Bankrupt Airline's Poor Advice, PR Disaster - Total Bankruptcy
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Bankrupt Airline's Financial Advice Gets Unexpected Media Attention

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Northwest Airlines added insult to injury when it provided laid off workers with a handbook containing money saving tips.

The airline, which is operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, may seem unqualified to dispense financial management advice to employees terminated by its cost-cutting measures. Worse, the "tips" provided appeared blatantly insulting to some employees, particularly, "Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash."


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The booklet was distributed to employees facing layoffs in North Dakota, Montana and Texas, but has attracted national attention.

Employee and media reaction to the advice has prompted Northwest to revamp part of its handbook and to remove the money-saving "tips" from its internal Web site, but with newspapers around the country reporting the most egregious of the "tips" and a proliferation of blogs and Web sites offering links to the handbook itself, it seems the damage has been done.

In addition to the "dumpster diving" advice, tips include:

  • moving to a less expensive place
  • using old newspapers for cat litter
  • buying in bulk "if you can afford it"
  • shopping on "double coupon" day
  • hanging clothes out to dry, and
  • borrowing clothing for special events.

Ironically, the bankrupt airline also advises its employees that "financial planning begins and ends with a realistic budget" and that "emergency savings are for times like this".

Much of the advice ignores the fact that things like realistic budgeting and smart shopping do require income-income that is being eliminated for the targeted employees.

The press surrounding this handbook has been so extensive that we have to wonder how much of the airline's "realistic budget" will be poured into public relations management of the issue.


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