United Airlines CEO Speaks Out to Passengers Following String of Safety Incidents

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Mar 26, 2024

Scott Kirby, the United Airlines CEO, spoke out to passengers after the airline company had a string of safety incidents in the last few weeks alone. Kirby recognized that these unfortunate situations happened.

However, in an email to customers, Kirby also took the time to state that safety remains the highest concern for the company. His statement was made to reassure any potential customers who have been worried about flying with United.

Recent United Airlines Incidents

In the past month, United Airlines has had safety incidents, one after another. United’s recent problems come as the aviation industry faces closer scrutiny — especially after notable Boeing plane issues.

A United Airlines plane up in the sky flying.

Source: Arkin Si/Unsplash

However, United has had more public mishaps than some of the other carriers in the United States. These very public safety problems have led some fliers to become concerned about flying with the company.


A Fallen Tire

In one high-profile event, a tire fell off of a United Airlines Boeing 777 jet, just after it took off earlier this month. This fallen tire damaged a few cars parked in the San Francisco airport parking lot.

An up-close look at an airplane’s tire.

Source: Parmanand Jagnandan/Unsplash

A video of the mishap quickly made headline news. Many people on social media reshared the viral video, as it became the latest Boeing incident in recent weeks.

A Bad Landing

While the plane that lost its tire landed safely at its final destination, the same can’t be said of a United flight in Houston. On March 8, a Boeing 737 Max jet landed in Houston — but ended up rolling off the runway.

A United Airlines plane at an airport tarmac with a car in front of it.

Source: Nick Herasimenka/Unsplash

The plane landed in a grassy area by the tarmac. Footage and photos of this incident also quickly made headline news, as it was yet another Boeing problem — and another United one.

Flames in the Engine

Another United Airlines flight also had major issues in Texas — and in March.  A United Boeing 737 plane took off from Houston and was heading to Florida on March 4. However, things quickly went amiss after takeoff.

A United Airlines plane in the sky during a sunset.

Source: Yassine Khalfalli/Unsplash

The flight returned to the airport amid difficulties after the engine somehow ingested plastic bubble wrap. This resulted in flames sparking out of the engine, which people took videos of.

A Missing Panel

Most recently, this month also saw a United plane land in Oregon, yet without a panel. Instead, upon landing, it was discovered that the jet was completely missing a panel. The crew even stated that they didn’t know the panel was missing until after they landed.

An up-close look at a United Airlines plane in black and white.

Source: Christian Lambert/Unsplash

Though the landing — and the entire flight — was safe and successful, the missing panel only ignited the worries that many fliers currently have.


A Bad Month for United

All in all, March has been a bad month for United. So far, the carrier has had at least ten incidents in only two weeks. Many of these mishaps became headline news quickly.

Many United Airlines planes on an airport’s tarmac with a city seen in the distance.

Source: Jason Leung/Unsplash

Therefore, it’s not too much of a surprise to see United’s CEO Scott Kirby release an email to customers in an attempt to quell some of these concerns. Though United has had a string of problems recently, Kirby has assured people they have nothing to worry about.


The United CEO on Recent Incidents

“Safety is our highest priority and is at the center of everything we do,” Kirby explained in an email. “Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety.”

A United Airlines plane beside another white plane while both are being loaded with people on the tarmac

Source: Chris Leipelt/Unsplash

Safety concerns have become paramount to many travelers in the United States — and around the world — thanks to these recent United and Boeing flight problems.


The FAA’s Investigation

In his email to United customers, Kirby also explained that all of these recent mishaps were being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

A plane’s wing seen while up in the air with white clouds, a rainbow, and land below it.

Source: Esther Tuttle/Unsplash

However, Kirby also stated that these incidents were “all unrelated.” United is also reportedly conducting its own investigation into the matter, looking at what happened “and using those insights to inform our safety training and procedures across all employee groups.”


New Changes at United

According to Kirby, some new changes are already occurring at United, thanks to these recent problems. One of these modifications includes “an extra day of in-person training for all pilots starting in May and a centralized training curriculum for our new-hire maintenance technicians.”

A United Airlines plane taking off from an airport in the daytime.

Source: Miguel Ángel Sanz/Unsplash

In this email, Kirby’s transparency into what the company is doing to better themselves after these mistakes could help calm some fears their fliers have.


Kirby Reassures Customers

Kirby also took the time to reassure some of the United customers who have watched all their recent problems with concern.

An aerial view of a United plane being loaded while at an airport.

Source: Chris Leipelt/Unsplash

“You can be confident that every time a United plane pulls away from the gate, everyone on our team is working together to keep you safe on your trip,” he wrote in the email.


Ongoing Boeing Issues

United Airlines has had many safety situations in the past month. Many of these issues can be traced back to Boeing, one of the carrier’s biggest manufacturers. Boeing’s problems kicked off the new year after an Alaska Airlines flight saw a door plug panel blow off while it was up in the air on January 5.

A plane flying during sunset, seen in a pink sky.

Source: Raychan/Unsplash

Since then, many Boeing jets have seemingly had safety issues. Many of these Boeing planes were also United flights.