United Airlines Was Right to Remove a Belligerent Passenger

Anyone asked to leave an overbooked flight for which they purchased a ticket would be justifiably annoyed. They have somewhere they need to be, and it wasn’t their fault United Airlines screwed up.

So when a passenger on United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was randomly chosen to be removed, he was right to be angry. But that didn’t give him the right to make a scene and delay the flight.

About eighty other people also had to get home. They didn’t want to get bumped either. Why should one man be treated differently than the other passengers (including the ones who left their seats without a fuss when they were told they were getting bumped)? For him to have insisted that he alone shouldn’t be bumped is the height of entitlement.

The man, now identified as Dr. David Dao of Kentucky, complained that he had to get to work on Monday. Did no one else on the plane have a job? He said he was a doctor and had to see patients. Should doctors be privileged over workers in other industries? Does his hospital only employ a single doctor and have no one else available to cover his rounds?

If the man was so concerned about people being bumped, why didn’t he make a scene when the couple ahead of him was forced off the fight? Did he think his right to get to Louisville was more important than theirs?

After being told multiple times by multiple employees to get off the plane, and refusing, the police were called, and he resisted. Ultimately he was removed by force. That didn’t have to happen if he had left the plane peacefully like the other people who left the plane.

As he was being dragged off, other passengers appeared outraged. “Oh, my god,” a woman uttered. Fellow passenger Tyler Bridges took his phone out and filmed it, because filming things is now what everyone feels like they need to do to change the world. At a time when Syrian civilians are being gassed to death and beheaded, when North Koreans are being tortured in camps and Sudanese are starved in a war-caused famine, the video of an American being forcibly removed from a plane after refusing multiple requests “felt like something the world needed to see,” Bridges told the New York Times.

Yet for all the outrage expressed by some of the passengers, none of them stood up and said, “I volunteer my seat.” Apparently, they too, wanted to get home. Indeed, United offered hundreds of dollars to anyone who would give up their seat. There were no takers.

Later, the man returned with a bloodied face and caused the flight to be delayed by two hours for everyone, as United claimed they had to clean the plane.

Now the story is going viral on social media, and there is the same predictable outrage as with any popular social media stories – more heat than light, in other words. What do outraged people on Twitter think United Airlines should have done? Sat at the gate and never taken off because one passenger didn’t want to leave? Forced someone else off? Granted, the security personnel called could have refrained from physically harming the intransigent passenger, but is it the airline’s fault that he refused to go calmly, as other passengers did (and as the terms of the ticket they purchased allow the airline to request they do)?

To let him stay and bump someone else just because he made a fuss would be to reward bad behavior. It would be unfair to kick someone off a flight just because they act calmly like an adult rather than like a toddler having a tantrum. If the four United employees who filled the seats of the bumped passengers didn’t fly to Louisville, a whole plane full of people leaving Louisville could have been canceled or delayed.

There are a lot of problems with service in the airline industry. Overbooking flights is a standard industry practice that annoys us all when it impacts us. But these are facts that impact everyone who flies. We’re all in the same plane, as it were.

To focus all of our attention on the one person who feels he is above having to deal with the same disruptions and annoyances as every other airline passenger shows how powerful (and misguided) the social media outrage machine has become. Too bad that outrage can’t be directed at something that really matters.
 

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  • Chris

    Yes, doctors absolutely should be priveleged because there can be real world health consequences to others, such as his patients that could resulting permanent injury or even death. Additionally, even if they were right to remove him, literally dragging him off the plane like they did was wrong.

    It isn’t so much that they asked him to leave as how they handled the situation and I don’t think the author of this so called article understands that everyone deserves a certain level of human decency.

    The reality is the four deadheads could have flown another airline that had extra space, sorry but this is poor planning on United’s part to overbook a flight like this and kick off paying passengers. Bottom line is airlines should stop overbooking flights if they can’t treat paying customers with some respect when situations like this come up.

    • yestradamous

      Make the 4 flight crew be the flight attendents on that flight and dump the stewardesses off. Then they’d have jump-seat space for the flight.
      It was a 200 mile flight, like about 45 minutes.
      Or stick them in the luggage hold with the dog cages, etc.

    • rosetta_stoned

      The saintly doctor you worship has been convicted of multiple felonies.

      • Kent Moffat

        Which doesn’t matter in the slightest with regard to this incident.

  • yestradamous

    I completely disagree with this. Yes, maybe his reasons for not wanting to disembark ARE more important that the casual vacationer. The fact that he was adament about NOT wanting to leave should have been a clue to have the flight attendants just pick someone else.
    Now it’s turned into a citizen not “obeying” the authorities, which is not a justifiable escalation to somebody who didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. But flight attendants are notorioous for not listening.
    How long did he keep the flight delayed? 90 more seconds? BFD.
    It probably would’ve helped the situation if someone could have explained to him which flight he would be re-booked on, and WHEN he could expect to get home. The same day? 24 hours later?
    They just throw you off and leave you to the wolves. Maybe he has cancer patients to start Chemo, or a surgery to do, or who knows what.
    Then they man-handle a 70 year-old till he’s bloody.
    This is just AWFUL, and so is your defense of it.

  • It’s singly this cranky, wannabe counter-cultural, probably racist column that inspired me today, after years of following your feeds, to totally abandon Acculturated. High-minded, tone-deaf like United, and fundamentally assuming stupidity in the reader, it overlooks what’s actually happening in the zeitgeist: a sophisticated conversation about the means of enforcement, and much much less the policy question (even though a proper legal reading of United’s terms and conditions shows that the policy does not apply after boarding, and does not apply when overbooking hasn’t actually occurred — four United employees showed up to get four sold seats after boarding, which is not within the definition of overbooking). Never heard of Mitchell Blatt before, never will again.

    • SamHamilton

      You’ve been reading this website for years and are now refusing to do so because of this one post? It’s racist?

      I don’t agree with Mr. Blatt, but your actions sound extreme.

      • One of the lessons from this incident is that loyalty is vulnerable. Granted, most people will still simply choose the lowest fare without regard to the carrier, but we are seeing literally millions of people publicly pledge that they will never fly United again, based upon this one incident.

        Acculturated either steps up and takes responsibility for publishing Blatt’s hateful article, or doesn’t — it’s a CEO Munoz moment, even if it’s a billionth smaller in scale.

        • SamHamilton

          What does “take responsibility for” mean? They published it, so presumably they’ve “taken responsibility” for it.

          hateful? racist? Huh? Do you only read websites that publish things you agree with?

    • BourbonChicken

      I’ve been reading Paul Moon for years now, starting today. But now my loyal viewership has been shaken to it’s core.

      • I’ve been eating Bourbon Chicken for years now, as well as starting today which makes no sense but whatever. And my loyal viewership (even though I’m reading) has been shaken to “it is” core.

  • SamHamilton

    The obvious solution, at least to me, was for United to keep upping the amount of money offered to the people on the plane to take another flight. Eventually someone would have volunteered and everyone would have been satisfied. United screwed up and made one their customers suffer for it. And Mr. Blatt is blaming the customer.

    • Deborah Hoffman

      The customer acted a fool.

      • sean

        Especially when he was bleeding with a concussion.

    • Scott Weber

      That sets a very dangerous precedent. Holding airlines hostage. They offered a reasonable maximum amount for such a short flight. To allow passengers to dictate how much they should get to give up their seat for is not a good idea. Just bad business…And yes the customer here is ultimately to blame because of his behavior.

      • sean

        If a $1k in gift cards is reasonable cap, then a lot of flyers could save a lot of money.

  • InklingBooks

    The flight wasn’t overbooked, merely full. Only after the boarding did United discover that it has four of its flight personnel needing a connection. They could have placed them with another airline. They could have sent them via a United red-eye flight. They chose to bump paying passengers. That’s poor customer service.

    At that late moment and for that poorest-of-all reasons, United’s only legitimate option was to keep raising the offer and pay in cash. It’s not much of a benefit to get paid in a coupon that, frequent flyers tell me, comes with a host of restrictions. That’s one reason why no one took their offer. This guy was merely expressing the disdain many of those passengers felt for what United was doing.

    • Drumwaster

      For the money they would have spent on those four seats (~$800/seat, plus hotel vouchers = ~$3,300+), they could have hired a limo and driven those four crew members the 300 miles (4-5 hours in good traffic) from Chicago to Louisville in comfort and style. This wasn’t an international NYC->LON transit…

      United will take a PR hit MUCH worse than its infamous “United Breaks Guitars” episode (see the relevant song on YouTube for more details).

      • Deborah Hoffman

        Sorry, crew members don’t ride in cars to a scheduled destination.

        • Drumwaster

          I hate to point this out, but “don’t” has many variations. It could be merely a matter of policy (as in “oh, we don’t use that door” ), a matter of law (in which case, “can’t” or “aren’t permitted to” would have been a better descriptor), or a matter of habit (such as “I don’t attend church” or similar).

          My point is that NO MATTER WHICH, it would have been MUCH cheaper to do it my way than have to cope with the extremely costly feces tsunami they have brought on themselves.

        • sean

          Sorry passengers don’t get beaten and given concussions to ensure crew members have seats.

  • caskinner

    I disagree. The airline was out of line and committed assault. I hope he sues the crap out of them

  • Mack

    Complete with the whined chant of “omigod omigod omigod omigod omigod omigod omigod…”

    • nsirchov

      No one can resist doing a Mona Lisa Vito imitation

  • Kasper Hauser

    They boarded him. Once they boarded him, he was no longer subject to being “denied boarding.”

    They were not “bumping” another passenger. They wanted the seat to fly the next days’ crew to where they should have been instead of planning ahead or, failing that, chartering a private plane.

    Customers should not have to suffer for managerial sloth and incompetence….and Mitchell Blatt should get should get his facts straight before embarrassing himself with illogical drivel line this.

    • m a

      … or getting a rental car/limo/taxi etc. to transport their aircrew.

      • Deborah Hoffman

        Air crew, as you put it, are limited on duty time each day. A 5 hour car ride would have made them time out and the next flight would be delayed or cancelled.

        NEXT

        • Mahir Daiyan

          By definition, that was united’s problem

        • sean

          Not if someone else is driving.

    • rosetta_stoned

      So, everybody else should have to suffer because some shrieking pig can’t act like an adult and accept getting bumped? What makes him – and you, for that matter – so special?

      Get your own facts straight.

      People get bumped. Every. Freaking. Day.

      And guess what? They deal with it. Like adults.

      • Mahir Daiyan

        Not everyone can stand against crime. Those, who are few, are called pioneer, outstanding and they change the system. This moment will change the system gradually, if not overnight. So before criticizing, show some respect. He did something others were afraid of doing, and he did great.

        • Scott Weber

          No, what he did was illegal and is lucky he he does not go to prison. He was not making any kind of political or racial injustice statement. He was just being a big cry baby and will make no change to the system other than making passengers more aware of their rights or lack of rights when they purchase a ticket from now on.

          • Mahir Daiyan

            How can you understand that? Were you ever in a successful movement? The system is changing, go start watching TV. Already they are making new rules. No mercy for those CREW who thinks they are gods in their company airplane. United has declared that their crew must ensure their flight before one hour of the flight.

          • sean

            Police Chief, DA, United itself, and United Pilots Association disagree with you Scott.

  • Jeff Nickles

    Lovely, lovely article. I really enjoy the work ya’ll do here at Acculturated. It really is a pleasure to see journalists stop and analyze whats happening instead of spouting “breaking news” with biased anecdotes and chosen twitter posts. The above has sarcasm turned off (except that first sentence), I really do admire and respect this publication and it’s articles. The below has sarcasm in full helpings.

    So, facts: airline overbooks, asks for volunteers, finds none, volun-told people to leave (a friendly term I learned in the Air Force), one resisted.

    Who is at fault? This can really determine who is to blame much better than finger pointing. Lets analyze the points of blame:

    Passenger thinks they have a priority to get home.
    Airline makes mistake.

    Let’s analyze the motives behind these points:

    Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” One of the mainstays of their practice is to make sure people don’t die or be injured. Ironic…
    It’s standard industry practice to overbook flights. Why? For profit. Too many people miss their flight? Well that flight begins getting overbooked with the expectation of people missing the flight. It’s simple dollars and cents. You’ve all been there when a gate attendant announces “We’ll take volunteers for a voucher for a free flight…” or some jazz.

    So what we have here is “do no harm” vs. “get more green.” It seems the good doctor decided his patients were more valuable than the money that United offered. Can you imagine that phone call? “Sorry Mr. Smith, this ticket to Hawaii was more worth it than preforming heart surgery on your wife. Sorry for your loss.”

    But United can rationalize this is a specialized case. Oh, it was a doctor, just an isolated incident… right? What if it was a pregnant mom? What if it was a building inspector? What if it was a politician en route to a peace agreement? What if it was a military mom on her way to see her son’s birthday after 2 years overseas? Which is more important? United has no right to make that call. Or any airline.

    Fortunately for us, however, we have footage of the take-down in progress. Because technology. Because we are not living in the stone age. The writer of the above article denounces the victim for taking action (inaction as it were) but then turns around and berates all those who stopped to take video as accomplices? What do you want? Stop and be malleable or rise and resist? You cast shame on everyone on the plane.

    No, all who are taking video in a non-warzone are not shams. All who are taking pictures and not in the midst of a civil war are not to be frowned upon. Yes injustices are occurring the world over, but just because they are not happening in my backyard does not hinder me from using the technology for which I forked over a fortune.

    So if you think United was right in their actions, I hope you like flying alone. … That sounds amazing actually… OK, new plan. If you’re one of us three people still flying United, we all play rock paper scissors and the loser has to be belligerent in some way so that they get kicked off and the rest of us get extra leg room. Then the next time you’ll get a pass and it’ll be one of us. Deal?

  • DB

    Great article!! Finally, someone with common sense!

  • Insiders are going to support things no one else will because they are inside the system, but here is the legal facts from a lawyer:

    This myth that passengers don’t have rights needs to go away, ASAP. You are dead wrong when saying that United legally kicked him off the plane.

    1. First of all, it’s airline spin to call this an overbooking. The statutory provision granting them the ability to deny boarding is about “OVERSELLING”, which is specifically defined as booking more reserved confirmed seats than there are available. This is not what happened. They did not overbook the flight; they had a fully booked flight, and not only did everyone already have a reserved confirmed seat, they were all sitting in them. The law allowing them to deny boarding in the event of an oversale does not apply.

    2. Even if it did apply, the law is unambiguously clear that airlines have to give preference to everyone with reserved confirmed seats when choosing to involuntarily deny boarding. They have to always choose the solution that will affect the least amount of reserved confirmed seats. This rule is straightforward, and United makes very clear in their own contract of carriage that employees of their own or of other carriers may be denied boarding without compensation because they do not have reserved confirmed seats. On its face, it’s clear that what they did was illegal– they gave preference to their employees over people who had reserved confirmed seats, in violation of 14 CFR 250.2a.

    3. Furthermore, even if you try and twist this into a legal application of 250.2a and say that United had the right to deny him boarding in the event of an overbooking; they did NOT have the right to kick him off the plane. Their contract of carriage highlights there is a complete difference in rights after you’ve boarded and sat on the plane, and Rule 21 goes over the specific scenarios where you could get kicked off. NONE of them apply here. He did absolutely nothing wrong and shouldn’t have been targeted. He’s going to leave with a hefty settlement after this fiasco.”

    • m a

      Agree. Even the CEO has stated it was NOT an overbooked/oversold flight. That’s defined in their contract of carriage:

      https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/contract-of-carriage.aspx#sec1

      “Oversold Flight means a flight where there are more Passengers holding valid confirmed Tickets that check-in for the flight within the prescribed check-in time than there are available seats.”

      The problem was them trying to board their own employees, not that they’d sold too many tickets.

      The only thing I can find that UA might cite is under Rule 21, Refusal To Transport:

      “UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for the following reasons:

      C. Force Majeure and Other Unforeseeable Conditions – Whenever such action is necessary or advisable by reason of weather or other conditions beyond UA’s control including, but not limited to, acts of God, force majeure, strikes, civil commotions, embargoes, wars, hostilities, terrorist activities, or disturbances, whether actual, threatened, or reported. …”

      They’re going to have to argue that the whole issue surrounding getting a crew to Louisville fell under that clause. To support a different aircraft going off schedule, could they boot passengers off this one?

    • Deborah Hoffman

      The employees were MUST RIDE, which means they are required to go to operate another flight. Also, enough with “randomly selected”, that’s horsefeathers. The four people were probably the last people to check in, or had the cheapest fares, ect. It was not random. Now, in a post 9/11 world, you do not act a fool on a plane. This man deplaned willingly at first then went to the gate where he found out that he would have to stay the night in Chicago. (Hotel accommodations were provided by United. Standard practice) He then RAN back onto the airplane and refused to comply with crew and police. (That’s FEDERAL, nothing to mess with). So now he has made a big baby scene, was belligerent and disobeyed federal law. The flight was delayed for 3 hours over this man. He needs to be jailed and fined.

      • Mahir Daiyan

        Fine? You mean the millions he will get from UA?

    • Scott Weber

      I’m hoping you are not the lawyer, because if so you are not a very good one…LOL

      • Mahir Daiyan

        Unfortunately for you, I saw people are saying the same thing in REAL, MAINSTREAM news media. So you may shut up and deal with it.

      • sean

        Considering the police officers are already being investigated, and the United Pilots Association Legal Team disagrees with you Scott. They support the position that United had no legal right to deboard the passenger and the police were out of jurisdiction.

  • Immolate

    There are no examples of virtue in this sordid story. UA made a bad decision. The cops should have escalated less precipitously. The passenger was stupid.

  • You missed the point completely. The issue is that nobody should have been involuntarily removed from the airplane short of abusive behavior, criminal behavior or danger to the aircraft; none of which existed in this case.
    Regardless of the weasel wording in fine print, the man had a contractual agreement with the airlines to transport him from a given location to a given location, on a given day, over a given period of time, barring any uncontrollable conditions like blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorists, earthquakes, etc. The airline reneged on the agreement, and doubled down by employing force against the customer. He had every right to refuse to de-board the plane AND to resist the airport security thugs; and he did so in the perfect spirit of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr, non-violently. It was the rent-a-cops that escalated it to violence.
    UA had a multitude of other options they could have used. Small airplane to run the crew down to Louisville, drive the crew down to Louisville, raise the incentives to REALLY volunteer to be bumped. Instead, they did EVERYTHING they could have possibly done wrong in this case. And Oscar Munoz merely smeared the icing on this excrement cake.

    • Wendi

      Houmid you fail to understand the contractual agreement. The agreement is governed by
      The Dept of transportation (the United states of America, a federal agency) And you should read it! https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights

      • sean

        Yes, and that provision is for denial to board, not “Deboarding”. United had no legal basis to remove the passenger, and the police officers had no legal basis to be on the plane. According to the United Airlines Pilots Association, the police overstepped their legal authority.

  • Silvia Valdman

    Shouldn’t United (or any airline) figure out “over booking” (in this case apparently it was employees who were to take his seat and the others that left the flight) BEFORE the plane is ready to take off? That’s the scary part of this whole thing. A company like United isn’t so organized to know about the 4 seats they needed for United staff or “over booking” before the plane was boarded? This whole thing could have been avoided, al least from happening on the flight (tight quarters where others could have been seriously injured) if United’s staff did their jobs right or were trained properly!

    • Scott Weber

      Actually the 4 United crew members who needed the seats were there to catch the flight in order to fill an emergency need for another flight out of Louisville for a crew that was short staffed, because of illness or other personal reasons. If they had not made that flight it could have resulted in the cancellation of the flight they were needed to work. All airlines are required to make sure that all scheduled flights takeoff if at all possible, even if it means inconveniencing a few passengers so that many more are not inconvenienced. It is standard practice with all airlines. There is no malice intended from the airline, they did everything they could to try and get those 4 seats voluntarily from passengers. There is a method to their madness when it comes to deciding who gives up those seats when no one volunteers. Starting from how much the passenger paid for those seats to what time they checked in for their flight. So if you don’t want to be possibly bumped, pay full price and check in early. When you purchase your ticket you agree to these terms. Whether you read the small print or not, it is there. The airline did nothing wrong. The airport security probably could have handled the situation better, but the childish behavior of the passenger led to 90% of what happened. Anyone blaming United for this is just wrong.

      • ScottA

        Wrong. At 20 minutes, now maybe before, all of the seats are released for those that have not yet checked in. Plenty of time to deny boarding, due to overbooking. I have worked in this capacity, and in Operations. They were incompetent.

      • sean

        Nope. they could have offered bigger gift cards. They don’t even pay cash.

    • Wendi

      Scott is correct it was a last minute change to create from causing 300+ downline passengers to be affected.

      • Jackie Arguello

        And this doctor being indisposed likely caused 800+ patients to be affected. Which is more dire? Physicians should definitely be given priority because their jobs are literally a matter of life and death. Not a matter of inconvenience. Doctors are at the beck and call of their patients at all hours of the day, even more particularly within specialty fields.

        • Wendi

          Well then why didn’t someone with a less dire reason volunteer? Why was he in LA not available to his patients. First of all what patients? No doctor i know would act like this, in such an unprofessional manner, fight with authorities & give them permission to drag him off & tell them he’d rather go to jail. I hope you don’t teach your children the point your trying to argue.

          • sean

            They had volunteers but would not pay more than $1k in gift cards. Someone offered to leave for $1600 in gift cards and the manager laughed in her face. Evidently the pilots and +800 affected were worth less than $1600

  • michael

    Finally someone expressing my very thoughts. Doctors call in sick everyday…why did he think he was better and why didn’t he leave peaceably? …why didn’t someone volunteer to go in his place when they saw how “distraught” he was?…did he do this purposefully for a quick “paycheck” settlement? Shouldn’t he be sueing the officers instead of United?..didn’t he have his license revoked until recently?

    • Maffi Oxford

      He paid to fly on that plane. The plane was not over booked UA just needed to move staff. The Dr’s history is not an issue here. UA should not let people on the plane then ask them to leave.

      • michael

        He still acted like an ads instead of going peacefully like the other passengers did. This guy was looking for a lawsuit. He also all of a sudden has not only 2 missing teeth, a broken nose, and a concussion. Hard to have a concussion when you’re screaming and running around. This guy knows what he’s doing; he doesn’t deserve a dime and he should be sued by everyone on that plane!

        • K Webster

          And yet you don’t see anyone on the plane yelling at the doctor. They are upset with United’s actions. I doubt any passengers on the plane are going to sue the doctor.

  • Mark Jackson

    Let’s get one thing out in the open. Those paying customers were being thrown off the flight that they paid for so some United employees could fly home for free. WTF? If that’s the way United feels, employees first, paying customers last I think we should do everything we can to accommodate their desires. Let’s make sure there is plenty of room on every flight for all those traveling workers. If there is nobody else on that flight, those employees should have plenty of room.

    • Wendy Bradford

      Your story of employees getting home was inaccurate media coverage… they were working crew!!

      • LondonChris

        This story is innacurate when it blames the passenger for the delayed departure. If United had not let him board in the first place there would have been no incident and therefore no delay! However you spin it it was United’s shambolic organisation that was at fault NOT the fare paying customer that United were reneging on their contract with.

        • michael

          I think this guy would have made a scene anywhere. The videos only showed what happened AFTER the beginning of the episode. This guy is a liar and is a disgrace to the medical profession!

          • K Webster

            He could have made a scene at the terminal…but it wouldn’t have caused the delays. They shouldn’t board until they’ve straightened out who sits where.

      • ScottA

        Crew scheduling is routine. United made a mess of a typical situation, because they don’t seem to have enough competent people to run a flight. I have worked as a Gate agent, Operation, and Reservations, and they failed on many levels. Don’t fly with them.

    • Bob Hilton

      It was a reserve crew that had a fly out there to fly out another full plane of people to their destinations so this wasn’t employees flying for free for pleasure

  • Wendy Bradford

    May I add, this was not originally an overbooked flight, it was full to capacity (all seats taken) until at the last minute the a crew was re-assigned to take this flight because the earlier flight they were supposed to take was delayed, which was causing the crew’s legal rest period to be affected. Not getting this crew to Louisville in a certain time limit could have cause fatigue (not safe for passengers on the next flight & a union concern), delayed or possibly even cancelled flights which could have easily affected 300+ other passengers.

  • India312

    Missing the point here peeps, it isn’t about the Doctor so much as it is about the Airline and Airport securities behavior, bad policies and definitely a poor choice in handling a paying customer.

  • Tim Cavanaugh

    First this was a civil matter, and the police officers being put on leave , verifies that they should not have physically intervened. Secondly, don’t let them on the plane in the first place if you are overbooked. But they were not, they just had to get their employees to where they needed them, even if it screwed 4 paying passengers, who do not have other planes to get them there. United does have other planes. And people at the gate who can count and say please wait here the plane is full. Screw up from beginning to end! And while they may have the right, they also have to pay the price.

  • The points the writer misses completely are 1) The problem could/should have been addressed prior to boarding. UAL knew they had to get that crew to Indy, their stupidity caused the situation to develop in the way it did; and 2) There were non-aggressive, free-market alternatives available which they chose to ignore in favor of calling in a goon squad. (Facts the CEO now realizes as he has promised such an event will “…never happen again”.)

  • LondonChris

    Sounds very like this is the sort of article United’s press department could have put together. That couldn’t be the case though surely, could it?

  • ScottA

    Everything that happened on that flight was because of incompetence at many levels of United’s operation. This never should have happened in the first place. I have worked in this business, and their operation is a train wreck of incompetence. This will most likely will show itself in a huge safety violation, or crash. Stay away.

    • Gordon Lincoln

      Sounds like they refused to hire you… ROTFL…

  • Paul Feasal

    First off they kicked people who paid for there flight off, so other staff could fly in their customers seats. Legally if a flight is changed then United should have notified the customers in advance, it cannot be when the customers board the plain. United has changed their story several times. They inntually sead the flight was overbooked. Selling tickets that do not exist is illegal and this would have showed up in their system long before anybody would have gotten on the plain. Security is their to observe and report and will notify the police if the situation escalates. Technically I did not see this guy assault anybody although he did resist getting of the plain. How did the guys face get busted up. The insident took place on the plain, so why did the CEO deny the situation ever took place untill he heard about the video. So either the staff did not write an incident report or the CEO new about everything and lied. Usually if a company messes up they accommodate the customers for their mistake, not kick them off the flight and give them a small amount of money. One of those people could have several stops and that they would have missed a flight to Australia, because of it. There are tickets that costs more than 5 thousand dollars just one way.

    • AntiSocialist

      Airlines staff their flights according to their schedules. As the day goes on and weather and maintanence issues happen it throws a huge wrench into the operation. By the end of the day their might be a reason to have to dead head a crew with very little notice to cover a flight downstream. When this kind of thing happens they may have to deadhead crews so that maybe that same plane on the next leg with a hundred other paying customers including doctors can get to their destinations. They offer cash and prizes to those who are willing to take a later flight. If that doesn’t work they offer more and then more. At some point they may have to involuntarily inconvenience a few people so that the overall operation can still function. It is totally acceptable and legal to do so.

      P.S.

      Kind ironic that a doctor gets impatient (pun intended) when he is inconvenienced but every time I go to the doctor they don’t call my name in the waiting room for usually 30-45 minutes after my scheduled appointment. Imagine if I stood up and yelled what my profession was and demand that I’m seen next.

      • leilani

        We pay for our airline tickets ahead of time and we don’t pay for our doctor visits until after we’ve seen the doctor, so it’s not like you’ve paid for anything and you can still go to an emergency room if you have an emergency medical condition. Your excuse sucks. What needs to happen is new legislation so all airlines cannot take advantage of overbooking flights. What other business can sell you tickets for *Hundreds of Dollars when these tickets don’t even exists? That’s what overbooking is, selling people tickets when they’ve already sold out! That’s where the problems are. This is the airlines fault and the laws that got put into place allowing airline to sell tickets that DO NOT EXIST.

        • AntiSocialist

          Only sell the seats that the aircraft has one more. All seeds should be non-refundable. If you miss your flight for any reason not related to the airline you should have to buy a Nother ticket on Later flight assuming they are not already over sold. The sweet deal you had on your ticket because you bought it three months in advance will not apply When trying to purchase a ticket on a flight that leaves one hour later. Airline seats are perishable products. Once the flight leaves with an empty seat that product is gone forever so you should not be able to get any refund for the seat that you failed to show up for.

      • sean

        Do you have to pay for your doctors visit 3 months ahead of time? Do you lose your entire payment if your 5 minutes late?

        • Gordon Lincoln

          Yeah I prepay for the doctor visit – in fact I pay whether I see him or not, it’s called health insurance.

    • Scott Holtzman

      Paul, it’s a plane not a plain. Where did you go to law school? Most certainly the airlines can sell more seats than they have. It’s called capacity management and it enables them to sell those inexpensive fares that leisure travelers love so much. Pro travelers book in Y class, it’s refundable, changeable and gets upgrade priority too. Basically when I fly Y I am underwriting your low fare. The airline should not be so politically correct and start apologizing. If they made a process mistake own it but other than that the passenger ignored the instructions of a crew member. That’s a federal offense and he should have been jailed. We can’t have a civilized society when folks won’t follow the rules.

      • sean

        I know a guy who makes people get out of their seats, he’s a car thief. But hey it’s called capacity management. That’s why folks have car insurance so when someone steals their car it’s ok. I applaud you scott for being a unapologetic victim.

  • sylviacroft

    Their staff should have waited on the next available flight, not take off paying customers who were assured they had booked a seat on that flight.

  • Maffi Oxford

    I am yet to be convinced that it was right to take this man off the plane. UA were in the wrong. When a paying customer refuses to be treated like like a bale of hay, it cannot be right to beat him. Not even Arabs do this. UA have lost a lot of kudos over this. I certainly wouldn’t fly with them.

    • atheistinside

      Except he beat himself up to rack up the settlement check. Stop being so gullible.

      • Maffi Oxford

        Me gulible!

  • Wendi

    Threatens to sue United, refuses to leave, gives permission to drag him off & prefers to go to jail… yet his actions are ok! I don’t think so, sounds like someone fishing for $$. Thank you to everyone who is hating on United, please do fly a different carrier, this will make my United flights more pleasant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-united-video-doctor_us_58ee64a2e4b0cb574bb4ed45

  • JoAnn Ortloff

    You say in the article: “He said he was a doctor and had to see patients. Should doctors be privileged over workers in other industries? Does his hospital only employ a single doctor and have no one else available to cover his rounds?” Well, hmm, should United crew that “had” to be on that plane be privileged over the paid customer who has already boarded? Doesn’t United only have that one set of crew that “had” to fly on that plane and no other crew available in their own hub city? This was not an overbooked flight. It was full, and paid passengers were in their seat. There are many reasons I would have volunteered, and many more reasons I would not have. Don’t judge – you have no right to.

    • Gordon Lincoln

      Perhaps then you shouldn’t be ‘judging’ – as there are a lot of facts not yet in evidence. I can say with near absolute certainty, based on several years working in the aviation industry and having dealt with crew travel and logistic issues, that had alternate viable transportation or an alternate crew been available, the airline would have happily taken that course of action. Passengers being deplaned (except for reasonable cause) after having been seated, is a very, very unusual event. I can’t recall it happening even once in my time in aviation (albeit working for a much smaller airline).

      One thing that has been reported is that the crew was scheduled to travel on another flight that had a last minute mechanical cancellation – forcing them to seek alternate transport and that in fact, no other crew was available so 100+ passengers would have been dealing with a cancelled flight had the crew not been able to board that specific flight (no more flights were available for the destination for several hours).

      Some people have suggested they could have rented a car or hired a chauffeur service – but probably not given late hour and the tight scheduling constraints. If the crew had travelled by car that would not have counted as ‘rest’ and by flight/duty hour regulations they probably wouldn’t have been allowed to fly anything the next morning.

      • JoAnn Ortloff

        I too am familiar having been in the aviation game. Yes, the crew could have been driven the 4 1/2 hours to their destination, and crew rest would not have been effected. Another flight was available for them, even if on another airline, or even a later flight causing their next flight they were flying to be delayed. United only thought of their gain in the poor decision they made. No flight is more worthy than the life and dignity of the 4 they removed to seat their crew. In the end, this only convinces me to move away from United. I have been Silver to Platinum with them since 2007, even have their Visa card. I’m out. Southwest and Jet Blue and Alaska are cheaper, nicer and have way better baggage policies etc. United has become all about them, and their first class accommodations and no longer care about the average customer.

        • Gordon Lincoln

          There wasn’t another flight as an option. It was a red eye flight that was the last plane flying that flight leg until sometime the next forenoon. Have you ever tried to hire a limo in the middle of the night? Plus neither one of us knows how much accumulated flight and duty time the crew had in the previous 24 hours. It’s quite possible that a taxi or rental car ride would have put them into a situation where they wouldn’t have been able to operate the flight schedule for the next day. There’s that rolling 24 flight and duty time window to contend with.

          • sean

            Sounds like it’s worth more than $1k. I don’t know what folks pay but last minute tickets are expensive. If this is such a rare event, then paying a fair market rate would out of 100 passengers would work. Esp considering some passengers agreed to leave if they were offered more money to pay for hotel rooms, and other costs in cash to off set the gift cards.

          • Gordon Lincoln

            I haven’t been keeping up but that sounds like more Dao press release strategy bullshit; it doesn’t ‘square’ with the facts of how ‘bumped passengers’ are dealt with. .

            I’ve been bumped on a flight a couple times; hotel and transportation from & to airport, and one or more meals were included, unless it was a short delay. There’s FAA rules in this regard and given the overnight delay involved – I can say with a lot of confidence that accommodations PLUS compensation were on the table. That’s standard protocol. The compensation is normally offered for volunteers – not so much for those who get bumped involuntarily.

            However, even in Mexico – flying Aeroméxico – a cancelled flight out of Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juarez (MEX) resulted in a bus ride (short distance) to a nice, nearby hotel, and meal vouchers. I asked the escort to pay for a WIFI voucher (sometimes not included with room in Mexico, you frequently pay extra for that) and he did that. Not a big deal (about $8 US) but still, I appreciated the airline’s willingness to accommodate a reasonable request. And they showed up in the morning after breakfast, escorted us back thru the airport and to the gate, helped us deal with some paperwork stuff and got us herded on to the ‘replacement’ aircraft to complete the journey to Cancún.

            Compensation is offered for volunteers – which I’ve also done a couple times on Southwest flights out of PHX. Those were short delays and I got a $300 travel voucher which I thought was quite good compensation for a two hour delay. In fact – one time it worked out great for me, because I was able to pick an alternate destination (at my request) – I hopped a flight leg to LAX, took care of some business that I wasn’t aware of when the original itinerary was booked, then used (part) of my travel voucher to go back to my original destination LAS.

            I had thought I was going to have to rent a car in Las Vegas, and drive from Vegas to LA and then drive back to Vegas after (something close to 300 miles each way).

            On the United flight issue, It was stated early on that they did increase the compensation offer amount twice in addition to the basic accommodations and still they couldn’t get the volunteers needed.

      • sean

        Let me get this straight, a Doctor who has patients, he’s beligerent because he doesn’t agree, but everyone who agrees with the pilots, well that’s just understandable? He had a seat. He was on the plane. He paid for it. At this point you can’t rip him out, you have to buy it back. So why did United think their pilots were worth less than $1k?

    • sean

      I guess United only has 4 employees and Doctors are a dime a dozen

  • Jake Roth

    As a patient with critical health needs I feel that doctors should NOT be bumped from a flight these people have others lives in their hands. Yes there are doctors that can temporarily cover a case but they have no first hand knowledge of the patients case. Because of how rare my disease is I don’t trust any old doctor to provide proper care. The airline screwed up and should of picked another person to bump not a doctor!

    • toniv

      Those 100+ pax in SDF waiting for a legal crew to arrive and work THEIR flight probably included doctors, patients, pregnant mamas, etc.

      • jagiela

        And United and Republic airlines had ten hours to figure out how to get a crew to fly that plane. They could have chartered a helicopter or small plane for the deadheading crew but they just wanted to save money

        UA had an hour notice from Republic but screwed up the reservations- its all on them

        • toniv

          Nope. Not if they timed out due to weather or mechanical.

          • jagiela

            oh but they didn’t and they still would have had ten hours to find a crew for the other plane

            You pro thug leftists are all the same

    • Caleb Barrus

      He was a retired dr with a revoked license for giving out excessive prescription drugs…so he is no longer a dr nor practicing anymore.

      • K Webster

        He got his license back 2 years ago.

  • toniv

    He wasn’t “randomly” chosen! IDBs are selected based on ticket type/price and check in time, not on race, occupation, or “randomly”!

  • Rozanne Bee

    I share the same perspective as the writer of this article. I wish UAL CSRs just went beyond protocol by offering more money so it wouldn’t have escalated to what has transpired. I feel for UAL employees and their clients. I wish these would all go away after learning the lessons to be learned. UAL has been through tough times. My husband works for United and it is very disturbing to me.

  • BillatChase

    Agreed.

  • Philip Johnson

    Where are you coming from????? Let them drag you off a plane and see what you have to say then!!! This is so unbelievable; It has to be “fake news”. No one should be treated this way.

    • Dr Why

      I wouldn’t have to be dragged off. People probably lose seats every day. It’s not a problem. The “doctor” decided to be a problem. His act, his consequences. Other people don’t do that.
      .

  • Nguyên Nghĩa

    I believe that you (the author of this article) are NOT right.
    Now United Airlines repeatedly published their apology, admitted that the flight 3411 was NOT overbooked but they had to find 4 seats for their own flight crews instead, they take full responsiblity, etc. So, either one is wrong. YOU (the author of this article) or United Airlines?
    When YOU (the author of this article) ARE CLEARLY WRONG, then there is no way to blame the passenger who has been forcibly dragged off the plane.

  • Tracey Evans

    This is a copy of a post from a crew member off
    the widely discussed flight. The passenger is NOT the innocent man his 33 second video makes him out to be. This has been confirmed by a Republic Supervisor. No names given to protect https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f56f5f769b97ad0a2286dfac0258382d8d838f8c124f789c957fdcd09ae3898c.jpg jobs.

    • Mahir Daiyan

      Simple lie only idiots may believe… ONLY truth about it is that was really a good story.

    • jagiela

      This is slander which will be added to the long list of things Dr. Dao sues for

    • Mike Toreno

      Yeah, this is a lie. How retarded are you, anyway for believing this?

  • Arie van der Harst

    UA still doesn’t understand by sponsoring messages like this. They’re panicking and their communications department is out of control. ‘Being right’ doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
    UA took a calculate risk by overbooking and wrong priorities, now they pay the price and burst in tears. No leadership.

    • Tracey Evans

      The flight was not overbooked

  • atheistinside

    Dao saw an opportunity for a settlement check and followed through with his plan. Why did his wife get off the plane without him?
    Banging his face and head on everything he could (not difficult) and he fight clubbed himself. Wake up ppl.

  • rodulio

    There is no such over booking. It is all lies from United Airlines and all airlines…

  • Antoine Duval

    Why do you let them in the plane? If overbooked you should let them know before they are seated

  • Jami Hanning Vaux

    He may choose to sue.Hope he is fined for running through a secure area and rebording the aircraft though. That can’t be allowed to happen again.

    • sean

      He had a concussion and if the area was secured he never should have simply walked back on.

  • Dr Why

    I agree with the article. When we no longer have the right to throw someone out of our house, for any reason or for no reason, our life as humans is over.

    Is the “doctor” nonwhite? Is that why so many people are defending him? That’s pretty standard behavior nowadays.
    .

  • jagiela

    This is the stupidest article on the affair I’ve seen.

    The airlines was violating federal law by attempting to bump Dr. Dao- he wasn’t acting badly, it was the airline.

    No passenger who has confirmed reserved seat (Dr. Dao) may be bumped for one without (the deadheading crew).

    Nor, under UA’s contract of carriage, can the airline invoke the denied boarding clause unless there is an oversold flight- defined in the contract as people who hold confirmed reserved seats and check in 30 minutes before departure- again the deadheading crew didn’t qualify

    Having broken its own contract and violated federal law, UA then LIED to the Chicago authorities and falsely described the situation to them. That doesn’t excuse the criminal behavior of the Chicago Aviation Police it just makes UA a joint tortfeasor and liable for their actions as well

    No, the Chicago Aviation Police had no right to remove Dr. Dao from the airline. It is a criminal offense (assualt) to touch a person against their will. For the police to be able to man handle Dr. Dao- they would have had to be placing him under arrest. They did not- neither at the time nor the incident report is “arrest” mentioned

    They should all be sent to prison

  • MsDeplorable

    I hope this “Dr.” loses the lawsuit he planned. I would never want this lunatic as my physician and if I saw any of my physicians behaving like an idiot I would immediately seek new ones.

  • Mike Toreno

    You do understand that United said they were in the wrong, don’t you? Wow, you’re as retarded as you are dishonest.

  • Michael Casey

    Mr. Blatt makes an interesting counter point to the general response that has been recorded thus far. Indeed, it is highly persuasive and logical IF you accept the initial premise that the plane was overbooked and thus the airline had a right-and a need- to bump passengers. Actually they were simply trying to place employees on the plane not paying customers. Other options they could have used ranged from chartering a flight out of the Chicago area (no problem there as there are hundreds of airplanes going in and out of this area on any day , ) to having a different crew take over at the final destination. I worked in a hotel and while I have had to “walk” customers on a number of occasions I would never do so for an employee under any circumstance. If I had done so Marriott would have fired me immediately. The customer was ALWAYS first even if it meant inconveniencing Marriott executives trying to stay. This included members of the Marriott family by the way, as I can attest to personally.
    Were no other airlines flying to Lousiville? We used to walk guests to competitors all the time. No problem. Airlines should have a similar arrangement with their competitors to prevent problems like this..

    PS No reputable hotel would ever evict a guest from a property AFTER they have checked into a room simply to accommodate some other customer.