WOW! This is the most awful story I've heard about United to date. How can a "customer focused" company act this way? Oh wait, that's right, they're United.
My colleague Huggy Rao and I have been reading and writing about something called "felt accountability" in our scaling book. We are arguing that a key difference between good and bad organizations is that, in the good ones, most everyone feels obligated and presses everyone else to do what is in their customer's and organization's best interests. I feel it as a customer at my local Trader Joe's, on JetBlue and Virgin America, and In-N-Out Burger, to give a few diverse examples.