Jargon Kills: Airline Fiasco


It is always amazing to discover that even the most highly respected and gifted professionals can forget the principles of Public Relations 101 in the heat of battle. First of all, the management of any airline should know that the worst mistake they can make is to remove passengers who are already seated. If there is an issue, it must be handled at the gate prior to boarding. Even before the Dao incident, a friend of mine had already described on Facebook being pulled from the Business class seat he had paid for and stuffed back into Economy class after he was seated.


He was outraged and swore never to fly United again.


But then for CEO Oscar Munoz to use the in-the-weeds industry verb “re-accommodate,” as in Dr. David Dao was “re-accommodated,” added insult to injury in the attempt to describe a plainly brutal act with euphemistic industry jargon. This kind of approach will augment astonishment and disgust with ridicule in terms of the public’s response.