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Tag Archives: United Airlines

‘Customers Not Cargo’ act thanks to United Airlines

You’ve heard of ‘cattle class‘ – the seating area most of us are herded into?

After last week’s horrible incident in which a doctor was dragged, bloodied and asked to get off a United Airlines flight, congresswoman Jan Schakowsky plans to introduce legislation “that would end the practice of involuntarily ‘bumping’ passengers from oversold aircrafts once and for all.” Likewise in the senate, Chris Van Hollen is introducing a similar ‘Customers Not Cargo’ bill.

The gist of it is that an airline which oversells a flight for business reasons has to come up with a business solution (not a law-enforcement one) to make sure the flight is emptied of the excess passengers who paid for that spot, anyway.

Now I’m not sure we need to have laws to ensure businesses treat customers with respect. But if you’re like me having been adequately bruised, and given the cattle prod, you’d agree they had this coming. Especially the folks who wax about the ‘friendly skies.’ (The Leo Burnett-inspired slogan dates back to 1965, and was brought back in 2013.)

Note the ad on the right. About embarking at Chicago. As the 1960s headline promised, the airline would later ‘catch’ Dr. Dao not far from the gate at Chicago O’Hare. The body copy goes further to suggest being friendly is catching. Hmmm)

Bonus Reading: Read the business evolved between United’s and Continental Airlines merger Wired Magazine

 

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Always on, always live

We use the word ‘always-on’ so flippantly these days, we often have no idea what it means.

We use it to suggest being tethered (“my phone is always with me”), or that we are contactable through many devices and points of contact (“find me at these various places…”).

Being Always-On means other things to organizations. They are on people’s radar, will be talked about, tweeted, linked to, photographed etc. Every interaction is an ‘on’ switch that’s permanently green.

To that point about photography, you may have come across the silly move by United to offload a passenger travelling from Newark to Istanbul, for taking photos of the digital panel on the seat in front of him. Read the story here.

Indeed, United had a passenger policy about cameras. (Just the mention of United and ‘policy’ immediately brought to my mind another kerfuffle involving guitars!). But how they exercised that policy and communicated it was just unfortunate.

I’ve travelled with a camera and taken numerous pictures inflight, as I am sure you have. Some of those pictures have been used on this blog. As a writer I use photos to record an idea or an object that I would refer to later, even if I don’t publish it. With so many billions of camera-equipped phones in circulation, it’s lame to even have a no-photograph policy –except in security-related situations.

The whole point is, we inhabit this always-on space on the ground, in the air, under the ocean and even in our work environments. (Heck, I have two installed cameras in my room, plus an SLR that I whip out ever so often; my students know that they may be on camera anytime!)

With that in mind, you may want to listen to one of my favorite podcasters, CC Chapman and his take on the United fiasco: The Always On Society.

Note: CC Chapman is one of the podcasters I interviewed for my upcoming book, Chat Republic. The book will be out in May 2013.

 

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“Rumor” about Jobs, a symptom of things to come

Steve Jobs brushed it off with a slide. He used the Mark Twain line to note that the rumor of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

The rumor, was not a rumor but a publishing mistake –going live with a story that should have been behind a firewall. Bloomberg is not the first to make this new-media error.

The copy had the usual safeguards: “HOLD FOR RELEASE – DO NOT USE – HOLD FOR RELEASE – DO NOT USE.” There were placeholders such as “IF STOCK DROPS” leading into a sentence “…The decline is no surprise to investors…” All good intentioned.

But in the rush to do things to meet unforgiving deadlines, to hit the newsstands, and sate the digital newsfeeds, publishing must take these risks. Are we moving too fast, where we might accidentally push the button that could affect the stock price of a company?

Rumors –especially the online kind– are nothing new. United Airlines’ stock was a victim of a rumor just this week, while Yahoo! (temporarily) benefitted from the Microsoft takeover rumor that turned out to be more than a rumor.

Rumor is being slipped into the PR toolbox because it goes well with viral. Recently, there was one about the –ready for this?- Apple Nano iPhone. If you replace “rumor” with “forecast” a lot of this might make sense. The Nano iPhone story was based on a “forecast” using “unnamed sources in the supply channel.”

As we accelerate our marketing, our PR and how we generate news about organizations we represent, news, forecasting and speculating could begin to blur.

Dan Lyons, who once created the now-retired Fake Steve blog, didn’t mince his words describing Gawker, which republished the Bloomberg gaffe as “filthy hacks,” ending also with “Great work, Bloomberg. You dopes.”

 

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