United Airlines Assault On Passenger Evidence Of Contempt For Passengers

US airlines have traditionally used a system of overbooking seats to ensure that flights are always as close to full as possible. It's a hedge against no-shows and cancellations and occasionally it goes wrong. When it does and the airline finds itself packing more paying passengers than seats what tends to happen is the company will offer passengers inducements to take a later flight. Cash, vouchers, loyalty points.

United Airlines found itself with a group of passengers who steadfastly refused any inducement to switch flights, so staff randomly picked four passengers to be thrown off the flight. One of those passengers, a doctor returning home, was selected but refused to comply, claiming he had appointments booked with patients for the following morning.

United had the passenger forcibly and violently removed from the plane. Video of the incident has been widely shared on the Web. 

This wholly unacceptable action demonstrates the contempt the US airline industry holds its customers in, treating them as little more then cattle. United went one better than most though. Its reason for throwing paying customers off the flight? It had four members of staff who needed seats.

The whole drama resulted from the airline's inability to manage seats for its own staff. And just when it seemed things couldn't get worse the airline's CEO sent out a memo blaming the customer for his predicament, in the face of video evidence to the contrary.

All this coming just weeks after United refused to fly girls because they were wearing leggings.

US travellers have an opportunity to punish this behaviour with their wallets. Failure to do so would suggest that they really are the cattle their carriers treat them as.


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