The story – obscure band sees equipment being damaged by baggage handlers, writes song about it, gets instant web celebrity status – has gone down in the annals of social media history in the travel industry.
It is a classic example of making sure ANY company gets to grip with customer service and potential booby traps in the world of instant reviewing and commenting in social media channels.
Unfortunately it appears United itself may not have taken on-board (no pun intended) its experience at the hands of click-happy but unhappy passengers.
Step forward Jim Stanek, a three-tour US combat veteran from the invasion of Iraq and spokesman for Paws and Stripes, an¬†association that provides assistance to injured in military service.
Stanek suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) from his time in Iraq.
Earlier this month, Stanek had a number of bad experiences on the airline, ranging from lost luggage to (and where the story, if true, gets nasty) his canine helper Sarge being kicked by an employee.
Stanek made a lengthy video explaining what happened, an 18-minute blow-by-blow account which does not reflect well on United at all.
Paws and Stripes says:
“The verbal abuse to him and the physical abuse to his service dog Sarge made it very difficult to function.¬†As a result Sarge is being evaluated to continue as a service dog and Jim is dealing with the emotional stress he endured.”
Released just three days ago, the clip has managed to attract well over 100,000 views on YouTube – a figure almost guaranteed to climb quickly once it is picked up by other sites in the coming days.
Here is Stanek’s account of what happened:
A United official says via email that it is looking into the incident, adding:
“Our employees routinely provide service to customers with disabilities and service animals in the course of their jobs. Mr Stanek’s assertion is certainly counter to their training and the service they provide each day.
“We take it seriously and are doing a thorough review. We look forward to speaking with Mr Stanek again soon.”
United will be hoping that Stanek’s experience will not lead to the 12 million+ views from the Breaks Guitars saga, although expect yet another United case study at a social media conference near you soon.