Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

It seems that United Airlines has re-accommodated its feelings.

After so many people took to social media and mused that the airline must be run by the mob, United CEO Oscar Muñoz insisted that his employees had followed procedure.

He apologized only for having to "re-accommodate" the passengers on a flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday.

There were no sorries for 69-year-old Dr. David Dao, who ended up with his face bloodied, after being dragged down the aisle of a plane by three burly law enforcement officers.

What had Dao done? Refused to "volunteer" to be bumped off the plane, so that a United Airlines employee could take his seat. Yes, the flight was "overbooked."

Suddenly, Muñoz has been converted. He's seen the light.

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

But they were. And how.

Yet just yesterday, Muñoz had described Dao as "disruptive and belligerent."

Instead, today, he continued:

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right. It's never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We'll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.

You'd be forgiven to think that, in this instance, clap met trap.

What has changed since yesterday? The condemnation of everyone who saw the videos of Dao being treated like convict remains the same.

It's not Dao that worries Muñoz. It's the Dow.

After the video of an Asian man being abused reached China, more than 160 million people took to social network Weibo to have their feelings accommodated. Many called for a boycott of the airline.

United is by far the largest U.S. carrier in China.

So look what happened on Wall Street. Yesterday, the United stock price edged up as traders looked at United's overbooking situation and decided business must be good.

But today, when they saw what was happening in China, they sliced $800 million off United's valuation.

Well, wouldn't that make a CEO see things a different way?

Then there's the legal side. There's now a possible federal investigation into the incident. One of the police officers involved has been placed on leave.

Then there's the small print.

Yesterday, United relied upon its contract of carriage. This specifically refers to customers who are "denied boarding." But Dao had already boarded. And he was being bumped for someone who presumably had not paid for a ticket. So how can the airline rely on the notion of overbooking?

LawNewz offers a tantalizing analysis of some of the legal issues.

So a CEO who yesterday stood by his employees, insisted they'd behaved perfectly, and apologized only for bumping passengers, today decides that, oh, well yes, United might actually be at fault.

With airlines, only money talks. And only money re-accommodates.

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Published on: Apr 11, 2017