The United Airlines Incident (and Delta's Ongoing Cancellations) Reflect How Much Plane Travel Is Sucking Right Now

Comments

1
Was the flight even "overbooked"? The passengers all had seats--it was only when the airline decided to fly their own personnel that anyone was asked to leave. Somehow that seems worse than overbooking.

United is deservedly having a PR nightmare, but it seems like the security cops are getting off too lightly--surely they should be better trained to handle this sort of thing peaceably, too.
3
@2

They escalated, you racist authoritarian fuckhead.
4
According to the Chicago Tribune story, United only offered $800 before they went down the "random" bumping path; considering they had already seated everyone, they should have offered way more than $800. You'd think United would give gate personnel a lot of leeway in these situations to try to make everyone happy.
5
This flight was not overbooked; this was not a case of "we sold too many seats, so we have to decide which paying customer has to go. The flight was fully booked, and the airline wanted some seats. Rather than increasing the offers for voluntarily disembarking until someone finally accepted, they "chose" random people to be removed for the airline's own convenience.

That doesn't mean that the "we can remove you at any time for any reason" rule doesn't still apply, but just like the leggings incident, it's not as simple as the airline's bad PR is trying to make it sound.

6
I'm going to reserve judgment until I find out if the person who got this guy's seat was wearing leggings.
9
one woman managed to get Delta to pay her and her family $11,000 not to fly to Florida last week
So, in order to make sure the airplane was full of people paying a couple hundred bucks per seat, they overbooked and ended up giving this woman eleven thousand dollars for her seats.

Delta should hire some people who understand basic economics.
10
Thanks for the warning about United and Delta, Katie. I haven't flown for a good number of years, but air travel does sound like a total nightmare these days.
11
9: I think that was probably $11,000 in vouchers for Delta, not cash.
12
please, it wasn't overbooked - united decided that its employees were more important than a seated, paying customer.

hopefully the employees that got people booted were heckled for the duration of the flight.
13
@11,

Good point.

Shit, that's like getting stiffed on your tip by the Dalai Lama and instead being promised Total Consciousness when you're on your deathbed.
14
I'd be majorly bummed if they selected me to "volunteer" to miss my flight, if, like the doctor-passenger in this case, I was travelling with my spouse. You can't just pick off one person like that. And that doesn't even address the fact that almost everyone on a Sunday night flight is going to expect to be at work next morning so they don't want $800 and a hotel room.

As PR goes, I'd rather be Sean Spicer than the press spox for United today.
15
Good for United for disallowing leggings. They're disgusting. It's as bad as wearing pajamas in public.
16
My feeling is that if you have the option to get there any way other than flying, do it. Air travel has become the first circle of hell.

I had to go to Australia for a family wedding last Fall, and couldn't afford anything other than the cheapest economy seats. All of the following is true.

I'm 4 feet, 11 inches tall and even at this height it was a physically miserable experience. There was no room at all under the seat in front of me for my feet or to tuck away a tiny handbag that had to ride in my lap for 17 hours both ways. The elbow of the man next to me was in my side the entire outbound flight (he was really sweet and kept trying to give me space, but there was none). Even without being reclined, the seat in front of me was against my knees for both flights (remember, I'm under 5 feet tall). In fact, the cabin crew kept telling passengers not to recline their seats because there wasn't enough room to do so. Looking around at the other passengers, many appeared to as though they were in pain. I don't doubt they might have been. The only way I made it through the round trip was with Lorazepam. Otherwise I would have gone Postal and started attacking the other passengers and crew. It's no wonder air rage is on the rise.
17
@9- $11,000 once a week is not be much to pay for insuring you're making an extra $110,000 a week.
18
"After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily"

being forced to comply is actually quite the opposite from volunteering.
19
The air travel experience has completely gone to shit for anyone short of business class. This however, is a new low as it's the nexus of that crap service, greed, and militarized police state.
20
re: The girls with leggings. They were flying on "buddy passes" which are vouchers for family and friends of the airlines employees. These are very different conditions than just plunking over some cash for a ticket. I've flown on them and they are very explicit about the dress code and conduct. No shorts, no torn jeans, must wear a collared shirt, etc. They also tell you that you can be bumped with no notice and that you can't complain or ask for special treatment. A friend of mine who was flying with me on one of these tickets didn't listen and was forced to buy "appropriate attire" at the airport.
21
i can't understand why airlines are permitted to overbook. if any other business sold something that it didn't have there would be lawsuits and, quite possibly, criminal prosecution. i understand that some people book and then don't show, but those tickets are already paid for. let the no shows compensate the airline. why the special privileges for air carriers?
22
@1
It was the kind of corporate calculus that only occurs to United in hindsight had tremendously stupid and that whomever made this decision probably should be fired. It comes down to basically weighting the outcomes in terms of violating or narrowly skirting TSA rules vs. violating employee Union rules. The 4 seats were for crew members deadheading to another airport for a flight going out the next day. There's a rigid structure around when flight crews can work vs. how long they need to rest before they work that exists for valid safety reasons. And union-airline relationships are fraught and there are big fines when airlines are caught violating these rules and union members are only too happy to report violators. Also, it could have resulted in the cancellation of the flight the next day which would have been a bigger revenue loss.

So some suit decided that getting caught on the wrong side of the union situation was potentially much worse financially than forcing 4 paying customers off their flight. Gate agents and flight crew further compounded the issue by deciding it was a good idea to drag an elderly man off the flight like a sack of flour, who also was a medical doctor who had a valid reason for not giving up his seat that they should have just left alone. But instead, they called CPD to basically jackboot him off the plane and throwing him face first into a arm rest in the process.

There were other options: putting this crew of 4 in an Uber since its only a 5 hour drive to their destination or just re-assigning crew already in place but that would be entirely too much effort on the part of United, who are getting what they deserve for this one.
23
@18:

Thank you, that was one of the first things that jumped out at me as well. Talk about your "double-speak", but clearly United has a problem understanding the actual meaning of the word "volunteer".
24
isn't it weird that no other passenger volunteered to be bumped once they singled out the old chineese guy for 'special treatment'? I mean, did no one else on the plane think to say 'hey, its ok, i'll get bumped' rather than beat the crap out of the old guy?

I know most people probably had to get somewhere, but where was their humanity? I just wonder what was going thru the minds of the other passengers in this regard?

25
@8 I'm sorry not buying your argument. United fucked up big time and the flight attendants, boarding agents, and pilots (b/c they have the final say) need to be either fired or forced to take a month off w/o pay with loss of benefits during that time.

I talked to a friend who works for a major airlines as a flight attendant. They should've asked for volunteers before boarding and refused to board passengers until they had four volunteers. Also, I'm surprised that there are no laws that forbid them from doing what was done, unless there was criminal intent happening before departure. In addition to this, I would think it's a huge legal liability to remove a trained medical professional from the flight in case where there's a medical emergency with either a flight crew (aka pilot having a heart attack) or passenger.
26
Don't worry, the free-market will solve / has solved this problem!
28
United is in the right here. Their rules are long standing. They broke no United rules. No FAA rules. And no laws. People get Bumped ALL the time. The only reason this is news. Is that the guy selected chose to act like a Bitch and cry and scream. And he's still off of the plane. Also, United didn't remove him. The Chicago PD did. They wouldn't have dragged him off of the plane if he had just got up and got off. He's a MD? Then he's acting stupid. If he had sense, he'd realize that he has to get off no matter what. The "video" is misleading at best. Where is the footage of United explaining the situation to him and asking him to depart. Where's the footage of him saying "no". And where is the footage of the cops explaining the situation to him. And him refusing again?

The guy acted like a bitch, and got treated like one.

And if any of you fuck heads says he's brave for standing up for himself. Then by the same token. You're saying that the 3 people who walked off are weak bitches.
29
@25, "I would think it's a huge legal liability to remove a trained medical professional from the flight in case where there's a medical emergency with either a flight crew (aka pilot having a heart attack) or passenger."

Since when when? You better quote some Case Law, FAA rule or something. If not, STFU!
30
@22, "Gate agents and flight crew further compounded the issue by deciding it was a good idea to drag an elderly man off the flight like a sack of flour," WTF?, Gate Agents and Flight Crew didn't decide to drag him off. As they didn't do that. Nor did they decide that. CPD dragged him off after telling him to deplane. And they probably told him he'd be removed his he didn't comply. But the footage being released is not all that happened on the plane. It doesn't show United talking to him. Nor CPD talking to him. All you see is a man acting like a 5 year old.
Besides, he's not a "Sack of Flour". He's a Sack of Bitch.
31
P R Nightmare for United.
32
P. S. Stranger, what has this got to do with local news coverage, ya know, your job? Are you covering local city/county news, or going national like the Daily Mail to make $.1
33
I fucking hate fucking United. I had to fly across the country with my children (2&7) and they seated us all separately several rows apart and told me I would have to ask passengers if they'd be willing to switch with us. All three of us had middle seats. One lady switched so I could sit with my toddler who had been told by the flight attendent that she would have to "sit quietly like a good girl" and that she was "too big to cry like a baby." My 7 yo was scared of the guy next to him and came to sit with me, the guy in the aisle seat next to me would not move and the three of us spent the duration of the red eye crammed into two seats. This after I'd confirmed at booking and check in that we'd be seated together. They are awful. I'm glad that video went viral.
34
@33 you can assign your seats at home ahead of time on line.
35
@13 Urgutha Forka: I know, right? Where's Bill Murray when we need him?
Channelling Carl Spackler, about to become The Masters Champion at Augusta......
36
So glad I'm flying American later this week.
37
The law may be on the side of the giant corporation in this case (what a surprise!) but the way they handled it was dreadful.

Whatever money they "saved" by dragging this guy off the plane, they've already lost 10x that in recovery PR, legal fees, lost customers, and time and resources that will be drained by this.

There are a million different ways United could have handled this with less of a public spectacle and they chose the worst option.
38
@37

They have actually defamed him now. The CEO wrote that he was belligerent. I don't think there's really any evidence that he was, and the man in the row in front of him has now been on CNN saying he had spoken to the doctor beforehand and found him really pleasant. Meanwhile, the airport police department has suspended the officer who attacked the passenger.
39
@thrill Killer. I know you booked, paid for and reserved your seat on this thread weeks ago, arrived here 2 hours ahead of the boarding time and are now seated in your duly assigned paid for seat but you have to leave now.

No sorry you have no choice, Nope none of that matters now, we changed our minds and need your seat.

Officer drag Thrill Killer off this thread.

What a Sack of Bitch.

40
I'm glad I'm flying Southwest instead.

It isn't exactly luxury but it is pretty nice and they get me there ok.
41
#34 which he did, jackass.

Reading comprehension is not your forte.
42
#39, He as asked and he refused. What happened next is HIS fault.
43
All airlines have a Contract of Carriage. Everyone E-Signs it when they buy a ticket online. If he didn't read the Untied ticket contract, that's HIS fault. If he had, he would have read that He could get bumped even with a reservation. He is a doctor after all. Supposed to be smart. Instead he acts a like a dumb ass. If he sues, he'll lose. United broke no laws or FAA rules. His injury was caused by Chicago PD After he refused to leave the plane. Did he really think that by just saying No that he'd get to stay on the plane? Not too smart for a doctor.
45
In Soviet America, airlines ride YOU!

@43 et. al. You are funny! I like your style, big boy, wanna... go on a date?
46
You can be the Chicago PD, and I'll be the mild-mannered, yet recalcitrant doctor who gets... forcibly removed from his seat... hot !!!
47
@46, Hot is right!
48
I will gladly accept $11,000 to not travel to Florida. Hell yes.