Regional airlines seized on the social media storm surrounding the forced and violent removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight to hit back at one of the arch-critics of their break-neck expansion.
The 69-year-old passenger had refused to be "bumped" off the overbooked flight — an airline practice that has come under increased scrutiny since the incident was exposed on social media.
In wake of the scandal, Emirates has used the public backlash against the roughing up of the passenger to get back at its critics.
The Dubai-based airline mocked United’s best-known advertising slogan on its Twitter account, urging passengers to “fly the friendly skies with a real airline.”
Fly the friendly skies with a real airline. pic.twitter.com/wE5C5n6Lvn— Emirates airline (@emirates) April 11, 2017
Joining the pun
Royal Jordanian Airlines joined in with a pun on the man being dragged from the plane, while Turkish Airlines pointed out that it last week added an extra passenger to one of its flights after a baby was born on board.
While most airlines steered clear of commenting on the United debacle, the US giant’s embarrassment over the removal of the man to make way for one of its employees was too good an opportunity to miss for regional operators subject to years of jibes over the part played by state funding in their success story.
The Emirates video has been retweeted more than 6,000 times and drew more than 9,200 likes.
Social media assault
The Emirates tweet includes a video mocking United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz’s suggestion this year that Gulf carriers “aren’t real airlines” by highlighting its Tripadvisor ranking as the world’s best carrier in 2017.
"Well Mr. Munoz, according to Trip Advisor, the world's largest travel site, not only are we a real airline... we are the best airline," the commercial continues.
The clip then goes on to list the awards the company has won from Trip Advisor this past year.
In a final quip at the US carrier's slogan, the ad concludes: "Fly the friendly skies... This time for real."
The social media clip from Emirates follows a statement from Munoz apologising for the violent removal of the paid passenger.
"I continue to be distrubed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologise to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard," Munoz said according to media reports.
He added: "I want you to know that we take full responsibilty and we will work to make it right."
In another jibe at United, a video posted on YouTube introduces the airline's "superior class".
The video starts: "Ever have difficulties getting a last-minute seat on United? Not anymore.
"Introducing United Superior Class."
Mocking the airline, the video continues: "Through groundbreaking algorithms, we can determine which passenger paid the least for their ticket and will make way for any Superior Class ticket holder."
In response to the recent passenger incident hundreds of memes have emerged on social media.
United Airlines is pleased to announce new seating on all domestic flights- in addition to United First and Economy Plus we introduce.... pic.twitter.com/KQjPClU2d2— McNeil (@Reflog_18) April 10, 2017
Airlines from the US have been critical of Gulf carriers for having unfair competitive advantage over them.
They recently asked American President Donal Trump to intervene and stop their Gulf rivals from further expansion into the US market.
United Airlines employees staged a rally in March when Emirates kicked off its new service to New Jersey.
- With reports from Bloomberg