comments 3

but he bought a ticket….

The video showing a United Airlines customer dragged kicking and screaming from a plane has by now been seen over 6 million people. I’m sure that number is climbing fast. According to news reports, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz called the situation “upsetting”, commenting the customer was disruptive and belligerent. I’m sure it was upsetting to the customer too, who had bought a ticket, gone through security and boarded the plane, all in the expectation he was on his way home. I would be plenty upset too. This has to be the PR fail of the year so far.

I don’t fly often enough to have been in a situation in which the unfortunate airline practice of overbooking has reared its ugly head. I understand they generally offer compensation and up the ante until somebody says OK I’ll take the goodies and leave the plane. What happened in this case? Did they reach an arbitrary compensation limit and decided it was worth having somebody physically dragged off a plane rather than offer more? I suppose nobody thought the passenger “selected” for “re-accommodation” would decline to leave.

In my view, if United Airlines overbooks flights and wants somebody to give up a seat for an employee, they should continue to up the compensation offer until somebody says, ok that’s my price, thank you very much – even if gets very expensive for the company. United Airlines should be ashamed of themselves.

It occurred to me this was not the first time United Airlines has been in the news….something about a guitar wasn’t it? Didn’t it become a song? I asked Mister Google. Yes….United Breaks Guitars. Remember this ditty?

I would hate to be a media relations guy for United this morning. Now that the CEO has doubled down, there is nothing somebody in those shoes could say to make things better.

Would you book a flight on United?



  1. I quit flying at all after 9/11, seeing in my crystal ball that the hysteria for “security” would mean more members of the public being manhandled by goons (without any improvement in security) and more pressure on passengers to put up with being treated shabbily. This, however, did astonish me a bit.

    Some obscure regulation caps the bump compensation at $1350, and people may well feel that a lost day’s work, incidental expenses, and general annoyance are not worth that. My mother was the “bump queen” back ni the day — by which I mean the 1970s and 80s — and had a nice racket in accepting flight coupons for taking a bump, but not everyone thinks this sort of thing is fun.

    You may have caught in the news that Dr. Dao, the passenger who was brutalized, lost two front teeth and suffered a concussion, broken nose and sinus damage. That means he didn’t just fall into an armrest — his face was slammed into it. Preparations for a lawsuit are now confirmed. This is going to get very, very nasty, and it should. The US has been putting up with arrogance from large conglomerates for too long, and this won’t fix it, but it’s a speed bump.

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