Thursday, May 03, 2018

United Hires Former White House Press Chief in Bid to Revamp Image: United wants to escape from a reputation for poor service, as well as a series of high-profile incidents

The Wall Street Journal
By Doug Cameron
May 3, 2018 6:00 a.m. ET

United Airlines said Thursday it had tapped former White House press chief Josh Earnest to head its communications team, part of the effort to improve the fortunes of a carrier damaged by everything from growth plans to the death of a dog in an overhead bin.

Mr. Earnest, a former press secretary under President Barack Obama, has been hired as a senior vice president at parent United Continental Holdings Inc. to oversee communications for a carrier that is become a touchstone for the fortunes of the broader U.S. airline industry.

United, the nation’s third-largest carrier by traffic, in January unveiled an ambitious expansion plan that rattled investors across the industry, sending the stock down in recent weeks despite strong financial results.

Chicago-based United is aiming to escape from a reputation for poor service borne out by industry surveys, as well as a series of high-profile incidents.

Mr. Earnest, who arrives with a long record in politics but no direct corporate experience, is due to join United later in May as the wider issues of passenger rights and industry safety gain traction among lawmakers.

One of the longest serving aides to President Obama, and press secretary from 2014, he developed a reputation for good relationships with the media and a tenacious defender of Mr. Obama’s image and reputation, sparring over stories he disliked, according to reporters who covered him.

He replaces Jim Olson, who joined from Starbucks Corp. and departed after two years last December.

“Cutting through the noise of the modern media environment is a challenge, especially in the highly competitive airline industry,” United said in a statement.

The airline has been battered by controversy over an incident last year when Chicago airport police forcibly removed a passenger from one of its jets. A series of controversial incidents involving pets on planes and the failure to meet cost-cutting and growth targets have also weighed on the stock.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. If you're looking for a dishonest frontman who can lie with an easy smile, Josh would be my company's first hire...

  2. So the solution to the problems of an airline which demonstrates minimal respect for its customers, or their pets, and has customer satisfaction numbers to prove it, is hiring some political hack? I wouldn’t fly this abysmal carrier if they were giving tickets away.