I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that there are always two sides to every story.

On April 9th, a very unfortunate incident played out on United Flight 3411, the video of which has since gone viral causing a mass social media uprising with an ‘off-with-their-heads’ mentality. I mean, across the board. Fire ’em all and let the gods sort it out later.

Look, I get it. When I first saw the video I was appalled too. To say that it was inflammatory would be putting it mildly. But it was also a situation that was escalated far beyond the boundaries of necessity.

If a any law enforcement officer asks me to exit a plane, no matter how royally pissed off I am, I’m going to do it and then seek other means of legal reimbursement. True story.

Knowing what I know about airport security, I’m certainly not going to run back into a secured, federally restricted area at an airport flailing my arms and screaming like a banshee…because, you know, that just happens to be breaking a major federal Homeland Security law.

But that’s just me, obviously.

The moment I made that particular ill-advised choice, I would become an immediate and imminent threat to the aircraft’s security. That’s kind of a big deal. I mean, come on, I once actually had to remove my infant son’s socks because they mimicked little baby sneakers. These guys mean business.

I didn’t like it. I thought it was just plain stupid, honestly. But instead of pitching a massive fit, refusing to comply, and bolting through the TSA checkpoint like an out-of-control toddler, I did the big girl thing–sucked it up, removed the offensive socks, and went on with my happy life, sans being tackled and dragged through the airport in handcuffs by a bunch of big men with guns.

Because if you choose to take advantage of the services the airport provides, you play by their rules.

I know you’re all out there screaming that the ‘rules’ are unfair, but I am a pilot wife. I remember 9/11. Do you? I want my husband, the father of my children, to come home. I want you to get homeThat law exists to protect my husband. And your wife. And your grandmother. And your child. And you. I, for one, am glad for the law.

I’m not here to dispute the facts of 3411 with you. I am not interested in getting into an argument of opinion with anyone. We’re all entitled to our own. I’m not arguing that what happened wasn’t completely terrible–it was, on multiple levels. But I am suggesting that the general public take another look at the situation, ask a few more questions, gather a few more facts, and then create a less hostile and more intellectually wrought opinion about what happened.

Because the media is giving you just enough information to keep you enraged–enough to keep their ratings up.

Things to consider:

1) “You can’t just kick a paying customer off the plane!” Psssst! It’s in the fine print. They can, indeed, do just that. And it’s not an airline specific rule, it’s a commercial aviation rule. Every ticket you purchase comes with a plethora of fine print–you know, the stuff we just click ‘next’ on without actually reading what we are agreeing to. Yeah, that. Well, it’s in there, and you checked the ‘I agree’ box when you purchased your ticket. You can read about it and oh-so-much-more here. Kind of makes you want to read all those tiny words on your next phone update before you click ‘I agree’, huh? You should. United did not break any law, and he agreed to the policy and possibility of involuntary bump when he bought his ticket. And so do you. 

2) “Kicking a paying customer off an airplane!? I’m taking my business to Southwest!” Ummmm, okay. But just be sure you understand that every major airline, Southwest included, has a similar policy for involuntary bumping in a ‘must ride’ scenario. Don’t believe me? It’s called the contract of carriage. If you’re really bored, you can read Southwest’s here. Or Delta’s here. And on and on. This could have been any airline. In fact, it happens all the time. Most people just don’t wrestle law enforcement in the aisle.

3: “So what’s this ‘must ride’ nonsense anyway? They shouldn’t bump a paying customer for a free employee ride!” It’s actually pretty important to you as an airline traveler that they can. They were not ‘freeloading home’. That’s called non-rev and they have to wait in line behind your checkbook and often don’t make it home to their families if flights are booked (believe me, I know). No, this was a must fly, a positive space situation. In layman terms, it means that a crew must be flown to an airport to man a flight in order to avoid cancellation of said flight due to crew unavailability. The airlines are required to do so to avoid disruption of air traffic. In other words, if there are no willing volunteers and they need seats to get a crew somewhere to avoid disruption of aviation flow, they can, will, must bump people for the better good of the 1000’s. Why? Because one cancelled flight has a serious domino affect in the delicate, complicated world of connections and aviation law. This is not illegal. The only thing DOT requires in this situation is that the passenger is reimbursed his/her money. 

4: “It’s the airline’s fault for not planning better!” Do some research! The airline industry is conpex. There are about a million and one things that can cause a crew shortage including but not limited to weather, maintenance, weather, connecting fight delays, weather, FAA timeout regs, and did I mention weather? I wish I could control Mother Nature because I would be one filthy rich person. But I can’t. And neither can United. So they inconvenience one, or four, to keep hundreds on track. Do the math. And of course, if we were on the other end of this thing, we’d be tirading and blowing up the internet because United didn’t bump a passenger to make sure our flight didn’t get cancelled and left hundreds stranded. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. We’re a fickle crowd, we social media folks.

5: They shouldn’t have picked the minority Chinese doctor! It’s racist.” That’s just silly. Though federal regulation demands they involuntarily bump to prevent interruption of flights when necessary, each airline does have the leniency to determine how they choose the bumped passengers. They did not play spin the bottle or walk down the aisle looking for the Asian guy. Use your heads, people! There is a computerized algorithm that takes into account price of ticket, how long ago it was purchased, whether or not they can get the passenger to their destination in a timely manner, etc. It wasn’t an ‘Asian thing.’ Stop, people. Just stop. **added note: it has been discussed that Dr. Dao may have initially volunteered his seat and wasn’t chosen randomly at all. He then changed his mind after accepting the deal. 

6: “United should go under for assaulting that passenger! Fire the entire crew!” Read the facts. United never touched the passenger. In fact, by all witness accounts, the United flight crew (layman term: pilots and flight attendants) remained calm and pleasant throughout the entire event, never laying hands on the passenger. They followed protocol as required by policy, no matter if it’s a good policy or not. Once law enforcement became involved (also as required by protocol), United stepped out of the decision-making process. They had nothing to do with the rest. The passenger was forcibly removed by aviation security (the very disturbing clip that everyone is talking about) after running back into the secured area after being escorted out once. Once he did that, like it or not, they (law enforcement) were under full discretion of the law to apply necessary force to remove the threat. I’m not saying it’s pretty, but the only one who actually broke a law was the passenger. There’s a reason for these laws–it’s called 9/11. I understand he’s npt a terrorist. I’m only explaining why these laws and policies exist. We can’t have it both ways. But by all means, let’s berate and punish an entire flight crew–in fact thousands of pilots, FA’s, gate attendents, ground crew, etc.–because it makes us all feel a little better. 

7: “You piece of **it!” I get that the passengers were upset, angry, maybe even confused. I get that you are too. After all, media is tossing you out chunks of bloody meat like you’re a pack of starving wolves. But I’m seriously disgusted that the must ride crew that had to take those seats as well as aviation folks at airports around the nation after the unfortunate mess that unraveled have been verbally and physically assaulted and threatened. Can you imagine the very uncomfortable position they were in? doing their jobs to feed their families. Just. Like. You.  They don’t have a choice. They didn’t ask for this. They didn’t assault anyone. They are not a corporation; they are individuals who need a job. There’s a very fine line between what you despise and becoming what you despise. Many of the comments and actions I have seen perpetrated against United employees cross it. Violence does not fix violence. Don’t become what you hate.

Like I said, I know you’re mad at United, but there’s much more to the story than hits the media fan.

I truly hope that this gives you something to chew on and gives you a smidgen more insight into the complexities of aviation. I’m not making excuses. I think there were bad decisions made on both sides. However, I am saying there are always two sides to every story. Make sure you consider them both.

Tailwinds.

***In answer to some questions: I am in no way affiliated with United Airlines. I have not been paid for this blog. My opinions are not reflective of any airline or even my husband. I write of my own volition. I never stated that United did not make serious customer service or human interaction mistakes. Of course they did! Of course they should have made adjustments before bording, offered more money, and found ways to diffuse the situation. Of course, no human should be assaulted. I called it terrible and appalling in the blog. My only intent was to explain the policy behind what happened and that they were not illegal. United (and other airlines) has scrutinized their policy and made some necessary changes since this blog was published. Those changes are not reflected above in the blog as they were not current policy at the time of event.  Thanks. 

***A correction to the previous article. Mr. Dao was indeed Vietnamese and not Chinese.  That quote was verbatim from a comment off the internet. Also, it has come to light since this publication that the law enforcement officials were not federal. However, they are still not employed by United. I apology profusely for the confusion.

Angelia (A Pilot Wife)

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1,473 thoughts on “I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)

  1. One realizes this is a complete horse hockey response to this situation by this statement of hers…

    ” This is a federal DOT regulation, not an airline one. The airlines are required to do so to avoid disruption of air traffic. In other words, if there are no willing volunteers and they need seats to get a crew somewhere to avoid disruption of aviation flow, they can, will, must by federal regulation bump people for the better good of the 1000’s. Why? Because one cancelled flight has a serious domino affect in the delicate, complicated world of connections and aviation law.”

    You are so full of yourself, it is not funny… Federal law does not require that so many flights stay in the air at one time, or are ready to get into the air at one time, or anything close to what the hell you are trying to represent… Tell me, if an airline buys more aircraft, to fly more routes, does another airline have to stop flying to make room for those other aircraft?… NO… Who the hell do you think you are, some airline princess?… I would bet if you were on that flight, no one would think of taking your primadonna self off of it, would they?…

    In total, the airline overbooked a flight, out of greed, they had an aircraft at an airport that suddenly had a crew that could not fly anymore hours, because they were out of log time, and a sudden emergency existed because someone in planning/ scheduling dropped the ball… If they could not get that aircrew to the other airport the airline would have had to put all the passengers of the un crewed flight up in hotels, feed them, and transport them… Which their cheap butts do not want to do…

    You fooled no one, Angelinia, or whatever your name is…

    ~Mac~

    Liked by 46 people

  2. Mah, i get her point honestly, this was just one of those frustrating situations that got out of hand and the passenger took the blow. Unfortunately, i think they just chose the wrong passenger because if there’s a doctor on board, i would just leave it where he is, you never know….regardless of how much he paid the ticket or how long ago he bought it! Just imagine if someone had an emergency on flight and needed a doctor immediately…..guess what, he just got bumped, too bad.
    Generally speaking airlines do offer some compensation for giving up your seat, maybe nobody took the bait on this particular flight. Nowadays we all plan our trips accordingly, we have other commitments to the destination, we must go to work, catch another flight etc. Very few have the luxury of postponing flights without consequences.
    In this case they just went beyond their power, it shouldn’t have happened…..
    It’s also crazy that airlines can kick you out of the seat for these reasons, i understand if you are dangerous, drunk or behaving badly but for overbookings or for flying a crew, it’s truly not fair.
    I hope this will be a good lesson and an eye opener on all sides, clients, FAA and airlines.
    Together with us, the travel agents

    Liked by 14 people

  3. I really do agree with you regarding the passengers inappropriate reaction to being asked to leave the plane. I also understand the must FLY requirement. Now the airlines all know this law and its requirements. I also understand everything you are talking about in regards to employee logistics. Now for the question regarding must FLY, could the airlines have made other arrangements with other airlines? With UPS or FedEx? Chartered a Flight? Just offering some ideas. After that video and the events leading up to it, I certainly wouldn’t want to be one of the pilots having to take that flight.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Thankful the CEO of United responded better today. Now they should give Dr. Dao a few years of free flights in business class.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Dear Pilot’s wife. Right on. I am a frequent flyer. This situation has been blown way out of proportion. The man was asked to leave the plain with 3 other people all who complied. when he refused in a hostile manner appropriate safety procedurers were called for. If he had not been behaving in an inappropriate manner the Airplane security would not have had to remove him and then to come screaming back into the plain would have made me as a passenger feel like I was in danger the from mad man not the air police. I would have felt may he was a terrorist who wanted to do something bad to the plane. People to really stop and think. The other three passengers complied gratiously. If this man really had to be someplace for business I am sure the airline would have found another way to get him. there. To further complicate the situation it has been learned that he is a conviced criminal. Pleople out there need to get a little common sense and the media sould be ashammed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Or perhaps people should be even more appalled, because United was even more in the wrong than has been reported:

      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/united-passenger-removal-reporting-management-fail.html

      “Let us underscore: even putting aside the violence, what happened in this case does NOT happen all the time, and that has legal implications.

      Absence of reporting on airline regulations leads to widespread skewing of story in United’s favor. Even though most readers may think United is getting beaten up aplenty in the press, in fact it is getting a virtual free pass as far as its rights to remove a paying passenger with a confirmed seat who has been seated.1 This seems to reflect the deep internalization in America of deference to authority in the post 9/11 world, as well as reporters who appear to be insufficiently inquisitive. And there also seems to be a widespread perception that because it’s United’s plane, it can do what it sees fit. In fact, airlines are regulated and United is also bound to honor its own agreements.”

      Liked by 19 people

    2. Something very wrong with your attitude. Just cos the first 3 people were willing to be treated like cattle does not mean that the 4th person should accept that treatment.
      Refusing to be screwed over is not a hostile act. Someone trying to screw you over is being hostile.
      What “safety procedures” are there for someone who doesn’t want to give up their seat?
      It’s not a safety issue. Take a step back and look at the unfounded leaps of logic you are making here.
      The witnesses say that the guy was not a problem passenger, he was just unwilling to be kicked off the plane, and he has every right to keep his seat if he is not bothering or endangering anyone else. The airlines might get away with this often in practice, but that because most people don’t know their rights and they think they can be involuntarily bumped from the plane, the same way they can be bumped at the gate. Or maybe they don’t even care about their rights, they are more afraid of ‘causing a scene’ than of being treated like cattle.
      You may not know your rights, or how to say “no” when someone demands you don’t have rights, but other people do have a spine. That’s not inappropriate behaviour, it’s just something that is foreign behaviour to people whose reflex action is to cave in to bully tactics.
      There was another passenger willing to get off the plane for $1600 but the airline was overly focussed on getting this guy off for a smaller compensation, even though the terms and conditions do not allow them to kick him off. The denial of boarding procedure is what happens _before_ boarding, that’s why it’s called denial of boarding.
      I think you need to reevaluate your attitude to authority, if you see a non-violent man knocked unconscious by authorities, and then reappear bleeding from the face, and babbling about wanting to go home, and you think that HE is the dangerous one, not the 3 guys who smashed his face into an arm rest and dragged him off the plane.

      Liked by 53 people

    3. Apparently he wasn’t a criminal, though. I can try and find you the source (hopefully it’s reliable) but the media confused this doctor with another who shares an almost identical name.

      Liked by 9 people

  6. You along with the rest of the legacy North American Carriers don’t get it. We, the flying public be it the occasional leisure traveler, or the frequent flyer, are getting fed up of being treated like cattle along with being nickel and dimed. I would be freaking out too if my ass is firmly planted in the seat and buckled up ready for take off only to have a couple of cops drag my ass off the plane. Any normal person would.

    Is it my problem United has a shitty organizational culture from top to bottom? No, it is not. I would like to point out as a traveler, along with a lot of others are paying your husband’s salary if I choose to book a flight on United. The audacity to blame the customer for the situation is beyond the pale.

    Liked by 46 people

  7. Unfortunately most of what is stated isn’t all facts. I’ve been in the industry a very long time & I’m not the wife of an employee. I’m the actual employee.

    Liked by 38 people

  8. I could not agree with you more. My husband and I actually got in an argument about it yesterday. I tried to explain to him that as a passenger, I would not want to be on a flight with another individual that is unwilling to comply with the requests of the security/aviation law enforcement. I strongly believe that it does not matter how unreasonable the request is, if the authorities are making a request, you comply, and voice your concerns later, in the appropriate manner. You always get more bees with honey!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. This attempt to justify this act of VIOLENCE against a paying customer is pathetic. If it was THAT fucking IMPORTANT to United to make room on the flight, they should have kept raising the compensation price until people VOLUNTEERED to get off. No VIOLENCE. Stuff your arrogant attitude.

    Liked by 43 people

  10. I found one thing wrong. That video that everyone is upset about did NOT happen after he got back on the plane. That was the first time he was removed forcibly. He ran back on afterwards disoriented and bleeding. There are several videos to back this up.

    Liked by 24 people

  11. If it was so important to keep the trains on schedule, then why didn’t United just charter a small bizjet to get their crew where they needed to be. In the long run, it would have been way less expensive than the fiasco they orchestrated. I’ll never, again fly United. Nor will many others I know.

    Liked by 20 people

  12. Right, you identify as a “pilot’s wife”. Because you are the spouse, doesn’t give you anymore credibility than the “Plumber’s wife”! Sorry! Maybe an actual Pilot should have posted.

    Liked by 22 people

  13. I have no issue with an airline bumping a passenger from a flight, but…
    you take care of that at the GATE, not after passengers have boarded.

    Security wouldn’t have had to drag a person off of the plane, if they were never on the plane in the first place. Nothing in your article addresses poor planning. Don’t load the plane until you are sure of your list! I don’t care if the “fine print” allows the airline to bump at any time. It was unnecessary and United (rightly) came off as bunch of jerks.

    Liked by 28 people

  14. ABSOLUTELY NO COMMON SENSE TO LET A COMPUTER ALGORITHM DECIDE.TO REMOVE RIGHTFULLY SEATED PERSON TO MAKE ROOM FOR PATHETIC VIP STAFF. FACT* PLANE WAS NOT OVERBOOKED. PLAIN STUPIDITY IF THEY LET COMPUTER DECIDE THEIR LIFE.

    Liked by 10 people

  15. If the airlines would give you $1000 in cash on the spot, I guarantee you would have volunteers. Giving a $1000 in an airline voucher is worthless, as many people are not going to use it in the 1 year time frame they give you. It has already cost the airline way more that the $4000 they could have offered to get volunteers off the plane not to man handle someone off the plane.

    Liked by 14 people

  16. I very much appreciate airline employees and the hard work they have to do, especially when they encounter unruly passengers. No one is faulting the pilots or flight attendants. We know about the fine print and understand and accept that in the cases of real emergencies, which this situation was not, we may have to surrender our seats. And no one is saying the passenger should not have complied with the orders of the authorities once it got to that point. What we are outraged by is United’s corporate greed for not being willing to make an offer that was attractive enough for people to voluntarily give up their seats. United Airlines reported $4.5 billion of net income in 2015 and its CEO’s compensation that year was almost $7,000,000. I think they could have afforded to offer more to the passengers to surrender their seats rather than deciding to forcefully remove some of them from those seats. The greed of the corporate management is what we are angry about, not the pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, ticket agents, etc.

    Liked by 16 people

  17. There’s a misconception. While COC does give the airline the right to deny boarding (aka “bump”), once boarded it’s covered by different section of COC (deny travel), and that part is much more strict and very much limited: basically for as long as pax didn’t cause any trouble the demand to leave the plane was against COC, thus illegal to begin with. I understand how a lot of people in the airline industry are telling general public that “situation wasn’t that simple”- but as a matter of fact in this case it is: UAL employees made a very wrong call (admitted by CEO after company took a nice hit at the stock market).

    Liked by 33 people

  18. One of the other arguments that I keep seeing is ‘They should have increased their offer of compensation until someone volunteered. $10,000 per passenger for four passengers is way less than the money they’ll lose over this incident!’ There are federal limits to how much an airline can offer before involuntarily bumping you. It is a percentage based on the amount paid for the ticket, but not to exceed $1350. This was actually raised from $800 a few years ago, but it still the lesser of the two figures – the percent or $1350.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1. They can offer more as an incentive. That’s the max they are required to offer if they involuntarily bump you.

      2. They are free to offer cash. United chose to offer vouchers, which expire and have restrictions and everyone knows it.

      3. They didn’t even get up to the $1350 amount, they stopped at $800 in vouchers.

      Liked by 17 people

  19. 1. Why seat the passengers and then kick people off. Take care of overbooking before you load the plane.
    2. Was his wife on the plane with him? If Yes – they would remove him but not her?
    3. Offer the compensation that meets the needs. If I’m on my way to a cruise, a wedding, a funeral, etc – don’t bump me. If I’m flying home (and I’m retired) I’d gladly take the voucher. But don’t seat me then pull me off.
    4. Maybe raise the cost of being a no show, then you don’t have to overbook.

    I agree, we don’t understand all the details of the airline industry. ( my husband worked for an airlines for 15 years. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t control the weather or late passengers) BUT – this needs to change, and didn’t need to happen the way it did.

    Liked by 12 people

  20. Dear Pilot Wife,
    As everyone else, you are entitled to an opinion, and I respect yours. However, just because you married a pilot, it doesn’t make you an aviation expert or a business-savvy executive. You shield United behind appeals of lawfulness and regulations. Just because you can or because it is legal, it doesn’t make it right. There is something called “common sense”. You just don’t assault, or cause to assault, a customer, no matter what urgency you have to redeploy your employees. United suffers from bad management and bad employees. Just like you, the agents at the counter (and Oscar Munoz the CEO) blamed regulations, law, procedures and policies for bad decisions. You can’t have a successful company if you do not empower your employees to think and use common sense. As you said, there are two sides to the story. Unfortunately, I can’t see what was inside the minds of the employees, including the pilot, that caused them to stop using common sense. Fortunately, we all have seen what a customer being assaulted looks like.

    Liked by 29 people

  21. The ‘media’ did mention that the good Dr. did accept an $800.00 offer left the plane and then ran back onto the plane. Home Land Security then took over. No one can run back onto an airline without being considered a risk to the crew/airplane. Thus Home Land Security most intervene. The Wife took too much time explaining all the other possible points. She should have stopped with that info.

    Like

  22. Do not care what the pilot’s wife says legal or not legal it was wrong and if i had police security pulling me from my chair i would come out swinging that is for sure. Southwest makes people give up Tickets all the time because they offer some great deals obviously this airline was not. So she can write all she wants about legalities it was wrong the way he was treated by the airline by the security by the police end off.
    off

    Liked by 10 people

  23. Why didn’t United have their employee catch another flight! I would fire who ever made that dumb decision. Paying customer should always have priority, especially they booked the flight first. It is only fair that if you booked first you get your seat.

    Liked by 10 people

  24. I agree with some points of the article. Yes, if an officer came to me and told me that I had to get off the flight because of some BS excuse, like United did, I would. Sure I’d be pissed but what am I going to do? However, this man was a doctor and stated this multiple times. He had patients to attend to the next day. The article says that he could have been a threat to the pilot and people on the plane? Anyone could be a potential threat on a plane. You want people to come home? So do his patients family. Why could the officers not pick someone who absolutely NEEDED to be on the plane? There are 2 sides of this story, but no matter what, United was in the wrong and how they handled the situation is appalling.

    Liked by 10 people

  25. Agree with most comments here. Just because it is in the “fine print” doesn’t make it right or just. Airlines are greedy and disgusting, customers should not have to suffer because airlines overbook–and United seems to have one of the nastier reputations which is why I rarely fly them. True, the passenger made things worse for himself but I understand his anger and frustration. I have family who are 3000 miles from me, and if I had to fly to be with them if someone got sick, you had better believe I would be furious if I was told I had to leave my seat I paid for.

    Liked by 9 people

  26. Sorry OP but your hypothesis is unproven : “The moment I made that particular ill-advised choice, I would become an immediate and imminent threat to the aircraft’s security.”

    The guy actually had the right to remain, and exercised that right. He should never have been beaten, that is just authoritarien BS rhetoric designed to get everyone to comply with authority. (If he was violent, drunk, or had a bomb, different scenario) Only under specific circumstances can the airline eject you. This guy met none of these criteria at the time they began harassing him to leave his purchased seat in violation of United’s own passenger contract. He was reasonably upset to be kicked off without his consent when he had a paid and confirmed ticket ‘contract’ with United, and the need to get where he was going. You don’t get to beat someone (or hire it out) just because you want his purchased seat.

    The flight was not overbooked. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinenegroni/2017/04/12/united-flight-not-overbooked-ceo-admits/#39797d89717b

    There was willful misconduct from United in their treatment of this paying customer. They had no cause to ask anyone to get off the flight, paid, boarded passengers take priority over crew, according to United’s own ticket contract. United had no right to demand this guy to give up his seat, they just wanted him to. Calling the police to forcefully eject him was bad judgement, and more misconduct on their part as well as the security team.

    United has already said that their procedures were not followed, so that’s an easy win for his lawyer.

    Advice from another lawyer: This myth that passengers don’t have rights needs to go away, ASAP. United did not have the right to legally kick him off the plane.

    1. First of all, it’s airline spin to call this an overbooking. The statutory provision granting them the ability to deny boarding is about “OVERSALES”, specifically defines as booking more reserved confirmed seats than there are available. This is not what happened. They did not overbook the flight; they had a fully booked flight, and not only did everyone already have a reserved confirmed seat, they were all sitting in them. The law allowing them to denying boarding in the event of an oversale does not apply.

    2. Even if it did apply, the law is unambiguously clear that airlines have to give preference to everyone with reserved confirmed seats when choosing to involuntarily deny boarding. They have to always choose the solution that will affect the least amount of reserved confirmed seats. This rule is straightforward, and United makes very clear in their own contract of carriage that employees of their own or of other carriers may be denied boarding without compensation because they do not have reserved confirmed seats. On its face, it’s clear that what they did was illegal– they gave preference to their employees over people who had reserved confirmed seats, in violation of 14 CFR 250.2a.

    3. Furthermore, even if you try and twist this into a legal application of 250.2a and say that United had the right to deny him boarding in the event of an overbooking; they did NOT have the right to kick him off the plane. Their contract of carriage highlights there is a complete difference in rights after you’ve boarded and sat on the plane, and Rule 21 goes over the specific scenarios where you could get kicked off. NONE of them apply here. He did absolutely nothing wrong and shouldn’t have been targeted. He’s going to leave with a hefty settlement after this fiasco.”

    Bottomline you do not always have to smile & comply when you are getting the shaft, you have rights that can be exercised. Hopefully this guy will be fairly compensated for these illegal acts.

    Liked by 29 people

  27. She (the writer) assumes that the general public doesn’t understand the complexities of airline travel and laws and also seems to blame the media. I don’t blame the media and have not watched the video more than the one time before I reposted it yesterday.

    I have personally have had issues with United not handling a situation well in the past rendering me to proclaim that I wouldn’t fly their friendly skies again. This year alone, I’ve had two friends have VERY unpleasant experiences with United. While there are bigger fish to fry in the world right now, the brute force and appealing way that the passenger was treated probably speaks to bigger issues in our country right now.

    The bottom line though is that you shouldn’t force someone off of a plane after they’ve been seated. That’s just bad customer service and poor planning.

    Liked by 17 people

  28. I find it particularly strange that the airlines thinks their flight attendants are the only ones worthy of getting to work on time, as opposed to anyone else and not to mention…oh I don’t know…a DOCTOR who may have patient’s lives literally depending on him to be there? I’m not going to get into any of the other problems I have with this poorly written article and the LAW regarding “bumping” passengers, as many have already produced hard evidence that what was done to this passenger was in fact against policy/fine print/rules whatever you want to call it. But apart from the injuries this man endured, I also empathize with what kinds of patients (and patients include CHILDREN/INFANTS TOO BY THE WAY) with what illnesses/medical attention required were depending on him to be there for them. Think of those people and their families too lady, while you expect us to think of you and yours. Nothing excuses this, and if you somehow think it does, do not write a pity-me, “look at both sides of the situation” type of article, when you can’t even practice what you preach!

    Liked by 13 people

  29. I believe the guy fought so hard to not get kicked off the plane because he had a checkered past and thought he was being arrested for some previous malfeasance.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. You are bringing up 9/11. If the staff was concerned that this was life threatening, than they should have evacuated all the other passengers first. Making it safer to diffuse the situation properly. Then they should of brought in someone appropriate to the situation. Since this guy was doing a non-violent protest, maybe having someone talk to him about it after the evacuation would of done everyone a favor. This was done in a violent fashion, not due to anyone’s safety, if anything the way they did it increased the risk to everyone’s safety. He was removed in a violent manner because it was the fastest way for them to start making money again. This was the worst possible way to handle the situation. Safety first, for everyone.

    Liked by 14 people

  31. He was no security risk before, while or after being asked to remove himself from the plane. The ones wrong and abusive were the ones dragging him off. They only wanted to secure seats for employees, period. Should they not have taken care of this at the gate before boarding. It still is what is looks like. Bad on the airline.

    Liked by 13 people

  32. It could have been solved simply. United could have informed the passengers that the two remaining, randomly pick passengers have urgent situations to attend to. Explain that the seats are needed to assure that the crew is in place for flight that could affect thousands of people. Then called for volunteers offering more compensation. Then continued to randomly pick others, do that until they had the necessary seating. If no one cooporated then explain, unless or until someone helps out this flight will sit on the tarmac. I bet you someone would have offered.

    Liked by 7 people

  33. What an entirely inappropriate response to a botched situation. I agree the comment above “First rule of holes – stop digging”.

    First off, airlines should solve the seating crisis BEFORE boarding the plane. That was just downright sloppy and stupid on the airlines part. Second, I realize that no one wanted to get off the plane at $800 comp (shoot, I would have), but then they should have upped it to whatever it took to get volunteers. Their issue – their problem to solve. Don’t punish the paying customer. I guarantee if they had increase the comp to $1000 they would have had their empty seats.

    You sound like a spoiled, entitled airline pilot’s wife, regurgitating your airline pilot husband’s rhetoric. Probably should have stayed out of the fray and let United take the punches it deserves for allowing this farce to happen in the first place.

    Liked by 21 people

  34. Well written. But…. Why didn’t they increase the offer until accepted ? Why don’t they offer cash instead of a useless voucher with lots of restrictions ? ( expires in a year, must be used on FULL FARE ticket ) That’s not “compensation”, that’s fraud locking in a future sale. Boils down to one issue; corporate greed.

    Liked by 7 people

  35. Thank you for the well-written piece…you have described a very valuable perspective…why were people not more offended by our country bombing Syria and the fact that the government in charge that our country was “helping” by launching those missiles then applies nerve gas to women and children and civilians…I find it fascinating how easily the masses are distracted.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. In your high and mighty rant, you overlook the point that no human deserves to be so brutally handled, unless he were causing a clear and present danger to other passenger. You also omitted the part that if it were so important that that employee take that passenger’s seat, it is incumbent on the airline to provide the employee with a seat, not the paying passenger. Further, if the employees seat were so important, the airline should have reserved his seat. Additionally, it is common for employees to ride in jump seats, not paying customers seats. Didn’t the brutally beaten passenger tell the airline that he must fly too? Why is his must fly requirement less important than the employee’s?

    And ont pretend that there is a nightmare to schedule passenger. The industry has had 103 years to figure out, and now they even have computers to make it a snap.

    This article is sickening in its total lack of respect for paying customers.

    Liked by 125 people

  37. One small point. The pilot of a plane, like the Captain of a ship, has the last word, and should intervene in passenger issues only in extreme conditions. Do you not agree this was an extreme condition, where the pilot could have said: “Time out, everybody, let’s sort this out.” As it was in this case, his flight was delayed 2 hours,

    Liked by 41 people

  38. Oh my God! There is so much stupid in these comments, it makes me want to chew my eyebrows. People: the flight crew did not touch the passenger. It was the airport security officers who handled him. I’m sorry, but if a flight attendant comes to me and tells me I’ve been bumped, I will be disappointed, but will comply. Immediately. All that staying in the seat will do is get me in trouble. Follow their fricking instructions and STFU, get off the plane, and deal with the situation with the ticket counter. So you get in to your destination late. BFD. The Vietnamese “doctor” had no right to refuse to leave the plane and MADE HIMSELF A DANGER TO OTHERS. Beaten bloody? Damn straight. Try to re-board the plane while bleeding? Beat him some more. You pussified left-wing nut jobs who think your supposed “right” to do what you want regardless of how many others your “right” affects need to be put out of our misery. When you fly, YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS; only privileges. And they can cancel your ass any time they want. Of course they will reimburse you, but whining only makes things WORSE. And NOBODY wants to help a whiny piece of s**t with anything.

    Liked by 30 people

  39. So why did the person who Was in a must fly status need to fly first class. Why not put him back in coach if it was That important to reach his destination. Secondly, why did someone not tell this guy before he got settled in his seat and ordered his blessed orange juice. Otherwise, your argument sounds plausible.

    Liked by 17 people

  40. Why would you intertwine legitimate safety issues (9/11) with United’s need to transport its crew?

    They made a poor decision and had the muscle to come in as enforcers against that older passenger. The fallout has been a drop in stock, fodder for late night talk shows and memes that will go on for who knows how long. So the flight was delayed two hours and the lawsuits will be filed. United Airlines is absolutely in the wrong and they have tarnished their image and the image of the entire industry.

    Liked by 122 people

  41. To me, it sounds like you are saying “This is how it is and you must accept it because it is the Law and we must obey the law like good little slaves.”

    Guess what? Things don’t change when people are willing to accept them as is. Airport Security are NOT Federal Law Enforcement, they are private security. Even TSA is not Federal Law Enforcement as they do not have police powers and are not even capable or trained with firearms for their jobs.

    If United suffers enough in their revenue stream (the power of the boycott is the right of the People), they will either change their “reaccomadation policy” or push for Federal Law to be changed. This is the Free Market at work . We will not put up with being treated like cattle when we are paying customers.

    That man did not run out, come back in, and then got assaulted. He was assaulted FIRST, suffered a head/face injury, and was possibly knocked out BEFORE he ran back in. Was he childish and immature in how he responded? Probably, but that doesn’t excuse the assault or how the CEO responded. What he said was actually what pissed me off the most and the reason I will never fly United again. I already actively avoided them because I hate flying with them, but now I have even more incentive. Let United collapse and I bet you never see this issue on another plane. So keep up the outrage of you really want to see change.

    Liked by 144 people

  42. I think we just heard from the voice of ignorance. 9-11 has something to do with these poor decisions? There are rules of common decency, and removing a passenger after boarding indicates nothing but poor planning. This action should have never occurred, regardless of the rules. Unfortunately this business will survive when most other businesses would be permanently damaged by this kind of inconsideration.

    Liked by 88 people

  43. Yeah, you know who else wanted to keep the transportation running on time? Mussolini.

    Really, there was no reason for United to call law enforcement to drag the guy off the plane when he said he was a doctor en route to treat patients. There is something called human judgment that should override computer algorithms based on fare paid and when the trip was booked.

    United is well known for poor customer service decisions and staff who treat passengers very cavalierly and without respect. United deserves to be punished in the marketplace until they learn how to EARN customers’ business. And if that (potentially) affects your husband’s employment then he should speak up to his management (via his union if necessary) to let them know that they’ve got some policies and practices in place that are putting his livelihood at risk.

    Liked by 208 people

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