VeryBumpy

Passenger dragged off overbooked United flight

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How can he be wrong, with a paid-for ticket and a boarding pass, and jerked off to accommodate United non-flying employee. It was also reported that he was a MD and needed to see his patients, but i guess that doesnt really matter.

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United has quite the disaster on their hand.  I don't know how to choose who loses, but a gentlemen already in his seat with boarding pass and a paid ticket sure doesn't seem to be the choice.  I've never understood how they can possibly overbook a flight.  And if they do, I've always felt it's up to them to make a deal so sweet that someone will volunteer, even it it costs them several thousand dollars.  I wonder if they even paid for a hotel room after all this, or decided they weren't obligated to since he had be "arrested" off the plane?  Good luck United, you deserve what you get.

3 minutes ago, lennie said:

...It was also reported that he was a MD and needed to see his patients, but i guess that doesnt really matter.

It shouldn't matter.  When it comes to an airplane seat, we should all be treated the same.  No reason he should keep his seat over anyone else just because of his job.  Everyone has something.  Get home and see their kids, etc.  Apologies I'm picking on this point.  I'm a M.D. and "privilege" treatment has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine...just guess how I feel about doctors who get out of speeding tickets by mentioning they're on their way to the hospital?

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Frankly, if they can't find a seat for their crew to get somewhere, they should either charter a private plane or drive them. Bumping paying passengers off an airliner - especially when they've already been boarded - because of their rostering problem is completely unacceptable, it's their problem and they should have to deal with it without messing fare paying passengers around. It's likely they could have avoided the problem entirely by not boarding a few people in the first place, which admittedly would be annoying for those people, but it would have prevented the need to literally drag someone off the aircraft. And it's even more apparent that if you are faced with having to manhandle someone and you see those mobile phone cameras start coming out, then that's the time to chill out and realise what a PR disaster you'll be creating, so I don't think those security staff were the sharpest tools in the box.

On the bright side, the airline are unlikely to have to deal with that problem again for quite some time, because I doubt they will be anyone's airline of choice now after so many people have seen the way they chose to deal with this, thus you can pretty much guarantee you'll get a seat on a United airliner now lol.

The cost of chartering an aeroplane to get those four crew members on to their destination is going to seem like peanuts compared to how much they are going to have to pay that passenger in compensation to not have him go on every talk show in the entire US and put them out of business altogether. But even if they do so, it's still a PR disaster for them. I bet the other airlines are gonna love this one, and it's not the first time United have had to deal with bad PR either...

 

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Just a few thoughts from someone who once flew rj's in the united express world.

1. This would have been the call of the gate agent.  Flight deck crew would have only been vaguely aware that there was some kind of boarding issue in the back, as he was not drunk or harrassing another passenger, so not a safety or security issue.  Most likely an agent with an authority complex like the other week, this time a little too zealous to bring in the police.  And when you bring a hammer to a party, everybody looks like a nail.

2. There could have been more that the agent could have done to solicit volunteers, as there is definitely more upwards room for the store credit coupons than a mere $800, before escalating to a physical altercation.

3. I have some questions as to the last minute nature of the four deadheaders that led to the situation.  Was this the absolute last flight they could have been placed on?  This flight that was already full that Republic crew scheduling decided to dh the four crew on that was already boarded, forcing the agent to unseat instead of the easier task of denying boarding?  Was it 'last minute' because the agent forgot to hold their seats?  Was it 'last minute' because Republic crew scheduling forgot to 'list' the four onto that flight, so that the agent knew nothing about them until they walked up?  Either way, if any of that is true, then that would be a screw up on the part of United/Republic, which no passenger on that plane should have been penalized for, in my opinion.  Delay the flight that dh crew was on their way to, mark the delay to scheduling or that agent, and then fire thr responsible person.  Better than this pr fiasco.

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I sure wish I was this guy's lawyer - he'd own UA by the time the case was over and we'd both be rich. Everybody on that plane anywhere near the incident recorded this.

DJ

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Fault for this PR nightmare can be placed onto all involved...

- CPD: Really need to resort to dragging this clown off the plane? Have seen reports that the officer violated SOP and has been placed on leave. I place most of the blame for the outcome on CPD, and NOT RPA.

- United: Well, actually Republic, but UAL gets to deal with the s*** filled twinke PR mess... I agree with KevinAu. Screw up by the gate agent. Should have denied boarding before the passenger walked down the jetway. Also, definitely could have gone higher than $800. Can pretty much guarantee that the PR cost to UAL far exceeds what they could have offered for compensation to volunteer.

- Idiot clown: Have you (general term) ever read the contract of carriage when you purchased a ticket? Also, and this is the biggest thing a lot of people seem to overlook. We've seen only the last 5-10 minutes of an event. No video of the gate agent, or eventually CPD talking to the guy, telling him what would happen next. The airline has the right to pull you off the plane with compensation. Don't like it, don't buy the ticket and enter into the contract.

All in all, VERY bad PR for UAL, even though it didn't happen on a UAL proper aircraft.

 

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Never liked United after extremely bad customer service over a decade ago. IMO they are the worst airline flying in our skies and would care less if they went bankrupt. Also the officers who assaulted this man at the behest of a corporate entity should all be fired. It seems these days a badge authorizes indiscriminate assault on the public at large. 

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Having some (limited) insites into the airlines, here is how it works:

Joe buys a ticket for $500 two months before the flight.

Bill is a business person and needs to go urgently tomorrow and is willing to pay much more, because of short notice, for the sake of this example $1200 (short notice flight are normally much more expensive).

The airlines offers Joe $400 compansation, still makes a $800 profit on that seat.

Flights are often more than 6 to 10 seats overbooked regardless of crew seats or not.

The airlines agrue they do that, because they always have a number of 'no shows'. Which is BS in my opinion.

I hope this incident will initiate a change in the law or at least increase the outrage.

In my opinion it is fraud to sell more than you have and should not be allowed at all.

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United got this one very wrong. He paid for a ticket, issued a boarding pass, boarded the plane, was in his seat, the point for bumping a person was missed in many stages already. Forcibly removing a paying customer already aboard a plane is about the worse PR I have ever seen. 

I live in New Zealand and our media is laughing at how crazy things have become for you guys. You can't even fly home without the goon squad smashing your face in. Just Society ended a loooong time ago when things have become this bad for you

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Only the pilot who has actually worked in the airline industry in this thread has any clue what he/she is talking about. Every one else is talking out of their butts. It's comments like these that truly show how little flightsim users actually know about the airlines and how they are ran.

To the user who literally suggest an airline should charter a plane to move four employees to where the airline needs them....You sir are unbelievably ignorant of airline ops.

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4 minutes ago, ytzpilot said:

United got this one very wrong. He paid for a ticket, issued a boarding pass, boarded the plane, was in his seat, the point for bumping a person was missed in many stages already. Forcibly removing a paying customer already aboard a plane is about the worse PR I have ever seen. 

I live in New Zealand and our media is laughing at how crazy things have become for you guys. You can't even fly home without the goon squad smashing your face in. Just Society ended a loooong time ago when things have become this bad for you

You're wrong...

It doesn't matter if your butt touches the seat, you can be pulled off at anytime before the gate agent closes the flight. Sometimes, that's 10 prior to departure, other times it's when the door closes.

 

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13 minutes ago, ahsmatt7 said:

You're wrong...

It doesn't matter if your butt touches the seat, you can be pulled off at anytime before the gate agent closes the flight. Sometimes, that's 10 prior to departure, other times it's when the door closes.

Doesn't matter. The airline is going to look absolutely awful because of this, and rightly so.

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34 minutes ago, ahsmatt7 said:

You're wrong...

It doesn't matter if your butt touches the seat, you can be pulled off at anytime before the gate agent closes the flight. Sometimes, that's 10 prior to departure, other times it's when the door closes.

 

Yes but I can't recall any time in the history of Canada or Australia or New Zealand when Police physically removed a paying customer from an aircraft like that. My point being things are that crazy for you guys now. 

In New Zealand our police still don't carry a gun, they would probably offer a passenger to come have a meat pie instead and talk it over, our cops are like that, great talkers and de-escalators. 

 

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28 minutes ago, ytzpilot said:

Yes but I can't recall any time in the history of Canada or Australia or New Zealand when Police physically removed a paying customer from an aircraft like that. My point being things are that crazy for you guys now. 

In New Zealand our police still don't carry a gun, they would probably offer a passenger to come have a meat pie instead and talk it over, our cops are like that, great talkers and de-escalators. 

 

who said this guy wasn't offered other alternatives? Please don't fall in the trap thinking that what you saw in a small video clip is the whole story. Come on, I know you're better than that.

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48 minutes ago, HiFlyer said:

Doesn't matter. The airline is going to look absolutely awful because of this, and rightly so.

why rightly so? You act as if other airlines haven't kicked paying customers off of their airplanes before.

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9 minutes ago, ahsmatt7 said:

who said this guy wasn't offered other alternatives?

That doesn't matter here.  The folks making the decisions that drove this incident into the ditch have proven themselves to be far down on Darwin's list.  In the end United/Republic will suffer greatly because of the PR mess, and well they should.  It was their employees and the wannabe rocket scientists from CPD who let this get so ugly.  They all deserve what they get.  Only thing to wonder about now is what that passenger will name his new airline?  (For those without a sense of humor, that is a rhetorical question).

Greg

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Sad day for humanity,

The worlds gone nuts. No one should ever be treated this way. As an Airline pilot I know people have rights to travel when they pay for an airline ticket. But the airline also has rights not to fly them if they choose not to. Over booking is annoying and is considered a form of gambling by management, works 99% of the time.

I suspect certain SOPs were not followed properly by the gate agent in this case, and maybe a better way to handle this situation is to temporarily cancel the flight until somebody(s) is willing to step off and offered attractive compensation. If no one offers (more than likely on the last flight of the day) then the airline still (maybe the wrong choice) has the right to ask one or even all the people to leave and if they refuse then the airline can cancel the flight until things are resolved peacefully knowing that the airlines reputation is on display.

My guess is the flight was full and the United subsidiary Airline needed to transport their staff but in this case management lost on the gamble, If every passenger was seated with confirmed tickets and boarding passes then a good airline would probably have chartered another aircraft for the staff or as CHOCK said drive them, this quite the norm believe me.

An Airline has the responsibility to keep its passengers safe or unharmed from gate to gate. Shame on them for allowing this heavy handed approach. Passengers also need to realise that even if they buy a ticket it doesn't mean the airline has to fly them anywhere. (read the fine print)  If you're asked to get off, sadly you gota  go!

A good airline always has their customers best interests at heart.

I hope United Airlines looks closely at this subsidiary airline and perhaps severs the ties.

 

 Just IMHO

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2 hours ago, KevinAu said:

Just a few thoughts from someone who once flew rj's in the united express world.

1. This would have been the call of the gate agent.  Flight deck crew would have only been vaguely aware that there was some kind of boarding issue in the back, as he was not drunk or harrassing another passenger, so not a safety or security issue.  Most likely an agent with an authority complex like the other week, this time a little too zealous to bring in the police.  And when you bring a hammer to a party, everybody looks like a nail.

2. There could have been more that the agent could have done to solicit volunteers, as there is definitely more upwards room for the store credit coupons than a mere $800, before escalating to a physical altercation.

3. I have some questions as to the last minute nature of the four deadheaders that led to the situation.  Was this the absolute last flight they could have been placed on?  This flight that was already full that Republic crew scheduling decided to dh the four crew on that was already boarded, forcing the agent to unseat instead of the easier task of denying boarding?  Was it 'last minute' because the agent forgot to hold their seats?  Was it 'last minute' because Republic crew scheduling forgot to 'list' the four onto that flight, so that the agent knew nothing about them until they walked up?  Either way, if any of that is true, then that would be a screw up on the part of United/Republic, which no passenger on that plane should have been penalized for, in my opinion.  Delay the flight that dh crew was on their way to, mark the delay to scheduling or that agent, and then fire thr responsible person.  Better than this pr fiasco.

 

Absolutely the exact same questions I had - to the "T".

I simply can't fathom why this got to a physical level -  no excuse for that.

 

 

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31 minutes ago, ahsmatt7 said:

why rightly so? You act as if other airlines haven't kicked paying customers off of their airplanes before.

It's kind of a moot point when the majority of posters in this threads answers already say in various ways all I would have said and more.

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I am on UAL's side here, they gave pax the chance to volunteer, no one did, so they, or the computer, randomly chose four people, as I understand.

The other 3 deplaned, this one refused to, so the forcibly removed him.  Does it not state somewhere in the Ts&Cs that they can ask to to leave, with or without assistance, for pretty much any reason?

However, this is indeed going to be a PR nightmare for United, and this guy will probably get a pile of cash from them as a result.

I worked for a local regional airline that had a server dedicated to calculating how much they can overbook a flight by.  I somehow doubt they are the only one that does this.  The airlines do this so that they can get their flights as full as possible.  As already stated in this thread, that works 99% of the time, for the other 1%, you have pax that are denied boarding, usually at the gate/checkin, or in this case, dragged off the flight.  

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I had absolutely no idea that fare paying passengers could be hauled off airliners if airline employees needed to be on that particular flight. Frankly, I think that's a joke. Like Alan states further back in this thread...if an airline needs some of its employees elsewhere, then it should charter a plane to fly them there, or find some other alternative. Booting fare paying passengers off aircraft is unacceptable. I don't care what it says on the back of the ticket.

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28 minutes ago, SirBismuth said:

I am on UAL's side here, they gave pax the chance to volunteer, no one did, so they, or the computer, randomly chose four people, as I understand.

The other 3 deplaned, this one refused to, so the forcibly removed him.  Does it not state somewhere in the Ts&Cs that they can ask to to leave, with or without assistance, for pretty much any reason?

However, this is indeed going to be a PR nightmare for United, and this guy will probably get a pile of cash from them as a result.

I worked for a local regional airline that had a server dedicated to calculating how much they can overbook a flight by.  I somehow doubt they are the only one that does this.  The airlines do this so that they can get their flights as full as possible.  As already stated in this thread, that works 99% of the time, for the other 1%, you have pax that are denied boarding, usually at the gate/checkin, or in this case, dragged off the flight.  

I think you are being a bit overly blaise about thd 'dragged off the flight' part.  That part of the gamble should have never happened.  For that to happen, it means some employee did not follow procedures to allow that situation to develop.  Somebody should be held accountable for that mistake and causing this situation.    I fly for an airline that has a policy of not overbooking flights.  Of course that does not mean that it would never happen from weather, maintenance or other unforseen circumstances, but our management sees an ethical issue and a marketing opportunity with it.  Legal or not, gambling on selling several seats out of every flight to two different people is unarguably an extremely greedy and deceitful practice, with a good possibility of leaving a customer feeling very cheated.  Imagine if aerosoft, pmdg, imaginesim or orbx did something like that?  That the small print says that even if you paynfor this addon, there is a chance that you will not receive it and that you will have no recourse.  Imagine the outcry here, and I would bet you wouldn't say you were on aerosoft's side.

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22 minutes ago, SirBismuth said:

I am on UAL's side here, they gave pax the chance to volunteer, no one did, so they, or the computer, randomly chose four people, as I understand.

The other 3 deplaned, this one refused to, so the forcibly removed him.  Does it not state somewhere in the Ts&Cs that they can ask to to leave, with or without assistance, for pretty much any reason?

Sure. But just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should.

There are so many other alternatives here it's unreal. Overbooking is a fact of life, but it should be dealt with at check-in, not on the aircraft. It's the airline's commercial decision. So why treat it like it's the customer's fault? What did he do deserve being chucked off the flight other than buy a ticket on UAL? Bet he won't make that mistake again.

It's just atrocious customer service. I cannot believe there was no better way to get those crew to where they needed to be. Again, comes back to the same thing: UAL's problem, not the customer's. I don't know where the deadheading crew were in all of this but frankly I'm slightly surprised if they were anywhere near seeing what was going on that none of them took control of the situation and offered to offload themselves in order to protect the brand from what is now a PR nightmare. Those images will be hard to forget and you can bet the social media memes will just keep on doing the rounds every time UA crops up in discussion.

I thought the response of the airline's press office was pretty poor as well: given the shocking nature of those images, they needed to come out and be clear and blunt that that sort of thing is unacceptable. Not issue some mealy-mouthed press release about 'reaccomodating' some customers.

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3 hours ago, Christopher Low said:

I had absolutely no idea that fare paying passengers could be hauled off airliners if airline employees needed to be on that particular flight. Frankly, I think that's a joke. Like Alan states further back in this thread...if an airline needs some of its employees elsewhere, then it should charter a plane to fly them there, or find some other alternative. Booting fare paying passengers off aircraft is unacceptable. I don't care what it says on the back of the ticket.

Booting off the flight is perfectly acceptable.  It's the contract you sign when you buy the ticket with ANY airline.  How they went about it however needs lots of improvement.

But was also unacceptable is the way the passenger resisted.  Never ever ever resist in any way on the aircraft.  I'm amazed I even need to say that on this site.  The place to slug this out with the airline is off the plane and at the counter.  He's lucky they let him on the next flight out.

As to "Suing the airline."  Not gonna happen.  He could sue TSA and the local enforcement agency.  But by the time they got involved he was already getting verbal with the Crew and violating the Contract of Carriage.  So he was in a way trespassing and interfering with the duties of an aircrew.  But the people that physically accosted him was the TSA and the LEO not the airline.

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