering this week, but so did other airlines’—and so far there’s no clear evidence of declining ticket sales.

Of course, United’s competitors would love to see the brand more permanently tarnished. Some, including Turkish Airlines, have gone out of their way to contrast their ethos with United’s. Others, like Southwest, have been roped in unwillingly. A few totally unrelated brands have tried to hitch a ride, as well.

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