Before the history of the song in the video above, here is a quick recap of why it matters.

As almost everyone knows by now, United Airlines has been under fire for forcibly dragging a flyer out of an overbooked flight on Sunday. While he was later reinstated on the flight, the inhuman treatment that was meted out – captured on videos shot by co-passengers – has led to a torrent of protest and denouncement.

After the incriminating videos went public, prompting a public apology from the company’s CEO Oscar Munoz, his choice of words – claiming that the passenger was “disruptive and belligerent” – made things worse for the company.

The CEO of the company has offered a second apology since then.

“The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

“I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.”

United Airlines has been known for its PR disasters in the past. In 2015, the airlines apologised after a flight attendant refused to give an unopened can of Diet Coke to a Muslim passenger for the fear of being used as a weapon.

But none of the PR embarrassments were like the three viral music videos titled United Breaks Guitars.

In 2008, Canadian musician Dave Carroll was forced to check in his $3,500 custom Taylor guitar instead of carrying it in the passenger cabin – only to have his expensive instrument tossed around and severely damaged while he sat helplessly in coach class.

The airlines dodged Carroll’s complaint for nine months – the only sympathy he says he received was from the Indian customer care officers he was frequently directed to.

They “were the most pleasant, and seemed genuinely sorry for what had happened,” mentions the musician on his website.

After the company had refused, on email from a spokesperson named “Ms Irlweg,” to pay $1,200 for repairing the guitar, Carroll decided to write three satirical songs about his experience and uploaded them on YouTube in July, 2009.

In four days, the country-western-style songs had a million views, which finally induced the airlines to offer some compensation.


This time, it was Carroll who turned down the money. As CNN had put it, he wanted to reform the system. Later, after the airlines had promised to do better, they lost his bag for three days.

The musician, along with his band Sons of Maxwell, not only distributed the songs via iTunes but also published a book United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media.

He even wrote a song about it, titled I’ve Got a Book Comin’ Out.


The internet is just as angry now with United Airlines as Carroll was back then.

Several Hollywood figures – including filmmaker Ava DuVernay and Frozen actor Josh Gad – expressed their disgust on Twitter, while others chimed in with sarcasm.

Days before United Airlines became the butt of jokes, Pepsi withdrew a controversial advertisement.