Airlines have been getting away for years with poor service and major missteps — like the dragging of a passenger off a United Express flight — because of the consolidation of the industry, crisis management expert Eric Dezenhall said Wednesday.
"The problem here is when you have a company, an industry that is a near monopoly, this is what happens," the CEO of Dezenhall Resources said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
"It's not like you walked into a Brooks Brothers and somebody was rude and you got a bad shirt and you can go across the street to Joseph A. Bank," Dezenhall said. In the airline industry, it's prohibitively difficult to start up an airline from scratch, he said, adding there are "barriers to entry."
Airlines "don't think they can get away with this stuff. Historically, they do get away with this stuff," he said, because there are not enough choices for consumers.
Dezenhall did say the media and the flying public should give United a break for the way the airline initially handled the firestorm, claiming all first attempts at dealing with a crisis fall short.
"Let's admit the first two rounds were terrible. Now it's time to move on to this long-term approach. And yes, they probably will survive it," he predicted.
United CEO Oscar Munoz issued an apology on Tuesday — two days after Sunday's confrontation that was recorded by other passengers and became a viral video on social media.
In an interview Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Munoz vowed, "This will never happen again." He said he would not resign over the fiasco. "I was hired to make United better, and that's what we'll do."