Buffett says United made ‘terrible mistake’ in dragging incident

Print this story

"But your first reaction is going to get a lot of attention." "He’s apologized many times," Buffett said.

Everything you need to know about bumping airline passengers

–With assistance from Noah Buhayar

The carrier also increased payouts to passengers who offer to give up their seats to as much as $10,000 from $1,350. Southwest Airlines said it would stop the practice entirely. United also said it would reduce flight overbooking — a practice that’s been profitable for carriers because it ensures that planes fly at maximum capacity even if some passengers cancel at the last minute. Delta Air Lines had recently made a similar change.

Report an error

United to offer bumped flyers up to $10,000 after dragging incident

Change text size for the story

United stock drops $1.4 billion following passenger beatdown

He suffered a broken nose and other injuries, his lawyer said, and he reached a settlement with United for an undisclosed amount. The Dao confrontation escalated to violence. The company’s board canceled Munoz’s expected 2018 elevation to chairman and tied executive compensation more closely to customer service.

"It’s bad," Buffett said. It’s bad. "It wouldn’t change the investment strategy. How bad it is, I don’t know."

"I would hate to run an airline," the billionaire told CNBC. "It’s a job I don’t want, running an airline."
He cited instances of inexperienced workers at Berkshire’s See’s Candies stores having tense interactions with customers who know more about the products. Buffett oversees more than 360,000 employees as chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, and he said the natural tendency of management is often to support staff.

"Obviously, it was a terrible mistake," Buffett said Monday in a televised interview on CNBC.

Berkshire is also among the largest investors in Delta, Southwest and American Airlines Group Inc. He said that fliers’ preference for low fares has pressured companies to cut costs, which can hurt the customer experience.

Warren Buffett, the top investor in United Continental Holdings, faulted the airline for a confrontation last month with a passenger who was ripped out of his seat and dragged off a plane after refusing to give up his spot for a crew member.

United Airlines passenger needs reconstructive surgery: Lawyer

Aviation officer says man dragged off United flight was ‘flailing and fighting’
The billionaire was asked about the impact of scrutiny from lawmakers, including a Congressional hearing where Munoz acknowledged a breach of public trust. Buffett said he’s never met Munoz.

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett laughs while touring the exhibit floor at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, May 6, 2017, where company subsidiaries display their products. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Related Stories

United’s early efforts to contain the scandal backfired when Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz said the airline had to "re-accommodate" the man and, later, that Dao had been "disruptive" and "belligerent." The CEO then struck a more contrite tone. United sparked global condemnation — and industry changes — after video posted on social media showed the passenger, David Dao, on his back with a bloodied mouth.