A violent video posted to Facebook this past Sunday showed a passenger on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville being forcibly removed from his seat and dragged down the aisle off of the plane, while other passengers watched in horror.
United claims that it needed four seats for flight crew members to get to their next destination, and to accommodate this they offered to compensate four paying customers to take a later flight. After no passengers volunteered, the airline says it randomly selected four individuals to give up their seats to the crew. One man refused.
Why is it that United Airlines didn’t have the foresight to tell four people the flight was overbooked beforehand and not let them board the plane to begin with, which would have kept the entire incident off the plane and in the terminal? All organizations have the responsibility to manage the expectations of their clients, but once United let those people on board they lost control of the situation by giving them “false” expectations.
The individual victimized in this incident was a doctor. He yelled this fact out to the security officers forcibly removing him from his seat. Soon after this plea, he busted his face open on an armrest and witnesses saw a bloody man being dragged against his will down the aisle.
This man should have been given priority status to get back to the hospital in Louisville where he needed to be to treat his patients. The airline could have easily figured this out about the passenger before choosing him to give up his seat.
United Airlines wanted the seats for a four-member flight crew at the last second. This had nothing to do with overbooking. Did they really not know 15 minutes earlier, prior to general boarding, that the flight crew was coming? It is hard to believe that scheduling snuck up on the airline that quickly.
Paying customers should be given seats over flight crews who are being shuttled back and forth. A car could have been rented to get the flight crew from Chicago to Louisville, which would have prevented this whole fiasco from happening in the first place.
The award the courts will ultimately give the victim will invalidate United’s actions.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said it was outside of its standard operating procedure, and its security officer was placed on administrative leave. United’s CEO already apologized for “overbooking,” but not for what they did to this innocent man simply trying to get back to his patients.
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