United passenger dragged off overbooked flight

This post has been updated.

United Airlines, the anti-leggings airline, isn’t above dragging people off a plane if it wants to give the seat to someone else.

The airline had a sold-out flight Sunday from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., but it needed room for several United employees to fly on the plane so they could be at work today.

The airline had offered passengers $400 and a hotel stay as an incentive to give up their seat, saying they could take a flight this afternoon instead.

No sale.

The cops boarded the plane to pick the “volunteers.” after the airline picked the “volunteers.” They passed on the white guy.

They picked a man who said he was a doctor and had to be at the hospital this morning and needed to be on the flight.

He ran back on the plane after being pulled off. This is heart-breaking.

United, which has an awfully difficult time mastering the art of public relations and image, made no apologies, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked,” the spokesperson said. “After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate.

“We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”

Were there other options? Presumably, some passengers were waiting for a better deal to give up their seat. The airline reportedly upped the incentive to $800, a small price for the airline to pay to avoid the damage to what’s left of United’s reputation.

(h/t: Nancy Yang)

[Updating to add]

It’s worth noting that, as is the case with many airline flights, this one was not operated by the airline whose name appears on the plane. It’s a hidden airline — Republic Airlines, which operates flights for Delta, United, and America.

[Update 1:37 p.m.]


[Update 2:32 p.m.]
Associated Press: Chicago aviation department says officer involved in dragging man off United flight placed on leave.

[Update 3:59 p.m.]
An even more disturbing video has emerged.

  • Laurie K.

    Hmmmmm… seems to me that these cops should be charged with assault. Nice job United.

  • Rich in duluth

    Back in the 60s, Eastern used to roll out a Martin 404 if the DC to NYC shuttle was “overbooked”…but, that was back when there were actual regulations.

  • MikeB

    In a common sense world, selling tickets for seats that do not exist would be a fraudulent transaction.

  • Mike

    There must be some secret committee of airline staff and government employees that meets regularly to consider new and creative ways to make air travel ever more totalitarian and generally unpleasant. Now that they’ve exhausted all the basic options (overcrowding, shrinking seats, surly employees), they’ve resorted to physical assault. I guess the firing squad is next.

    Remind me again: why are trains such a great idea for Europe but such a bad idea for the U.S.?

    • Anna

      But trains may no longer be a viable option either.

      Amtrak funding is also targeted for budget cuts to provide a bigger military.

      Leisure and business travel on a train is 360 degrees the opposite of airline travel. Comfortable, roomy seats, friendly, polite staff, meals on board and the definite guarantee of drunk or unruly passengers being booted off at the next stop to cool their jets.

      For the average price of an airline ticket, I can travel on the City of New Orleans for less than $600 and that includes sleeping accommodations. No, it’s not a four-star hotel bed but it sure beats trudging to a rental car and then driving to a hotel.

      I am not surprised by this. We’re becoming more and more uncivil by the day.

      If we were not so hung up on American independence and exceptionalism, we would still have decent cross country train options today.

      • Mike

        I’m not talking about Amtrak, which is laughable by 21st-century standards. My comment is directed toward systems like the TGV in Europe – fast, modern trains that let you travel with reasonable speed in relative comfort.

        One thing I’ll never understand about this country is: why it’s seditious and communist to travel in an aluminum tube by rail, but virtuous and capitalist to pack people more tightly and uncomfortably into an aluminum tube called an airplane.

        • Anna

          I have traveled in Europe and Amtrak is not nearly at the standard of European rail travel.

          That being said, American rail travel was abandoned when the automobile took over. Europeans had autos about the same time as the U.S. and why they didn’t abandon their railroads like we did is a subject for research. I suspect it is because they were government owned and also because gasoline is far more expensive in Europe than it is in the U.S.

          The clientele that travel by train on Amtrak are of a different caliber as well. They are intelligent, friendly and they are not in the least bit in a hurry. They want to arrive at their destination relaxed, not frazzled from trying to make connecting flights and sitting in a seat even Twiggy couldn’t fit in.

          After this latest United/Republic debacle, I’m convinced more than ever that rail is the way to go.

          If I have to visit my relatives down South, I will definitely not be taking a plane, thank you very much.

      • Ben

        I recently looked at prices for Amtrak to New Orleans and it was probably double what I could get on the lowest air carrier. Amtrak seems to be quite expensive IMO. I would love to take them and wouldn’t mind the extra travel time, but the prices aren’t comparable, at least for the trips I’ve have researched lately.

    • Mike Douglas

      Of course, with the new administration, public transit and trains are given even less money.

      Anyone that has traveled abroad (not flyover state Republicans) knows how nice it can be to ride trains and how much easier it is.

      We’re not talking about Amtrak, but bullet trains, etc. As the population continues to grow, we need more transportation options that don’t increase traffic. Unfortunately, the right can never seem to look into the future (energy, transit, climate).

      • Jess

        Literally one in five Americans live in the “flyover states” of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

      • Katie I

        I would love to travel abroad someday but haven’t yet been able to afford it. I agree with almost everything in your comment; would just like to point out that implying those of us who’ve never left the U.S. are universally ignorant, uncultured rubes is a pretty low blow, and doesn’t do much to help make your case.

  • It’s only a 4 1/2 hour car ride from Chicago to Louisville. United should’ve just given the off-duty crew a rental car.

    • Michael

      What?? And spend Money renting them a car? Or letting them use a company car??

      I apologize for the sarcasm, it slipped out. It seems that sometimes the sensible answer is the one no company wants to consider.

    • crystals

      It’s hard to imagine how they could have handled this worse than they did.

      • L. Foonimin

        they could have handed the passenger a can of Pepsi as he was dragged off

        • RBHolb

          And in one sentence, L. Foonimin wins the internet.

        • ziggypop

          That was a good one!

    • Ben

      Or even car service. They could get an SUV, sedan max capacity is usually 3 people, for the 9 hour round trip for probably around $1500.00, give or take a few hundred. If they were offering $800.00 per pax to give up their seats, the car service beats it on price alone, not to mention the customer service aspect.

    • ziggypop

      Having driven many a time from Chattanooga, TN to Duluth, MN and back, down I-65, I thought exactly the same thing.

      • I suppose it’s possible taking the car would’ve made the crew miss the required crew rest period… and delayed the morning flight.

        • tagg

          and I was just about to say that the car rental idea was brilliant. oh well.

  • Gary F

    Overbooked means that they sold more tickets than what they had room, right?

    Do they actually let more people get past the Jetway than they have seats?

    And what law did the passengers that were allowed to board break?

    Unbelievable.

    • RBHolb

      That was my question. If the flight was overbooked, bump the people who hadn’t boarded yet.

      • Gary F

        Don’t let then past the check in desk.

      • Cait W

        That could be problematic, too, though. You already see people rushing to be the first on the plane. Imagine telling them the last people on board would be the first to get bumped in case of overbooking. I know they call different sections of the plane in order, but it wouldn’t help much. It might make more sense, if possible, to bump the people who’d actually booked their flights last- but even then, you’d want to provide some kind of warning that the flight was nearing full booking and being bumped would be a possibility. Of course, the best idea would be to make changes to the flawed corporate practice of overbooking in the first place, but that’ll be a cold day in hell.

  • Brian Simon

    I just read an article (forbes, I think) by someone who was paid $11000 in incentives to give up their family’s seats on 3 different Delta flights this weekend.

    Methinks we’ll see this united fiasco in the courts.

    • Kiersten

      Yup, I heard about the same thing!

  • >>They picked a man who said he was a doctor and had to be at the hospital this morning and needed to be on the flight.<<

    Everyone knows that only white males are the only REAL doctors.

    /Sarcasm

    • jon

      After being dragged off the flight, police concluded that he definitely did need to be send to a hospital… though were still questioning if he was a doctor.

  • Jim Hartmann

    “Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”
    Looks like mission accomplished there, thanks to smart phones.

    • Curiously, under the law, the conduct of the flight is exclusively the captain’s responsibility. Not the cops.

  • Will

    This is insane, I agree keep upping​ the offer at some point someone will give up their seat. Imagine the court case, being physically removed from a plane after you legally purchased a ticket… oh yeah, then you were injured and bleeding. This screams civil suit and it’s going to cost the airline millions in legal fees and payouts, but increasing the ticket offer a few hundred dollars was too much!

    • DonnaLezer

      but in the fine print that no one reads…your legally purchased ticket is really worth squat..and everyone clicks I agree

      • grahampuba

        Interesting how this is the defacto assumption to any consumer in a transaction. From what I can make of United’s ‘contract for carriage’ is that they can give your seat up prior to boarding. This fella presumably redeemed his ticket after agents said ‘now boarding flight blah blah’

  • Chris Nelson

    I was flying from Midway to Minneapolis on Wednesday night, the flight was overbooked – Delta offered $800 and then went to $1,200 to get somebody to give up their seat. Delta also let it be know that there were not hotel options available, the trade show I was attending had booked up all the hotels. What the hell is wrong with United?

    • John

      I’d have taken that $1200, and rented a nice car to drive home in with it.

  • Meir

    There are reports that the passengers were “randomly” selected via an airline computer program…not by the police officers.

    http://theweek.com/speedreads/691355/united-airlines-sparks-outrage-after-violently-removing-passenger-from-overbooked-flight

    • Ann

      That doesn’t even make sense, as United’s contract of carriage says the priority of “confirmed passengers [denied boarding] may be determined based on a passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents him/herself for check-in without advanced seat assignment.”

  • Will

    Btw, this is what happens when people on the front lines feel they don’t have any power. You know the gate agents wanted to up the payouts but someone at corporate said “no” and the person on the scene felt they had no power to override corporate. Here’s an interesting podcast on similar situations where people don’t do the right things, instead they follow the rules they think they have to…

    Fixing Our Broken Systems

    http://www.npr.org/2012/05/24/153237583/fixing-our-broken-systems

    • The pilot in the command of the aircraft has COMPLETE authority. The FAA is very strict about this sort of thing.

      If a guy got dragged off an airplane kicking and screaming, it was under the full and complete authority of the pilot.

      • Will

        Yes, on the plane, why did it get to the point where too many passengers were allowed into the plane. Buyouts should happen before boarding and they should have been increasing the numbers, the pilot might have to check with corporate to up offers but at some point you have to take off. Lots of things were broken here.

  • Andrew

    hi bob, i appreciate the gravity of this story and believe that the facts and images surrounding it make a convincing claim. however, your quick remark “they passed on the white guy” is clearly a cheap attempt at race-baiting and, frankly, serves to undermine my faith in your “journalism.” i think you could have produced this story without such an obvious pander.

    • crystals

      …but they did. Why is it race baiting to say what actually happened? A person of color was dragged off the plane. A white person was not.

      I’m confused by your comment the same way I was confused last week when white men in the legislature were outraged and demanded apologies and a resignation. They got called out for doing what they were actually doing.

      Who are the snowflakes now?

      • Andrew

        it’s not germane to the story. age isn’t mentioned. the race of the cops isn’t mentioned. it’s not mentioned that white women were passed up. it’s not mentioned that other people of color are passed up. to post this one snippet in isolation with regard to all other discriminating factors in a story that – most importantly – clearly has its own legs seems like race baiting. i don’t want to get in a debate with you crystals. i was hoping bob would have a response. if not; it’s fine.

        • crystals

          That’s okay – we don’t need to debate. I think whether or not it’s germane to the story is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, it matters.

        • Will

          You don’t get it, on the left they see racism in every action… they want to find every “microaggression” even from a random generated number. Btw, it is similar to how many on the right see bias in the media it’s simply how these groups see the world. You are correct, it was unnecessary.

          • Grace Scrimgeour

            There wasn’t anything ‘micro’ in this aggression.

          • Rob

            Whether a person is on the left or right, there’s a simple construct for determining if an institutional action is racist, which works in almost all instances: If it looks, sounds, smells and feels racist, it’s racist.

          • John Climber

            You realize this is meaningless, circular reasoning. To define something as racist because it looks, sounds, smells, and feels racist tells us nothing of substance about what racism is.

          • Mike Douglas

            Let me guess, you’re a straight White guy who has never experienced racism so you have no idea what it’s like, and can’t imagine that people actually are singled out subconsciously or not?

          • Will

            Actually I am a straight white guy, but I also saw my good black friend get fired from my work for no apparent reason last year, it was troubling considering who is still working at the office. I don’t know but if it was racism but that’s the kind of thing I question, this airplane issue may or may not be but making an assumption or snide comment in the article was not necessary.

      • Gary F

        Maybe they were all fat white people that would be too wide to be dragged down the middle aisle?

        • Rob

          Then keep going until they find a skinny one.

    • Rob

      The optics on this are pretty unambiguous. The cops passed on the white people and grabbed up a non-white guy.

      • alicia

        I’m confused, Another article claims the passengers were picked via a “lotter system” so the airline picked a seat, asked the guy to leave, and he refused because he had patients to see the next morning, then law enforcement was brought in. Also, it’s possible I’m not seeing correctly, but is this man black? He looked to be of asian decent to me, but someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Not that it makes a difference, this is an obscene way to treat any human being and I hope United gets what’s coming to them

        • Rob

          Corrected – sorry.

  • Cosmos

    What does all that fine print on the ticket purchase agreement say? Do we agree to be forcibly removed from an overbooked flight when we purchase a ticket? If not, how long until the airlines add that language?

    • RULE 25 DENIED BOARDING COMPENSATION
      Denied Boarding (U.S.A./Canadian Flight Origin) – When there is an Oversold UA flight that originates in the U.S.A. or Canada, the following provisions apply:

      Request for Volunteers

      UA will request Passengers who are willing to relinquish their confirmed reserved space in exchange for compensation in an amount determined by UA (including but not limited to check or an electronic travel certificate). The travel certificate will be valid only for travel on UA or designated Codeshare partners for one year from the date of issue and will have no refund value. If a Passenger is asked to volunteer, UA will not later deny boarding to that Passenger involuntarily unless that Passenger was informed at the time he was asked to volunteer that there was a possibility of being denied boarding involuntarily and of the amount of compensation to which he/she would have been entitled in that event. The request for volunteers and the selection of such person to be denied space will be in a manner determined solely by UA.
      Boarding Priorities – If a flight is Oversold, no one may be denied boarding against his/her will until UA or other carrier personnel first ask for volunteers who will give up their reservations willingly in exchange for compensation as determined by UA. If there are not enough volunteers, other Passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily in accordance with UA’s boarding priority:
      Passengers who are Qualified Individuals with Disabilities, unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years, or minors between the ages of 5 to 15 years who use the unaccompanied minor service, will be the last to be involuntarily denied boarding if it is determined by UA that such denial would constitute a hardship.

      The priority of all other confirmed passengers may be determined based on a passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents him/herself for check-in without advanced seat assignment.

      Transportation for Passengers Denied Boarding – When UA is unable to provide previously confirmed space due to an Oversold flight, UA will provide transportation to such Passengers who have been denied boarding whether voluntarily or involuntarily in accordance with the provisions below.

      UA will transport the Passenger on its own flight to the Destination without Stopover on its next flight on which space is available at no additional cost to the Passenger, regardless of class of service.

      If space is available on another Carrier’s flight regardless of class of service, such flights may be used upon United’s sole discretion and the Passenger’s request at no additional cost to the Passenger only if such flight provides an earlier arrival than the UA flight offered in 3) a) above.
      Compensation for Passengers Denied Boarding Involuntarily
      For passengers traveling in interstate transportation between points within the United States, subject to the EXCEPTIONS in section d) below, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight at the rate of 200% of the fare to the Passenger’s first Stopover or, if none, Destination, with a maximum of 675 USD if UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight. If UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight at the rate of 400% of the fare to the Passenger’s first Stopover or, if none, Destination with a maximum of 1350 USD.

      For passengers traveling from the United States to a foreign point, subject to the EXCEPTIONS in section d) below, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight originating at a U.S. airport at the rate of 200% of the fare to the Passenger’s first Stopover or, if none, Destination, with a maximum of 675 USD if UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than one hour but less than four hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight. If UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than four hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight at the rate of 400% of the fare to the Passenger’s first Stopover or, if none, Destination with a maximum of 1350 USD.

      For passengers traveling from Canada to a foreign point, subject to the EXCEPTIONS in section d) below, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight originating at a Canadian airport with a maximum of 200 CAD if UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than one hour but less than four hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight. If UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than four hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight with a maximum of 300 CAD. At the passenger’s request, compensation in the form of check, wire transfer, visa card, or a travel voucher will be made by UA, and if accepted by the Passenger, the Passenger will provide a signed receipt to UA.

      EXCEPTIONS: A Passenger denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight shall not be eligible for denied boarding compensation if:
      The flight is cancelled;

      The Passenger holding a Ticket for confirmed reserved space does not comply fully with the requirements in this Contract of Carriage Requirements regarding ticketing, check-in, reconfirmation procedures, and acceptance for transportation;

      The flight for which the Passenger holds confirmed reserved space is unable to accommodate the Passenger because of substitution of equipment of lesser capacity when required by operational or safety reasons or, on an aircraft with a designed passenger capacity of 60 or fewer seats, the flight for which the passenger holds confirmed reserved space is unable to accommodate that passenger due to weight/balance restrictions when required by operational or safety reasons;

      The Passenger is offered accommodations or is seated in a section of the aircraft other than that specified on his/her ticket at no extra charge. Provided, if a Passenger is seated in a section for which a lower fare applies, the Passenger will be entitled to a refund applicable to the difference in fares;
      The Passenger is accommodated on Alternate Transportation at no extra cost, which at the time such arrangements are made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the Passenger’s next Stopover, (if any), or at the Destination, not later than 60 minutes after the planned arrival time of the flight on which the Passenger held confirmed reserved space;

      The Passenger is an employee of UA or of another Carrier or other person traveling without a confirmed reserved space; or

      The Passenger does not present him/herself at the loading gate for boarding at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled domestic departures, and 30 minutes prior to scheduled international departures. See Rule 5 D) for additional information regarding boarding cut-off times.

      Payment Time and Form for Passengers Traveling Between Points within the United States or from the United States to a Foreign Point
      Compensation in the form of check will be made by UA on the day and at the place where the failure to provide confirmed reserved space occurs, and if accepted by the Passenger, the Passenger will provide a signed receipt to UA. However, when UA has arranged, for the Passenger’s convenience, Alternate Transportation that departs before the compensation to the Passenger under this provision can be prepared and given to the Passenger, the compensation shall be sent by mail or other means to the Passenger within 24 hours thereafter.

      UA may offer free or reduced rate air transportation in lieu of a check payment due under this Rule, if the value of the transportation credit offered is equal to or greater than the monetary compensation otherwise due and UA informs the Passenger of the amount and that the Passenger may decline the transportation benefit and receive the monetary compensation.

      Limitation of Liability – If UA’s offer of compensation pursuant to the above provisions is accepted by the Passenger, such payment will constitute full compensation for all actual or anticipatory damages incurred or to be incurred by the Passenger as a result of UA’s failure to provide the Passenger with confirmed reserved space. If UA’s offer of compensation pursuant to the above provisions is not accepted, UA’s liability is limited to actual damages proved not to exceed 1350 USD per Ticketed Passenger as a result of UA’s failure to provide the Passenger with confirmed reserved space. Passenger will be responsible for providing documentation of all actual damages claimed. UA shall not be liable for any punitive, consequential or special damages arising out of or in connection with UA’s failure to provide the Passenger with confirmed reserved space.

      Denied Boarding Non-U.S.A./Canada Flight Origin – Where there is an Oversold UA flight that originates outside the U.S.A. or Canada, no compensation will be provided except where required by local or international laws regulating Oversold flights.

      • Jay Sieling

        All the language in this agreement refers to “denied boarding” voluntary or involuntary. Their seems to be nothing mentioned about the procedure allowed once a passenger has boarded. As Bob has pointed out – those procedures are in the complete authority of the pilot. It will be interesting to watch this develop and see if there was direction from the pilot on how this came about.

  • Jaime Riotmuffin

    Seems like every airline does shit like this sometimes… maybe we should think about just not flying at all?

  • Gary F

    I normally don’t fly United, but if I do, I’m not going to ask for the whole can of pop.

    On second thought, there would be lower hanging fruit, I’m just too damn big to be drug down the middle aisle of an already full airplane. They would choose someone else.

    • jon

      Right sizing is important here… you want to be too big to get out of the airplane comfortably, but not so big that you are a target for removal based on the amount of fuel it takes to move you from point A to point B, or because they can free up multiple seats by kicking off one person who spills over.

  • Updated post to reflect that the flight in question was a “hidden airline.”

  • stoic

    Maybe it’s time to stop overbooking flights.

  • Rob

    How is it even legal for cops to serve as enforcers for a private business in a situation such as this? The passengers were not being disruptive, were not violating any laws, and weren’t a threat to public safety. Gods help us.

    • Dan Husman

      The police ultimately enforce *all* property relations; in that sense, there’s no such thing as a “private” business transaction. Most of the time, the violence behind this system is more hidden than it was on this plane.

      • Rob

        All property relations? Not hardly. Property relations are bound by legal requirements, yes, but the cops aren’t involved in each and every one, nor should they be.

        • Dan Husman

          I’m making a much broader comment than the idea of the “cops [being] involved in each and every one.” What I’m saying is that all property is backed by a right to violence; that’s what makes your house yours and not someone else’s. The police are there to enforce that relation in the event that people disobey it–even if they are not dragging a person off the plane, the violence of the state is what makes private property possible.

  • Jeff C.

    United Airlines made $2.3 billion in profits in 2016 and $4.2 billion in 2015. Knowing that makes this whole thing just a little more disgusting to me (it is already revolting).

  • Karen Moline

    This man had to get to work too. Unbelievable stupidity by this airline, and no compensation will undo the PR damage they deserve for this.

  • People, he wasn’t “dragged off the plane.” he was “reaccommodated.”

    https://twitter.com/united/status/851471781827420160

    • Jeff C.

      I tell my kids to do something with a “sense of urgency” when they don’t care enough about something to have an actual feeling of urgency but I need them to do something quickly because it needs to get done quickly, regardless of how unimportant they feel it is. I wonder if United Airlines and Mr. Munoz feel that this needs to be dealt with quickly, not because they care, but because they know the expectation is that it is dealt with quickly.

    • crystals
    • jon

      Nomination for the 2017 non-apology of the year?

      “This is upsetting for us. We are sorry we had to re-accommodate this person.”

      We aren’t sorry for our actions. We aren’t sorry for doing it, we are sorry that we had to do it, I mean there were no other options, it was either smash his face on the armrest, or …. there were no other options!

      But this whole thing is very upsetting to us… and after all aren’t we the real victims here? I mean that guy on the plan wasn’t forced to re-accommodate some one…

  • Jeff

    Great idea on United’s part, it should free up a lot of seats with all the publicity.

  • Jennifer

    In my flying experience, they often wait to assign seat numbers until you’re at the gate when the flight is really full. Then they can get an accurate tally on how many people checked in and how many seats are actually left on the plane. Seems like that would have avoided a lot of confusion. For a business whose main job is to manage these types of things, they messed up.

  • LifebloodMN

    I once got bumped from a flight (not voluntarily). Airlines can legally do it and it happens quite frequently since airlines always overbook flights. I asked some astute questions and asked to be given all the legal paperwork, acting kinda like a lawyer, well I must have spooked the attendant because I got the full legal amount $1300. Needless to say, I still fly with the same airline, the one that starts with D.

  • Andrew Bertke

    I wonder if airlines will start offering an upsell to guarantee that you will actually get the seat that you booked.

    • Meghan

      I could see them actually doing this.

    • NathanT

      They already kinda do, it’s just hidden in your ticket pricing and frequent flyer status. If an an airline bumps someone involuntarily they’re going to exclude someone that flies 100+ segments/year or bought a full fare ticket.

  • tagg

    I have not read any place else that the cops “passed on the white guy.” What happened is horrific enough without making it about race. by all accounts I’ve read anyway, the computer picked four people. 3 of them stood up and walked out on their own and this one, a doctor, did not. Good for him. seriously. I’m not at all advocating any part of what was done, but unless the computer was programmed to pick out an Asian name, or that part of the story is a lie, then this article is seriously misleading.

  • MikeB

    Yesterday, with my boot, I was re-accommodating aluminum cans into the recycling bin

  • Ben

    The other side of overbooking, is that there are travelers who reserve a seat on a flight with no intention of purchasing it, just to have it as back-up. Business people do this across carriers frequently. Maybe if the airlines started charging a fee to reserve a seat, this practice would decrease. If you don’t take or ticket the reservation the fee is lost, if you do take the flight, the fee is counted toward the fare.

    • But this would not be necessary if overbooking was not a common business practice.

  • ellie

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

    I would guess United is hoping the guy they dragged off doesn’t have his own band like this guy did

    • tboom

      First thing that came to mind, a musical classic.

  • wovokanarchy

    The fat white guy in the glasses is thinking, “yeah, there is no such thing as white privilege in America. It’s all a convenient myth created by minorities to oppress all white people.”

  • Janice Jensen

    Resolution is very pain – DO NOT FLY UNITED FOR ANY REASON!!!

  • nt moore

    Notice all of the other passengers. Is this what it felt like to be not Jewish in Germany in the 30’s, or not Japanese in San Francisco in January of ’41? It’s actually surprising that people spoke up at all – “Shh, don’t make a fuss or they’ll come for us too…”

    Very very sad. At least the police didn’t come back and demand people’s phones.

  • XaivPov Kia Xyooj

    Disgusted! Speechless…

  • nt moore

    Technical question. In a situation like this, who authorizes the use of force? Did the airline specifically ask the police to remove the man? Was context given? Did the airline simply say that a man is being disorderly and needs to be removed?

  • EarthToBobby

    The flight was not “overbooked,” as United calls it. Press, don’t let them get away with that. The airline booted four people passengers in order to seat their employees.

  • Ifreeman2u

    It just goes to show that a mentality exists to follow abusive orders once you put a uniform on with a badge.

    What was the criteria for picking a man who paid for a ticket but has to be dragged out of a plane for employees? Besides isn’t it the revenue driven by tickets purchased that pays employees salaries? I doubt it will happen but heads should roll for this kind of treatment of a customer. if I were the CEO…

  • HB

    I can’t even believe this is real. Never flying #united again. Poor man.

  • Chris Schul

    This was handled horribly. That said read your contract of carriage. Everyone agrees to one when they purchase a ticket. It covers involuntary denied boarding. Boarding priority is linked to fare category and things like check in time. The first solution is to seek and compensate volunteers. If that does not work then you are down to the contractual agreement each passenger has already agreed to. Overselling is a business reality to mitigate seat spoilage. Eliminate it and fares go up. Deadhead employees are positive space. The airline chose to delay 4 pax so that a next day plane load of pax did not find their flight cancelled. A coffin corner of customer service. Invol DBs should certainly be resolved at the gate not onboard to avoid such a hot mess. But the subject pax could be at risk for federal charges of interferring with a flight crew. To say again this was a disgrace in the way it is handled, but you should know there is a contract you agree to when you purchase a ticket

  • Faivmiav Vwj

    Just don’t travel with United Airlines! How many Asian passengers in this flight?

  • Word Warrior

    This is obviously a man who had previously been through trauma, why he repeats “Just kill me”: he’s having a flashback.

  • Cullyn Anderson

    There seems to be an uptick in this kind of thing lately, ICE raids, dragging people from homes, off planes, videos produced by the sheriff’s department in hooded baclavas threatening people…I’m very concerned that there is a normalization of a police state happening.

  • GreenTom

    Please fact check your claim that “the cops picked the volunteers.” I don’t believe that’s true.

    • GreenTom

      Hey there! If your correction was due to my comment, thanks, very impressed by your responsiveness.

      One more comment, if I could: maybe research how airlines choose what passenger to bump before making the statement “They passed on the white guy”

      I think there’s a pretty clear police use of force issue here, but it strikes me as inflammatory and a bit irresponsible to imply the airline was choosing passengers based on race. Then again, I see the disclaimer that “NewsCut posts are not news stories…”