United CEO “Reaccommodated” Sand At His Florida Home

Filed Under: United

United’s CEO is usually under fire for the things that happen at his airline, from passengers being dragged off planes to dogs dying and being flown to the wrong destinations. But now he’s personally under some scrutiny for what his family has been doing at their $6 million home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

An I-TEAM investigation shows evidence that Munoz and a few of his neighbors have been “beach scraping” (or as Oscar may prefer to refer to it, “reaccommodating sand”), where they’ve been taking sand from the public beach in front of their homes in order to build dunes. Much of the sand was wiped out by Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, so the beach is just starting to naturally rebuild. Despite that, a few homeowners have been taking some of the existing sand and building dunes in front of their homes, rather than doing it the proper way. According to the story:

But the dunes in front of four homes, including that of Munoz and other high-profile executives, appear to have been recently shored up compared to the untouched dunes near neighbors’ homes.

Tracks left behind in the sand near the restored dunes indicate bulldozers and other machinery were used to scrape sand from the existing beachfront — a possible violation of state regulations.

“We’re outraged about this,” said Hudson. “It’s a poor reflection on the whole community that someone would be that presumptuous to virtually steal something that belongs to the public and use it for personal gain.”

This work (obviously) wasn’t permitted, and now the homeowners could face fines and other penalties. The city sent a letter to the Munozes on March 28, and Oscar Munoz’s wife, Catherine Munoz, will have 15 days to arrange a meeting with the city to discuss the matter.

The correct protocol should be to have commercial sand brought in, which is more expensive, but the right thing to do, as noted by a neighbor, per First Coast News:

“The beach, you can look at it, it’s in the process of rebuilding, nature’s rebuilding it,” Husdon said. “But all things like this do is disrupt the process.”

After Hurricane Matthew, Hudson said he spent around $28,000 to ship in commercial sand to create dunes to protect his beachfront home. Using sand from the beach would cost only a fraction, he said.

“There’s a cost to playing by the rules,” Hudson said. “[The beach] is an asset to be shared and it’s the responsibility of everyone that lives here to protect that jewel.”

I didn’t realize Munoz had a home in Florida, though after doing some research I came across some other interesting stories. I sort of feel bad for the guy. The Daily Mail had a story about a year ago following the Dr. Dao incident, with pictures of him cycling in Florida “without a care in the world,” as they put it. They even tried to knock on his door:

When we knocked on the family’s door for a chat April 15, Munoz hid in the kitchen while his wife and teenage son came to the door.

‘Why are people treating us this way,’ Catherine Munoz exclaimed. ‘I’ve been locked into my house all week because I don’t want to be approached by people who know me. I’m a wife and a mother, I can’t believe we’ve had to go through this.’

I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into when he took a job as an airline CEO. Probably a bit different than the freight railroad industry he worked in before.

(Tip of the hat to @clayd333 & @michael61297118)

  1. Ben, I have been a loyal follower and do enjoy your trips, the trip reports, all conversations regarding points, etc. Even though Munoz is the CEO of a major airline, I fail to see how this article supports the points and travel conversations.


  2. Agree with Robert, lately there are way too many articles like this, and I’m not quite sure why they are being posted or what they have anything to do with miles or points or reviews.

  3. It’s incredibly tedious to read these “what does this have to do with travel?” comments. If you don’t want to read an article, don’t read it. You read one that you didn’t like, that’s okay. You didn’t waste too much time. It’s your own responsibility to find content that you like, not insist that others satisfy your preferences.

  4. …and you know damn well the vast majority of the content on this blog is very thorough travel-related information. For Christ’s sake I use this page like a reference book. You try publishing content every day of the week.

  5. I hate to do this as well, but I agree with the above posters. Your “guest” posts have been delivering incredible quality lately, why dilute the hard work that you (and others now) are putting into the blog by adding stuff like this?

  6. @Robert Reisman and @Joe S:

    I’d say it’s relevant not just because Muñoz is the CEO of a large, legacy US carrier, but also because the airlines have been turning incredibly high profits all the while reducing customer service and loyalty perks then telling us it’s what we’ve been asking for. Anyone with any shred of common sense knows that’s not true. So this is just a further reminder that if they’re unscrupulous in their personal life (clearly), there’s little to no reason to expect them to be honest in business. He’s a public figure representing an airline that’s done many, many dorked-up things in the recent past. Like any public figure, and especially one who’s claimed numerous times to be putting the customer first when that’s a patently false assertion, I think this sort of untoward behavior is absolutely ripe for being in the spotlight.

  7. Why would you feel bad for Oscar Munoz at any point? His salary and benefit package are worth way more than he deserves given all the negative and unethical actions he has committed. The right action he should have taken after Dr. Dao’s inhumane treatment was resign, rather than initially refusing to take responsibility and initially placing the blame on Dr. Dao. Now this latest exposé on “beach scraping” only confirms the despicable and immoral characters hidden behind the facade maintained by him and many rich CEOs in the US.

  8. When faced with being a true travel blogger or blog SOMETHING related to travel everyday, I guess you elect to blog SOMETHING. Clicks are more valuable than integrity.

  9. We lived on a California Beach for many years
    He is obviously new to the “beach life”
    A single storm event will wipe out 10-15 (or more) feet of sand – right down to the rock!
    BUT, it is amazing how fast nature rebuilds it, and interesting to watch how nature places it rather then man.
    If he had just waited a year, his dunes would be back, and he would have saved mucho dinero.

  10. Thank you for reporting this…..executives like Munoz need to be held accountable for things like this.

    This absolutely has a place on your blog……it’s the United Airlines CEO who should know better.

  11. Scott Kirby must be licking his chops waiting for Oscar to get the boot — he clearly took this job because Doug Parker wasn’t going anywhere and Oscar just had a massive heart attack, UA is his chance to finally lead an airline and he knows the clock is ticking.

  12. It’s a shame the sand wasn’t proactively replaced by the city. Just like the bread.

  13. Ben..this not the right topic in your blog! Stick to more travel related issues instead playing reporter for the yellow press! You are far more better than this! And for those who want some sensational press, go to your favourite tabloids!!

  14. I think it’s relevant because it shows character, or lack thereof, on Mr. Munoz’ part. The same lack of character he shows when running his airline.

  15. The story about his wife is just ridiculous. His wife should shut up. in 2016 her husband made 18 million in wages and stock comp and she reaps the benefits of it. When you are in a public position and make that kind of money you have to face the reality of situations like that. Sorry honey.

    Maybe hire private security or get United to pay for it. Both can afford it.

    Until then deal with it and shut up no one feels sorry for you.

  16. Munoz just does not have the judgement to be a CEO. How in the world did he manage to navigate the corporate ladder to get to that office without blowing his career up long ago? Is it a diversity halo or something?

  17. Lucky doesn’t like United. He doesn’t like its CEO either. We know he’d rather fly AA or DL. So reading the 2nd negativ article of Munoz is no surprise.

    The barrage of United’s bad coverage is reminiscent of the bad posts BA was getting continually until a few weeks ago. Anyone wonder how/why BA isn’t getting much bad coverage these days?

    That said; it’s Lucky’s site and he can do post what he wishes. As reader’s you have to know what to take with a grain of salt.

  18. I second and third what others are saying..IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT DON’T READ IT!! Holy Christ, some of you are children. I will add it always seems to be the guys that are cleary right leaning that make these comments, and then they call us snowflakes.

  19. I will add that I have become a United Superfan with my recent interactions. 1) As a Gold, I got a upgrade for one segment several days before my flight. The night prior, I get a call from an agent apologizing but they had done an equipment swap and I would no longer be in first. She was calling to see if I was interested in being rerouted and moved to first for the entire trip! I declined, due to the schedule change. The following day, as I am getting on the flight, I hear them calling my name to again apologize AND give me $300. The owed me NOTHING. 2) The WIFI on a flight somehow double billed me..while on the aircraft, they offered me $75 in place of the $5 that I was asking for!. 3) I arrive at the airport early for a flight that I had been upgraded on. As I was checking in, I looked to see if there was an earlier flight, to find one that would get me in 2 hours earlier AND it upgraded me on both legs, despite there being 25 people on the upgrade list on both segments…I can go on and on. United is on fire lately! As long as you are a savvy traveler, their system is designed for a great experience.

  20. I live down the road from him and we both are members of the same beach/golf club. Not surprising at all but he’s also not the only person on the boulevard that did that. Ran into him a couple times at the clubhouse. Not a fan of his wife by any means…

  21. Lucky should treat this blog the same way Gary treats VFTW: post whatever he hell he wants! This is his blog and he can make it about whatever he so feels like and take whatever position he wants. If you don’t like it, don’t read it! You aren’t the owner of this blog, he is!

    All that being said, Munoz should have fired Scott Kirby a long time ago. Would have saved United a lot of ill will. Now people are finding out that he isn’t the saint that he makes himself up to be. If he wants to redeem himself, get rid of Kirby.

  22. This post is 100 percent relevant and fair, in my view, and indeed it arguably would have been delinquent to not post it.

    Ben often writes about airline CEOs….and while this story is not about airline operations It is about how the head of an airline is handling his responsibilities to abide by the law and comport himself in a way that protects his reputation and that of the company he serves.

    This is the latest illustration of Mr. Munoz’s star-crossed tenure….including some setbacks that can be chalked up to bad luck and some that clearly are a function of management shortcomings.

  23. This blog is turning into a tabloid…every other post is some sort of pointless gossip. I think the team needs to re-think their focus.

  24. It’s all relevant as to do with the Travel Industry

    Don’t click on it if you don’t like it you twats.

  25. Don’t like the topic, don’t read it. Unhappy with the blog, go elsewhere. Why is that so hard to understand…

  26. @J Dee

    Because people are retards. They like the “sound” of their own opinions and especially how they think their opinions are 100% right. So they just HAVE to write out their opinions for others to read.

  27. Finally, a blog willing to really dig up the dirt on what airline management has been up to. Since United seems to be following Delta’s lead these days, we need to determine if that large earthen mound near Atlanta was made by Native Americans or Delta executives soiling their frequent flyer program.

  28. I’m getting sick of people saying such-and-such isn’t the right topic for this blog. Just skip the stories that don’t interest you! People read this blog for different reasons. I have never been a credit-cards-points person (it’s not an option in my country), but I read this blog for the many travel-related stories. Please people, stop assuming this blog is just one thing.

  29. The man is paid 18 million per year! How much more greedy can these people get. Greed is a cancer to these people. Unfortunately it affects the general public.

  30. Nobody has made a joke about Munoz already having experience in “Reaccommodating” Dr. Dao yet. I’m disappointed in you commenters.

  31. Ben, you have your google alerts filtered a little too loosely sometimes. This story is ok because it’s Oscar Munoz whom we love to criticize. But had it been the ceo of IHG, no one would care or click on the post

  32. I don’t understand why people bitch and moan about Lucky writing an article shading Oscar. One, it’s his blog and he can write whatever he wants. Two, clickbait people! It’s 21st century. Anything bashing United will get people reading and commenting. Google prioritize articles with lots of eyeballs and comments. If you want Lucky to stop posting these kinds of article, by commenting so in the comment section will… drumroll please…. get the article more prominent position on the web hence analytics will encourage Lucky to post more similar articles! Lol. See. You loose. So maybe shutting up for once will actually help your cause. Just a hint.

  33. He lost a lot of sand that ended up on the neighbors or public beach downcoast. If he borrows some sand today it will be gone soon. I fails to see the issue here other than maybe the local government thinks differently. We fight the sand battle in California all the time and sand comes and goes on a daily basis. Sometimes is is too much sand and many times it is too little sand. Mother nature is the main force moving sand on and off our private property although she does get help on occasion.

  34. What Munoz does at his beach house as a private citizen is not legit “travel” news… It’s tabloid “news”…

  35. Ben – you are from Florida or have family in Tampa and spend a good bit of time in Florida. It’s Ponte Vedra not Ponte Verda.

    Elsewhere, keep up the good work. Being from Jacksonville, I’ve not heard about this elsewhere and certainly find Munoz actions intolerable. Have enjoyed the guest posts of late as well.

  36. If Lucky wants to post an article about how flip-flops are better than Crocs it’s HIS BLOG.
    If you don’t want to read it – DON’T, and move on. What a bunch of freaking crybabies.

  37. Also, comments sections usually add substance to the articles. I find all you whiners are turning this into youtube/facebook and seriously detracting from the blog. Maybe Ben should start banning some IPs.

  38. Hey lets lay off Ben,

    He is a travel blogger but he also has activist in his blood. I believe he tries to address issues both informing us of travelling knowledge but also speaks out about unfair issues relating to travel.

    For me, Ben you keep on keeping on.


  39. You can buy a united blanket and gel pillow at the store or “scrape it” for a fraction of the price when you fly business on United internationally

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