Pepsi: I just had the worst week in Public Relations.
It’s hard to find examples of worse decision-making and customer treatment than United Airlines having a passenger dragged from an overbooked plane. But United’s shabby treatment of Geoff Fearns, including a threat to place him in handcuffs, comes close.
Fearns, 59, is president of TriPacific Capital Advisors, an Irvine investment firm that handles more than half a billion dollars in real estate holdings on behalf of public pension funds. He had to fly to Hawaii last week for a business conference.
Fearns needed to return early so he paid about $1,000 for a full-fare, first-class ticket to Los Angeles. He boarded the aircraft at Lihue Airport on the island of Kauai, took his seat and enjoyed a complimentary glass of orange juice while awaiting takeoff.
Then, as Fearns tells it, a United employee rushed onto the aircraft and informed him that he had to get off the plane.
“I asked why,” he told me. “They said the flight was overfull.”
Fearns, like the doctor at the center of that viral video from Sunday night, held his ground. He was already on the plane, already seated. He shouldn’t have to disembark.
“That’s when they told me they needed the seat for somebody more important who came at the last minute,” Fearns said. “They said they have a priority list and this other person was higher on the list than me.”
This is the Los Angeles Version of the story that's gone Viral. You can read the rest of this piece at the Los Angeles Times.