first_imgUnited Airlines may not take the reputational hit most social media pundits believe it deserves, according to a company that measures customer satisfaction.The American Customer Satisfaction Index, which ranks US industries on their abilities to satisfy consumers, had United improving its reputation with consumers ahead of last month’s public relations debacle involving the forced removal of  69-year-old David Dao from a flight in Chicago.United was the lowest scoring legacy carrier, with 70 points on a 100-point scale with a 1994 baseline, but it had managed to boost its standing by 2.9 per cent. It was ahead of ultra low-cost carriers Frontier and Spirit but below the industry average score of 75 and long way behind industry leader JetBlue on 82.The ASCI report was based on 8,660 customer surveys collected between April 18, 2016, and March 19, 2017 — a few weeks before the airline sparked a global furore over the Dao incident.ASCI said at that time it was unclear how much impact the incident would have on future passenger satisfaction but noted United’s position as the lowest scoring legacy airline.But ASCI director David VanAmburg believes it will be minimal providing the airline does the right thing in future.“In terms of the average customer experience, ACSI does not expect United’s high-profile incident to have an impact on its ACSI score,’’ VanAmburg told AirlineRatings.“It can have an impact on a company’s image and reputation which in turn can drive down financial performance in the form of fliers defecting to other airlines, but customer satisfaction should remain stable as long as the average United passenger experiences the same quality of service as before.”The United juggernaut rolled -on this week as airline chief executive Oscar Munoz made yet another apology, this time before a congressional committee looking at passenger rights.United has already settled with Dao and recently introduced 10 changes that included boosting the ceiling on the amount it is prepared to pay passengers to give up their seat to $US10,000.  It has also vowed that it will not use law enforcement to deal with passengers unless there is a safety or security issue.Nonetheless, the incident focussed the attention of politicians on passenger rights and the airlines are facing attempts to introduce a raft of bills addressing the issue.This week’s hearings saw the chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Republican Bill Shuster, issue a sharp warning that it expected “real results” from airlines trying to clean up their act.“As a general principle, I don’t believe in overburdening our businesses with regulations or re-regulating industries that are successfully deregulated,’’ Shuster said.“But I shouldn’t need to remind you that Congress will not hesitate to act wherever necessary to ensure your customers, our constituents, are treated with the respect they deserve.“If we don’t see meaningful results that improve customer service, the next time this committee meets to address the issues, I can assure you won’t like the outcome.’’Also present at the hearings were representatives from Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and the Consumers Union..last_img