CHICAGO and FORT WORTH, TX: United Airlines and American Airlines
moved fast to put their crisis communications plans into place after
last Tuesday's devastating events.
With the help of Fleishman-Hillard and BSMG respectively, they issued
separate statements in the wake of four incidents involving their
aircrafts. Media calls to both airlines were directed to the FBI.
United issued its first press release at 9:44am CST, to say that the
company "is working with all relevant authorities to obtain further
information about today's tragic and terrible events."
A second release was issued by United at 11:17am EST, confirming that
one of its flights, 93, had crashed near Pittsburgh.
At that time, the whereabouts of another plane were unknown. "United is
deeply concerned about a further flight, United 175, a Boeing 767 that
was bound from Boston to Los Angeles," the release also stated.
At 11:53am EST, United officially confirmed Flight 175 had also crashed,
and news reports stated the plane had hit the Pentagon. It also sent a
team of investigators to Pennsylvania, and published a toll-free phone
number for families of passengers.
At 2:18pm EST, United announced it would be making initial payments of
$25,000 to the families of those involved in the incidents "to
help meet their immediate needs," but would not be releasing names of
victims until cleared to do so.
Toll-free phone numbers were listed for eight different countries for
families seeking information. The airline also dispatched family
assistance teams to several locations in the US.
United is posting messages of condolence in the "fact sheets" section of
American posted a message on its website, without a time stamp,
confirming that all remaining planes in the system, including American
Eagle and TWA, had been accounted for.