The poll was conducted
by Morning Express on Apr. 12. This was three days after a video of a bloodied Dr. David Dao being forcibly removed from Flight 3411 in Chicago went viral. The video and the airline’s poor initial reaction to the incident became a PR nightmare for United Airlines.
Morning Express surveyed 1,975 American adults. The respondents were given various scenarios involving flying from New York City to Chicago. Those surveyed were given a choice of flying on United Airlines or American Airlines.
Respondents were divided into two groups; those who were familiar with what happened to Dao on Flight 3411 and those who were unfamiliar with what had transpired. Of those who had heard about what happened, 79 percent said they would American Airlines.
When respondents were asked what flight they would take if American Airlines charged $66 more and had a three-hour layover in Cleveland, 44 percent of those who had heard about the violent removal of Dao still chose to take the American Airlines flight.
Even given the worldwide publicity surrounding United Airlines over the removal of Dao from the flight, 30 percent of those questioned had not heard anything about the incident when they were questioned three days later. Of these people, the choice of which airline to take was almost evenly split
. Forty-nine percent chose United Airlines while 51 percent said they would choose American Airlines for their trip from New York to Chicago.
Within the group that had not heard of the incident on Flight 3411, 80 percent of respondents said they would choose United if the American Airlines flight was longer and more expensive.
According to Loraine Lau-Gest
, a professor of business at the University of California at Irvine, price is the most important factor when people select a flight. She believes the memory of the negative publicity surrounding what happened on Flight 3411 will be short-lived. But other incidents such as the couple kicked off a United flight on the way to their wedding may keep the negative publicity alive. And Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, made the situation worse in his initial comments. He described Dao as “disruptive and belligerent.”
READ ALSO: United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, makes a bad situation worse
READ ALSO: Couple travelling for their wedding kicked off United flight
United, as well as other airlines are doing what they can to avoid the backlash from their practises of overbooking and bumping. United Airlines has already announced they will not remove passengers who have already boarded the plane simply because they need the seats for others. And a memo from Delta Airlines
obtained by AP said the airline will now offer up to $9,950 to each passenger willing to give up his or her seat.
The Morning Express poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.