United CEO wishes he took more time before commenting on passenger removal

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Oscar Munoz
Oscar Munoz

CANCUN, Mexico -- United CEO Oscar Munoz said he should have taken more time before issuing his initial statement after the violent April 9 removal of passenger David Dao from a flight between Chicago and Louisville.

"I think you have more time than you think to respond to this and respond correctly," Munoz said during a panel session of CEOs at the IATA Annual General Meeting here.

He disagreed with fellow panelists who said that in the age of social media it's important to get a response out in 15 minutes. Dao was removed from United Express Flight 3411 on a Sunday night, but the incident didn't explode in the news until the next day.

"If I had just waited for another 'x' amount of time, my initial response with my name on it would have been different, " Munoz said.

Munoz's initial statement was widely criticized as tepid, and he took heat for using the term "re-accommodate" to describe United's bumping of four customers who had already boarded the flight.

Munoz said he should have relied on his own instinct in issuing the statement.

"In a crisis of that magnitude, with things happening quickly, you tend to talk to too many people," he said.

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