Summary: Yesterday’s incident at United reveals much about the changes happening to America. First, let’s sort through the stories to see what really happened. Then let’s skip the cheap hand-waving and draw conclusions that can help us understand events and so begin to retake control of this nation.
The New York Times tells the story, somewhat incoherently. United Express loaded a plane with passengers. Then four employees arrived, needed seats. United was unwilling to offer sufficient money to induce passengers to leave, and so ordered four to leave the craft. Three left, but a doctor refused — saying he had to be in Louisville to treat patients. United officials decided to call the Department of Aviation police (not the airline’s security) to remove him.
The man was sitting in a window seat. Officers grabbed his arms, dragged him screaming across the armrests and along the floor — unconscious — off the aircraft. Later the passenger returned to the aircraft, bleeding and apparently disoriented. He collapsed, and was carried off in a stretcher. Many of the passengers also left. Then United told everybody to get off so they could “tidy the aircraft”.
The Police Speak
The Chicago Police Office of Communication quickly released a statement. As usual with such things, it lied about the key detail (red emphasis added).
“At approximately 6pm a 69-year-old male Asian airline passenger became irate after he was asked to disembark from a flight that was oversold. The passenger in question began yelling to voice his displeasure at which point Aviation Police were summoned. Aviation Officers arrived on scene attempted to carry the individual off of the flight when he fell. His head subsequently struck an armrest causing injuries to his face. The man was taken to Lutheran General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Ongoing investigation.”
Got to love the passive case: “his head fell”, with no responsible cause for this result. Later Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride sang a different tune.
“The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned. …That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.”
Update from the Chicago Sun-Times: “2 more aviation cops on leave after United doc-dragging incident“.
Our corporate overlords speak
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
– Statement by Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines.
But of course truth is an unimportant quality when speaking to dogs and proles. Elite’s say what works then and there. Oscar later sang a different tune to employees; his letter also included United’s version of events (see the full note here). No apologies to their customers here.
Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clearer picture of what transpired, I’ve included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.
As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.
I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.
Their “summary of events” is Orwellian, with some big oddities (red added).
On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United’s gate agents were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight.
We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions. He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave. Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials.
Why did the needs of United’s employees for transport take precedence over passengers who has already boarded (they were not “denied boarding”)? Why did United’s managers have “no choice” but to call police after offering $1000 compensation? Their ticket prices are determined by the free market. Why not let the free market set compensation for getting off the aircraft? It would have been far cheaper than whatever United will be paying him now.
Important things to know that few news stories will mention
About Oscar Munoz: United paid him $5.8 million in 2015. On March 16 PR Week magazine declared him “US Communicator of the Year”.
Dissatisfied customers will find few alternatives to United, thanks to the bipartisan policy of ignoring anti-trust laws for several decades. From an essential to read article in The New Yorker about United — and our New America.
“The sinkhole effect — which is not confined to airlines — means that we need to take a much closer look at mega-mergers in the essential industries whose services are hard to avoid and which have a disproportionate effect on quality of life. Looking at examples from other industries, like hospitals, can be even more alarming. During the early aughts, the Federal Trade Commission analyzed several completed hospital mergers. Those studies revealed two unmistakable results: 1) an increase in prices explainable only by a reduction in competition, and 2) the same or worse outcomes, as measured by indicators that included patient mortality. Other studies have largely confirmed the results. Higher prices and more dead patients; it doesn’t really get worse than that. …
“Back in 2010, United and Continental made the usual bland promises: “great products and service for our customers, career opportunities for our people and consistent returns for our shareholders.” That was a quote from the outgoing United C.E.O., Glenn Tilton, who received nearly seventeen million dollars after agreeing to allow his airline to be ruined. …The two airlines convinced the Justice Department that there was too little overlap between them to cause any competitive harm. (In practice, according to the Wall Street Journal, the combined airline raised prices by as much as 57% on routes made newly uncompetitive.)
“For one thing, on some routes, there is almost no alternative to United. … As airlines merge, competitors collude by taking turns raising fees or providing a lower level of service, making the bad treatment of consumers contagious. Yesterday’s outrage soon becomes today’s industry standard.”
Update — This incident tears the facade to show us the contradictions of neoliberalism: “Airlines Can Treat You Like Garbage Because They Are an Oligopoly” by Alex Pareene at Fusion. Excerpt…
“Goons dragging bloodied passengers off of airplanes shouldn’t happen in a world where people “vote with their wallets” and corporations compete with one another to attract consumers. This is the disconnect that has puzzled so many. The first hint to the answer comes in noting that this was not an isolated incident, and that this sort of corporate mistreatment of paying customers is not limited to United. …
“When everyone gets mad at Pepsi, Pepsi has to apologize because it is very easy to not drink Pepsi. …The major American airlines, though, do not need to do anything to convince people to fly with them, because they all merged and consolidated until there were just four firms controlling the vast majority of domestic flights, and they have determined that it is in their collective best interest not to seriously compete with one another.
“There used to be competition, which seemed—just like we were taught in high school economics—to bring lower fares and more routes to more destinations, but the airlines weren’t making enough money, so they consolidated into a few huge carriers, reduced service to medium-sized airports, and massively raised the cost of flying through both increased fares and skyrocketing fees. …
This is called oligopoly, and, for airline shareholders, this is great! It truly is a new golden age of aviation, for people who fly in private jets but own stock in airlines. For the rest of us, this is most of why flying sucks now (the rest of it is the ever-expanding and largely incompetent security state), and also why United is not that worried about you sharing that video of a man being brutally dragged off their plane. They are not embarrassed, and you will not embarrass them. …”
“This is the end result of decades of corporate consolidation—aided by economists and regulators and politicians from both parties—that has greatly enriched a few at the expense of workers, consumers, and citizens in general. People chose to create a world that allows what happened on that plane to happen. Direct your outrage at the policymakers, economists, and industry cartels that created this future.”
Rare and extreme situations test organizations and their leaders, revealing their true beliefs and values. This incident at United revealed much about United and its leaders, but also illustrates how America is changing. We saw the arrogance and lies of our leaders. Their disdain for the proles (us). Their readiness to use the police to enforce their policies. The eagerness of the police to do obey corporations — and do so with maximum violence.
All of these are becoming more common and more intense. Our passivity rewards this behavior by our ruling elites, and encourages it. Ultimately the responsibility for this trend is ours, because America is ours.
For More Information
If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See the posts about ways to reform American politics, and also these posts about the airline industry…
- Complaints about air travel are the cries of a dying middle class.
- The airlines’ crippling pilot shortage: another bogus “skills” crisis.
A new United Airlines advertisement!
Scene from a United Airlines training video?
From the film Airplane!.
37 thoughts on “Ignore the outrage. Instead understand why United assaulted a passenger.”
I don’t have any experience with United as the only flight my company uses is a direct HSV-IAH and that’s actually United Express. I had some experience with Continental years ago before they left Skyteam and were absorbed by United. I’ve been on many hundreds of Delta flights over 1.6M miles.
All this is to say I’ve never seen anything like this as it is always dealt with at the gate before passengers are boarded. Delta periodically gets into “oversold” situations and starts to offer “Delta Dollars” to entice passengers to volunteer to take the next flight. I’ve never seen them even ask once passengers are boarded. I really don recall ever noticing crew deadheading on oversold flights, but I haven’t looked specifically for that in the past. I will in the future.
Thank you for pointing that out! I’ll add this to the conclusion: “Rare and extreme situations test organizations and their leaders, revealing their true beliefs and values. This incident at United revealed much about United and its leaders, but also illustrates how America is changing.”
Armis Exposcere Pacem- “They demanded peace by the force of arms.”
Wrong mindset, poor outcomes, and very risky implications.
The beatings will continue until morale improves…
The key information here is that United Airlines had to make space to carry their own staff. Flight 3411 was not “overbooked” at all but the airline wanted to kick some of its paying passengers off the flight to accommodate their own staff needed for a later flight at another destination. United Airlines had bungled its own logistics and then took it out on its own paying customers.
Poor customer service exists because of corporate culture and because a company gets away with it.
Please do not reward this behavior!
While United can be faulted for having insufficient aircrew at the destination (Louisville, I believe), I have to know more before castigating them. Were there illnesses causing the planned crew members to be unavailable? Did weather prevent a timely arrival of such crew members? Even if neither is true and it was simply a screw-up, it is the case that NOT accommodating the crew could have grounded an entire flight or flights at the destination. The paying passengers on such flights might have missed connecting flights, etc.
Thus, once the crew member shortage at the destination arose, whether through errors on the part of United or “acts of God,” United had little choice. I guess that they could have chartered a private aircraft to take their crew members to the destination or to fly the passengers that had to be asked (and forced) off of the airplane. But even that could have caused delays at the destination end, causing passengers there to be, at best, inconvenienced, and possibly worse. Under the circumstances as they existed at that time, United acted properly in unseating passengers to accomodate crew members. Certainly, the unseating could have been accomplished differently. I suppose that United could have been forced to bid for the needed volunteers. (I am assuming here that the issue of the needed crew members is truthful, I have no way to know but it would be surprising for United to have passengers deplaned and given significant vouchers were it not true).
Under the circumstances, I think the entire situation is ridiculously overblown. I don’t condone injuring the man who wouldn’t relinquish his seat, but neither do I think that this rises to the level of a condemnation of the airline, let alone to the level of being emblematic of the elites’ boots on the necks the proles. As to the proles, where is the outrage over drunken proles assaulting flight attendants?
I mostly fly United, several trips per year from the West Coast where I live and work to the East Coast for various conferences and such. I’ve flown most carriers, including some that are held up as models of appropriate airline behavior (Southwest, Jet Blue, though I’ve never flown Virgin) and United is no worse. I’m typically on time and treated respectfully. And no, I don’t fly first class, I fly in coach.
As to Munoz’ salary, most of the time he’s dealing with board members, aircraft manufacturers and lessors, other vendors, senior execs, securities analysts, regulators, etc. It’s not surprising that he’s “tone deaf” in his apology. Is that worth $5.8MM/year? We’ll see .
Airlines are sometimes profitable, often not. I suspect that no one reading this post or my comment has what it takes to run an airline in such a way that employees and passengers are satisfied and the airline turns a profit. We demand extreme low prices and then bitch at the consequences. We are spoiled babies.
Please don’t post a rebuttal without reading the post. Your comment is quite misinformed.
(1) “While United can be faulted for having insufficient aircrew at the destination (Louisville, I believe), I have to know more before castigating them.”
The reason United needed to to move four employees to Louisville is irrelevant to this incident.
(2) “once the crew member shortage at the destination arose, whether through errors on the part of United or “acts of God,” United had little choice.”
Totally false. United could have offered larger incentives to get passengers to give up their seats. To quote what I said in this post:
@Fabius Maximus: you have an annoying tendency to insult those with whom you disagree. What evidence do you have that I didn’t read your post? Of course I did and you undoubtedly knew that, so you chose to subtly insult my comprehension. Ironically, often I agree with you, I even link to your blog from mine. My comment may (arguably) be irrelevant to your post, but it’s clearly relevant to the comment to which I replied. Is that somehow not clear? And I did mention the possibility of United bidding for volunteers.
Contractually and legally, United was within it’s rights to demand that passengers leave the aircraft. You’re probably right, though, with respect to the financial repercussions of the incident. The legal system is such that the victim will likely become rich based on this, as will the the law firm that manages to raise themselves above the pack and sell themselves to him. So, call it his lucky day.
“My comment may (arguably) be irrelevant to your post, but it’s clearly relevant to the comment to which I replied. Is that somehow not clear?”
No. Terry was quite clear: “Poor customer service exists because of corporate culture and because a company gets away with it.” Your comment appears quite oblivious to both his point and mine. Perhaps you should try replying to direct quotes. It helps focus your reply on what you disagree with.
“Contractually and legally, United was within it’s rights to demand that passengers leave the aircraft.”
Duh. Nobody disputes that. Why is that relevant to this post?
“The legal system is such that the victim will likely become rich based on this, as will the the law firm that manages to raise themselves above the pack and sell themselves to him. So, call it his lucky day.”
Define “rich” in terms of this doctor and his attorney. A million dollar settlement — which I guess (guess!) is in the high end of likely — would give the doctor roughly $660 thousand (less costs) and his attorney gross revenue (before his costs) of roughly $330 thousand. Both pre-tax. Neither is going to retire, let alone to Beverly Hills, on that sum.
From your first comment: “Under the circumstances, I think the entire situation is ridiculously overblown. I don’t condone injuring the man who wouldn’t relinquish his seat, but neither do I think that this rises to the level of a condemnation of the airline, let alone to the level of being emblematic of the elites’ boots on the necks the proles.”
Empathic much/ Perhaps because it was not you or a friend or relative dragged out bleeding, knocked unconscious, by police to resolve a purely commercial dispute — by a corporation who wished to save a few hundred dollars. That they put so small a price on the their customers’ welfare is — to most people — “emblematic of elites'” attitude. It is one of many such examples — such as auto companies saving a dollar or so per car at the cost of lives lost in wrecks. Etc.
From Terry: “The key information here is that United Airlines had to make space to carry their own staff. Flight 3411 was not “overbooked” at all but the airline wanted to kick some of its paying passengers off the flight to accommodate their own staff needed for a later flight at another destination. United Airlines had bungled its own logistics and then took it out on its own paying customers.” My original comment was certainly relevant to that, and Terry refers it as “the key information.”
With respect to the lawsuit, they will sue, at the least, United, the Airport Authority, the regional carrier under contract to United for this flight, the Police Department, any private security company that may have been involved, and Does 1-100. I don’t know what the settlement may be and neither do you. We don’t know if there will be a settlement, the victim (and yes, he is a victim) may hold out for a jury trial and count on inflaming the jury. Post jury award, with a massive settlement for actual and punitive damages awarded due to said jury, he may then settle. In any case, personal injury settlements and awards are generally not taxed, though punitive damages awards are. He’s likely to do just fine. Will he be able to retire? Hard to say but certainly not out of the question.
I would not be averse to an auction system for overbooking situations but that’s not the situation we have. Do you suppose that the flight crew or gate crew had the authority to change airline policy? I fly a pretty fair amount and I’ve never seen a situation in which there was a confrontation over an overbooking situation (or one where paying passengers had to not board because of a need to move employees). It’s not imaginable to have a policy guideline such that every conceivable circumstance is covered. Would it be better to have a policy whereby employees were encouraged and backed to use their judgement and “just do what’s right?” No doubt it would have it’s benefits. But it’s easy to understand why a giant corporation would be afraid of that, even if that corporation is not the embodiment of evil.
In any case, the lack of such a system is not a symbol of our corporate overlords having control of every area of our lives. “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” a metaphor for your single minded analysis of every news event as indicative of the dominance of our elite corporate overlords. And despite that, as I stated, it’s not uncommon for me to agree with you.
Outrageous of course. Notable the response of people in the section this occurred in, the women are shocked that this is happening.
But as the Title hear so notes: Undestand why United assaulted a passenger.
Assaulted. Yes, a seated, paying customer. Assauted by some mercenary thugs in jeans and baseball caps. Of course the City and United will pay, will settle this impending lawsuit. And the sum will be significant. Munoz will receive his annual bonus. The responsible persons will be hidden and protected. The employees of United will be even more cynical and disgusted by having to work for such a broken and corrupt Company.
The people like the Munoz of this country simply have disdain for you and me.
It is exactly what it is.
Imagine if you will how this could have been stopped. Consider if enough fellow passengers simply stood up and openly quietly confronted these Airline or City thugs. Imagine if the pilots had enough sense and decency to intervene on their Plane and took control of this sordid situation.
Don’t sit by.
Speak the truth as you know it.
The price of not so doing is simply too high.
Thx for the analysis.
Reblogged this on The Ratliff Notepad and commented:
Love the addition of the Airplane clip at the end. Priceless. The rest of the United story is rather appalling, if I do say so myself.
Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
Ultimately, this incident is an example of the haves lording over the have-nots. The elites of the airline ordered the guys with the guns to enforce their privilege. I don’t see regulation and more government control as the answer. I do see respect for private property, private contracts (which the airline violated), and respect and honor for every individual as essential. If our police do more than protect the little guy, bully airlines and beaten plebeians are all we can expect.
Stand up for individual rights and liberty.
“I do see respect for … private contracts (which the airline violated),”
I wouldn’t count on that. Undoubtedly the passenger agreed to have this and worse done to him as part of the 47 pages of fine print “Terms and Conditions” he clicked through when purchasing the ticket.
(1) “I do see respect for private property, private contracts (which the airline violated), and respect and honor for every individual as essential.”
Why do you believe the private property rights of the passengers were violated? United has almost unlimited authority when dealing with passengers, as stated in United’s contract of carriage,describing its rule regarding “refusal of transport” (Rule 21) and “denied boarding compensation” (Rule 25).
When you interact with a corporation you usually implicitly agree to a contract giving you almost no rights — with disputes resolved through a private kangaroo court arbitration in which the corporation almost always wins.
(2) “Stand up for individual rights and liberty.”
Pretty words. You don’t want government action. So what is your solution?
Eds, being legal and protected by the guys with the guns doesn’t make it right.
Government involvement seems to always worsen matters. Each must stand for freedom for all, or we are all enslaved. And, yes, I realize, for the most part, we are all slaves to the state and the corporations. Government officials and very rich endlessly lord it over us, and we mostly behave like sheep. Violence is never part of the long-term solution. Freedom is. Government is, ultimately, violence.
I agree with your usage of kangaroo.
“being legal and protected by the guys with the guns doesn’t make it right.”
I believe that everyone 12 and over knows that.
“Government involvement seems to always worsen matters”
Bizarrely false. But you can go to Somalia to test your theory.
“The elites of the airline ordered the guys with the guns to enforce their privilege.” Extremely doubtful. The gate crew or the cabin crew ordered it. They are wage earners and, I imagine, among the proles referred to in the FM post. As pointed out elsewhere, the airline didn’t violate a contract.
United’s CEO explicitly said exactly the opposite:
Most of your comments are contradicted by the material in this post. Hence my observation that you didn’t read it (or well absorb what you read).
“The gate crew or the cabin crew ordered it.”
“A principle of behaviour, conduct etc. thought to be desirable or necessary, especially as formally expressed by a government or other authoritative body.”
Nicely said. Sad that so many people don’t understand that.
Pingback: Ignore the outrage. Instead understand why United assaulted a passenger. – San Luis Valley Liberator
Is America really changing? I mean greed has always topped the list. Do you mean that rage is replacing it?
To say that greed or love or rage is present tells us nothing. These are constants in human nature. History is the pageant of social change, in which people construct structures that determine how power flows — when and where respect is given — and assigns social roles to people.
Yes, America is changing.
I’m thinking that the attitude we have seen displayed over and over by the airlines is a result of the Reagan’s summary dismissal of over 11,000 air traffic controllers and their union back in 1981. They think they are Teflon like Reagan. Maybe they are.
I doubt that Reagan’s firing the Air Traffic Controllers caused anything (how could it?). It certainly was a milestone, however, showing how growing corporate power and quite mad union overreach had changed the balance of power.
It’s largely forgotten now, but their union’s demands were extraordinary — alienating a public already suspicious of unions from past excesses.
On second thoughts you are right. America is changing:
We live in the era of smart phones, SMART cars but stupid people.
To wit: United CEO may well have a “nice little” lawsuit on his lap because of his stupid company policy that bumped off passengers to accommodate 4 company employees.
Why couldn’t he arrange for a small charter plane to get them to their destination instead of bumping off passengers?
“Why couldn’t he arrange for a small charter plane to get them to their destination instead of bumping off passengers?”
Because it cost only $4000 to kick off four passengers vs. many times that to charter an airplane. Their passengers are cattle.
Follow the money.
“United CEO may well have a “nice little” lawsuit on his lap because of his stupid company policy that bumped off passengers to accommodate 4 company employees.
Why couldn’t he arrange for a small charter plane to get them to their destination instead of bumping off passengers?”
The United CEO knew nothing about this until well after it happened. This was a regional carrier under contract to United. There’s no way that he knows what happens at each gate and on each flight of United, let alone of the regionals that feed the hubs. The gate and flight crews don’t have a hotline to Munoz.
“The United CEO knew nothing about this until well after it happened.”
CEOs are responsible for policy. As United’s CEO said in his statement, the local managers followed their procedures: offer a small sum of money, then call the police. This was a logical outcome of their mad policy of calling the police to use force rather than pay a little more money to get a passenger to leave.
I am confident that United’s execs will change this policy.
Sorry, but there is no way this incident will help us “retake control of the nation.” Instead, there will be a few days of outrage, a bunch of lame jokes by the late night “comedians,” and then we’ll all move on to the next outrage and nothing will change.
The only positive here is that the negative publicity at least temporarily cost United shareholders a billion dollars, which is the real reason why their sociopath CEO changed his tune. Meanwhile, Trump is bringing us to the brink of WW3, and most people don’t seem to care about that either.
“Sorry, but there is no way this incident will help us “retake control of the nation.” Instead, there will be a few days of outrage, a bunch of lame jokes by the late night “comedians,” and then we’ll all move on to the next outrage and nothing will change.”
Please read more carefully. I did not say that reform was the likely outcome. Rather, I urged us to act — without expecting us to do so.
I correctly predicted such outcomes from bursts of outrage about NSA surveillance and police shootings. I predict similar passivity from us to follow future outbursts of outrage — which there will be. When we reclaim our ability to stand together and act, then a better future will become possible. Not until then.
“The only positive here is that the negative publicity at least temporarily cost United shareholders a billion dollars”
Quite absurd to rejoice in that. It makes zero different to US society today, and will have zero influence on America’s future.
I’ve flown enough United and Delta that I can say the oops-we-need-a-seat-for-a-spare-crew situation is quite common. IMO it is a result of scheduling that is too aggressive, meaning not enough spare capacity to respond to unplanned but entirely routine breakdowns, weather, unavailability of non-exhausted crew, etc.
What happened here was just plain nasty. Based on some other observations, like the way they tend to deny obvious mechanical issues for several hours, even though you can see them towing your plane away from the terminal window — I think the airline’s ops people at each airport have some kind of incentive structure to avoid registering problems as much as possible. Or if lets say they think there’s a 90% chance a plane cannot be fixed in 3 hours, they will still work on it for 3 hours before rerouting their passengers, even though admitting the problem up front would have greatly reduce the downstream effects (not to mention make it possible for the passengers with multiple connecting flights to get where they are going the same day).
Also, in response to another commenter:
“Thus, once the crew member shortage at the destination arose, whether through errors on the part of United or “acts of God,” United had little choice.”
Not sure if it is laws, ticket contract, or just business policy, but airlines make a distinction between lateness due to weather, and lateness due to maintenance issues or lack of crew availability. If it is foul weather, you basically get to spend the night on airport benches and if you’re lucky they put you on a morning flight the next day. But if logistics issues cause you to get stranded, and they have some obligation to you. If you can win the sympathy of a senior customer service rep (typ. the backup person after you frustrate the first person they send you to), they have the power in these logistics screwup cases to buy you plane tickets on other airlines, even reimburse you for alternate modes of transportation (typ. a 1-way rental car from the next closest airport from where you were trying to get to). It is something they save for fairly desperate cases, the frontline reps won’t even know how to enter the codes into their computer to do this stuff. Teaming up with other passengers helps. Being kind to the oh-sh*t desk reps helps too, national breakdown days are miserable for them too.
As a pilot, I find this whole situation outrageous. First off, the captain is responsible for everything that happens to that aircraft, including the passengers and other aircrew. That’s why they’re captains and that’s why they get the big paycheck.
Before this incident escalated to the point where “airport police” were called onto the aircraft, the aircrew would have been discussing the situation that was occurring in the cabin. At this point, the captain should have got out of his seat and went back to the cabin to explain the situation to the passengers and request that one more passenger voluntarily remove themselves (with compensation of course) and/or had a face to face with the customer who had been “randomly” chosen. I bet this would have solved he entire issue before it went nuclear.
Look at the comment from the victim’s lawyer in this article where he addresses the fact that United should have upped the offer when they couldn’t get a final volunteer to leave. What’s more expensive, paying a few thousand to a customer who’s willing to give up their seat or for a PR nightmare and the resulting litigation and settlement?
I agree, as indicated in this post. However, I don’t know the responsibility in United’s organization.
(1) The decision to eject passengers and call the police appears to have been made by a United manager in the terminal.
(2) The policy setting the maximum compensation to passengers and use of police appears to have been set by senior corporate management. The CEO confirmed this by saying the terminal staff acted according to United policy. That’s why senior corporate management gets the really big bucks (the CEO gets the pay of over hundred pilots) — and deserves responsibility for this incident.
I’m almost too disgusted by the whole thing to even think.
That’s natural and understandable. But unless we move beyond such emotional responses, these episodes will repeat across America as power concentrates. Peons are disgusted, then docilely return to their work. Citizens work for reform.