The Most Expensive Amateur Video Ever Made – How United Airlines Lost $1 BILLION!

04 May

That 30-second clip which you’ve probably all seen or heard about cost United Airlines a WHOLE lot of hate…and money!

When Audra Bridges pulled out her phone to record shocking scenes on United Airlines Flight 3411, little did she know the massive impact it would have.


Airlines often overbook their flights, a practice now thrown into debate after the video emerged. In this case, four seats were needed and United Airlines asked for volunteers to give up their seat. No one did and a flight manager used a computer to randomly select four passengers who would be asked to switch flights.

Three of the passengers selected gave up their seats, however the fourth passenger, Dr. David Dao, refused to disembark because he was due back in Louisville to see his patients. An argument ensued and Dr. Dao was forcibly removed from the flight. He somehow managed to make his way back onto the plane a short time later, reappearing bloodied and screaming. Security then dragged him off the flight – the scene that Audra captured and has now become viral.


The backlash was huge. And rightly so. However, what further damages United Airlines’ reputation is the way in which they handled the matter.

In response to the incident, United Airlines had this to say: “Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”

Way to show compassion United! It took a spokesperson from the Chicago Department of Aviation to make a comment even remotely remorseful, claiming the incident was “not in accordance with our standard operating procedure.” Well that’s comforting to hear isn’t it?

$1.4 billion down, United are probably wishing they handled things a hell of a lot differently.


It’s far too little, far too late for United. The damage is done and it’s going to take a whole lot of work to regain their reputation.

There’s an extremely valuable lesson to be learned from how United handled this PR disaster, and that’s how import response to content is. With the world of Social Media and online user generated content fast becoming the way we keep up to date, businesses need to be on their toes and ready to act when negative, or even positive content is made about them.

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