DUBAI // Emirates airline has mercilessly mocked its beleaguered rival United Airlines as the US carrier struggles to deal with the fallout after a passenger was violently dragged from an overbooked flight.
In a new campaign, the Dubai airline throws United’s “fly the friendly skies” slogan back in its face with an advertisement that says: “Fly the friendly skies … this time for real.”
Emirates and other regional carriers such as Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi have been embroiled in a long-running feud with their US rivals, who accuse them of benefiting from unfair state subsidies – a claim that the Arabian Gulf carriers have denied.
■ Watch the video here: United Airlines under fire after passenger dragged off overbooked plane
In March, Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United, made comments suggesting that the Gulf carriers were “not airlines”, but rather “international branding vehicles for their countries”.
Emirates’ new advert points out that not only is Emirates a real airline, but the best airline.
The company lists the travel website Trip Advisor’s 2017 Travellers’ Choice Awards for Airlines, in which readers picked Emirates as the best in the world.
The commercial has been “liked” more than 12,000 times on Twitter and re-tweeted more than 8,000 times.
Twitter users commenting on the clip said Emirates was in a different class from United and that airline service in the United States paled in comparison.
One user highlighted the difference between the carriers by saying that rather than violently removing him from his overbooked flight, Emirates upgraded him to business class.
Also getting in on the United trolling act was another social media-savvy Middle Eastern airline. Royal Jordanian made sure not to miss the opportunity after already using recent US travel bans to their advantage.
The airline published a picture of a no-smoking symbol with the line “we would like to remind you that drags on our flights are strictly prohibited by passengers and crew”.
“We are here to keep you #united. Dragging is strictly prohibited,” the airline tweeted.
According to AP, Qatar Airways is now getting in on the gag too. An update on Wednesday for its iPhone app says it “doesn’t support drag and drop. We take care of customers as we unite them with their destinations.”
Mr Munoz initially issued a statement supporting airline staff who ordered the passenger off the flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, and said the man had been aggressive and belligerent. After a public backlash, however, Mr Munoz said the passenger, a 69-year-old doctor, deserved an apology and promised such an incident would never happen again.