Home Opinion Editorials United Airlines picks pilots over paying passengers

United Airlines picks pilots over paying passengers

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Dragged Dao: One passenger recorded the scene of Dao being forced from the plane by security. Courtesy of Storyful News
Dragged Dao: One passenger recorded the scene of Dao being forced from the plane by security. Courtesy of Storyful News

When you spend hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket, you generally do so under the assumption that you won’t be violently dragged off the plane for no good reason.

Yet this appears to be a specialty of sorts for United Airlines.

When the story of Dr. David Dao being forcibly removed from a United flight was released, it quickly went viral.

I was outraged.

United claims that the flight was overbooked and asked for four volunteers to surrender their seats. When no one offered their seats, they offered money. Still no volunteers. So, United randomly chose passengers. One was Dao.

He refused, stating that he was a doctor that needed to go see his patients. The end result? The doctor was violently ripped from his seat and lugged down the aisle, his midriff exposed as he shouted in alarm and confusion.

His fellow passengers yelled, expressing dismay and protesting the way he was being treated. Now, many of us are yelling at our television screens from home.

When a flight is overbooked, there’s generally some sort of announcement addressing it at the gate. There is a request for people to voluntarily relinquish their seat in exchange for some level of monetary compensation.

But that’s not how things went down this time.

There was no such request at the gate. That’s because the flight wasn’t overbooked in the traditional sense. By all accounts, every paying customer that showed up had room on the plane.

The plane was already completely boarded by the time four non-paying United employees showed up at the gate. Notice something about that statement? They paid zero dollars — they did not have tickets — they were, therefore, not booked in the traditional sense of the word.

United made a conscious decision that their employees are more valuable than their customers when they chose to involuntarily remove someone with a ticket in favor of someone that paid nothing.

CEO Oscar Munoz released the following statement concerning the incident: “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.”

In the wise words of Han Solo, “Jeez, I’m out of it for a little while and everyone gets delusions of grandeur!”

Munoz is out of touch, off base and totally delusional in regards to this situation. He uses the word re-accommodation when I think he means assault.

According to his lawyer, even after Dao was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, he will need reconstructive surgery to repair the injuries sustained during the event.

If anything other than an emergency situation prompted such a removal, then this is just absurd. In a situation with several options, United chose by far the worst. And that is a reflection of their company.

It later came out that Dao was convicted in 2004 of prescribing painkillers in exchange for sex. Many have used this to rationalize and justify the abuse levied on him. For me, it is irrelevant.

Whether he is good, bad or chaotic neutral, this was an injustice.

We live in a day and age of outrage culture. The internet is a vehicle that gives us the opportunity to explode over trivial things. This isn’t one of them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to board a plane knowing that I might be violently escorted off it against my will.

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