What United Really Screwed Up With Their Latest Viral Incident

Earlier I shared the video of a passenger being physically dragged off last night’s United flight between Chicago and Louisville. The flight was overbooked and United needed to reposition a crew to Louisville, so they needed to have some passengers get off the plane. One guy refused, so the police were called. He still refused to get off, so they dragged him off the plane, to the point that he started bleeding.

The whole situation is terribly humiliating, and could have been avoided… I’d argue on both sides. However, mainly United should have never let it get to this point. Courier-Journal has a story about what apparently happened in terms of the airline offering compensation:

Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was looking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville at 3 p.m. Monday. Passengers were allowed to board the flight, Bridges said, and once the flight was filled those on the plane were told that four people needed to give up their seats to stand-by United employees that needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. Passengers were told that the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats, Bridges said, and the offer was increased to $800, but no one volunteered.

Then, she said, a manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight. One couple was selected first and left the airplane, she said, before the man in the video was confronted.

So the airline offered $400 in compensation, and then raised it to $800 after no one took the offer. That’s a lot of money, and it always surprises me how people don’t go for such high offers (I suspect it’s because people fear that there are all kinds of terms associated with the vouchers, just as there seem to be “catches” with just about everything involving airlines).

The passenger was repeatedly asked to get off the plane, but refused:

Bridges said the man became “very upset” and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, Bridges said, and the man said he was calling his lawyer. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.

The two issues with this situation

I wasn’t intending to be dismissive of this guy’s situation earlier, and I realize that’s how it may have come across, and for that I apologize (I started writing the post at 4:45AM, before I had my first cup of coffee). I see too much of this garbage, and I guess I’m unfairly desensitized to this. The thing that makes this different than other situations we’ve seen is that this passenger wasn’t removed for doing anything wrong (usually passengers are removed for bad behavior), but rather because United overbooked the flight.

I see two distinct issues here:

  • United didn’t do everything they could to solicit volunteers, and this situation was entirely avoidable
  • Once an airline decides you’re going to be removed from a flight, there’s nothing you can do, and it’ll only end poorly for you; right or wrong, this is a sad reality of the times, and the police will back up and enforce whatever decision the airline makes

What United and most other airlines should do differently

For better or worse, airlines overbook, and that’s nothing new. It’s a calculated business decision they make because they know that on average a certain number of people don’t make their flight. However, sometimes their projections aren’t correct, and more passengers make the flight than they were expecting.

In this case there was the added complication of them needing to position a crew to Louisville. I assume this was a last minute decision, which made the overbooked situation even worse. This was likely the necessary and right decision, or else a flight the next day would have likely been canceled.

At that point they need people to get off the plane, and this is where the real problem arises:

  • Airlines are required to ask for volunteers in exchange for compensation, though the regulations make no requirements as to how often they ask for volunteers, how much they raise their offer, etc.
  • At that point they can involuntarily deny boarding to passengers; technically the passengers should be entitled to cash compensation, though typically the airline won’t tell them that’s an option, and instead will just give them a voucher

This is the bigger issue, the way I see it. The airlines are allowed to make a business decision to oversell a flight. If they make that business decision, they should also be required to suffer whatever the consequences are of that. Is it right to make a business decision to oversell a flight, and then kick someone off against their will? Shouldn’t they have to raise the offer until someone accepts it?

This isn’t just United, but the same is true at most airlines. I guess part of the problem is that the front line employees aren’t really given much authority or incentive to avoid involuntarily denying boarding to passengers. So often they just make one quick announcement asking for volunteers, and if that doesn’t work, they take passengers off against their will.

That system is sort of screwed up, in my opinion. Even in a case like this, I imagine if they had explained the situation clearly and raised their offer, they would have gotten volunteers, and this whole situation could have been avoided.

Bottom line

This situation, and any involuntary denied boarding situation, is completely preventable. The problem is that airlines don’t give frontline employees the incentives or tools to make sure they only voluntarily deny boarding to passengers. So if the situation had been explained better or the offer raised, I imagine this whole situation could have been avoided. You see people kicked off planes all the time for how they act, but in this case the guy did nothing wrong, other than want to fly in the seat he paid for.

In this case the police was essentially acting on behalf of United’s revenue management department, rather than dealing with someone who did anything wrong.

But there’s still a lesson here for passengers, which is that for better or worse, protesting on a plane won’t end well for you. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is the reality. It wouldn’t have gotten this guy to work the next day, but at least it would have helped him avoid a bloody face.

Yeah, it’s pretty bad when you book a seat on a flight, do nothing wrong, and somehow end up getting physically dragged off the plane by three police officers.

This story is clearly resonating with many people, and is becoming a bigger deal that I first anticipated — see further thoughts in this post.


This has been a quickly-moving story with myriad updates. The full coverage of the United incident from the One Mile at a Time team is as follows:

Crazy Video: Passenger Forcibly Dragged Off United Flight
What United Really Screwed Up With Their Latest Viral Incident
The Horrible Video I Hadn’t Seen Of The Guy Being Dragged Off A United Flight...
Why United’s Incident Is A Much Bigger Deal Than You May Think
Pathetic: United’s CEO Makes The Denied Boarding Fiasco Even Worse
What Are Your Rights If You Get Bumped From A Flight?
United’s Removal Of Passengers May Not Have Been Legal
The Root Cause Of United’s Denied Boarding Fiasco
Wow: Emirates Throws Major (But Fair) Shade At United In New Video
FINALLY: United’s CEO Issues A Real Apology For What Happened
I’m Sorry: My Initial Reaction To The United Situation Was Wrong
Fascinating: Good Morning America Interviews United’s CEO
United Is Refunding The Fares Of All Passengers On Flight 3411

Comments

  1. The passenger was removed for refusing to comply with instructions. That’s not just “wrong”, it’s a federal crime.

  2. $800 seems pretty good to an ordinary Joe, probably not so much to a doctor.

    Really, if they are going to overbook like this they should be obligated to keep raising the pay-out until someone volunteers. If you bought a ticket, in my thinking, the seat is yours.

  3. Your second take on this incident is better than the first one. The airline might have the legal right to use force to remove someone from a plane in this situation, but having the legal right to do something is not the same as it being ethical to do that thing, and United deserves every bit of shaming that it’s going to get for this.

  4. This to me seems like the worst possible case of customer service as United owned and controlled this situation. This could happen to anyone so I hope customers think twice before booking United.

  5. @Sean M.

    You are correct, however as Lucky said United should have never let it get to that point. They shouldn’t have boarded the flight until they found all the volunteers they needed.

  6. The problem with regional jet type flights is that any disruption is far more problematic and there is a risk of being delayed for several days. My fear in this situation is that I may not even get back the day after, as who knows if that flight gets cancelled or I get bumped again… there is no certainty. I have been in situations where for several days in a row American eagle cancelled flights from JFK to Toronto and I was stuck in New York with no way to get out and no active interest on the part of the airline to get me home.

    I suppose if they provided some kind of clear guarantee that you would be home by a certain time the following day (even if they have to send you on another airline or whatever), and/or a per diem compensation for any future delays it might be less stressful. Sometimes being cooperative only gets you shafted further.

    Regional jets are the worst. I never fly on them anymore as they are completely unpredictable.

  7. @palefire, I’m 100% behind you. They deserve all the shaming they are going to get.

    I also really question the security or police department getting involved and using force against a passenger. In my mind, the passenger wasn’t being disruptive and wasn’t creating any sort of security problem.

    The security services should have put the onus on United to provide a greater incentive to get off the plane and resolve a problem they created on their own. $800 really isn’t a huge amount of money, particularly paid with a voucher and involving a 20 hour delay. They should have continued to raise the offer until more passengers agreed to take a bump.

    Pathetic.

  8. This is not a case of an oversold flight. Not sure how much you know about airline operations, especially when it comes to crew coordination and scheduling. There happened to be some reason a crew was needed to be in Louisville for a flight then next day. The way to get them there, while still making sure they have the legal amount of rest and got in to Louisville while they were still legal to work (a deadhead flight is still considered part of your duty day), was to take this flight. Now, this was most likely a last minute change and they banked on no shows first, when that didn’t happen, they offered vouchers and when that happened, they had to involuntarily bump revenue customers. Someone said that $800 isn’t a lot for a doctor, but he sure had no problem paying the lowest fare in that plane. That’s usually how you’re bumped first.

  9. Your first article was a joke and exactly why the airlines get away with what they get away with. Because you take the view of, well he should have listened and got off. No. Publicizing that view makes it okay. Just because it is the law does not make it right vis-a-vis customer service. United should have kept raising their offer until someone volunteered to take it. Period. Or they should have made the crew drive. It is not that guy’s fault they needed to reposition a crew. It is insane that United – who needed to fix a BUSINESS problem and not a LEGAL problem – can call in our police force to do their dirty work for them. That needs to be changed.

  10. @iv
    I get your point, but what if literally the flight was done boarding when they finally got notice they needed to get the additional 4 pax off the plane. I understand your pov completely if UA discovered this issue before or even during pax boarding.
    Regardless, I feel UA should’ve kept increasing the offer until someone accepted or mentioned themselves that a cash comp could be in order for whoever accepted. You created the issue UA by selling too many tickets, now pay for it…

  11. This is simply inexcusable. If he was an immediate threat to other passengers, okay, get him off swiftly, but this is not acceptable regardless of any legal right on the part of the airline. To say that United should never have let it get this far is a huge understatement.

    It’s actually good when a corporation exposes its values in this way.

  12. Fly the Friendly Skies!

    Until we need your seat, at which point we will beat the crap out of you if you refuse to obey.

    Can customer service get any worse than this? I mean, I guess they could have KO’d a little girl or an elderly lady, that would have made it worse. But not by far.

  13. @sean,

    Its a crime being gay in UAE. Please do the right thing, uphold the law and tattle on your gay friends. And do report back here about how you were the model citizen for upholding the law.

  14. @Who Cares
    Can you source where you found he paid the lowest fare on that plane or is that just how it works historically? For all you know, he paid a full Y ticket. “Then, she said, a manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight.” I interpreted that as kind of like a random draw, but I could be wrong.

  15. I don’t know how the airline explained it, but I’m sure if they made it all about the airline and crew, most people would’ve just shrugged their shoulders and thought, “why should I help this big company?” (I would’ve happily taken $800 fwiw). If they told the passengers that if they don’t get this crew on the plane, X number of people in Louisville will have their flight cancelled and made it more about fellow passengers, they may have found more sympathetic volunteers.

  16. This is absurd, doubly so to people blaming the passenger. The passenger did absolutely nothing wrong here. Kudos to the guy for standing up for himself. When I see people say he broke the law my eyes roll out of my head…

    Airlines have to qualms charging $2000 for the last minute seat people need to go to a funeral, but then can’t reimburse more than $800 for a whole day delay? Many people lose far more than $800 over a lost day of work.

    I’m sure someone would’ve taken the offer for $1500. Get a rental car and drive to Louisville. Arrival would’ve been around 1 AM. However, we don’t know that this was an option for the removed passenger. Maybe he can’t drive…maybe he was exhausted after connecting from an international flight.

    Just a massive failure by everyone working at United on this flight. And it should be the law they need to keep raising the price until someone accepts. There was a reason no one accepted at $800. Make the compensation fair and someone will accept…

  17. Okay Credit, you’ve been trolling for a long time (objectifying women, insulting gays, and just generally being a troll) and that’ll be your last comment on this blog. Ciao.

  18. There’s what the law lets you do, and there’s what is the right thing. Sometimes those two are not the same.

    I’m another who applies all the blame to United. They make big money from overselling, so they should eat the losses when they get it wrong: that means increasing the compensation offer until you have enough volunteers.

    By definition, if they didn’t get enough volunteers then their offer was insufficient and, therefore, it was unreasonable. With a sample of 150 passengers, you will certainly get a handful of volunteers if you pitch high enough.

    As a foreigner I have choices as to whether or not I fly US airlines. United seems recently to have been spending a lot of money to try to attract people like me, with their Polaris promises. But this video undoes all that spending: I won’t be choosing them anytime soon.

    No business that thinks it’s reasonable to treat paying customers like this deserves to keep them.

  19. Completely on united.$800 voucher on shitty united isnt worth much. In my situation it’s worth maybe $300 due to restrictions and hassle. You’re last second because you fucked up and need to let stand by employees fly on.

    I would have done it for $1k cash. No voucher no way unless 1500+. I think united should be shamed on this all year. Hope they lose way more business than the measly 3k more it would have cost to avoid it.

    So stupid. Doctors reaction was bad but I tell you this I would be doing everything in my power to publicly move as much business as possible away from united. Every social media platform, tell every patient, friend, family member, etc.

  20. UA could have chartered a plane for their employees. Why is their “crisis” more important than those of the revenue passengers?

    Does the same pertain if Oscar “needs” to attend a sudden board meeting? Or maybe Smisek “needs” to attend his delayed retirement ceremony?

    This is far from “free” enterprise. The Feds are running interference for the airlines, letting them unilaterally breach contracts with legal impunity. I should know… I’m a UA Million Mile Flyer and a Lifetime Silver Wings member.

    You’re in your hotel room and suddenly there’s a knock on the door. “We need your room. Get out.”

    You’re in your seat at that Broadway play waiting for the curtain to rise. “We need your seat. Leave.”

    No, I haven’t heard of those incidents either. It seems it’s mainly airlines that hold all the cards.

  21. I was quite disappointed by your earlier post. I’m a frequent flyer used to first and business class as well, and I’m also desensitized to some extent, used to economy class passengers getting crappy treatment.

    But that was some crappy treatment by United. A doctor pays and books his seat and really needs to get home to see his patients the next day, United is stupid and doesn’t schedule their crew properly, so the only solution United can come with is to punch the doctor in the face and drag him out of the plane?!?

    There’s obviously other ways. hmmm.. how about don’t let the people all in in the first place? The last four to board don’t get to enter? Announce it beforehand so people aren’t seated already? Most obviously, don’t be CHEAP and just increase the reward.

    You realize $800 is a joke right? The time to pack, get to the airport, checking in, leave the airport again, unpack, checking in again. That’s 6 hours right there. You have no plans the whole day. That’s 24 hours right there. With a voucher, you have to go through hassle and probably not get the airline you want. To redeem the voucher, you spend another hour on the phone. You have no plans for the day, so that’s 24 hours lost.

    There’s a reason why a hundred people didn’t take the $800 offer. It’s not because they were all stupid Lucky. It’s because it was a crappy offer. If United would have bumped it up to $1500 cash, or 4 free round trip domestic flights, they would have had takers. But not, it was cheaper for them to punch someone in the face and drag him out.

  22. And United gets another point in the battle against AA to reach the bottom. What a disgrace of an airline!!!! Why let everyone board to them take them off? Why they said they needed 1 volunteer to them take 4 people off the plane? If nobody took $800 that tells me it was not enough. It is Economics 101!!!! I saw Delta offer $1000 + hotel + meals + another flight for 6 passengers to not board a flight from DTW to SEA.

  23. It still surprises me, in our highly connected world, where seat availability is updated virtually in real time, that overbooking flights is still an issue. I could understand back in the 70s, when many people booked through travel agents or bought their tickets at the airline counter, SABRE was still in its infancy and updates took time. I remember overbooking being a regular occurrence and indeed we got either cash or free upgrades for volunteering.
    But when I can watch seats availability change after a refreshed, sorry, the airlines are gaming the system to squeeze out most revenue rather than properly managing their seat inventories, and offering “travel vouchers” (yeah, whoopee! like I want to fly again on an airline that kicked me off because they screwed up lol) instead of cash. Adding to the stress is many passengers are making connections, missing a flight may not only affect your current flight but ripple down to all the flights you are catching. A cancelled flight once caused me call four other airlines and hope they were understanding (all non-US airlines, so, yes, they were accommodating and even waived any fees).

  24. Ben,

    You still seem a little too sympathetic to United….. as this is a confluence of bad practices all the majors indulge in.

    Overbooking
    Poor flight crew placement contingencies
    Loss of interline agreements (AA flies this route from ORD and DL easily could have gotten people there)
    “Off Shoring” some routes to Banana Republic airlines like “Republic” Regionals

    It’s degenerated now to the point where nobody really has much claim to a “seat going where I’m going when I want to go”. With Delta and UAL leading the charge, you basically now only have a spot on a standby list, with your ability to get on the plane driven by what color credit card you have and what you paid for your ticket.

    Walk-up fare for that leg IS probably $2000… Force the airlines to keep bidding until enough people get off.

    I’m glad this guy held his ground. Finally somebody had the guts to do it.
    Just as I hope somebody pulls the door lever the next time they get put in the Penalty Box after landing at LAX for four hours.

  25. Also why did the employees absolutely have to get on that flight. American has same day flights for dirt cheap one way. Don’t tell me it was booked bullshit. Delta flies it too with a stop.

  26. @Lucky — I can’t speak to his/her previous comments, which I haven’t seen, but it seems to me that Credit @10:11 am was pointing out to Sean M. that just because something is the law doesn’t mean it’s just or that you should insist that it be enforced, using the UAE anti-gay law as an example.

  27. The doctor should sue. A dream settlement would be from now on all United flights need to takeoff with at least 3 seats physically empty (not even non revs) so that in case UA “needs” to reposition a crew they can.
    Random checks with a 1 million dollar fine everytime they violate to be paid to the doctor who sued.
    3 seats on a 150 person jet is 2%. Given airlines operate on 5% margin, 2% would mean that the executive bonuses would be halved.
    Next time they think of strongarming paying customers they will realize its probably cheaper to put their deadheading crews on a competitors plane.

  28. @Lucky, I have to agree with other posters that you’re still calling this one incorrectly. Sure, he should’ve listened to the authorities. But UA was disgraceful in how they handled this–being too tight-wadded to up their compensation offer. At what price point did the ridiculous UA staff think “yes, dragging someone against their will off this flight is worth saving our multi-billion dollar company another grand”?

    This is frustrating to watch, and United’s subsequent roasting by the press throughout the world will be much deserved. And fun to watch, might I add. Despicable.

  29. To be clear, battering passengers in an effort to get employees to where they need to be to perform their job duties appears to be within United’s business model.

    Obviously, UA failed in some aspect of their planning function and they unilaterally decided that getting THEIR employees where they needed to be was more important than getting their customers where the customers had paid to be. Yes, failing to get the FA’s to Louisville might have been disruptive, but I cannot justify battering a passenger to ensure smooth conduct of business.

    This is not a situation where a passenger is disruptive, nor is it a situation where the plane might be overweight. That man was battered for UA’s business convenience and those involved should be criminally charged. And if the police were summoned based on a false report of passenger conduct, anyone involved in that should be charged as well.

  30. wow I actually agree with @Credit’s sentiment for once. Clearly he was being sarcastic towards @Sean and pointing out that just because something is the law, it doesn’t mean it is right and you need to forcibly enforce it.

  31. @Sean M

    “Failure to comply with crew instructions” in this situation is bogus. This did not involve safety on the flight – rather it involved UA as a commercial enterprise wanting to ensure smooth operations the next day. To whatever extent such a power exists, UA grossly abused it.

  32. Umm lucky, I thought this was one of credit’s more on topic posts, he was making a good point about Sean M’s ridiculous (factual as it may be) statement.

  33. Ben,

    As an aside, this week’s Delta Saga in Atlanta underscores the underlying problem– Airlines are aggressive as ever in over-booking, despite having record high load factors (thanks to Dick Anderson’s ‘capacity discipline’), so when things go bad now, they propagate wildly bad. Not only do the airlines not have enough slack capacity to get displaced customers where they are going… they can’t even get their own flight crews where they need to be. It’s approaching a week after a thunderstorm and Delta’s STILL not got everybody where they need to be.

    This is a crisis and the guy being beaten and dragged off a plane is only one symptom…

  34. In short, United literally resorted to “brute force”. This is never a good idea, and they were surprisingly eager to use it.

  35. Worth pointing out that this flight was NOT operated by United. As far as I can tell, looking at Flightaware, this was a United Express flight operated by Republic. So this wasn’t really a United operational decision, but more a Republic one. Point the blame where it belongs.

  36. Yeah, the story here isn’t about obeying crew instructions. It isn’t about what is or isn’t legal. It isn’t about stupid passengers who just don’t get it, who won’t do what they’re told. No, this story is about the little guy, the average joe, who only wants what he paid for, nothing more, nothing less, getting beaten up by the stingy Multinational when he won’t agree to become the solution to their problem. That’s the story, Lucky.

    And you missed it.

  37. video a few times, and it doesn’t get any better, what a PRE disaster, the fellow passengers, were on his side.I,ve been on a delta flight, on the Plane, when it was said, $600 to any two passengers to go off, as flight overweight. then $700, the $880, three offered, off they went, and we went, another time, prior to departing, overbooked, b4 we boarded, $700 offered, then $800, I went forward, said two of us, , make it $900 dollars, and he said done, with another flight nexy day, and hotel, drink and food , voucher, great service delta, Great PR, fly with the other airline, no way Ho Sa.

  38. I looked and couldn’t find a DOT definition for “oversold”. In my simple mind it means I SOLD more tickets than I had seats. But this story indicates there is nothing about seats sold at all. They had paying customers in all seats. They needed non-revenue employees to take up 4 seats. Is this really oversold or just piss poor planning?

  39. “In this case the police was essentially acting on behalf of United’s revenue management department, rather than dealing with someone who did anything wrong.”
    Very good point. I urge Rand Paul to look into this, especially since the passenger resides in his home state, Kentucky.

  40. Lucky, while Credit has deserved to be banned for a long time, I think you may have picked the wrong comment to do so. I can’t believe I’m agreeing with his sarcasm toward Sean M, but I am. Sean M is usually pretty spot on in his opinions, but perhaps in this situation is too jaded by his industry knowledge. I too interpreted Credit’s comment, not as gay bashing, but as pointing out selective law abidance.

    While it might be a federal offense to disobey crew instructions in this situation, there is absolutely no way that a jury in this country would convict someone of that offense under these facts. A federal prosecutor wouldn’t even take it to court. There’s not even a chance that state and local prosecutors would take the resisting charge of the local police to court either. As far as the civil side goes, United’s lawyers and whatever rinky-dink airline operated this plan as United Express will be paying to keep this out of court too.

    United screwed up it’s crew scheduling; they screwed up the boarding of this plane; they low-balled asking for volunteers to get a crew on (which was bound to piss the public off). I’m guessing that they provided very limited information about when those who were IDB’d would actually get to SDF and what they were entitled to. There twitter response was bad. Now they’re hiding. Munoz still has a long, long way to go to right this ship.

    I’m wondering what the deadheading crew who were waiting to get on this plane thought? No way would I have gotten on that plane if I were one of them. There was clearly the potential for it to be unsafe and at the very least for the other passengers to be verbally abusive.

  41. Good boy Sean. You just sit and take it.

    I got news for you I’ve been traveling for business for over 25 years and I’m rapidly approaching the point that I am tired of always having the rules enforced by the local police and sheriff in support of the horribly run airlines and other big business. People are going to start pushing back on this BS, and they should.

    This past Wednesday night, after already a six hour delay, I was on a jetblue flight that had to deplane again in FLL, the origination airport. First thing I saw when stepping back into the terminal was not one, not two, not three, not four, but five Broward County sheriffs deputies. I guess JetBlue wanted the overwhelming show of force in case any customer had the temerity to question their ineptitude.

  42. Respectfully:

    1-Credit may be a pest, but this comment is not the straw that should break the camels back. I agree with Palefire.

    2-This guy is going to be a $Millionaire. He clearly has grounds of police brutality, hate-crime, racism, etc.

    3-This will finally get Congress to enact European style compensation regulation for delays and Involuntary Denied Boarding.

    4-If I were on that flight I would have initiated a walkout of all passengers and called the media.

    5-Lucky, damn it, the law in this case is wrong, as are you. You are on the wrong side of this issue.

    This passenger was not unruly or a threat to passenger safety.

    Several years ago my wife was denied boarding by United due to a rewards ticket-ticketing issue. It took me several weeks but I eventually got them to refund the miles, bump her up a level in the affinity program and was awarded $1200 cash for involuntarily being denied boarding.

    I actually had to call the FAA initially to get her rebooked. It was the most ridiculous 36 hours of my life getting her to her destination, but in the end we proved our case, United was wrong and they paid a price.

    United needs to pay a price for this type of action.

    Thanks for the aspirational blog, not sure if your “news” coverage is as sharp as “Zoe Barnes” though.

  43. Lucky – you said that ‘technically the passenger is entitled to cash compensation’. What does this mean?
    does it just mean that you are entitled to a cash amount equal to whatever voucher they were offering?

    Also, is there any rules on how much the minimum amount should be, or is it totally up to the airline what they want to offer?

  44. Looking quickly at United’s contract of carriage I do not see the word “boarding” defined. So once the passenger completed his “boarding” how can he be involuntarily denied boarding? I don’t see how this would have to do with any other part of the contract regarding “safety”. Just a thought.

  45. What if the doctor was a cardiac surgeon with a heart transplant the next day?

    Did united truy to find out anything?

  46. Did the passenger actually return to his seat after this debacle? If so, how did he get his seat back after they dragged him off the aircraft?

  47. Perhaps one reason things got this crazy is that passengers don’t trust the airlines when they offer vouchers. I volunteered once and received a $400 voucher from Delta which I was never able to use because it had so many restrictions and blackout dates. I haven’t forgotten that experience and I have no evidence that anything has changed. I also wonder what happens to a checked bag in such a situation – does the bag stay on the flight or does it get redirected later? I would seriously worry about a checked bag in this situation.

  48. >> Once an airline decides you’re going to be removed from a flight, there’s nothing you can do, and it’ll only end poorly for you; right or wrong, this is a sad reality of the times, and the police will back up and enforce whatever decision the airline makes

    THAT IS SO PATENTLY WRONG! This guys shows what you can do. You can, and MUST, resist. He (1) turned this disgrace into a national story and (2) was able to fly and help the hospital.

    The airline had no right to stop at $800. The airline should have never offered vouchers, but cash. The guy had 100% a right to RESIST when he was kicked off due to the airline’s refusal to increase the offer and make it in cash.

    Your post is 100% WRONG. I guess anyone can have a blog.

  49. I wrote an email to Senator Rand Paul’s office. As a Libertarian-Republican, he should be very concerned about violation of civil liberties and misuse of police force (as Lucky pointed out, acting as armed guards on behalf of Delta’s revenue department rather than law enforcement). I hope he looks into this issue.

  50. “protesting on a plane won’t end well for you”

    At least publicly it won’t. We will never know (because there is almost always a gag order) what settlement United will make with this fellow, but in the end it is quite likely that it WILL end well for him.

  51. i don’t get it. if a flight it overbooked and someone needs to be taken off. Why bother taking someone off who’s already seated on board ? The one showing up last to the gate or for check in should be taken off the flight.

  52. Sean M your comment is just plain ridiculous. Disgraceful behaviour again by US airport thugs. This man will have one hell of a field day in court over this. I worked 20 years for an airline and never would something as horrendous and despicable as this happen in Australia. Passengers should have all walked off the aircraft in protest. What is happening to us as a society .

  53. I can’t believe there weren’t people jumping on the $800 voucher offer. I was at LGA not too long ago and heard Delta announcing $400 then $800 AMEX gift card for anyone who would volunteer to take another flight to Minneapolis later that night. Seems like AMEX gift card has less restrictions than a voucher. Too bad I was flying to another city cause if that was my flight I would have taken it.

  54. reverse dutch auction: distribute small pieces of paper through the cabin: everyone writes their seat number + the amount of cash compensation for what they’d leave the plane. The four with the lowest written amount will leave, each receiving the cutoff amount (the fourth lowest amount).

  55. I cast my lot with United a couple of years ago because this blog seemed to recommend the highly. I got the United credit card and have amassed what, for me, is a good amount of miles. In fact, I’m flying overseas on them tonight.

    I defended United last month with the leggings fiasco. I cannot defend this. It’s their error. It started with their decision to follow the industry standard of overbooking (which shouldn’t be allowed for reasons such as this) and got worse when they boarded the plane and THEN decided “oops, we need four seats”.

    People here have pointed out many options. Keep upping the offer. Put the crew on another airline or a charter flight. Whatever they do would cost them money. This fiasco is going to cost them business, and probably mine.

    None of the major airlines seem to have a good reputation anymore. I travel mostly to the UK and NYC, so I will likely split that between two airlines and trade in the credit card for a broader “travel credits” card that’s not tied to any specific airline. I don’t fly enough to get above United Silver level (and I wonder if that would have bought me anything had I been in this situation.) I plan my travel to maximise my time away. If I am bumped from a flight, I miss work, same as that crew. What if this doctor had an appointment or a shift with a patient in a life-threatening situation? $800 is nothing put against a life or even a job.

  56. Wow. I never really bought into Jeff Smisek’s “you’re gonna love the changes” manifesto but did with Oscar Munoz. I really feel that he is genuine about wanting to make United the great airline it once was and could again be, but actions are louder than words. The more I see the more I’m starting to wonder if this is just another batch of Kool-Aid on offer. In the last couple of months United has had a few chances to “do the right thing” for me as a customer and didn’t. i.e. – Due to a schedule change on award tickets the new schedule wouldn’t work. I canceled them and instead of waiving the re-deposit fees I paid them.

    I find it to be a double standard that when you want to make any change to an advance purchase ticket United charges $200 – which generates HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of $$$ for them. But when they are oversold they only want to offer a few hundred bucks to volunteers. If you have volunteers for $300 then fine – but if the threshold of people’s time and inconvenience is $1,500, then offer that. It’s the right thing to do.

  57. @seanm – who determines if crew instructions are valid or not? What is there to prevent, before offensive situations occur, unethical or illegal crew instructions?

    I assume they already booted any non-essential non-revs from the flight.

    UA is clearly in the wrong here. Keep upping the compensation to bump until someone bites. And don’t board the plane at all until you have your volunteers. Volunteers will show up…back in the 1990s I loved my business trips to south Florida. I purposely would fly through FLL and would try for times when cruise ships would arrive…lots of free DL compensation for bumping, and planned correctly I’d be on a flight after just a few hours, in F, with cash in my pocket. Surely there was someone else on this flight that could make it work for the right amount of money!

  58. United could have so solved this by significantly up bidding until someone volunteered to offload.

    Horrific handling, tragic PR, and adds to me (as non US person, living in Asia but flying into and connecting from SFO/LAX six times a year in J) yet another reason to never, ever, ever fly United on the intercontinental or the local legs.

    Physically attacking your paying customers, injuring and humiliating them?

    Wow, way to go.

  59. I agree with a number of people above – Credit has trolled in the past but in this case he was making a fair point and IMHO his post today should have gone on the “don’t ban” side of the scale.

  60. Am surprised at how conveniently bloggers interpret such situations or flip-flop their opinions.
    IMHO ,passenger had every right to refuse when he paid for the ticket .
    How can u bring in the change without protesting and standing up to your rights.
    Also,if your take is that you should just comply with the law ,you should stop whining and complaining when muslims or banned or u can be gay when traveling to countries where being gay is considered crime

  61. Here is a question, was the crew at the gate when boarding started and was the gate agents made aware that the crew needed to be on the flight before boarding started? lots questions come to mind for me.

  62. This incident should be considered completely unacceptable by the flying public. It is completely irrelevant whether United’s actions were legal. United’s unwillingness to fix the problem by spending an appropriate amount of money to get someone to voluntarily leave the plane is the ONLY relevant issue here.

    Let’s say you hire a plumber. He makes a mistake on a $1000 job, and to fix it he has to spend $2000. Which would you hire – the plumber with the reputation for either not making mistakes or doing whatever it takes to fix problems he caused, or the plumber who has a history of shoddy work and refusing to respond to complaints? That is EXACTLY the calculation that airline customers should be making when they consider their next ticket purchase. Why should we choose United when there’s a chance we might find ourselves at the receiving end of their bungling operation and callous disregard for their customers?

  63. This is pretty bad, Lucky. I’m not trying to pile on but you’re so in the wrong it’s shameful. If United wanted to get their 4 crew members on they should have paid beyond $800. As you said there’ should no law regulating what airlines have to compensate with; that goes both ways. It means they don’t have to stop at $800. Instead they decided it’s not worth paying more than that and just beat the shit out of a paying passenger with every right to be there instead. That’s all it comes down to. Hope you remember that the next time your flight is oversold.

  64. If this passenger was really a doctor and needed to be in Louisville to see patients Monday morning, it would be prudent for United to explore that situation further. What if he was a specialist who was doing a life-saving surgery? Did they ask? If one of his patients died because he could see them on Monday would United be responsible for contributing to the circumstances that lead to the patient’s death. I think comparing the role of the doctor was diminished by the company’s need to make money by having their crew take precedent over paying customers. Overall it sucks and increases the public’s distain for airline travel. Not the friendly blue skies anymore!

  65. I just watched the two twitter videos dragging him off. This is completely unacceptable, I hope he sues UA for a ton of money. And the county or whatever jurisdiction allowed officers to drag him off the plane like that. There is no way at all that this is acceptable. I was already avoiding UA but this seals the deal.

  66. And if you’re going to kick anyone off a plane why pick someone in a window seat? If you’re going to ask police to forcibly remove someone why not save physical beatings and pick someone in an aisle seat?

  67. @Ben,

    I apologize for use of an imprecise term.
    I just meant that Nick (and you, with your waffling on your loyalty to AA, you seem to have fallen under the sway of Team Delta) tend to recite Delta’s “PR Spin Machine” verbatim. If you want to be more than just a blogger– there’s some independent research that can supplement your posts, which might add some journalistic interest. And make the blog of more value to those of us who do buy our tickets with real money and are seeking insight and understanding.

    In Delta’s case, they’ve had multiple instances where it’s clear that Delta’s got little in the way of operational-recovery planning in place. From the “we had a power outage” (which they lied about and tried to deflect onto the power company) week-of-horrors to this Thunderstorm-that-lasted-a-week-in-Atlanta debacle, there’s got to be more to the story. Why are there delays days later? (I’m also certain that Delta consistently mis-represents their ontime performance numbers…. they gave me 9 hours at BWI awhile back and I had plenty of time to compare the Flightaware stats with what DL reports on their website. (Hint: Delta lies constantly about ontime percentages!) )

    But, you and Nick seem to recite the Delta party line without much research…

    In United’s case here, it’s worth noting that this was a Republic-flown Regional Affiliate…. so who was manning the gate? Republic staff or Mainline United? I’m guessing UA Mainline, since it was ORD. But, that’s a guess. Their Tweet said it was “overbooking”, but they actually boarded PAX, then seem to have realized late that they also had a crew positioning problem– so, it’s far from clear that “denied boarding when oversold” rules should apply. I think United subtly lied… so it would be healthy to see you call it what it is, whether UA or DL or AA. In this case they pulled Rev passengers off for Non-Revs. Really?!?

    Basically, I’d like to see you guys call out the airlines for flat-out lying…. I mean nobody’s buying the Delta BS about “never canceling flights” anymore. But, you and Nick don’t seem to lead the charge in pointing out the ‘reality distortion field’ that seems to surround the airlines’ business models.

    IN this case if was a United Flt Ops problem, but it’s somehow being conflated with “oversold”? I think you would do us all a service by aggressively calling out the lying behaviors by the carriers…

    That’s all. I generally like the blog, but think you are too soft on the carriers when they mess up like this. You’ve written very little about DL’s woes this week and I wonder why. That’s all.

  68. “But there’s still a lesson here for passengers, which is that for better or worse, protesting on a plane won’t end well for you. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is the reality. It wouldn’t have gotten this guy to work the next day, but at least it would have helped him avoid a bloody face.”

    Yes, let’s not fight lest we get a bloody face. Good thing you are gay in 2017 and not in the 70s or 80s.

  69. Some people are so naive. You don’t have any right to disobey an lawful order by the police officer or resist arrest. Once the police are called to remove the person from the plane what do you think is going to happen?

  70. Agree that, at least ethically, United was very wrong. They should have offered cash, and raised it until people accepted.

  71. Is $800 the max United ever offers to overbooked flights?
    Why did all the pax board already?
    I’ll admit I don’t fly United anymore (used to be a huge Continental fan boy) but as a Delta flier, I’ve definitely have heard DL offers of over $1000 compensation for being rebooked to another flight. I’m not sure why United is being so cheap given change fees nowadays are over $150.

  72. Under the United Airlines name, Republic Airlines flies two 70-passenger jets most days to Louisville. Trans States Airlines also offers two 50-seat flights daily form ORD to Louisville under the United name. This incident occurred on one of those two airlines. So there were not 100+ passengers to choose from. Unfortunately United gets the black eye. But this could have happened on any airline. Requiring passengers to give up their seats, after boarding is nothing new. It happens on all airlines. I believe the passenger is in violation of federal law for his actions.
    It is unfortunate that the airline could not have authorized a higher compensation. But I feel certain that the staff offered the most they were authorized to offer. If you don’t like the rules, I suggest you contact your representative in Congress, and ask that the rules be changed, requiring all airlines to offer CASH compensation (without limits) until they get enough volunteers to take a later flight. It may cost you a dollar or two on your next flight, but just look at it as insurance that it won’t happen to you or a fellow passenger without ample compensation.

  73. Lucky writes: “I see too much of this garbage, and I guess I’m unfairly desensitized to this.”

    This is an apology or excuse?

  74. Just a few points/questions to consider to add some perspective – food for thought:

    I agree 100% that United (actually the carrier was a United Express carrier – not sure of the percentage ownership) could have handled the situation in such away that it would not have escalated to the point where any passengers needed to be forcibly removed.

    Still, regardless of whether you agree with the reason why this happened or not, the aircraft belongs to the airline in question, and they have the right to remove passengers, according to their contract of carriage – as agreed to by the passengers when they purchase their tickets.

    United did not cause bodily injury to this passenger – law enforcement did.

    Again, even if you or I don’t agree with the situation, the guy was asked three times to leave the plane by law enforcement, and he refused. It really doesn’t matter if he is a doctor, a teacher or janitor, he was the unlucky one chosen (following the contracts of carriage) and was asked to get off the plane. Had he gotten off the plane after the third time being asked, he would not have been physically dragged off.

    If excessive force was used, the law enforcement agency should be held accountable in court. United was not at fault for this, the officer would have been.

    It’s a shame but probably true, had this guy not suffered physical harm, this would not have blown into such a huge PR issue for United. Either way though, overbooking and how voluntary and involuntary denied boarding is handled is a problem.

    Overbooking isn’t a one-sided issue caused by the airlines. It’s also caused by consumers who purchase tickets and then don’t show up for flights (and then get a refund later), causing the airline to lose the revenue for those seats. Through revenue manage, they do overbook to compensate for no-shows and other unforeseen circumstances, but it is not an exact science.

    We are all Monday morning quarterbacks who weren’t there at the moment it happened. We may not agree that United should have chosen to involuntary deny boarding to passengers for the sake of its own crew, but what if by not putting the employees on the flight, UA would have had much greater repercussions the next day with a significantly greater number of passengers being delayed, missing flights, etc. These passengers as well could have had extremely important events (including surgeries) that might have been missed.

    At the end, the guy would never have been hurt had he gotten off the plane. He was asked to do so in accordance with the rules of the airline, and he refused to do so. If he chooses to sue for excessive force/physical harm, I hope that the outcome in court is based on the law rather than power and explosiveness of social media.

  75. @Danny … in constructive spirit.

    “You don’t have any right to disobey an lawful order by the police officer or resist arrest”.

    To be arrested you need to have committed an offence. Was there one here? FAA regulations are (maybe too) wide ranging but can’t and don’t create arbitrary offences.

    Lawful order by the police officer … for a police officer to tell any of us what to do as an order, I think it’s reasonable to know what law or statute the order is related to. Doing what an airline manager asked doesn’t cut it.

    I getting sorry for the airport police, being put into shitty position by shitty airline shitty management.

    But this doesn’t feel like ‘to protect and to serve’.

  76. I was going to book a United flight yesterday for work. I got side tracked and never completed the booking.

    Now I’m going to revisit my plans and see if I can fly any other airlines but United.

    And yes, I’m a doctor too so I’m slightly biased. But that’s no way to treat a paying customer!

  77. United fails to remember that people are the reason they exist. There are other airlines for passengers to choose from, at least for the moment (regulations to benefit the many.) When I fly I will avoid United and remember how they have treated this innocent passenger. Deplorable!

  78. @Jon

    Well, maybe, but it’s far from clear that “denied boarding” rules even apply when he WAS boarded and the airline fraudulently claimed that it was an “oversold” situation when the passengers being put ON were actually Non-Revs.

    Yes, it is their aluminum (well, technically, Republic’s, which adds another layer of complexity to the resulting legal case), but someday one of these cases will finally bring an answer to the question of “What exactly did I buy? I thought it was transportation from Point A to Point B at a given day for a certain amount of money…”

    Basically, regrettably, with the way the system has been corrupted by airline CFOs and the equity markets that love them… when you show up with a valid ticket for that day and time, you can never have any assurance anymore that you’re going anywhere.

    This video just catalyzes what is the de-humanizing of airline transport these days. Conditions are awful and that’s even if you manage to get (and stay) on the plane…

  79. Once again- SHAME ON THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY! You get away with horrible customer treatment, and it all boils down to the almighty dollar. The airlines are making huge profits, yet they come up with pathetic incentives when they want to get their crew on a flight in order to prevent lossing revenue on a flight the next day. United should have put the crew on a bus. Better yet, stop using the damn small regional jets. You continue to overbook flights, with less seats available and as a result, your REVENUE generating customers are punished. I am not one for wanting government in step in, however, the airlines all think they are greater then GOD when it comes to making the rules, and it needs to stop now!

  80. Maybe some of the others could correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I can see is the flight was not oversold. It was at capacity and then United realized that they needed four extra seats. I’ve never read anything from DOT or anywhere else that provides for bumping revenue passengers, let alone deplaning a seated passenger. I’d think they’d be obliged to continue upping compensation until they have volunteers.

    Still, when the cops show up, do what they say!

  81. I’ve worked in the industry – and it’s simple really. If you have “Must -Ride” passengers (crew) then DON’T BOARD revenue passengers in the first place. Deal with it in the terminal – NOT on-board the aircraft. Public relations disaster from a carrier that should know better.

  82. Former AA gate agent here just to share some experiences. As I worked for AA, I can only speak to that airline, but since AA/UA/DL all operate more or less by the same rules and oversold flights and denied boarding practices are regulated by the DOT, I think it’s safe to say it’s quite similar.

    The airlines ask for volunteers at the gate of course and for AA it was always a $500 voucher. Technically we were supposed to start at $150 and work our way up in $50 increments, but given that’s 8 announcements alone, gate agents have absolutely no time for that when they are answering questions, changing seats, working upgrades. Plus, it’s a war zone from the first announcement that the flight is oversold. You now have anyone without a seat assignment approaching the desk asking if they are getting on board. Meanwhile, you are trying to check carry on bags preemptively since you know they won’t all fit on the aircraft. Then it’s time to board. You have one hour at MOST to get volunteers and do everything else for the flight, and that includes boarding 30 minutes prior to departure (if the FA’s give you that luxury). If you didn’t have anxiety and stress issues in your life prior to working for an airline, you do now (*raises hand*).

    For volunteers, you have to check to see when you can get them out; that’s always the first question. Could be the next flight, could be tomorrow, could be 3 days. You also don’t know if you need the volunteers until the flight closes boarding 10 min before departure. You could be dealing with a flight 7 seats oversold and have all your volunteers ready to be rebooked, and then 7 people don’t show up to the gate in time, and now you are just booked full and don’t need to pull anybody. The fun part comes when those late people make it to the gate right when you are boarding your volunteers and you get more or less spit on (admittedly an exaggeration, but I’m sure it has happened).

    Now one thing I found interesting was I never got a straight, by-the-book answer about exactly who is coming off the plane (or denied boarding if you’re lucky; shouldn’t have to go on board to pull your passenger but it happens all the time). I’ve heard it was lowest fare paid (not including passengers with status), I’ve heard it was from a list of the last people to book their flights (there was a command in the reservation system that would pull up a list of 10 most recently purchased tickets), and then also from the oversold list, which is the list of people who don’t have seat assignments when they check in online/at the ticket counter and have to get one assigned at the gate (usually isn’t an issue, at the time AA blocked two rows up front, two rows back, and exit rows on S80s and 737s and we would just unblock them and assign the seats). Got a different answer from each manager at the two airports I worked at.

    The airlines can decide what they can offer for volunteers. Like I said earlier, it maxed at $500 (voucher). One of our gates was across from AirTran and they would offering two free round trips for one volunteer. Made it just a bit difficult to tell AA passengers “Oh sorry, that wasn’t our announcement.” When it comes to DI’s (denied involuntarily) they had a cash option (in the form of a check) or substantially larger voucher (good on any OneWorld carrier). I remember when I was first starting out we had to bump a woman off a Chicago flight who was connecting to DEL when AA was still flying there. She had the options of $800 cash or $1600 voucher. She took the cash and flew out on the same routing 24 hours later. I do believe those amounts are based on the fare price paid.

    While the DOT does have regulations on Involuntary Denied Boarding that I know the airlines follow, I’m willing to bet they do not regulate who has to come off. The inconsistency of following a set procedure every time was abysmal.

  83. I will never, ever fly United again. I will pay double price on a ticket before flying United. Every time I see the name United this is what I’ll think of. I doubt United management even fathoms the millions of dollars this stupidity will cost them.

  84. @Mark: Maybe some of the others could correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I can see is the flight was not oversold. It was at capacity and then United realized that they needed four extra seats. I’ve never read anything from DOT or anywhere else that provides for bumping revenue passengers, let alone deplaning a seated passenger. I’d think they’d be obliged to continue upping compensation until they have volunteers.

    Agree completely. If the flight had been oversold, then the last four passengers to check-in / show up would be the ones denied boarding. If there were operational reasons (e.g., weight restrictions) it would be a different story. But the fact that they needed the seats for deadheading crew tilts the balance completely against United.

    The right thing to do would be to keep upping the voucher until someone volunteered.

  85. As someone who is self employed, I can never imagine a case where I would look to screw over one of my clients to fix a mistake of my own making. If I mess up, I will make it right.

    If a crew wasn’t in the right place, that is not this passenger’s fault. An airline expecting that paying passengers lives should be disrupted to fix their mistake speaks volumes about the values of that airline.

    I was so sure that my image of United as an airline had already hit rock bottom. Kudos to United for showing that they can dig even deeper.

    Disgusting.

  86. Why didn’t UA just put its employees on a competitor’s metal to SDF? SW flys MDW to SDF at 10:30pm.

  87. Most of us agree that UA was wrong in this particular incident. I also think that overbooking a flight should be considered illegal. I understand an airline could overbook a flight decades ago when there used to be no change fee or no show fee. Now when all airlines charge a no show fee and a change fee, a confirmed seat should be a confirmed seat. The cheapest tickets these days are even nonrefundable and non changeable. So why the airlines should be able to overbook when they charge you an exorbitant amount for not flying according to the original plan. And the US-based airlines should stop whining when it comes to ME3. I have flown those middle eastern airlines numerous times and have never seen an overbooked flight.

  88. They needed to get to a Monday night flight – why not rent a car for them and tell them to drive 5 hours instead of removing 4 paying customers. Even if you paid the FA’s hourly wage for the drive it would be cheaper then 1 $800 offer. Plus they legally owe everyone $1300 who got pulled off….beyond lazy and stupid.

  89. @bob
    “It is unfortunate that the airline could not have authorized a higher compensation.”

    You are wrong. The airline COULD have authorised anything – say, a million dollars. But it CHOSE not to. It decided it was better to have a customer manhandled off the flight and injured.

    This is why the European Union gave up on expecting airlines to self-regulate or behave decently. The airlines hate the cash compensation they must now offer for their own incompetence/ misfortunes. But it’s the cost of doing business.

    Doubtless the US3 would whine about the “burden of regulation”, while shovelling cash at legislators so they didn’t intervene. Ain’t democracy grand?

  90. The police should have refused to enforce United’s inappropriate request to have the nonviolent passenger removed because of their incompetence.

    United should not have the force of Stalin.

    The police should not have the immunity of Stalin.

  91. This reminds me of one of my favorite lines from the Simpsons – “Due to our policy of overbooking flights, this flight has been overbooked.”

  92. @Lucky. Let’s take another take on this. Let’s just assume that the flight is full and ready to go. Pilots notice a maintenance issue. Turns out one of the A/C packs are bad, or perhaps an anti-ice valve is bad. This requires the flight to fly at a lower altitude thus increasing not only fuel burn but affecting take off performance as well. because of this 4 people are needed to deplane. Same 4 people. Now where is your ax to grind?

    It’s really funny to read all these comments from people who are not in the airline industry and have no working knowledge of airline practices.

  93. I agree 100% with you Lucky. It seems like 90% of these comments have never even been on a plane.

    You fly often enough, you learn quickly that you don’t disregard crewmember instructions, and you most definitely do not fuck around with the cops on an airport or airplane.

    I’d like to see these people claiming they would defend the guy from the law enforcement. See where that lands you for the next couple hours.

  94. The real story here no one is talking about is how despite passengers overhearing the man was a doctor and “needed” to see patients the next day (and seeing police beat him up), NO ONE volunteered. If I see an injustice like that happening, you bet I’m going to volunteer no matter how inconvenient.

    The people on the plane that stood by doing nothing are just as bad.

  95. Deathknell – “The tolling of a bell to mark someone’s death. Used to refer to the imminent destruction or failure of something.”

    I feel bad for the passenger. I don’t feel bad for United. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end of the race to the bottom for the American airline industry, and it’s practice of sucking the last ounce of joy out of flying and travelling.

  96. This is horrifying to watch. However, I don’t think United should be forced to up the compensation a million times. If they made multiple offers and then said the computer would choose at random, you COMPLY. I don’t think of airplanes as a place to mouth off in any way, nevertheless, people do.

  97. @Lucky

    Hate it to say this but I don’t think I’ve come across a conclusion so wrong in any of the articles written on this blog until this one.

    Lets start with this:

    – United didn’t do everything they could to solicit volunteers, and this situation was entirely avoidable

    United (or rather UX here specifically) failed in two regards here. First they didn’t follow procedure, the passenger’s lawyer will have a field day with this as this should have been taken care of before boarding the flight. That said they DID follow procedure when it suited them, namely United has a cap of $675-800 for an IDB and then they just started picking people at random.

    – Once an airline decides you’re going to be removed from a flight, there’s nothing you can do, and it’ll only end poorly for you; right or wrong, this is a sad reality of the times, and the police will back up and enforce whatever decision the airline makes

    This is where it goes wrong. This isn’t an IDB event because the passengers have already boarded the flight. At no point until they called security in did the passenger seem disruptive, and in fact had a potentially valid, per UNITED’s own policy, excuse for priority in staying on the flight. Namely if they HAD been following IDB procedure this would apply:

    “2. Boarding Priorities – If a flight is Oversold, no one may be denied boarding against his/her will until UA or other carrier personnel first ask for volunteers who will give up their reservations willingly in exchange for compensation as determined by UA. If there are not enough volunteers, other Passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily in accordance with UA’s boarding priority:

    a. Passengers who are Qualified Individuals with Disabilities, unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years, or minors between the ages of 5 to 15 years who use the unaccompanied minor service, will be the last to be involuntarily denied boarding if it is determined by UA that such denial would constitute a hardship.

    b. The priority of all other confirmed passengers may be determined based on a passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents him/herself for check-in without advanced seat assignment.”

    In this story we have no idea of the man’s status in any of the two categories however we do have a confirmed job status which may or may not have resulted in priority scheduling. The moment the passengers were on the plane IDB procedure should have been relaxed and you can bet UA’s lawyers are now freaking out about this and the fact this happened on their UX partner itself.

  98. What no one asked so far: How did they choose the passengers “randomly”?! Thats what the flight agent said and I am sure that is what thr agent did not do. I haven’t seen any procedure for this. But there should be one to make it random.

    So I guess the passenger should win any lawsuit directed to biased decisions and discrimination. And I hope he does file one.. awful pictures!

  99. I usually appreciate your commentary, but, “I’d argue on both sides” is totally wrong. You can’t assault your passengers because they don’t respond to your weak incentives to vacate their paid-for service.

  100. @Sean M.

    Technically, you are right. Passengers need to comply with the crew instruction. But that is complete violence against a person who is not violent. You comment is no excuse for the violence. It is completely United’s fault for letting the situation grow worse; it is the securities’ fault to abusively use force against a person who just argued with his mouth instead of doing anything violent. So shame on United. And I feel sorry for what you said.

  101. Actually, I’m going to stop reading your blog unless you are a little more explicit in your conclusion that violence against passengers is not okay. Considering that you get a lot of ad revenue from travel and credit firms, I think you need to take a stand for your readers:

    Violence against passengers who do nothing wrong is not okay.

  102. @b — come on, violence against the innocent — passengers or not — is obviously not okay. I don’t believe that needs to be said.

    On the other hand, I do wish this blog would take a more hardline stance against abuse of power in all forms. Whether it’s something as blatant as this story, or even something trivial like a contract worker standing guard next to a TSA line entrance, yelling at people to get their boarding passes out.

  103. Who Cares says: “This is not a case of an oversold flight.”

    Yes it is.

    Either the crew who need to position are viewed as additional passengers.
    Or the seat count available on the aircraft has been reduced by their number.

    In both situations you end up oversold.

    And, it is very different to, e.g. a seat having a technical difficulty. Nothing about the operation of this flight required the positioning crew to be placed onto it.

    The violence is utterly unacceptable, but hardly surprising for a country that seems as mucked up in the head as the USA.

  104. @Sean M: That may be the law, but it doesn’t make it right or the right thing to do. To me, Captain’s Authority begins once the door is closed. This was a boarding issue, ie: ground issue. NOT an in-flight issue. As the law is currently written, the flight crew could require that you strip down naked and have sex with a stranger, after all, you’re failing to comply with the instructions of uniformed flight crew if you refuse. That’s the way the law is written. I can hear you thinking, “but that’s absurd!” BUT following the rules because it’s the law or federal agency policy does NOT make it right — this is why we have TSA screeners fingering 65-year-old ladies’ vaginas with dirty gloves and having pedophiles groping special-needs children’s junk with their full hands. Seriously, the terrorists have won.

    As Ben mentioned, the passenger did nothing wrong. He had a ticket for his assigned seat and sat in it. If United really wanted that seat, I’m sure there’s a magic # of $ wherein he would be willing to relinquish said seat. United isn’t operating a charter service here. This is a Part 121 carrier, ie: glorified Grayhound bus, open to all. This man posed no threat to the flight nor crew nor other passengers.

    Case in point, this article in Forbes over the weekend, where Delta paid a family $11,000 *NOT* to fly this weekend: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2017/04/09/why-delta-air-lines-paid-me-11000-not-to-fly-to-florida-this-weekend/#31d2951d4de1

    I’m sure a lot of us would be willing to reconsider a vacation if we had an extra $11k cash-in-hand from an airline. Delta’s FIRST offer to me awhile back was $1,000.

    I supported United on the leggings issue. This issue, however, is not acceptable and shouldn’t be acceptable. BTW, Delta *does* shuttle crew via ground limo/van for positioning if flights aren’t available for them. A friend is a Delta pilot of ~20+ years and has had this happen to him a few times.

    Then again…I’ve not flown United since 2010 nor has my office booked any travel with them since 2010. I was hoping life would get better once Smisek left, but it looks like it’s business as usual. Passengers come dead last in terms of priorities.

  105. I am never an advocate for frivolous lawsuits, but this passenger should definitely get a nice settlement.

    No human being should ever be treated this way.

  106. Rather than give in to my own reaction here, a question:

    Vouchers. How do you negotiate for cash? And how can you quickly tell about restrictions in the moment of deciding the offer? I mean do UA vouchers have the same restrictions or do they have different types?

  107. Point of order: they may be permitted to deny boarding, but that is not what happened here. Th boarded the passengers, then proceeded to try to remove them.

  108. In response to lan SFO 787, a maintenance issue is also 100% United fault and no different than what happened here. In that sense the result would be the same. I doubt that lan SFO 787 is a pilot or has ever even been on a plane, because I assure you that if United made an announcement that “because of a maintenance issue 4 people need to get off the plane or the plane wont make it to the destination”, a lot more than 4 passengers would get off the plane. If Lan SFO really is a pilot, I would suggest that he make this exact same announcement over the PA on his next flight and see how many passengers deplane.

  109. During the recession United and the other airlines used any excuse they could find to cancel flights that didn’t have enough passengers to pay for the fuel. Now that the planes are full, the airlines routinely buy people off for vouchers that are difficult to use so that they can move crews to one of their hubs. But this is way way over the top. The doctor should sue and the FAA should impose a huge fine (maybe one that will preclude a passenger from being mugged going forward-how does $100 million sound)

  110. United shouldn’t have overbooked a flight they knew they had crew traveling on. The problem in this country is that he had a “contract” with the airline when he bought his seat and the “contract” only works for the airline. Try missing your flight and see if they refund your money. #boycottUnited

  111. Obvious lawsuit. In so far as UAL was 100% justified in the leggings incident, especially as those NRSA pax were up front, a bene for employees, family and friends, in this one UAL has a valid lawsuit on their hands and they deserve it. When revenue management has the police endorse their load factor decisions to oversell the flight, what’s that called?? Police State is what that is and it sucks. Shame on UA management and ORD Ops.

  112. Thank you for not being as bull headed and stubborn as Brian and following up with more compassion for a man who got his face busted in and DRAGGED off a plane. You haven’t sold out and still have a heart.

  113. @Travelrmb

    “How do you negotiate for cash? And how can you quickly tell about restrictions in the moment of deciding the offer? I mean do UA vouchers have the same restrictions or do they have different types?”

    Honest answer? Airlines are very reluctant to give out cash however there are instances I’ve been in where DL has in prior years given on an oversold flight the option of $250 in cash or $400 or so in travel voucher on DL and partners (my numbers may be off as it’s been about 5 years since I last remember it). Back then for me it seemed as a take it or leave it option as they mentioned their next option after trying several times was the IDB procedure. For me I chose the $400 option as I wasn’t in a hurry to get to my destination and they were able to book me on a flight later that day anyway.

    That said even 8 years ago travellers were getting a bit antsy about dealing with vouichers from the airlines. The biggest problem then and I have no idea if it’s been resolved yet is the non guarantee of of a seat reservation when you use the voucher. The other issue is what if they offer you something like a $800 voucher/certificate but your next flight only costs say $450, will they issue a new certificate with the balance? It’s unlikely, so effectively that extra money has gone to waste potentially.

    http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/3801166/that-airline-voucher-could-cost-you-both-in-money-and-inconvenience/

    Folks can correct me if I’m wrong and procedures have changed, but if not the flying public does have reason to be relatively wary about the travel vouchers.

  114. Oh dear you really have dropped the ball on this one.

    The treatment of this passenger was absolutely DISGRACEFUL, and you should simply be condemning violence against passengers as has already been said above. This would just not happen in the EU. You do realise that this will make every tourist (the numbers are dropping anyway) simply not want to use any US domestic flight? It does me. That’s my one US domestic flight next year cancelled – we will be in a car for 6 hours instead. At least in the UK BA only makes us pay for our food in economy. It doesn’t arrange to have us beaten up!

  115. Why not accept the money and rent a car? Its only a 5 hour drive… No compassion for someone that does not follow police and crew member instructions.

  116. @Bryan, I hope you just didn’t have time to read the story and decided to troll instead, else it’s be a miracle how you survived til this day despite of Darwin’s theory.

  117. If they offered $100,000 to get off the plane, they will still be much further ahead that they are now. They simply decided $800 was the limit that they were willing to pay before they started kicking paying customers off a plane. Sounds like a really poor business decision. Everyone has their price. United simply showed the contempt they have for their customers.

  118. Not sure if this was posted or not but here is the pax after getting back on the plane. I have seen witness accounts that he was not being unruley and uncooperative and maybe didn’t understand. He is clearly tramatized and not behaving like someone being a jerk and refusing to leave. I also have doubts he is a doctor, that got started because he was talking about patients so it was inferred.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/i/web/status/851497970692390913

  119. Completely unacceptable, anyway you look at it. The paying customer was seated on a flight he paid for. In an administrative decision by the airline to cover for their mistake, they decided to just jettison their agreement with this customer, who again did nothing wrong. Cue the Gestapo, local authorities quick and more than willing to man-handle a citizen who, again, did nothing wrong. The police state of corporate stooges just grows. Unfortunately, United probably has it in the fine print of their multi-paged ticketing agreement to be able to throw a passenger out over anything, even if it’s over the Atlantic Ocean. Love all the comments in favor of the airline. So quick to give away your rights! As long as it’s someone else. Careful, you could be the next one man-handled for no reason.

  120. What is wrong with our society? A man is dragged of the plane as if he is an animal, for doing absolutely nothing wrong. The CEO of United offers no apology. Disgusting events. And you sir, Carlos Munoz you should really be ashamed of this behavior. These are you good customers. How would you liked to be treated like this?

  121. @Jo “I don’t think United should be forced to up the compensation a million times. If they made multiple offers and then said the computer would choose at random, you COMPLY. I don’t think of airplanes as a place to mouth off in any way, nevertheless, people do.”

    You go ahead and comply. But understand that many of us refuse to be sheep.

    And the passenger was not “mouthing off”. He was refusing to leave the plane.

  122. You Americans are hilarious, always talking about your freedoms this, liberty that, stomping around with guns to prove your extreme levels of freedom.

    Yet once you’re on a plane, you’re prepared to allow any amount of being pushed around, humiliated and inconvenienced by an airline employee. “HURR DURR YOU HAVE TO OBEY NO MATTER WHAT BECAUSE 9/11”

    Give me a break.

  123. Most people are talking about how the passenger should sue because he was “mugged” or “attacked.” How do we know this? Isn’t it possible that he refused to comply with the orders of the police officers in question, and he was hurt because they forcibly had to remove him from the plane. Maybe he bumped his head. Maybe he fought the police (though it doesn’t sound like it, we weren’t there). Whether you agree with United and the way it handled the overbooked flight situation (I personally do not), that in itself does not make United responsible for this guy’s getting hurt.

  124. @Ben,

    I guess all I’d say is that you were pretty quick to lean United’s way on this one and, although you cite a negative-Delta post from quite awhile ago, Delta’s canceled 3500 flights-and-counting since a storm that happened a week ago. And, I haven’t seen a word from you or Nick about it. That seems different than it was a couple of years ago.

    It’s not like we expect you to slavishly follow every minor story in aviation (and probably wish you’d knock off the rush-to-judge posts on airliner accidents– wherein usually the initial news reports are very, very wrong) but when Major-3 airlines in your home country have meltdowns, we think you usually post quickly.

    This week, though, both UA and DL have had these major customer relations crises and I see posts about UA’s woes, but not Delta’s.

    I’m not asking you to be something you didn’t set out to be (and a lot of us genuinely like the perspective, and frankly really hard work, you bring to this), so it’s not fair to plead for you to become a consumer advocate, like Flyers Rights. But you do reach a lot of people and are widely respected. So, we’d like you to call out bad behavior where you see it… whether it’s boorish passengers or thug-like airline employees and their goon squads.

    Thanks for listening!

  125. Bryan, does the airline have a legal right to physically remove an individual from an over sold flight to accommodate crew members? I wouldn’t know that answer. So your saying, just take for granted that the airline is correct. I hope you don’t live your life like that because you are just becoming part of the herd. We have courts and laws in this country to protect us from this kind of thing.

  126. Of everything he’s commented, that’s the comment that gets Credit banned? Oh well, I will miss his ridiculousness…

  127. The fact that airlines overbook should not be our issue. Customers should be offered money until someone accepts the offer even if they have to offer $50,000 a ticket. Instead of screwing us over, go screw yourselves.

  128. Something very important Is missed here. Legally, it is actually questionable whether u have to comply, under duress of physical force, with instructions that are capricious and arbitrary.

    If the law truly, without exception, requires u to follow what the crew says, then each and every crew member can write law in real time in whatever way they see fit by giving whatever commands they feel like. This is not the intent of the law, and if litigated, u do have a defense against capricious commands.

    The defacto creation of law is not okay. The use of UA of this power to compel passengers to follow commands is not okay.

    The same issue is at play when software has bizarre and restrictive End User License Agreements that can potentially criminalize very ordinary behavior.

    No, u question is not required ro follow any dumb commands someone who is in a position of authority gives. When UA’s CEO consults his lawyer, u will see he will change his tune.

  129. Are fare-paying passengers now simply reduced to less than the status of animals? Or is this another case of racial discrimination? No airline or the police has the right to treat ANYONE, let alone a passenger, with such cruelty and brutality like this, EVER, just because the airline oversells a flight and needs seats for its non-paying crew. The airline and its employees are ABSOLUTELY and COMPLETELY at fault in incidences like this. I doubt this passenger was randomly chosen to be ejected from the flight. EVERY ONE responsible for this incident needs to pay for this passenger’s injury, loss and suffering. There is NO law that forces passengers to be ejected from a flight because the airline needs to accommodate non-paying crew.

  130. The airline can reserve the right to remove any passenger from any flight for any reason. the Aircraft is the property of the Airline and as such has the ultimate authority to restrict passengers from boarding or flying. whether it be a safety concern or for logistical purposes. Regardless the optics look bad for United. I am sure dispatch would have preferred another way to fix this problem. In hind sight the bad PR is going to cost more than a cancelled flight out of Louisville. What people don’t always understand is how quickly decision like this are often made. there is always pressure to get flights out on time. I am sure they looked at the lowest fares paid excusing MP members and decided the path of least resistance. In retrospect $800, free dinner, breakfast and hotel isn’t bad for being inconvenienced. No one I am sure at that counter wanted this to happen. I would imagine United is looking for ways to avoid this in the future. I think it is an unfortunate happening that could have taken place at any carrier.

  131. Where is this myth that vouchers are difficult to use coming from? I volunteered to be bumped from a UA flight Chicago -> New Orleans recently and got a $400 voucher, which I was able to use the same way as a gift certificate. It paid entirely for one flight and then I used the balance towards another flight later on. No phone calls, no blackout dates or restrictions…just copying a number into the electronic certificate field on the website.
    Also, the passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding get much more compensation than the $800 that’s offered. They want to find volunteers because that’s cheaper than IDBing someone. When someone gets IDBed the airline writes checks, and still has to cover expenses and getting the person to their destination.

    This sort of thing happens, there’s always risk of delay in travel, whether it’s due to weather or operational reasons or whatever. It sounds like the gate agents didn’t handle this situation well, but there’s certainly some culpability on the passenger’s side as well.

  132. Wow. Just…wow. And, about all of this, including the comments. So much to cover here, but perhaps this distillation will help. Out of the 127+comments I scrolled through, this one jumped out to me by @Dan:

    “Plus, it’s a war zone from the first announcement that the flight is oversold.”

    Starting at the most basic foundation: we are all human beings. Fundamentally flawed. We would all do well to remember that we share that with each other.

    In America, the ‘Dream’ has evolved to become ‘Entitlement’. I’m not referencing a group of people, but the idea has so entrenched itself into our collective psyche that capitalistic businesses and corporations have entitled themselves to the absolute right to make money however they see fit. Paying customers feel entitled to what they’ve paid for. Basically – everyone is in it for themselves. Screw the other guy. This mentality will be our collective – not individual – downfall. If we don’t get our act together, we’ll crumble under our own dream.

    Dan’s comment is symbolic of that. His assertion that dealing with customers is a ‘war zone’ means that he should have never held a job where SERVING the public was a chief task. Instead, he thinks of it as war. It would be a safe bet that many other gate agents or other frontline staff at airlines. Indeed, it would appear United felt this was war, so they had armed officers forcibly remove a passenger.

    Do you all want to make a difference? Write to every airline you know and ask that they reconsider their business practices and indicate that unless they do, you won’t fly them. Write to your congressmen and have them investigate the entire industry. But also look inward at how you treat everyone you come in contact with, every day. They are flawed, just like you are. Make it better for both of you.

    Capitalistic greed fuels this behavior, and it manifests itself in different ways. Look at Delta, indeed. Look at American. Look at Wells Fargo. The list goes on.

    United’s greed manifested itself – like all airlines – in the assumption that repositioning their crew supersedes the paying passenger. BS. It NEVER should. That’s poor planning on any airline’s part, and to put that burden in any form on the passenger is unethical, and backwards. Lack of accountability on how to properly perform logistics planning is insanity. Every airline had best have a charter jet standing by in situations such as this. A $10k jet would have solved this, but once the lawsuit is over, United will lose far more, not to mention the lost revenue from the reputational hit they will take in social media and travel blogs. Just incompetent management. It would be my hope that EVERY single airline revisits how they move crews about. It is absolutely wrong to remove a paid passenger so crew can get to work. Fundamentally that’s where United fails, and every other airline sets themselves up for failure.

    For the sake of all of us, I hope United fails. OR, I hope all of the airlines use this as a wake-up call, or they will eventually fail. A serious call to rethink their ways of doing business. Get back to serving passengers, not themselves. If they do that, the revenue will take care of itself. It is progressively getting worse, not better, and if we as a populace don’t recognize that, and the error of our ways, we’re all to blame.

  133. Umm, a paying customer is bumped for airline crew. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Send another crew from a different location. This isn’t an overbooked situation, this is bad personnel management by the airline. How is that defensible?

  134. My view is the problem is the airlines don’t have the crew where they are supposed to be to staff the flights they are assigned to work. Yes, sometimes they need a backup crew but too often the crew is based in one city and has to fly to another to start their assignment. Airlines ought to limit this behavior by employees.

  135. They only offered $800 compensation, no wonder no one took it. They charge outrageous fees for last minute fliers and should therefore give outrageous compensation to those bumped. Disgusting double standards.

    Here is a fair solution that the airlines can use to bump off passengers: start by offering to pay $1,000 for each hour of the flight. 1 hour flight = $1,000, 2 hours = $2,000, 6 hours = $6,000 etc.
    If no one takes it then double or triple the compensation. 1 hour flight = $2,000, then $3,000 etc.
    I am sure they will have not problem getting volunteers at that rate. Ok, they can cap it at $10,000 per hour maximum. And deduct the money from the annual bonus of senior management.

  136. @JFK-PHL. I see comprehension is not your strong point. The plane is full. As in the E-175 has all 76 passengers on board. They are getting ready to close the door when…bing
    Last minute maintenance item ….consult Max item has to be deferred. Look up MEL , take performance penalty, call dispatch get reroute or new flight plan. Fuel burn increase. and now we have to remove 4 people. Same 4 people including the doctor need to get off.
    Would the outrage be there still? I doubt it. Happens all the time.

  137. Whomever was making decisions at the gate made some poor decisions. You know what you don’t hear about anymore? When that alligator ate the toddler at the Grand Floridian. Because, I’m sure, the cash required to buy off the family is SO MUCH less than the negative publicity. I mean, what would it have taken here? $2k cash? I’m sure Munoz wishes they had paid it…

    The only time I volunteered for this was an IAD to MSP flight. The gate agent told me he was only authorized to do $250 but he gave each of us $400 and meal vouchers (1 hour delay because we were rebooked on Delta) because he get it more appropriate and he had a good enough relationship with his manager. That is the right attitude if United wants to stay out of the news for a few weeks.

  138. Oh and all you IAD people get ready. IAH is closing their 787 base and will be opening one in IAD meaning that more than the iAD-CDG will be on 787.

  139. “and the police will back up and enforce whatever decision the airline makes”

    “In this case the police was essentially acting on behalf of United’s revenue management department, rather than dealing with someone who did anything wrong.”

    THIS. This is what we have become. Since when do the police work for corporations? They work and are paid for by US.

    -They hate us for our freedom…

  140. Regardless of what anyone thinks, the passenger, a Dr had the same right as the United employees to get to his destination since his job was just as important, no more important than the United employees. United should have realized that as intelligent people and chosen another passenger to rudely throw off the plane. Drs save lives after all.

  141. I know this is semi-off topic but, there was another UA flight at ~9:30 PM. Maybe people would’ve been more willing if they knew there was another flight that night.

  142. “Obviously there would ideally be another solution, but at the same time the guy sort of did this to himself.”

    Lucky, the preceding comment was in your first post. And now you say this:

    But there’s still a lesson here for passengers, which is that for better or worse, protesting on a plane won’t end well for you. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is the reality. It wouldn’t have gotten this guy to work the next day, but at least it would have helped him avoid a bloody face.

    This is, in essence, blaming the victim. The passenger dragged off the plane had every right to protest, without any expectation that he would be dragged off the plane. Even United’s CEO has signaled that the outcome seemed deplorable.

    Even without having had your coffee in the morning–NOT a good excuse, by the way–you should have been able to see through to how wrong this action was on every level. Shame on you, Lucky.

  143. I am willing to bet they did not offer $800 dollars cash. Whenever this happens they offer something to the effect of $800 off your next flight to be used in the next 3 months, or something equally pathetic. This is also becoming a norm which leads me to believe this is pure greed, not accidental. I barely fly however at least one flight (usually regional) on every trip i’ve taken within the last few years has been overbooked. Someone is making bank off these decisions, and should probably pay when poor results happen in response.

  144. I keep reading articles saying this flight was overbooked. But my intrepretation is that is not the case. The flight was fully booked but I’m assuming a last minute need to get some UAL crew member onto another airport. Thats on ual not any overbooking or passenger action. If there really is an overbooked situation, they would have done the bumping at the gate not on the plane. Here’s the question, were there passengers onboard who were standbys or had requested upgrades who got on. Shouldn’t they get bumped. And if ual were desperate to get their crew onboard then they shouldn’t have played this game of I’ll give you $400 or maybe $800 maybe $900 and a kit kat bar. Come on. Stop trying to give away as little as possible when it’s your own screw up and you are the one desperate. They should have come right out and said we’ll give you $1000 and first class seat on the next plane or say we’ll give you a business class ticket to europe or 50,000 miles. Something that gets people’s attention and not something that makes the passenger sit there and think “hmmm will they go higher, is this really worth it”. This is the worse customer service and I have had my share of really bad customer service from them.

  145. @Lucky,
    While usually Credit does make insensitive comments, in this case the comment made was a solid point and clearly meant sarcastically. I don’t believe he deserves to be banned for this comment truth be told.

  146. Like someone said here earlier, I don’t understand how a paying customer can be bumped for non-revs.
    If this pax was removed solely because the non-rev pilots were being boarded, then he was not denied passage because of overbooking. He had every right to his seat. I wonder if he was given the written copy of the airline’s policy, as required by DOT, according to its “Fly Rights” publication:
    “DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped
    involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and
    explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and
    who doesn’t.”
    But, again, it does not appear that this was an “oversale” situation.
    In addition, it seems quite possible that the $800 offered did not meet the DOT requirements:
    “If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your
    destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally),
    or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements
    for you, the compensation doubles (400% of your one-way fare, $1350
    maximum).”
    Given posts here indicating he would take a flight 20 hours later, he was entitled to 400 percent of the one-way fare he paid, with a maximum of $1,350. Apparently, United never offered $1,350 to any pax on the plane.

  147. US$ 100 Million. That should be the settlement. Value of one airplane. United needs to feel the pain.

    Officers kicked off the force. For good. Bad judgement. No retirement.

  148. United is pathetic. I’ve had a buddy who was standing in line in the virgin islands when they asked if any of the passengers had mechanic experience because their engineer didn’t arrive for the pre-flight check. That is extremely illegal.

    This incident is quite in line with what United stands for these days, just awful service. Here’s an updated list of the worst things that has happened to humans in the past 5000 years in descending order:

    3. The bubonic plague
    2. The holocaust
    1. United’s continued pathetic existence.

    Get ass cancer, Oscar Munoz.

  149. @Kelly

    My use of the term “war zone” was merely to describe the panic and chaos on both sides of the desk; the justified worry of passengers about whether they were going to make it to their destination and the agents being forced to uphold the airline’s policies. If I was a solider in this “war,” it was certainly a war I did not believe it. I find the practice of overselling flights absolutely disgusting. I hated having to put anyone through ANY inconvenience, as I knew all too well myself what it was to be like in their situation as a passenger myself.

    I should point out that the airline did not see us as holding positions that serve their customers; that was just on the surface. Their ONLY concern is that we got the flight out on time. Everyone here knows of the madness of the boarding process. I once asked my manager how we could go about adding an additional 10 minutes to the boarding process so passengers didn’t feel like they were being herd like cattle. I was told if we did that we would go bankrupt (plot twist: AA filed for bankruptcy a few months after this conversation).

    All gate agents are different and some are incapable of empathy. Always wondered who was ultimately responsible for that — the agent trying to keep their job or the airline for having utter garbage rules to serve their own wallets.

    The last thing I’ll mention is that any time I received praise from a customer (usually written and sent to management), I absolutely did something against the airline’s policy to help the customer, whether it was waive a change fee, rebook a customer on another carrier to get them where they needed when technically I was only allowed to rebook them on another AA flight, or the occasional F upgrade (management really tried their best to scare us from doing this). They do not care about customer service in the slightest, as hard as some try to provide it.

  150. Mr Munoz , the CEO of United Airlines had himself highly publicized health problems. What if his doctor was treated the way this poor doctor was and because of this he/she were not able to see Mr Munoz/attend to his medical needs ? Unless his doctors fly private jets only, the way Mr Munoz does…Dr Pawel S Dudek, MD.

  151. I was on a full BA flight recently where a lady with a special oxegen machine had booked two seats for herself and there was a mother and son who were boarded despite the flight being oversold and over-full, they put the son in a jumpseat by the toilet, this was on an A320, but from what I recall, there is a jumpseat at the back of the e170, no?

    In this story, the mother noticed the empty seat and the head crew made the woman give it up and move so the mother and son could sit together – no compensation – but a very difficult situation for the woman who had booked the two seats. I counted three empty jump seats on that A320, (not being used by the cabin crew) and presumably there’s 1 or more, in the cockpit as well. And if it had been crew travelling, BA would NEVER have done that to the woman. Ever. Even if BA are terrible.

    Presumably there’s a cabin crew of what, 2 or 3 on an e170? And this is what, a 1 hour and 20 minute flight? Could they not have stood for the flight? Other than a weight issue – they could have done a PIA homage and saved themselves this fiasco.

  152. Lucky – Long time reader and quiet lurker. When I heard about this I couldn’t wait to hear your take on it. Your first post .. obviously insensitive and insulting. But your follow up didn’t help. It seems like you’re in the bag for the airlines. And I’m with everyone else .. that Credit dude had the best point of all these comments. Disappointing, Luck. You failed us today.

  153. I highly doubt the selection of 4 passengers were random. What are the chances of two couples being selected (4 random selections that happened to be 2 couples)?

  154. I book my flights about a year in advance…and these flights connect with international flights or go to a foreign country where I have reservation to catch a cruise or a tour. I check in on time . I can’t onli3-4 ne sometimes on international flights , but I’m at the airport WELL in advance . I flew United reguarly . Once I put my husband in the row behind me because he like an aisle and I had a seat by the window. These SEATS were booked 3-4 months in advance for an international flight. After being seated in my window the attendant came to ME and asked me to give up my seat to a couple who were just married and wanted to sit together. I said No. He asked why and I said , I booked these seats well in advance and they could have done the same. My husband is in the row behind me because he perfers an aisle seat. We have our things there and are in our 70s. The just marrieds will have many years to sit together , we don’t . So, the attendent gave a shrug and left. I’ve had other passengers try to sit in my seat, and since I’m a seat “junkie” I ask to see their ticket stubb. There have been a case I saw, but not mine, where ,one seat was booked for 2 passengers. Now , I fly Southwest , even internationally . I love it. First come , first served. Queue up. That is fair. Once I got to stay in Puerto Rico a week free for giving up my seat. Got hotel, and tours too as well as 2 round trip tickets good for domestic or international , no booze. A cruise seat had hit a reef…and they needed 800 seats in a week. Had alot of fun.

  155. This is a very pathetic situation. Any airline putting their crew above the passengers is destined to be a failure and should never be trusted. If this passenger is really an MD like I am, and if he really had a shift the next day then Karma will come back to bite the perpetrators and United . Should physicians not operate on the next United patient (or police officer) in a critical situation? Not likely as we are professionals unlike the company and officers that are camouflaged by some pathetic federal law. I am not implying that physicians are more important than the rest of the citizens, but patients in some cases may not have a replacement doctor to look after them. This infuriates me. In rare cases a last minute absence of a doctor can create an imbalance in the medical system hence putting patients care in a compromising situation. The truth will emerge and United should remediate this scenario. I certainly will not fly with them as they cannot be trusted.

  156. Do what you can to disrupt UA and make clear that they are losing business. If you flew them in the past, change airlines and write save the stubs of all your boarding pass (or if you want to make an effort make a paper, with all your record locator numbers) from all the other airlines you took, and write on the passes or on the sheet of paper, ANOTHER flight that I could have taken on United. If you do not want to fly them, you can disrupt their system, book a flight pay for it, and then cancel it 24 hours later, call them and tie up their phone line.

  157. Hey Myron as a pilot if I can not get to the aircraft in another city. I can not fly it. So you would not be seeing your patients if you were the one waiting for the crew. They were not non-Rev for pleasure. It was a last minute Deadheading crew 4 of them so it was a regional feeder for United exactly same as this plane E-170/175. It is a no win case for united. Either you bump passengers to try to keep the integrity of the operation as a whole and endure the wrath of 4 customers or you cancel the flight out of wherever and impact the full 76 people on board and possibly more depending on the utilization of the aircraft for the day. Airlines do not keep spare aircraft and crews at every location available for “emergencies”. Seeing how this is a hub for both United and its feeder airlines they routinely have a crew available on short notice. Once advised of their schedule I’m sure they reported to the gate as required and advised the gate agent they would have already been listed as “must fly”. It is a practice that happens on every airline.
    Again what Karma would you be suggesting if you were waiting for the crew and the flight ended up cancelled because no crew was available.

  158. I’m sure the United Express guys will attempt to explain how their hands were tied by 14 CFR 250.5 – Amount of denied boarding compensation for passengers denied boarding involuntarily. This is federal law, and it limits compensation for passengers denied boarding involuntarily. Do we need to ask whether this law is intended to benefit airlines or the flying public? As citizens offended by this whole incident, it would be good to investigate how the airlines arranged to have federal law cap the deals they might strike to entice passengers to voluntarily give up their seats. Hopefully this incident can have the positive impact of getting this sort of bias removed from federal law.

  159. The LA Times had a good article on this.

    The attitude of the gate attendants is a direct outcome of the work environment put in place by airline management. It reminders me of the Wells Fargo mess.

    What is funny is the surprised look on the CEO’s face when things blow up.

  160. 1. Here’s a thought experiment: imagine everyone’s reaction if the passenger had been an African American woman.

    1a. How was the decision made to drag THAT particular passenger off the flight? And as a companion question, how were the decisions made NOT to drag other passengers off the flight?

    2. There were SOOOO many ways this could have been handled better: a) increase the compensation, b) increase the compensation again, c) find another flight for the crew, d) find another flight for the passenger, e) ask everyone to leave the plane and reissue boarding passes, f) change the compensation again, g) rent a car, h) buy the guy an Uber, i) buy the guy NetJets for pete’s sake, etc. etc.

    3. I am SOOOOO done with United

    4. Lucky: I love you, man. But rationalizing your tone deaf insensitivity to the situation by saying you haven’t had coffee yet? Really? Is this how we should rationalize all of our bad behaviors? “I was really tired and I didn’t have my coffee?” We, as individuals, are not defined by our behavior under the best of circumstances. Rather, our true character shows itself when we are under the worst of circumstances. Just say you’re sorry, you blew it, etc. Be accountable for your mistake, own it, learn from it, and move on.

    5. I love the economics of United’s decision: avoid paying a few thousand dollars of cash compensation, in order to “pay” millions in bad press.

  161. Hello ______. Thanks for the excellent information. Firstly the ill-fated Karma is not meant in a nefarious way. It is a factual outcome that United will face for overbooking their aircrafts and the outcome here will undoubetdly affect United in a financial way. The prejudiced opinion of the perception of an individual’s importance of travel is completely undermined. Could you imagine if we overbooked surgeries and told patients awaiting an non-urgent (or elective case) to go home or “fly with another doctor.”

    Interestingly the challenge that is seen here parallels everyday in medicine for emergent surgeries. The more acute cases and especially life threatening cases bump other patients involuntarily everyday in every civilized hospital in the world. Appendectomies bump ankle fractures, but this is about life and death. This brings me to my next point. Profit. That is what this decision was made on. Not safety. Not the customer and definitely not the weather. Certainly, United has the cache to charter an aircraft to get these 4 individuals to their destination. I get these emails all the time by private aircraft companies that can get you anywhere in the world for the right $. I certainly am sympathetic for the pilots (and crew) and emphasize for them as they have been placed in a precarious position. One that in this case certainly was certainly avoidable.

  162. 1. No-brainer. Raise the incentives until someone takes them. Someone will eventually take them. Overbooking (or deciding at the last minute to throw additional crew on the plane) is a gamble. If you gamble, you have to be willing to lose.

    2. I don’t care if the man stripped and was doing the cha-cha, dragging a 69-year-old man down the aisle until he bleeds will not be a good look for your airline. A doctor saying that he needs to see patients tomorrow is just icing on the cake of looking *very* bad to the public. Add in that he’s a minority, and… well, maybe your computers need a little more human guidance. “Don’t involuntarily bump senior citizens” might be a good start.

    3. It may not be “fair” to United (although I and many others are hard-pressed to care about that right now), but a lawsuit is likely coming and it will likely be seven figures… and a jury will not see it United’s way when they see the video and the 69-year-old Asian doctor dragged roughly down the aisle. That’s going to be one hell of an expensive determined stand against this passenger that United decided to take.

    4. Figure out whether you need the extra seats for your employees *before* you seat people.

    5. Happening on the heels of the leggings debacle? The public’s had it with United. It’s one thing if people say “Boo, I’m never flying them again!” I’m seeing cut-up mileage cards, donated miles to charity, deleting apps from phones, etc.–it’s not just words on Twitter but angry *customers* who are taking steps to make sure they don’t fly United.

  163. If the airline pays for your trips in points and you are given money to promote their credit card, obviously you are going to be on the side of the airline, to me your point of view is biased and you feel responsible for making such comments. Maybe it was foullish on his side, but honestly I am tired of airlines getting away with anything and especially United Airlines has a really bad reputation. I have staus with UA and I am more and more disappointed on the way they treat people. I feel bad for the doctor that at his 65 years old had to go through this, do people realize that it could’ve been any of us or your dad, your grandpa? I am glad however that this was recorded and I am glad that most people didn’t reacted like you did in the first place and people are taking an issue of this incident, because maybe this will make airlines re-think their policies and change the way they treat their customers. This is really unfortunate, but I hope this incident teaches all of us a lesson and especially UA. In the meantime I cancelled my United Airlines credit card and I am avoiding united Airlines, until their CEO resigns and until they re-invent their policies.

  164. Two things obviously wrong with your assessment. Louisville is a five hour drive from Chicago. They could have had the crew shuttled. The compensation was in vouchers. For most travelers those are worth about twenty cents on the dollar. It was never $800 in compensation.
    By law, you are entitled to 4x the cost of your ticket in cash capped at $1300 for a situation like this. That’s what they should have offered.
    Been a follower of yours for quite a while now, but not after your attitude on this incident. Clearly you are an airline shill. Ciao.

  165. Thanks ‘Who Cares’ for a sane assessment of the situation. The United Captain was notified that they needed to get four crew members aboard after all passengers were boarded. 3 passengers accepted United’s of $800 each and a later flight to their destination.
    The flight was not leaving without the 4 crew members and police were notified. The doctor refused the police request to exit and he was forcibly removed.

  166. They did so much wrong, and others have correctly pointed that out.

    But correct me if you will on two points:

    1. This was not an overbooked flight. It was a fully booked flight. The crew members turned up at the gate asking to be put on the flight AFTER the flight was 100% booked by paying customers.

    2. The man was not denied boarding (and thus those rules don’t apply) as he was already boarded. At that point the airline had accepted his money and allowed him to board the flight,

    So perhaps this is new legal/policy territory, and law/policy is about to go through a change,

  167. If Delta could offer this family up to $11,000 for bumping them then why can’t UA do the same? https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2017/04/09/why-delta-air-lines-paid-me-11000-not-to-fly-to-florida-this-weekend/#1c62ce434de1

    Someone on that flight said to the stewardess that he was willing to give up his seat for $1600, but the stewardess laughed at him and find police to use force anyway, because they got their own way find “volunteers”, beating people up and dragging them off the plane like a rag doll.

  168. It truly bothers me to think that an expectant mother of 9 months could have very easily been treated the same way!

  169. Really? Your excuse for your earlier insensitive post was a lack of morning coffee? Wow. Just wow.

  170. Why are the people that have already boarded an overbooked plane less important than the four
    people that are going to take their seats? Why can’t they get the money because of the overbooking?

  171. Was the $800. actually cash or a voucher worth $800 to use on United In a year. If it’s a voucher I think they should change to cash . There’s a lot of expense for a future trip that many people may not be interested in. But again I haven’t heard if it’s cash or voucher.

  172. Legal or Not, This Doctor is in a great position to sue United Airlines and the Police in Civil court for the way this went down. If it is a jury trial, he will most likely win. I hope United Airlines gets bilked for millions and that it also sets a precedent in the court.
    Screw United, whether they were in their legal rights or not, no one deserves this treatment.

  173. “But there’s still a lesson here for passengers, which is that for better or worse, protesting on a plane won’t end well for you.”

    I see him as a hero. Heroes sometimes make sacrifices that don’t benefit themselves, but benefit the rest of us. Sometimes we need people to “not comply’ with an unjust situation in order to bring attention to it. His situation has gained enough attention where it might actually be a catalyst for change. Perhaps the airlines will say “this kind of negative attention isn’t ‘worth it’, we just need to up the offer until we get a taker”.
    Instead of bumping the offer to $1k and making it cash (someone would have jumped at that), United is losing $800 million in market capitalization as their stock takes a hit.
    His action might make life just a little better for the rest of the flying public. More people need to have the courage to do what he did.

  174. OK…the dust is settling and more accurate and non emotional information is available from someone (me) with 34 years managerial experience with Pan Am, Continental, Delta in Revenue Management (among whose responsibilities is overbooking and coordination with airports when overbooking situations -rarerly- occur):

    1.this was actually Republic Airlines-a United codeshare flight from Chicago to Louisville KY- and their crew were the ones needing last minute accomodation requiring 4 seats thus 4 denied boardings – hundreds of other passengers ex Louisville if they weren’t accomo. The process of selecting candidates was based on ticket value purchased. The 4 selected were at the bottom of this list based on factual information. This goes terribly south on how it was implemented- no excuse on how Republic and, ultimately, airport police handled it.

    2. Overbooking itself is a disciplined program based business process and is actually a PASSENGER SERVICE since it provides availability to tens of thousands of passengers who evidently wanted/needed to travel and who would have been denied. They lose and the airline loses (empty seats).

    So much, now, for all the emotional rhetoric. Thanks for reading this far.

  175. I don’t believe that the reasoning, that preventing the crew from taking this flight would result in another flight and hundreds of people being delayed is reliable . We don’t know what the other options were. We don’t know anything really other than what the airlines is saying.

  176. I am astounded that anyone thinks there is anything appropriate, just and/or ethical about forcibly removing a passenger from a flight because the airline the airline instructed him to do so for their convenience in a non-emergent situation. If it’s a federal crime to not follow said instructions in a non-emergent situation, then that dictum needs to overturned in federal court.

    I am a doctor who flies to work every other week, and the airlines don’t cut me any slack despite the hours/dollars spent on their flights. And it certainly doesn’t matter if this doctor was traveling on a frequent flyer or full-fare ticket; he was treated like shit.

    I WILL NEVER FLY UNITED AIRLINES AGAIN, AND WILL BROADCAST MY DISGUST on every social medium that exists.

  177. Are you kidding me…United Airlines you really screwed up now…put me on that list of never flying on your aircraft ever as long as I live…those rental cops should get fired…if that was me I would stand up fighting, that guy didn’t absolutely nothing wrong…I see racism and total ignorance out of this…why did they choose the Chinese guy instead of the white American guy? Well, United airlines I hope this bankrupts your company.

  178. Does anyone really know if the 4 crew members who were boarded really had a flight the next day as reported or they just wanted to get to Louisville?? Seems fishy since the flight was already boarded and the airline would have had knowledge of this need prior to boarding.

    The $800 is credit for a future flight, which is of NO value to a lot of people.

  179. Clearly the removal of passenger was not handled properly. Whether the passenger was holding a comp ticket or a doctor needing to see a patient the next day is not the issue; it is the method engaged to remove an un-cooperative passenger whose boarding is denied.

    The CEO of UA perpoertedly had circulated an internal email reaffirming UA policy on passengers removal on overlooked flights. It is unfortunate that a corporate official in that capacity had chosen to send such email, but it was not news on the count of airlines representatives dragging passengers off the plane and airlines high ranking officials issuing statements to support their employees.

    The facts reported seemed to be an airline traveler who was on comp ticket failed to comply with the rules governing the use of comp tickets and refused to deplane as asked, and airport police was called to execute the airline’s policy. However, as recalcitrate as the passenger is, UA or its representatives should not see fit to resort to violence against passengers that their employees let board their planes.

    I have seen employees and representatives of airlines physically removed a passenger off his seat and re-remove that same passenger off another seat during the same process. There was no roughing up of passenger.

    UA needs to get their acts together from top down.

  180. The men in both instances in the news were on the plane, seated, and already being served by flight attendants. Another guy comes along, apparently late, and demands to get on the plane? The guy who was late should have been put in coach or told to wait for the next flight. You snooze, you lose. What makes one flyer a “higher priority” than another? Unless there’s a medical emergency and the guy is carrying a cooler with a live human organ in it, he can wait for the next plane.

  181. I note a comment that the passenger was removed for refusing to comply. This is a valid reason to remove someone, however they were asking him to comply with an “unlawful” request… so he had no obligation to comply.

    The point that a lot of people seem to be missing is that the regulations allow the airline to prevent passengers from boarding, but the regulations for removing a passenger from a plane are different. Bottom line, if they were overbooked they should not have allowed boarding of the plane until that was resolved.

    To be honest, this situation doesn’t even fall under “overbooked.” “Flight 3411 had finished boarding Sunday evening, according to a summary attached to Munoz’s letter to United employees, when ‘gate agents were approached by crew members’ who needed seats.” (1) So, it seems you’re a bit off when you stated that passengers were being advised of an overbooking situation as they boarded. Either way, they had many options short of inconveniencing their paying customers… such as: offering a higher amount (imagine how much they’ll be paying now) or putting their crew members on a charter flight (which is a common solution and the flight they needed to be there for wasn’t until the next day).Also, not a lot of mention is made that his wife was on the flight with him sitting a row back on the other side because they couldn’t get seats together. Did they even give him a chance to discuss this with her or them? Most airlines will adjust their involuntary request if your not traveling solo to either exclude you or include the rest of your group. They have the information on the manifest.

    I’m not sure that the local law enforcement unit will be found liable of anything greater than excessive force (as they were probably told they were responding to an unruly passenger refusing to leave the plane). However, United Airlines is a different story, and they failed on so many levels with this. They will end up paying through the nose, as they compounded a bad situation with poor decision after poor decision. It doesn’t matter the passenger’s occupation, type of ticket he was flying on, or any of this other speculation about the passenger’s personal life (I’ve seen many superfluous comments about the passenger). The man has a winning case… and I hope he sticks them hard!

    (1) – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/04/11/amid-pr-fiasco-over-dragged-passenger-united-ceo-defends-his-crew/?utm_term=.334fb1131753

  182. I’m sorry. No I’m not. The guy refused to comply with a request. He’s wrong. Making them drag him from the plane? Really? His first thought is “call my lawyer?” This is an epic passenger FAIL. The fact he’s a doctor makes this worse. For him.
    The tail does not wag the dog. At his age? And ridiculous extended stay in hospital, hope he’s getting a psychiatric cleanance for dementia or stroke damage. Whatever was EPIC fail for UA, has NOTHING to do with passenger erratic reaponse to a normal stimuli. If my doctor reacted like this to a common flight happening, I’d change doctors.

  183. I can’t believe how everyone is jumping on the bandwagon for how United was wrong. The guy isn’t a working MD because real doctors don’t fight airline personnel to stay in their seat. He simply got unlucky and went about venting his anger all wrong. He could have filed a complaint, never take United again, etc. But instead he FOUGHT to stay in his seat and sustained injuries from it. I don’t feel sorry for this person one bit and he handled the situation all wrong. His injuries were inflicted by his refusal to leave, so it’s his own fault. Overbooking is nothing new and nobody cared until now. I’ll still fly United and so will everyone else because this whole thing is a load of BS. Focus on real news people, stop being distracted by this crap and pay attention to the fact that we just used our largest ever non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan. Wake-up!!!

  184. Onemileata time guy says: “Once an airline decides you’re going to be removed from a flight, there’s nothing you can do, and it’ll only end poorly for you; right or wrong, this is a sad reality of the times, and the police will back up and enforce whatever decision the airline makes.”

    Huh? Really? The police do not have the power to seize people just because somebody asks them to seize them. It’s a basic Fourth Amendment reality – police do not have the power to seize people absent at least reasonable suspicion that crime is afoot, e.g., trespassing, outstanding warrant, etc.

  185. Regarding Dr. Dao’s history and smear campaign, above post did not add it as there are multiple Dr. David Dao, and until they get clear history which Dr. David Dao they are talking about, they did not include it, unlike United PR firm keep spewing unconfirmed facts.

  186. @L.L. So, if the flight crew told you to take off your clothes and do a little dance for the rest of the passengers you’d be okay with it? He stood his ground. He got erratic when they pushed things to the point of violence. You wouldn’t? It’s lucky they were dealing with a mild mannered 69 year old man, cause I’m a different story.

    @ The Real Deal Of course people are “bandwagon for how United was wrong.” They were, and you should be outraged that this ever got escalated the way that it did. United knows the rules better than the passengers and they chose to ignore them. United violated DOT regulations, their COC (Contract of Carriage, which they wrote themselves), as well as several laws. Many times compliance is considered acquiescence after the fact, so I doubt I would have complied willingly either… especially because I was already familiar with these rules. If you pay attention to the news you’ll note that United has already backed off all claims that they were in the right. They know they screwed up. You don’t like the focus on this issue? Then pay attention to something else and stop posting.

  187. @Msvl – Please note that United Express crew nor employees never touched the man. Airline employees/crew members did not physically interact, intervene, or engage, in any way with Dr. Dao. It was the ORD cops.

    @The Real Deal and @L.L. – As stated below, I’m a retired flight attendant (I loved my job), and my hubby’s a pilot (airline shall go unnamed). I can’t thank you enough for your words of reason. I’m spitting mad, as I’m sure you’ll see. I’ve just had to vent at these idiots, so pardon all below, none is directed at you or those of you who show reason. I’m glad you understand that by law and DOT regs., Dr. Dao was required to comply. Period. I do think that UAL’s subsidiary contractor Republic Airlines (dba/aka United Express) should have handled it much more diplomatically, and offered the max $ right off. But, I also think ORD cops should have been much more blunt before being brutal. I’ve seen them in action. E.g. “We take you off the plane in handcuffs by force, and you’ll be arrested and charged with a federal offense (which is true) or you can walk off the plane peacefully, no charges.” I just needed to get this out.

    QUESTION: Any of you experts work, now or ever, in any front line capacity (crew scheduling, crew member, gate agent, ramper, flight planning, etc.) at any airline? Or are any of you FAA non-bureaucrats? I’m a retired flight attendant, married to a pilot of almost 30 yrs., who flies at a major U.S. airline.
    1. Fl.3411 was Republic Air., not UAL, however Oscar M.(best CEO at UAL in decades, and he makes a fraction of the scumbags before him) is making no excuses “the buck stops here”-Muñoz. He takes responsibility because UAL contracts them out of necessity (unless people would rather drive from places like Louisville to ORD aka. Chicago O’hare or take a cab).
    2. Fl.3411 was NOT oversold. Contrary to quotes by Bridges. I know, I have access to and have seen the bookings. Even if it had been, EVERY AIRLINE, ALL, EVERY CAR RENTAL CO., EVERY HOTEL CHAIN, all… THEY ALL over book. Paying full price for all, I’ve been “bumped” by all of them. Overbooking, btw, at airlines helps to keep airline tix. prices lower, and keeps more seats filled. Ecologically speaking, millions fewer gallons of jet fuel is expended yearly on millions of empty seats flown. Greedy airlines? Google it, did you know that it costs less to fly now than it did in 1980? Even with bag fees and not even adjusted for inflation. Flat out dollars. What was milk, bread, gas, an oz. of pot? But you “cattle” think that it’s a crime for airlines to make a profit at all. So, overbooking and airline profits will help my husband make up for the pension he lost when his and all the other U.S. airlines went bankrupt during Bush’s great recession. Yup. You get to fly (and don’t quote me walk-up shit ticket $) and bitch about bags, while my husband and I will receive his gov. pension of $789.00/month after 33 years of flying at a major airline. Greedy airlines. But you’re all the experts, right?
    3. Republic Air. (aka/dba UA Express) should have offered the max. allowed, $1350 + hotel, right away. I
    agree, and that amount is governed by the D.O.T. Google it. So that agent, ethical or not, COULDN’T HAVE offered more, though should have offered it right off the bat, in cash.
    4. The deadheading crew ( term for “positioning crew” for the majority of you idiots who can run an airline already) were not commuting, crew scheduling didn’t screw up, the crew didn’t need to ride as the result of “piss poor planning”, and they could not have taken a different means of transport for the following reasons:
    A. Deadheading crews: NEVER EVER RIDE ON ANOTHER AIRLINE, DL on UA or vice versa, AA on DL etc.
    @KR – Charter flights are NOT a common solution. They don’t ever happen, except for charter airlines, like
    World or Tower (both gone, I think). And, NO, chartering a small jet? Deadheading crew happens every
    day, hundreds of times a day, with every airline in the world. My husband does it at least once a month.
    Sometimes it’s scheduled and sometimes the need arises. It’s never a crew “screw up” or bad planning.
    Shit happens.
    B. They could not have been driven by rented car or van, as suggested by some other posters on soc. media. Again, minimum crew rest times: Chi-Louisville: Drive= 5+ hrs. Fly= 51 mins. Do you feel rested after 5 hrs drive? Do you want those pilots flying you after a night spent in a car? How much outrage would result over a crash the next day from Louisville due to pilot fatigue, had the pilots been driven vs. flown to Louisville? Do you think the public would have thought those 4 seats for the crew would have been better occupied by the crew or 4 pax. who could wait to get to Louisville the next day? I’ve been in the position, many times, due to holds on weather when I and my crew have timed out (I’ve had a duty day of 16 hrs., then ATC lifts the ground stop at 15 min. after I’ve timed out). That would mean that another crew might need to be deadheaded to, say St. Louis, since my crew and I couldn’t work the return flight back out on schedule due to FAA min. rest regs. That might mean involuntary pax. bumping. Piss poor planning? Fraud? Screw UAL? Sue UAL? Crew scheduling screw up?
    There are any number of reasons the Louisville flight may have needed the other crew. With 100% certainty I can tell you that no airline would just bump revenue pax to whimsically deadhead crew if there weren’t a crucial reason, and of all the things that can go wrong at an airline, I can tell you that crew scheduling is almost never one of them. That aspect is a VERY tightly run operation. At all U.S. airlines. That’s because if there’s any one thing that will shut an airline down, that’s a big one. The FAA is on pilot regs. like “white on rice”. Usually only what are called “irregular ops”, or unplanned events such as weather delays causing duty times to exceeds maximums allowed by FAA regs. will cause such last minute things as sudden deadheads. Myself, and every crew member you’ll ever meet, ask them, will tell you that they’ve been deadheaded at the last minute due to these situations. And pax. have been bumped, sometimes involuntarily. I’ve been bumped after being seated as a pax. And when asked to get up and leave, I do.Even once when I paid full fare, but was chosen because I’d paid a low-fare ticket. And when I’ve politely had to ask a pax. to vacate a seat after they’ve accepted the offer (which Dr. Dao did initially), they’ve acquiesced. Maybe not happily, but I didn’t have to call airport security. I wouldn’t have wanted to, I can assure you. I was horrified to watch the vid. of Dr. Dao being dragged off, I doubt he understood that, in fact by law, he did have to comply. Once on the plane, whether still at the gate or not, whether it’s to vacate a seat or open an emergency exit or extinguish a cigarette, by federal law, you do have to comply with crew member instructions. Period. BTW, ORD cops are notorious for salivating at the prospect of getting to “enforce”. No one wants to call them. I know Dao couldn’t have foreseen the brutality with which the ORD cops were going to extricate and drag him. I don’t minimize that.

    @James- No, you officious moron, the crew did not screw up. They didn’t just ‘decide’ to deadhead (that’s “position” since I’m sure you have no clue what that term means). They didn’t decide to just bump Dao or any other pax.

    Oscar M. has stated that UAL will revise and increase dramatically the amount and manner of compensation offered to travelers to alter their travel plans when the need arises to free up seats. He’s stated that aviation police will never be called again. So that means that someday, you may find yourself seated in 21A, awaiting push-back when the drunk jerk beside you starts to pick a fight with someone, maybe you or he starts calling his wife a “fuckin’ whore” then punches her in the side of the head (unless that’s a common practice in your home and you have no problem with it). Yes, it happened on one of my flights; and you may be stuck in their row. While still at the jet bridge with time to make the call for cops, the guy could escalate, as often happens, but maybe only verbally getting more abusive. Enough reason to get cops yet? If not now, what’s it going to be like in 3 hours over Kansas? Still, as a flight attendant, do you think we’re going to ask him to leave? FYI, also, after 9/11, the pilots cannot get involved. How likely do you think he’ll be to comply with the crew members’ instructions? Especially after seeing that “the cops will never be called”, plus he’s now seen that he can successfully refuse. Do you think we’ll call the cops, or should we just let you handle it? James? Oh yeah, this too. Did you know that most airlines, especially United, may under critical circumstances if necessary, bump another passenger on a full flight for you, if you suddenly have a life & death situation and need fly? Odds are slim now. I imagine that if your mom or wife or kid is in an accident and maybe they are mere hours from death, and you’re 2000 miles away, now you’ll just have to wait until you can get a seat on the next flight with availability. I’m not being melodramatic. You wouldn’t believe how many people fly either for either sudden bereavement reasons or family emergency crises. They used to always get precedence when it came to bumping any pax.

  188. Nice angry rant. Thanks. With 2 million miles on UAL I’m glad I will never see you glaring at us again from the front.

    Since you don’t seem interested in the rules and the reality:
    1). They can’t rely on IDB rules. BECAUSE he lawfully boarded.
    2). Passengers can legally be removed for safety and security reasons. None of which apply here.

    Unfortunately for sociopathic flight crews like yours, there’s too much video from too many phones showing exactly what happened.

    To compound United’s problems here, having ‘nice guy’ CEO slander the guy in print is probably the final straw.

    People in this country are livid at your airline and livid at how you beat him up with zero respect for his rights and his lawful standing as a boarded passenger.

    AND, I’m personally sick of the indignities I see most times anymore when I risk buying a ticket on United. It’s a pathological airline staffed with angry people like you.

    United will lose this case and Congress is already involved. Nice job.

  189. By the way, as for the ‘bumping for emergency’ scenario. I’ve already seen that one play out for a 1K work colleague several years ago. He was overseas visiting Toshiba sites for training when his wife had a brain blot clot and went into a coma. It took 3 days for UAL to find him space out of Narita back to SFO and home. UAL won’t clear space for anybody… unless it’s Munoz and his kids wanting to go skiing. (this was written up in LA Times the other day)

    But, it appears that UAL is staffed with sociopaths. Which confirms what we already suspected. In this case the abuse they regularly pile onto their customers spilled over into violence.

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