The unfortunate events on 4/9/17 on United Airlines flight 3411 which was departing Chicago to Louisville, got me to thinking after several friends asked me questions regarding actual travel policies since they knew I was in the travel industry for 20 years. United still stands, divided we fly.
In summary, the common scenario of passengers being bumped from a flight escalated into a physical altercation with aviation authorities which have mostly been confused with United employees.
You can read the blow-by-blow, very detailed account of what happened on Wikipedia – click here.
I first learned of the incident on my Facebook News Feed by reading status updates such as, “I’m never flying United again” or “United’s actions were horrible”. My eyebrow raised as my interest was piqued. Especially with the hashtag of #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos as the Twittersphere was absolutely relentless on their trolling for United Airlines.
Before the facts were established, the social media world had condemned United Airlines for their actions.
They were: judge, jury, and executor.
You see, nowadays, you’re guilty until you can prove that 1) you’re innocent 2) you’re not to blame or 3) your accuser is the guilty party.
It’s sad to me to see the internet trolls have incident activated, instant trolling armies.
I’m not defending United Airlines in any way, shape or form! In fact, after researching as much as I could, a small part of me felt bad for United Airlines. Until their CEO, Oscar Munoz, poorly handled the public relations portion of the incident in a series of interviews, quotes, tweets, and emails.
I sat there dumbfounded. Why did say those things? Why didn’t he enlist the team of people that damage control is their forte? And if he did enlist the help, why was the effort so poor?
So that type of fodder was all that Twitter Trolls needed for fuel. This type of legacy will live for many years.
Shortly after, a blog post surfaced titled “I Know You’re Mad at United but … ” by a woman, only known as Angelina.
Many comments were in reply to it:
Bryan Evans: Sure, the given police force there handled it wrong, but ultimately the blame is still on United.
This is really just an event that largely identified issues with United’s (and likely other airlines’) policies. I understand bumping customers off a flight, especially when they then have to compensate greatly with vouchers, etc, but their policy is flawed if a passenger has already scanned their ticket and allowed to board and sit in the aircraft. United, if they really wanted to bump 4 people, should have handled it at the gate. If they were so desperate to get 4 seats and they failed to do so before everyone boarded, then they should just find another flight or charter a private jet if it’s that vital. Instead they allowed a situation to get poorly handled and are rightfully getting lit up by social media.
Paul Cox: Your friend (or whoever originally wrote this post) have a few things skewed, though.
It’s another company, but one that’s hired by United to operate in its name. The employees wear United uniforms, the planes say “United Express” on them, and they say “thanks for flying United Express”.
The ticket is sold by United and the flight number is a United number. It’s not like when you buy a “KLM” ticket and go to the airport and it’s a Delta flight that’s “codesharing”.
United uses this alternate company to avoid paying its own employees their unionized pay and benefits package.
Legally, it might be a different company, but morally, it’s all done at United’s direction and guidance. It’d be like saying like employees of a McDonald’s are technically employees of a franchise owner, bit of McDonalds.
The cops were acting on the false belief that they were performing a legal act- that the airline had a right to pull that guy off the plane and he was giving them a hard time.
But they don’t have that right. The passenger doesn’t need a “bill of rights”; he already had rights, established in the rules he bought the ticket under, which form a contract between him and United (who wrote the rules and sold him the ticket- another reason United’s at fault).
Those rules say he could be involuntarily denied boarding of the aircraft, but NOT that once he’s boarded the airline can pull him back off.
The reason this opinion isn’t “popular” isn’t because it’s not cool, it’s unpopular because it’s wrong. The blame is on United and that’s exactly where it should be.
Regardless of the facts stated, Americans with it’s online opinion seem to be infallible. In fact, an article surfaced that the protagonist, Dr David Dao, deserved this. What? Seriously, read below.
When airport security yanked David Dao off an overbooked flight Sunday, bloodying him as they dragged him down the aisle, he was thrust into the international spotlight. Dao, an Elizabethtown doctor, is familiar to many Kentuckians who recall his convictions on drug-related offenses in 2004.
Dao’s removal from Lousiville-bound United Express Flight 3411 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago was captured on video. United has come under scathing criticism for how it handled the situation, ranging from its insistence that passengers give up seats to the level of violence used by officers who yanked Dao from the aircraft.
In the video taken by passengers, Dao refuses to give up his seat. He screams as three Chicago Aviation officers begin pulling him from his seat. Dao’s head strikes an armrest before he is dragged down the aisle by his arms, seemingly unconscious.
As he is dragged, some passengers can be heard admonishing the security officers.
The Chicago Department of Aviation has placed the security officer who dragged Dao from his seat on leave, and said in a statement Monday that it does not condone his actions and that the incident on the United flight was not in accordance with its standard operating procedure.
United’s CEO has apologized for the incident, and the U.S. Transportation Department also is investigating whether United complied with federal regulations regarding overbooking.
Dao, his wife and two other passengers were asked to leave the aircraft because the flight was full and four crew members needed their seats, according to witnesses who were on the flight. The airline had offered vouchers worth up to $800 for passengers to give up their seats, but no one took the offer. Four passengers, including Dao, were then selected to be bumped.
A Louisville resident on the flight, Audra Bridges, told the Courier-Journal that Dao said he was a doctor and needed to see patients the next morning. Bridges said passengers were “shocked and appalled” by the incident, and thousands of people on social media have expressed sympathy for Dao and outrage over the way the situation was handled.
Dao’s wife, Dr. Teresa Dao, has a pulmonary practice in Elizabethtown. Office staff at her clinic said Tuesday that neither Dao nor his wife wished to speak with a reporter regarding the United incident.
Dao, who went to medical school in Vietnam in the 1970s before moving to the U.S., has worked as a pulmonologist in Elizabethtown but was arrested in 2003 and eventually convicted of drug-related offenses after an undercover investigation, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure last June.
The documents allege that he was involved in fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances and was sexually involved with a patient who used to work for his practice and assisted police in building a case against him.
Dao was convicted of multiple felony counts of obtaining drugs by fraud or deceit in November 2004 and was placed on five years of supervised probation in January 2005, according to the documents. He surrendered his medical license the next month.
The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure permitted Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015 under certain conditions. (Click here to read the full article)
United still stands
Still my question remains, what does that have to do with Dao’s removal from the airplane. Despite the outcome of the legalities of the incident, United still stands, divided we fly.
What are the next steps, you ask? Just act like Pepsi, hoping another United Airlines AND Sean Spicer distracts social media long enough to forget what you’ve done wrong? Just doesn’t seem a positive workflow to me.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the Bible of all sources, Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
Until next time, Spaceship Earth and it’s passengers, be good like you should and if you can’t be good, be good like you should!
Mic drop *bOoM*