TL;DR – A few questions about THAT incident.
I’m sure we would by now, seen the videos and many articles online about THE United Airlines incident.
Here’s a quick summary:
1. United airline’s flight from Chicago to Louisville was full*.
2. Four seats were later needed for pilots and crew to transport down to Louisville to operate flights later that evening.
3. A compensation offer was made for volunteers to give up their seats for the next flight.
4. Nobody volunteered to give up their seats
5. A gentleman (along with three others) was “randomly” selected by the company to be bumped from the flight.
6. He refused to take up the $800 compensation offer as he is a doctor and has to be in Louisville in time for his appointments the next morning.
7. He was then forcefully removed by airport security.
8. Videos documenting the process were shot and released onto the Internet.
9. The Internet went crazy on United.
Here’s one such video,
While I don’t condone the way the passenger was dragged from his seat off the plane, I do, however, have some questions.
You see, while all of us are chanting it’s entirely United’s fault and we should all should boycott United, is it really the case? Should United bear ALL the blame? After all, it was airport security officers who dragged the man off i.e. their employer is the Chicago Department of Aviation and not United Airlines. Could the same then happen to another airline that departs from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport?
1. As a paying customer, one reserves the right to not leave their seat but when the aviation officers are already getting physical as such, why wouldn’t you just follow instructions to avoid being manhandled?
2. Everyone posted videos of the man being manhandled and saying that they will boycott the airline but why didn’t ANYONE on the plane volunteer to give up their seat for the poor man instead?
3. It is interesting that airlines’ capacity to compensate passengers is actually bounded by the law. The compensation for passengers is capped at $1,350, which means that United could have raised its offer by more than 50 percent from $800 to $1,350 before physically removing passengers. Since airlines are legally permitted to overbook they ought to pay the right price to compensate people for the unfulfilled promise, no?
By the way, while this flight wasn’t even overbooked, it is actually common for airlines to overbook flights to account for the passengers that might not show up. As irritating as this practice can be, it is legal and this is probably the reason why our air tickets are cheaper as it increases the chance of flights being filled to capacity*.