After a video showing a passenger being physically removed from one of its flights due to being “overbooked” lit up social media on Monday, United Airlines started its Tuesday off the best way it knew how: by going on a big, ugly slide on the stock market. The company is down over 4% at the time of this writing, and if that number sticks until the closing bell it will have lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $750 million in market capitalization.
If you somehow managed to avoid the internet and mainstream media as a whole for the past 24 hours or so, allow me to catch you up on the drama surrounding the incident: United overbooked one of its flights and had no room for to safely transport some of its own crew members who needed to go along as well. After offering compensation and lodging to passengers in exchange for taking a later flight — an offer which wasn’t taken by enough of the fliers — a few paying ticket-holders were “randomly” chosen to be kicked off. One man, a 69-year-old doctor, decided he didn’t want to go, and was violently dragged from the plane by airport police, bloodied and distraught.
Wall Street, ever the bastion of decency, has seen the negative sentiment flowing on social media and taken a bearish line on United stock, leading to the sizable dip. However, the market can be a fickle beast, and it’s just as likely that the stock will bounce back entirely, but at present the company’s negative public image is clearly cause for concern.