Opinion: Should you fly on a Boeing plane again? What luxury brands can learn

    After narrowly escaping disaster this month, Boeing faces a crisis not just in mechanics but in trust. How can brands recover from a tarnished reputation?
    Photo: Shutterstock
      Published   in Travel

    In the aftermath of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes, the recent Alaska 737 MAX 9 door plug blow-out, and the seemingly endless revelations about quality issues, including loose parts, Boeing faces a crisis not only in mechanics but also in trust.

    This situation poses an existential question for the aviation giant and offers crucial lessons for brands in every sector: How does a brand recover from a colossal trust deficit?

    Let's revisit the key facts. The Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 tragically claimed a total of 346 lives, raising questions about Boeing’s design and safety protocols. Investigations suggested a rush to market, cover-ups, and overlooked safety concerns. The fallout was immediate and severe, leading to a global grounding of the entire MAX fleet and a severely tarnished brand reputation.

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    The crisis deepened with recent findings by Alaska Airlines of loose bolts on many planes. This discovery further eroded trust, not only in Boeing but also in the aviation industry’s oversight mechanisms, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    Adding fuel to the fire, the CEOs of United Airlines and American Airlines vocally expressed their concerns about Boeing, according to several news outlets. Many commentators and airline experts even suggested publicly not to fly on a Boeing aircraft again, especially not on the MAX.

    The travel platform Kayak now specifically allows clients to exclude the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 from search results. All these findings, actions, and statements underscore a fundamental worry about safety and reliability of Boeing’s latest plane.

    Indicators point to a culture of profit maximization, cost cutting, outsourcing, and significant deficits in quality control and oversight. When it comes to trusting your life to a brand, these are aspects you never want to have to worry about.

    Boeing was once seen as one of the most innovative and trustworthy companies on the planet. It was a plane people were proud to fly on. But when quality issues, including repeated groundings of the bestselling 737 and 787 planes by the FAA, become commonplace, pride and trust erode to a point of potentially no return.

    Issues with the 737 MAX have raised questions about Boeing’s design and safety protocols. Photo: Shutterstock
    Issues with the 737 MAX have raised questions about Boeing’s design and safety protocols. Photo: Shutterstock

    I recently presented the results of a luxury study conducted in collaboration with Adobe Systems. The findings indicate that in a luxury and premium environment, it only takes 1.7 bad experiences to damage a brand's reputation, leading to broken loyalty and customers severing ties with the brand.

    Notably, in the luxury sector, this breakup occurs significantly faster than for everyday brands. It also requires much more effort for a premium or luxury brand to regain the loyalty of a client.

    In a luxury and premium environment, it only takes 1.7 bad experiences to damage a brand's reputation.

    In other words, when clients expect “extreme value,” then the stakes are higher. Trust is broken much faster in an environment where clients seek extreme value, and the process of restoration becomes significantly more challenging.

    With all the proprietary insights we have on brand equity, brand trust, and loyalty, I don’t think that Boeing will ever be able to fully recover without a significant change in leadership principles, culture, and organization. Merely promising better quality without visible and dramatic changes in how the company is governed and quality is delivered will not restore confidence.

    In this context, what should Boeing do? And what can other brands learn from this?


    Firstly, transparency is non-negotiable. In a crisis, especially one involving public safety, full disclosure is the only way to begin rebuilding trust. Boeing must address not only its technical flaws but also its leadership, communication, and corporate culture issues. This means engaging openly with regulators, customers, and the public about every step it is taking to ensure safety. While this process is undoubtedly painful and never pleasant for any organization, without it, reputation may never be fully restored.


    Secondly, accountability is key. Boeing needs to take full responsibility for its missteps — not just in words but in actions. This includes conducting a rigorous review and implementing changes to its design, manufacturing, and testing protocols. Lip service is not a solution.


    Thirdly, rebuild patiently. Trust is not easily regained, especially when lives have been lost or endangered. Boeing must be prepared for a prolonged journey to regain confidence, one that involves demonstrating consistent and reliable safety performance as well as proactive engagement with all stakeholders. Any significant future safety incident related to quality would tarnish trust in Boeing forever.

    For other brands, Boeing’s situation is a stark reminder of the fragility of trust. It highlights the need for a relentless focus on safety and quality, transparent communication, and a culture that prioritizes ethical decision-making over short-term gains.

    To fly or not to fly#

    The question “Should you ever fly on a Boeing plane again?” is more than just about choosing an airplane maker or an airline. It's about how a brand that once symbolized reliability and innovation can reclaim its status. Moreover, it's a lesson in the importance of maintaining the highest standards and being transparent and accountable when those standards are not met.

    If Boeing can rebuild its reputation, it’s going to be one of the most significant brand reputation turnarounds ever. It will take years, if not decades, of excellence in leadership and execution without even the slightest misstep. The lesson for any brand is that once trust is broken, it takes more than just effort to rebuild it. It requires a fundamental shift and a long-term commitment.

    This is an opinion piece by Daniel Langer, CEO of Équité, recognized as one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch.” He serves as an executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu and as a professor of luxury at NYU, New York. He’s authored best-selling books on luxury management in English and Chinese, and is a respected global keynote speaker. Daniel frequently conducts masterclasses on various luxury topics across all continents. He’s a sought-after luxury expert, appearing on platforms like Bloomberg TV, Forbes, The Economist, and more. Holding an MBA and a Ph.D. in luxury management, Daniel has received education from Harvard Business School. All opinions expressed in the column are his own and do not reflect the official position of Jing Daily.

    Follow him: LinkedIn:, Instagram: @equitebrands /@drdaniellanger

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