United pledges to review policies on removal of passengers

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

Whether United had "no choice" but to forcibly eject the passenger also is questionable, as presumably the airline could have transported its crew members to Louisville either by road (a five-hour drive) or by chartering another aircraft. "Still, no go." So they drag a bewildered man up to the seat forcing him to watch the taping. This Sunday, April 9, 2017, image made from a video provided by Audra D. Bridges shows a passenger being removed from a United Airlines flight in Chicago.

Of course, it's good for some passengers, too: Of the 475,000 people who were bumped off flights on the 12 largest airlines past year, 91% did it voluntarily, agreeing to take cash or a travel voucher and a seat on a later departure.

Even after some passengers agreed to be rebooked, though unhappily, the airline was still short a seat.

No passengers on the plane have mentioned that Mr Dao did anything but refuse to leave the plane when he was ordered to do so. The airlines could have given all the mishandled passengers jet planes each or a 737 and they will still not incur a loss.

United's CEO referred to the incident as an "upsetting event" and spoke euphemistically about "re-accommodating" passengers. Soon after the footage emerged online, social media "trolls" and celebrity comedians turned to satire to express their outrage and disgust. After almost a day of silence, the airline put up another announcement admitting culpability, clearly recognizing that its previous attempt to handle the situation wasn't going over well.

It's illegal to smoke on a flight, so that can get you booted.

It's unclear from United's contract of carriage how either its rule regarding "refusal of transport" (Rule 21) or "denied boarding compensation" (Rule 25) applies to a passenger already seated and instructed to deplane to make room for a company employee rather than another paying passenger.

The debacle that followed has triggered calls for Congress to investigate or for airlines to change their ways. Something's wrong with the intellects running United Airlines, and if there's any justice in the world, now they'll really pay.

But police officers should try to find out what they are going into and to defuse the situation, if possible, experts said.

However, it also has a huge and expanding market share in China, where it's now taking a brutal public relations hit.

National Public Radio has some advice for passengers: When you experience problems with an airline, file a complaint directly with the Department of Transportation. We wouldn't get (someone) off just because the airline wants them off. Reporting issues directly ensures that they get counted.

In the case of the Chicago to Louisville flight from which David Dao was forcibly ejected (the airline had to "re-accomodate" customers in the words of United CEO Oscar Munoz) the entire flight had boarded when the four-person crew heading to Louisville showed up at the gate needing seats.

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