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Shame On You, United

I don't often comment on current events, but the story about the passenger that United Airlines beat bloody and dragged off a flight -- for no reason but to accomodate some of their own deadheading employees, and despite the fact that he had a ticket that he'd bought and paid for and was doing nothing but sitting peacefully in his assigned seat -- has me seeing red.

Jimmy Kimmel said it better than I could.

I stand with Jimmy, with Alan Grayson, and with millions of other ordinary Americans from coast to coast who were outraged by these videos, and by the mealy-mouthed corporate bullshit the United's CEO chose to offer afterwards.

One point Jimmy did not raise: in what world does an airline employee's need to get to his next flight take precedence over a doctor's need to return to his hospital?

The "police" who dragged the man off the plane and beat him do not deserve the name of police officers, and should be fired immediately. "They were just following orders" is no excuse.

The United CEO should also resign. He's a disgrace.

I am old enough to remember when airlines were regulated, and passengers had rights. But we deregulated the airlines, and now passengers are cattle. The present rule seems to be just what Kimmel says: do what we say, or else. You may have given us your money, but we owe you nothing.

And here's the cherry for your (bloody) sundae: United has also announced plans to begin charging passengers for carry-on luggage.


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Apr. 11th, 2017 10:19 pm (UTC)
It was also so entirely unnecessary. If it were so all-fired important to keep their deadheads on that plane, they could simply have continued upping the offer until someone took the deal. Instead they chose to enforce their legal right to bump with violence. Noted, United. Noted.
Apr. 12th, 2017 12:12 am (UTC)
It could just be a reaction to the cultural zeitgeist. From their voting patterns, an astonishingly large number of Americans recently seemed to indicate that they want more proto-authoritarian behavior and people in uniforms allowed to do whatever they want. United is simply catering to this demographic.
Apr. 11th, 2017 11:22 pm (UTC)
Where's the dragons when you need them George?
Brad Thomas
Apr. 11th, 2017 11:29 pm (UTC)

I couldn't agree with you more George. By the way, are you on twitter? I thought this was your only social media spot (that and your website respectively).

Stringer Bill
Apr. 12th, 2017 12:09 am (UTC)
I pray every flight to win the bumped off lottery. I am shocked nobody took the deal. the libertarian in me feels validated in the power of the consumer and stock holders.
Apr. 12th, 2017 12:18 am (UTC)
A co-worker showed me the video, it was SURREAL. Not only the initial excuse ("overbooking") was very flimsy, but what followed was just so bizarre and unnecessary. They could have simply upped the offer until someone accepted.

And for me, overbooking is almost an unknown experience - after some chaos at the airports a few years ago, consumer law and the civil aviation agency here made overbooking a flight almost illegal, and the issue and passenger rights are very visible. It is viewed as a breach of contract and the penalties are incredibly heavy. Of course, the downside of this is that the no-show penalties also rose.

I must say that my only experience with United was rather awkward. I flew with them GIG-IAH-BJX and the last part was staffed by an all-American crew that didn't knew A SINGLE WORD IN SPANISH! They couldn't answer passenger questions on the Mexican entry forms because they didn't knew what was written and couldn't communicate properly with the passengers. Even though it was a small plane, usually international flights have flight attendants that speak (if not fluently, a little) of the language of the country they're flying to or from.
Apr. 12th, 2017 12:20 am (UTC)
I hope this bankrupts United. I heard their stock has already dropped over $1 billion dollars. Serves the F-ers right!
David Dow
Apr. 12th, 2017 12:43 am (UTC)
This story sickened me from first blush, and the more I've learned the worse it's gotten. At any point in this tragedy, someone with customer service training should have seen that this was going badly and was going to be a major PR disaster, but at each of these turning points it seems that whichever United employee was making that particular decision kept pushing the issue further. The CEO's final blow was in waving off responsibility, something which I hope the courts will set him straight on and soon. The airport police at the very least exceeded the bounds of appropriate force and need to lose their jobs - criminal charges should be considered. The UA personnel involved at all levels need to be terminated at once and the CEO needs to be included, sans golden parachute. I doubt that will happen, but have some faith that market forces will reduce UA stock prices sufficiently to liven the Board meetings until something improves.
Apr. 12th, 2017 01:22 am (UTC)
Clearly, it was an honest mistake. They thought he was a guitar.
Apr. 12th, 2017 02:55 am (UTC)
And here's the cherry for your (bloody) sundae: United has also announced plans to begin charging passengers for carry-on luggage.

That part I have no problem with. My national airline Air New Zealand restricts hand luggage to 7 kilos and enforces it. Hard. And that's a good thing. It's a safety issue: not only is heavy luggage dangerous when it falls out of overhead bins not designed to take it, in an emergency situation when you may literally have only seconds to escape people struggling with heavy hand luggage are a potential death sentence. As for the cost, meh. Flying is cheaper than it's ever been. It costs me considerably less now (in absolute terms, no less) to fly to London than it did in the 1980s.
Apr. 12th, 2017 05:10 am (UTC)
This person paid money on order to get to a certain place at a certain time. He was dragged out of the airplane for no reason except greed of the transport company. How can overbooking be legal at all. It's not a goddamn lottery!
Christopher Frazier
Apr. 12th, 2017 07:30 am (UTC)
Very horrible and sad. I hope United never recovers from this unless the people responsible for this are fired. Seems like every day, I get a news notification about something that makes me see red.

Ignoring all news feels wrong (as if I could anyway) but getting blasted randomly with such stories is no fun either. Hard to know what to do.
Kristjn Gaukur Kristjnsson
Apr. 12th, 2017 12:46 pm (UTC)
Not the first time I hear about United...
... first time was this:

robbie clark
Apr. 12th, 2017 01:57 pm (UTC)
Fewer people are bumped now than in the past
Interesting facts, George. Fewer people are bumped from flights now than at any time in the past. Far fewer actually.


Airlines and flying in the US are still heavily regulated. The FAA is a regulating body.
Apr. 12th, 2017 01:59 pm (UTC)
I am with you on this George. I also think this is a perfect time to stand up and reject the longstanding flawed policy of overbooking. How can it be acceptable to sell something if you don't have it? Especially a seat on a plane! People need to be able to go from one place to another with some relative certainty. Please lend your voice to this injustice George!
Apr. 12th, 2017 02:19 pm (UTC)
Here in Russia we have the low-coster airline with similar notoriety: "Pobeda" (Rus. for "victory"). Their motto: the low-coster passenger will suffer!They also charge for carry-on baggage, purposely scatter the families along the cabin, forbid changing your seat, even if airliner is empty, and more. I heard that they are planning to sew up the pockets in back of seats.
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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