Similar levels of ire were seen after United’s gaffes last year. But in July of 2017, just three months after Dr David Dao’s dragging off the plane went viral, both United’s profits and sales were up. It should be said that United enacted several policy changes in how it deals with overbooked flights in response to the incident, which could have helped their case. But ultimately, a hashtag boycott is not enough to prove that passengers are fed up enough to book elsewhere. As Americus Reed, professor of marketing at Wharton School of Business, wrote in the New York Times [paywall] “intent to boycott must be followed up by action.”

That said, if United were out to test the theory that passengers really are only motivated by price—that there is no low too low—a puppy dying at the hands of staff failure is a pretty good way to do it.

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