After last week’s fiasco of having a passenger dragged off an overbooked flight to make room for a flight crew, the last thing United Airlines needs now is yet another public-relations disaster.

But that’s exactly what they might get when they announce CEO Oscar Munoz’s annual bonus.

Some time within the next few weeks, United Continental Holdings will have to disclose Munoz’s bonus, and company documents say it’s likely to be around $13 million.

According to MarketWatch, that’s his reward for aggressively raising United’s short-term profits.

And how has the airline been doing that? Overbooking, for one thing. While overbooking is a fairly common procedure among airlines, designed to ensure that planes are full when they take off, anger about the practice was just one of reaction to passenger David Dao’s forcible ejection from United flight 3341 last week.

Munoz’s handling of the PR firestorm that ensued was not the best. His first reaction was to issue this completely tone-deaf statement:

This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.

Needless to say, Munoz’s response only drew further ire. In fact, its Facebook post with that statement drew more than 115,000 comments, the vast majority of which expressed shock and anger at his words.

The next day, in an effort to mitigate the damage he did with his first statement, he issued another statement, this one to “team members”:

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

We’re sure it’s just a coincidence that this statement was issued after United lost $250 million of its market value due to the rapidly declining value of its stock.

Considering that Dao’s lawyer has stated that Dao is planning to sue United, maybe the airline should hold off on issuing Munoz’s bonus until they find out just how much they’re going to lose in the lawsuit.

Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky /