United Airlines Passenger Incident Causing a Twitter Storm

There are dark clouds surrounding United Airlines and the ongoing PR debacle. The recent passenger incident for United Airlines has caused quite an uproar in the media. It has also created a major firestorm on twitter, with a number of comments from passengers and customers voicing their displeasure.

As an analytics and data science firm, our customers always look for insights into any information. Sometimes analytics can’t help a particular situation, but it can provide learnings of what may be happening in your environment.

In the United Airlines incident, we are closely watching a number of trends, beyond the obvious displeasure and anger by outraged passengers and customers. We are monitoring how the “twitterverse”  adapts to new information. After the CEO of United made comments earlier in the day, which failed to acknowledge the brutal nature of the passengers removal, tweets began “altering” United’s motto, which can have a very strong negative effect on their branding.

The same day as the CEO’s comments, a twitter hashtag called “#NewUnitedAirlinesMottos” was created, and in the first few hours of the day by 12:30 Eastern Time, it had amassed over 181K tweets, with customers re-branding United Airlines. Some of them used references from movies such as Airplane, Star Wars (referencing Darth Vader), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the Walking Dead.

The veracity and velocity of these tweets should be concerning for United Airlines and they should dive into not only these but a number of other hashtags and develop a strategy to help mitigate the damage, otherwise it may take years to overcome. Remember the Ford Pinto suffered irreparable damage to its brand in the 70’s and twitter wasn’t around then!

Cherise Fiorante is a freelance writer for the Five Element Analytics blog. Her work focuses on advancements in technology and analytics as well as stories about human interaction and animals.