Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
The guy dragged off the United Airlines flight now claims he was selected because of his race, which is discrimination. Is that why he was having hysterics on the plane?
The guy’s response seemed disproportional. You don’t want to be the guy forced off the plane, I get that. But seriously, what’s the downside? You call your work and tell them the story. Are they really going to fire you over it? If it’s that big of a deal that you be there to perform the brain surgery, see if they can’t get you another flight instead of a hotel room or rent a car and drive. Don’t act like a special snowflake, that’s for college kids.
On the other hand, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the airline kicked paying passengers off the flight so they could transport a flight crew who needed to be at the destination location to fly a later flight. This was not a disruptive passenger, it was not even an overbooking situation, the passengers were booted off the plane entirely for the airline’s convenience. The airline could have canceled that later flight for lack of a flight crew but it would have cost a boatload of money. More than $800? So offer more money. If they got up to a grand or two, somebody would have taken the bait. And if not, for that kind of money, they could have hired a private charter to haul the flight crew.
It’s Chicago to Louisville, for crying out loud. It’s a one-hour flight or a 5 hour drive. For the amount of bad publicity the airline is getting, they could have hired a limo to drive the crew.
And for the CEO to go public claiming the passenger was removed because he was disruptive is pure bull. He was removed because the airline was too cheap to transport its own flight crew at market prices, i.e., what the paying passengers would accept to give up their seats.
The airline acted brutally and stupidly. It deserves all the bad publicity it can get. I’d start with Congress considering legislation that paying passengers cannot be bumped by non-paying passengers (flight crew, family, airline mile redeemers, etc). Nobody else gets this kind of preferential business model. Why should airlines?
Post-script – or, actually, two post-scripts.
First – whenever the “Free market” does somethingi stupid, or especially something brutal, always look to see if government is the real reason. The answer, almost invariably, is “yes”.
Government regulations forbid paying premiums of greater than four times the original ticket price – to a maximum of $1350, to passengers who get bumped.
And the post-9/11 environment of security theater means that episodes that used to be simple customer service disagreements and even misunderstandings are now law enforcement episodes, and even federal crimes. Thus, the Chicago Airport Police were involved with what should have been a negotiation between passengers and a gate agent – before boarding. Of course, being Chicago cops, someone just had to “fall”…