by Brad Nelson 4/12/17
You’ve probably all seen the video of the man being “bumped” from a United Airlines flight. David French has an article noting that none of the sides involved (including the passenger) look good. The consensus of the commenters to this article, which I think is a better take, goes something like this: “Yeah, that Asian guy was over-the-top. But if he hadn’t freaked out, little attention would have been brought to this practice of bumping.”
However you think or feel about this, you can’t buy bad publicity like this if you tried. The incident will fade from memory as surely as an airline crash does and people will likely forget which airline perpetrated this incident. But perhaps funniest of all, while the fun lasts, was the immediate response from (affirmative action?) CEO Oscar Munoz:
“I apologize for having re-accommodated these customers.”
As French noted, PRWeek had named him “communicator of the year” last month. From the French article you can also see (near the end at the 4:12 mark) the funny parody ad by Jimmy Kimmel.
And apparently the story is (as one commenter noted) that United didn’t over-book the flight. There were not other paying passengers waiting to board the flight. United simply wanted to fly four employees somewhere, and it’s not clear that their trip was so that they could start another shift elsewhere. One fellow noted that these employees had just finished their shift. But who knows at this point?
As others have noted, these four employees could have easily been put on another plane (from United or elsewhere) or a special flight chartered. I think this incident shows how people are thought of as cattle by these airlines and, in fact, by the entire airline process including TSA.
Yours truly would not have acted as that lunatic Asian man did, who has now hired a high-priced ambulance-chaser attorney who will surely Shylock a few million from United. But I would have demanded more compensation than apparently one of the near useless vouchers they typically offer which (from what people are saying) have way too many restriction on them to be of much value.
It’s tempting to ascribe “Don’t tread on me” motives to the passenger who freaked out. And had a man simply refused to leave and gave a good and principled reason, that would be an easier motive to ascribe. But this passenger just acted like a baby. Bad met bad, apparently by random. The only good news is that this crash-and-burn happened on the ground.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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