That is how I would have handled it if I had been United CEO (or their PR consultant).
In this age in which perception is king, and anyone can be a “reporter”, United should do some soul searching and revise how it handles its image and crisis management.
From a marketing and public relations perspective, this is exactly what your teacher warned you about. But it seems like United CEO Oscar Munoz, who in an ironic twist had been honored as PR Week´s Communicator of the Year just a month ago, didn't pay attention to his PR CRISIS 101 class.
At the time of writing this, United Airlines stock had fallen 1.1% and lost $255 million of the airline´s market. Social media was going crazy with calls for boycotting the company, and meme after meme was eroding the credibility of the brand.
In case you might have missed the scandal (do you live under a rock?), a ticketed customer was forcibly dragged out of a United flight, after the company announced that it was overbooked and 4 crew members needed to board the plane. You can see the videos everywhere.
What do we know about efficient crisis management? Here are the main points to follow: