Airlines put crisis communications into action in wake of tragedy

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

its website.

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.

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