You would think enough had been written regarding the unfortunate forced deplaning of a United Airlines passenger, wouldn’t you? But hey! I haven’t had my turn yet.
If you recall the story, United Airlines had a situation where a flight having been overbooked, it had to find four seats for crew members needing to get to the appropriate airport in order to do their job.
As per protocol, United offered increasing sums of money hoping that four passengers would take the bait and would voluntarily give up their seats. However, the fish weren’t biting, so United, again as per protocol, pulled four names out of a hat, and our reluctant deplanee was one of them.
Not willing to go without a fight, it took security, airport police, the FBI, CIA, a Papal Delegate, Scooby Doo and the Incredible Hulk to get him out of his seat. Naturally, injuries occurred, and from what I’ve been led to believe - depending on the paper you read – our ex-passenger suffered a couple of cuts, right through to broken ribs and nose, missing teeth and a visage requiring facial reconstruction.
Can you say “ding, ding, ding,” making the sound of a happy cash register in the future?
Now I’m not blaming the guy for digging in his heels. I’d be absolutely amongst myself. I know if I get on a plane, my only burning desire is to get off the thing – at the airport to which I am headed, not the one I am leaving. I don’t have enough vacation time to be dilly dallying around waiting for “the next flight,” or a flight on “another day,” no matter what the financial incentives waved carrot-like under my nose might be.
However, I guess when there is no viable alternative, the threat of getting the stuffing beaten out of you would be incentive enough.
So my beef isn’t with the would be passenger – unless of course he’s going to get ridiculously sue-happy and go for a settlement not remotely commensurate with his pain, suffering and general crankiness – which of course you know he will. My beef isn’t with the guys who obviously tried to get him off the plane in the same state they found him – they were just doing their job.
My beef is with the airline, and all the airlines who practice this overbooking nonsense.
Now go with me here. If a four person crew needs to get from X to Y by a certain time on a certain day, would it kill the crew to make a phone call saying “hoy, we need seats on this flight” once their schedule was known – I believe usually a month in advance.
I can’t believe there are so many ‘no shows’ by paying passengers on every flight which would cause an airline to overbook to the extent it does. You’re going to offer a person $1,000 to get off the flight they’ve just paid $350 to get on? It just doesn’t make financial sense to me.
Stop being so greedy, little piggy airlines. The damage to the pocket book is a mere bagatelle when you now see the PR nightmare it can cause.
-- Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.