Hoo boy. Looks like United Airlines has stepped in it again. Hot on the heels of a costly debacle that involved the violent removal of a passenger from a flight to make room for an airline employee, it’s got a whole new public relations disaster on its hands: One of United Airlines’ flights just landed with beloved actress Meryl Streep smashed like a bug all over the outside of its windshield.
Uh oh. This is not good at all. United’s PR staff is going to be working overtime to deal with this one.
Passengers aboard the flight reported hearing a woman’s scream followed by a loud thud, which caused the plane to jerk violently while cruising at 35,000 feet. After landing, United staff on the tarmac at Logan Airport scrambled to clean a gory mess off the plane’s windshield and nose cone with pressure washers and squeegees, but not before a passenger captured cell phone video that clearly shows the chunks splattered all over the plane to be Meryl Streep.
Yikes. This is not the time you want to be a United PR rep. This would be terrible news for any airline, but for one that just experienced the most highly publicized PR nightmare in recent memory, it’s completely devastating. Not to mention that this isn’t just any celebrity they just splattered with their plane—it’s multi-Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep.
To its credit, United has been quick to admit its wrongdoing this time around and has been very careful not to blame Miss Streep. They even rushed to release this heartfelt apology statement:
At United, we’re cinema fans just like you. We understand that hitting Meryl Streep with one of our planes was not okay. It completely betrays the core values of our company. Between retraining our pilots to take special care to avoid hitting celebrities and showing Miss Streep’s best films free of charge on all United international flights, we promise you that we are doing everything in our power to both make sure something like this never happens again and to honor the legacy of the greatest actress of her generation. We sincerely apologize for hitting Meryl Streep with our 747.
—Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines
It remains to be seen how United’s latest damage-control effort will pay off, but this one’s going to sting for Meryl Streep fans for a long time to come. United can get better at apologizing all they want, but if they ever want to regain the public’s trust, they’re going to need to figure out how to stop messing things up so badly in the first place.