PONTE VEDRA BEACH — It hasn’t been a good week for United Airlines (to put it mildly), but you wouldn’t know it from the conduct of their CEO Oscar Munoz, who enjoyed a carefree Easter weekend relaxing and tooling around his wealthy Ponte Vedra Beach neighborhood.
The 58-year-old captain of industry was exclusively photographed by the Daily Mail riding his bike along the beach (sometimes with his wife Cathy Munoz) and visiting with friends in multimillionaire dollar beachfront homes.
It’s hard to imagine at this point that anyone hasn’t heard the story of David Dao, the doctor whose forcible removal from a United flight on April 9th became a national headline. Dao was selected by United to be ejected from the flight in order to make room for United crew members needed for another flight at the plane’s destination of Louisville.
United’s poor planning—coupled with Dao’s refusal to leave a seat he’d booked fair-and-square—ultimately led to airport police brutally beating the doctor and dragging him bodily from the plane as passengers screamed in horror and recorded the incident with their cell phones. Breaking free, Dao staggered back onto the plane and had to be removed again.
All told, he suffered a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth, and plans to sue the airline. Three airport police officers have been suspended already; no United personnel will lose their jobs.
Munoz, in a failure of epic proportions to read the public mood on the whole affair, sent an e-mail (subsequently leaked, of course) to employees defending the airline and pledging his steadfast support to all United staff. His apparent lack of contrition only served to amplify the scandal. He has issued apologies since, but it’s too-little-too-late in the view of much of the public.
Having steered the ship of business so far off course (with United having lost nearly $1 billion in stock value), one would expect to find Munoz hard at work righting wrongs and making his promised reforms, but the privileged executive—who earns on the order of $14 million per year—appeared unwilling, even in this circumstance, to sacrifice his weekend of leisure.
When approached for comment at the 10,000 square foot mansion home he shares with his wife and four children on his $6 million property (which boasts 4 bedrooms, 5-and-a-half baths, a pool and a spa), Munoz cowered in the kitchen while his wife came to the door and railed against her situation.
“Why are people treating us this way?” Catherine Munoz demanded. “I’ve been locked into my house all week because I don’t want to be approached by people who know me. I’m a wife and a mother, I can’t believe we’ve had to go through this.”
Laying aside Mrs. Munoz’s odd opinion that marrying and reproducing somehow entitles her to an exemption from all hardship, stranger still was her assertion of being “locked in” shortly after being photographed on a bike ride.
When pressed on this, Mrs. Munoz became indignant. “He can’t even take his wife out for a bike ride? This is terrible. Just terrible.”
We can think of a few things worse than being locked in a $6 million beach house.