Airlines

The United Airlines Incident Does Not Require New Laws, Despite What Chris Christie Says. It Could Have Been Resolved by Intelligent Use of Markets.

The beaten-up Dao does not seem to have violated any contractual term that would give United the right to have him violently removed.

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Predictably, America's least popular governor, Chris Christie of New Jersey, approaches the national conversation generated by Chicago aviation police beating up and dragging Dr. David Dao off a United Airlines flight on Sunday by demanding more legal action.

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Christie, a Republican, is calling for quick federal action to ban the process of "overbooking," that is, selling more seats on an airplane than there are physically available.

As a post here explained the other day, a libertarian-leaning economist, the late Julian Simon, invented and policy-entrepreneured into existence a wonderful price-system, free-market model for solving the problem of overbooking.

Here's how it usually works: the airline starts offering monetary incentives (could be flight vouchers or cash or other considerations) to get enough customers to voluntarily give up their seat, increasing the offered price until the market for seats has cleared, that is, you've found enough people to give up the seat they paid for.

That way everyone is happy, either with their seat or with payment that the person considers sufficient to make up for losing the seat.

My criticisms of United and the police in this incident are not based on general hostility to overbooking, which both makes great economic sense for the airlines, almost certainly makes ticket prices less than they otherwise would be for customers, and creates win-win scenarios for airlines and passengers when the airline is smart enough to actually carry through the Simon policy to a market-clearing result.

In the case of this United flight from which Dao was violently ejected, by all accounts United tried two rounds of offers, and after $800 decided to start busting heads.

There is zero reason to believe that quick increases in the price offered to voluntarily abandon your seat would not have resolved this situation far more quickly and justly than calling the cops on Dao. (And, almost certainly after all the dings in the market and possibly the courts ahead for United, it all would have been far less costly for United as well.)

Free market types are understandably attracted to explanations for seemingly idiotic or perverse behavior on the part of companies that blame government. In the conversation surrounding this United debacle, I've seen many people excited about a Department of Transportation regulation that sets a cap on the airlines legal obligation to pay off those bumped from an overbooked flight:

Compensation shall be 400% of the fare to the passenger's destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $1,350, if the carrier does not offer alternate transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the passenger's first stopover, or if none, the airport of the passenger's final destination less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the passenger's original flight.

But that has no application to United's bad decisions in the case of Dao's abuse. (Remember, the police's equally bad decisions were triggered by United's bad decision; while the cops should have been more curious about why they were asked to commit violence against Dao, they did so because the airline decided to treat him as an intruder on their property for no good reason, when what he was was a paying customer.)

First, by all reports United didn't even reach their regulatory obligation to offer as much as $1,350 as an incentive. (I am discounting as extremely unlikely any possibility that no one on that plane paid more than $200 for a seat, though if that were so they would have met the obligation by offering 400 percent of that.)

Second, despite how some want to interpret it, nothing in that regulation says it is illegal to offer more as compensation. It is not written as a price ceiling. It merely says the airlines' legally ordered obligation to the bumped will thus be met. Nor have I seen anyone point to any case law that seems to complicate my read of what the regulation actually says.

So, contra Christie, United had available to it a very sensible and almost certain to work free-market option to solve this problem of the truculent Dr. Dao. No overreaching federal action to ban overbooking is needed, and it would not be to the benefit of the flying public if it were enacted.

Since first excoriating both United's application of policy and the police's blithely going along with United's demands, I've heard both directly and indirectly many arguments insisting that mine was a dead wrong position for a libertarian to take, for various reasons, which I'd like to try to address here.

I'm not a contract lawyer with long experience litigating cases related to United's contract of carriage, but I have read it, and have not encountered any argument against my positions here that seem to be informed by such long experience litigating this contract.

But I can read English. Underlying the following arguments is the belief that the contract doesn't make sense on its face without a background understanding that in general, having paid for a service gives you the right to receive that service, unless contradicted by either the contract specifically or some larger or more important principle. And I don't see how that's the case here.

First, United's contract of carriage certainly does give them many rights to boot passengers when it comes to an overbooking situation. (While I am not at all confident this point is dispositive, there is some question as to whether the flight even truly qualified as "overbooked" by contract definition because the extras were crew.)

But the key recourse United has by its contract regarding bumping passengers uses the language "denied boarding."

Dr. Dao was not denied boarding. He was permitted to board. They ejected him after he had boarded. So that doesn't apply.

If you argue this is being unfairly niggling to the letter of the law as opposed to its spirit, I'd argue that any attempt to welsh on the background obligation to deliver the service you sold by nature relies on niggling letter of the law as opposed to its spirit.

If United or its apologists want to hew to letter of contract rather than commonsense background understanding of commercial transactions (whereby purchasing the service means you get the service), then hew to the letter of contract. By which, nothing about United's right to deny boarding has anything to do with what happened to Dao.

I've also seen United apologists scramble to say, well, "boarding" means something different than just "getting on board," but rather is some ongoing process until the plane is in the air.

This contract takes lots of times to give special legal term of art definitions for 68 distinct terms, and does not bother to do so for "boarding." As a jurist I'd be inclined to treat the word in its standard English definition, by which Dao was not "denied boarding" but rather violently ejected from his paid-for seat. It may be that "boarding" as an overall process is continuous until flight. But Dao was not "denied" his part in that process, but had indeed already boarded.

United has other contractual recourse to boot people as well beyond overbooking, under its Rule 21. But do they apply to this situation? Not to my read.

First, I think it would be grossly unfair to rely on Point B, "government or airport security directive of any sort," since in Dao's case the directive came at United's order. That would be an absurd escape clause, to say "well if we ask security to boot you for any reason, that is by definition contractual."

The only other possibly applicable line is the catchall under Point H, which reads: "Whenever refusal or removal of a Passenger may be necessary for the safety of such Passenger or other Passengers or members of the crew including, but not limited to…"

That does say "not limited to." But every reason listed is supposed to be connected to "safety." There was nothing safety-related in the order to Dao. It was about the airline's convenience in moving its crew. (Yes, failure to get the crew to its next flight in a legally required manner would inconvenience more people than Dao. But if your argument is based on a rough and ready "quick assessment of greatest good for greatest number" consideration, then your attitude should be not that Dao should have been beaten up but again, that United should have offered more incentive to find willing volunteers.)

So I see no reason any reasonable jurist would consider that catchall related to "safety" as justifying United's ordering of Dao's physical removal.

United does makes an extracontractual claim on its website outside the actual text of the contract which is basically a nullifying clause, that "United Carrier reserves the right to…change or modify any of its conditions of contract with or without notice to ticketed passengers."

I'd be interested in seeing if the claim "well, we said outside the contract that the contract is utterly meaningless and we can do whatever we want" might hold up in a court of law. It does not arise to any standard of justice I think applicable to a case of a violent beating and physical removal.

Within the contract itself, the reference to United unilaterally changing terms of the deal says "UA's conditions of carriage, rules and tariffs are subject to change without notice, provided that no such change shall apply to Tickets issued prior to the effective date of such change." That does not apply to this situation, in which Dao's ticket was issued prior to their decision to physically remove him.

To my read of the contract, any attempt to rely on some sort of strict contractarianism beyond commonsense commercial obligations and human decency to defend United or the police in the case of Dao's beating fails.

And even if you were 100 percent certain that Dao in fact was the one acting outside his obligations under this contract, which again seems untenable for all the reasons above, I see no reason why the more standard contractual solution of "sue for damages" should not be the fallback, as opposed to "one party is so sure they are right about the contract they are going to have the other party, rightly, beaten up."

And thankfully, United seems to agree that the use of police to remove paying customers is bad policy.

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  1. It is actually exceedingly likely that the typical price was $200 for the one way leg of that flight.

    But yes, it is ludicrous that they didn’t simply up their offer.

    1. Or offer cash instead of “vouchers”.

      If the stewardess waved around 8 $100 bills and a first-class ticket on the next flight, the problem would have solved itself immediately.

        1. Hey cuckaschmuck, did you finally decide to retire your Citizen X handle? Are you mad that Double Dummy finally outed you?

          1. Details? Plz?

            1. Mikey was smart enough to figure out that I was running both the Crusty Juggler and Citizen X handles. I was outed.

              1. Pretty clever of you to consistently maintain such a high level of humor on one of your handles and such terrible jokes on the other one.

              2. I was thinking about it yesterday and I would almost be willing to put money on poor Mikey actually being Dave Weigel. He accuses everyone else way too often.

                1. I would almost be willing to put money on poor Mikey actually being Dave Weigel.

                  I came up with that theory months ago on this handle. Pay attention!

      1. Yes, because the vouchers are so damned annoying. Give me the cash or an actual fricking ticket.

      2. Plus, they selected only 4 passengers to negotiate with, instead of offering to everyone. This decreases their odds of success.

    2. There was more to the regs that the author didn’t quote. Short flights, of which Chicago to Louisville likely qualified, are reimbursed at 200% instead of 400%.

      I had people on Twitter tell me the $1350 was a cap. The author here says no but without going into detail or quoting any additional passages. If the carrier does offer alternate transportation, then the offer can exceed the $1350 cap?

      1. The $1350 is a regulation that airlines have to pay (in fiat currency) if they force someone to take a different flight that arrives more than 2 hours than scheduled . Preferably without inflicting physical pain. Airlines have a little more wriggle room when attempting to find a volunteer to move flights. This offer is usually a voucher for future travel but can be any amount.

  2. I’m tempted to conclude that Chris Christie doesn’t know how markets work. But that’s unpossible, because he’s a Republican, and those are the good ones.

    1. All of that knowledge drained away when he hugged Obama. Why do you think Billionaire-President has discarded him as a useful member of his administration?

    2. I think we should just pass a law that says that if something bad happens, it automatically becomes illegal to do that thing again, a new tax is added to anything related to that thing, and the money from the tax goes to a special interest group opposed to that thing. Then we can all go home, including Congress.

    3. A career lawyer and Jersey political insider? Surely you jest?

    4. If you’re north of the Mason Dixon line “republican” means centrist democrat.

  3. America’s least popular governor

    He is at worst a Sopranos comic villain, but New Jersey prefers their governors to be drawn from the extensive pool of machine-corrupt Democrats I guess.

    1. “Now youse CAN’T leave”

    2. I still hold this view about Christie. I voted for him twice and don’t regret it. He is the least terrible governor we’ve had in my adult life, even though he’s fucking terrible. That’s how bad it is in New Jersey.

      1. How could he have been elected, especially as an R?
        Two words. Jon Corzine.

    3. We tend to alternate. Corrupt Dem-machine politician makes a huge mess – then over to an incompetent Republican with no support from the legislature who is supposed to clean the mess up.

    4. 4 tons of raw sewage in a 750 lb sack,

  4. “If you argue this is being unfairly niggling to the letter of the law as opposed to its spirit, I’d argue that any attempt to welsh on the background obligation to deliver the service you sold by nature relies on niggling letter of the law as opposed to its spirit.”

    Not even remotely niggling. It’s all the difference in the world. It’s one thing to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. It’s a completely different thing to agree to make a wedding cake, deliver it to the wedding, and then drive back to the venue an hour later and try to reclaim the cake because you found out that Kelly and Terry were both dudes.

    1. Bake the fucking cake!

      Freedom

    2. My neighbors, that I went to school with, are named Kelly and Terry – but only ones a dude!

    3. A better analogy is a wedding venue.

      Wedding party is there, decisions are all setup, guests are starting to arrive.

      Owner shows up and says they’re breaking contact, everyone had to get out now. It’s it reasonable for the wedding party to stay anyway? And when the owner calls the cops, is it reasonable for the wedding party to physically resist them?

      Yes, United/the venue is in the wrong. But trying to fight it out is not the way you deal with it. And getting physical with cops, even when you’re “right”, is a mistake 99.99% of the time.

      1. You could add:
        Owner didn’t know one “guest” was going to be a crying little bitch and require LE to force him from the seat, where he is launched across the aisle and bangs his widdle wip on the armrest, sounding like he was being boofooed all the way.
        I’m sure all of these brilliant 20/20 hindsight solutions would have worked to convince all four people to vacate the plane. As far as the geniuses, here know, $801 would have done the trick, but at some point, the gate agents, who are responsible for getting the plane boarded – only accomplished once all seats were properly filled and the doors closed – had to decide that other methods needed to be used.

    4. No its niggling, the plane didnt take off. He’s not paying to sit in an airplane seat for an hour, he’s paying to get from point a to point b.

      You ragaholics how just want to hate on a practice you don’t like and will flush your values down the crapper to indulge in the hate just keep making up shit to justify your rage. The reality is that this is only a feeding frenzy because a cop beat up a guy on a plane… Had United done as you wanted and let an entire flight be cancelled the next day, and that caused little Gwendolyn to not get to visit her dying puppy you all would be out with the pitchforks over that to.

      A guy got bumped from a plane and a cop beat him up, let’s put our thinking brains on and focus on the actual wrongdoing (the cop beating a guy up) instead of acting like a bunch of “crucify the big business” progtards.

  5. I’d be interested in seeing if the claim “well, we said outside the contract that the contract is utterly meaningless and we can do whatever we want” might hold up in a court of law.

    Every contract I have ever bothered to skim has that wording at the end.

    1. OK, I see you addressed that here. Interesting that they exclude current ticket holders from that provision – I would not have expected that.

  6. Thanks for the TechCrunch link, Brian. It changed my mind on whether or not overbooking should be a permitted business practice. I can see the argument for it more than before.

  7. United failed because a) They didn’t up the price and b) They didn’t decide who was getting cut before boarding.

    This was a comedy of errors either from United policies or incompetent United employees.

    Also, my reading is that United didn’t offer $800, instead they offered an $800 voucher for future flights. Those vouchers suffer from multiple restrictions and are worth substantially less than cash.

    Restrictions often include: a)expiration in one year, b) not useable on black out dates, c) can not be used with other promotional offers d) are not transferable and e) sometimes have no residual value

    You have to be really careful about e. That translates to: this voucher can only be used to purchase one ticket and if the ticket is less than the voucher, you don’t get any money back.

    1. We are the bureaucrats and can do whatever we want. BFYTW.

    2. Before boarding is the key. If he’s on the plane that means they scanned him in as being on the plane. I’m curious how the TSA feels about an airline recording someone as being on a flight when they aren’t actually on the flight. Does the airline have good procedures to record when someone has been removed from a flight and a crew member has taken their place?

    3. They didn’t decide who to bump before boarding because it wasn’t a situation yet. It was only after the passengers were on the plane that four employees ran up to the gate and said, “We need to get on that plane! Fuck the passengers!”

  8. This article does a good job of explaining how United could have handled it, it ignores the reality that United chose not to. Thus it is not logical to conclude that no new laws are needed. In fact the opposite is true. If it is legal for a business to ignore a market solution and chose to use violence, then that is a clear reason for the need for a law.

    1. No, there’s no reason for a new law. Existing laws such as “assault” exist and would be perfectly applicable if someone chose to apply it.

      1. Airlines are not subject to any state-level law. There is no federal ‘assault’ law. Nor apparently does the federal govt enforce its mail/wire fraud laws against airlines for selling the same seats twice (or in this case ‘for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises’).

        1. Is any of this true?

          1. All of it.

            The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 explicitly preempted state laws. And that has been confirmed by SC decisions that are 9-0 (eg Northwest v Ginsberg). The preemption was not followed by any federal attempt to replicate state laws re consumer protections or assault or somesuch. It was followed by regulatory capture.

            The only federal assault laws relate to assault of federal officials or on federal territory.

            And it sure as hell seems to me that the airline committed fraud here (and almost certainly that ticket was sold and money transferred via interstate wire/internet)

            1. Hmm, interesting. I don’t see how a federal law could take away state jurisdiction over something happening in the state.

              I’d need to take a close look at the ticketing agreement before deciding it’s fraud. I would think that a big corporation would know to cover their ass legally when they frequently bump people from flights.

              1. Supremacy clause (Art6 Sec2) of the Constitution.

                Here’s a legal summary (specifically re preemption and airlines) of the three legal cases that have made it to SC – http://bit.ly/2otMVlV

              2. ‘Cover their ass legally’ is exactly what they do. And it is easy to do when you’ve captured the regulator and the ‘customer’ still believes mistakenly that they have the same rights that they do in everyday life.

            2. As an aside – the very notion that airlines only need to offer vouchers in return – despite receiving CASH from that customer for the ticket – indicates that both the airlines and the federal govt KNOW they are committing fraud because it is fraud by two different definitions (obtaining money via false promises AND introducing counterfeit money).

              1. Do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to?

        2. There is no federal ‘assault’ law.

          What’s all this then?

          Seriously, I’m asking.

          1. Look at the sections. They are re federal officials or federal territory. Except apparently female genital mutilation – which I admit I did not consider

        3. “Airlines are not subject to any state-level law. There is no federal ‘assault’ law”

          Irrelevant because the airline didn’t assault the guy…. THE COP DID!!!!!

          1. It was airport security – paid for ENTIRELY by the airlines and passengers not taxpayers. Invited on board by United – not because they are golden-tongued orators or were carrying milk-and-cookies. They were brought on board to physically intimidate and coerce a passenger (who United identified) into leaving the plane.

            How fucking blind do you choose to be?

            1. “How fucking blind do you choose to be”

              Not as fucking blind as you hypocrites who seem to think that the solution is “dont screw up”

              I’m having a hard time finding evidence that airport police are united contractors… I suspect you claim that they are paid by united makes about as much sense as saying the police are “paid by the grocery store when they call because of a robbery”

              1. Look at the Dept of Aviation website. The CDA is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. And since United leases 77 of O’Hare’s 186 gates (American leases 67), those two are clearly the airport customers who matter.

                1. Further – airlines are specifically exempt from state/local laws re ‘airline services’ so when they are called onto the plane, they have no local/state authority. Their authority is what United says it is.

                  1. Oh, so now United is responsible because the company they lease spots from employs the cops.

                    Got it.

                    Perhaps United should just admit responsibility for 9/11 since the FBI an CIA couldn’t get their act together… I mean the FBI and CIA are basically divisions of United because United does a lot of business in the US.

                  2. And yes, I’m ignoring your silly assertion that the interior of an aircraft is some sort of lawless nega-realm ruled by pirates and other men of dubious morals wearing silly hats.

    2. Even if the flight had not been overbooked, and even were such a law in place to prevent “overbooking,” a bunch of United employees who had to work a flight out of (destination) could still come up to the gate agent, say, “Hey, we need seats,” and United, which apparently suffers from a deplorable lack of concern about both employee transport logistics and customers, could pull the same shit.

      No law is going to prevent careless and incompetent people from being careless and incompetent.

    3. Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all. Adam Smith

      It’s a shame that modern propertarians are so enchanted by Rand/anarcho that they don’t even understand Smith and classical liberal/minarchists anymore.

  9. Like it or not, shabby treatment = affordable air travel, and affordable air travel doesn’t need to be regulated away. That ugly, unmanageable monster known as the market will take care of most things. Here, it will make more of an immediate impact than the slow moving if motivated bureaucracy could.

    Also, as is pointed out, this flight was not overbooked. This was air crew that needed to get to Louisville in order to keep the dominoes falling on schedule. A flight would have had to be cancelled if those employees didn’t make the next airport, thus inconveniencing even more travelers.

      1. I think that is one of the proposed slogans for the 2018 LP convention.

    1. Assault goes beyond “shabby”.

      A flight would have had to be cancelled if those employees didn’t make the next airport,

      Not Dao’s problem if United fucked up their logistics.

      It’s up to United to fulfill their obligations to all customers. They decided to use force against their customers to make them pay the price of their own incompetence.

      Fuck United with a rusty pipe.

      1. Overbooking is what I’m calling shabby. No legroom is what I’m calling shabby. This particular incident appears to be an outlier even in the realm of general commercial airline shabbiness. It is textbook what not to do from start to finish.

        1. Airline training class:

          Instructor: “Now that we’ve seen the short video where Mr. Dao refuses to give up his seat, let’s discuss what the flight crew could have done instead.”

          Bob: “Bump the voucher price to $800?”
          Susan: “Treat the paying passenger with respect?”
          Alejandro: “Seat the crew in the cabin instead?”

          Instructor: “No, sorry, all of you are wrong. The correct answer is to call the cops to beat his yellow disrespectful ass.”

          1. Even though it is all wrong.

            Dao rhymes with Mao. Both intolerable mad men. Dao was politely asked to deplane. He refused. He said “you will have to drag me off”. He was accommodated. Four seats were need. Only Chairmen Dao resisted.

      2. “United logistics”

        Right because weather, illness, FAA delays, and mechanical problems are all predictable… Theres even indicators on the plane that warn of such things days ahead of time… They just mandated the “impending pilot eats a bad egg sandwich event” indicator just last year.

    2. So have the crew sit in the aisle.

      1. There is existing regulation to prevent this. We’re not talking about Indian Railways here, you know.

        1. Bt why aren’t there jumpseats in pressurized cargo?

      2. I was going to suggest seating them with the pets and golf clubs.

    3. “A flight would have had to be cancelled if those employees didn’t make the next airport, thus inconveniencing even more travelers.”

      Only if there were no other way to get the crew to the other airport on time which I doubt. This was (in theory) the easiest and cheapest way for the United to move their crew. In practice, it’s going to cost them millions in lost revenue, lower stock prices and a lawsuit.

      1. Yep. I think I read that the crew needed to be there for a flight the next morning. Put them on another airline. Put them on a bus. Have someone drive them there.

        1. Rent a frickin one-way LearJet. It was United’s poor planning, that caused these people to be overbooked *after boarding* United should be the one to eat it.

          1. I’ve been told that all these likely violate the union contract.

          2. Like, you understand planes aren’t like sky busses right. They don’t really have them just lying around at a moments notice… It’s not like they walk over to Enterprisepay some money and had the pilot a set of keys.

            Jesus you people are dense this week.

            1. They didn’t need a plane at a moment’s notice. The flight the crew needed to be on a plane that left the next day.

      2. Most likely, yes. Cheapest for the airline usually means cheaper for the consumer, as well. Bumping passengers is not pleasant but also not a showstopper. How this usually routine inconvenience was handled here, as Doherty and others are pointing out, is the real problem, and likely to be corrected by built-in systems such as the market and litigation. Legislation or regulation will likely only lead to higher airline ticket prices.

    4. I believe the flight they wanted the crew for was the next morning. It’s only a 4 hour drive.

      1. Would they have had their federally mandated rest period, since I am sure that time taken for travel is not allowed to be included?
        What good is getting them there if it isn’t in enough time to perform their duty?
        Not to mention that United didn’t know there was going to be a whiny little bitch that wouldn’t do what he was supposed to do, by the rules of the owner of the conveyance, that he had agreed to when he bought the ticket.
        I thought you libertine-arians were all about doing what you want with your private property?
        You trying to say United didn’t own the plane?

        1. You are a fucking bitch like trumpet. there is something called common sense and United cleanly fucked up. do not fucking show me the rules you moron bitch.

    5. I’m cool with the market taking care of this, provided we can stop subsidizing airlines.

  10. violent beating and physical removal

    Now wait just a minute. I didn’t see the whole thing, but from what I saw it was dragging, not “beating”. Did I miss something?

    1. He was bloodied, likely from being face planted into the armrest.

      1. I think the treatment was horrible but that’s no excuse for upping it to a “beating”.

        1. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

    2. I’m guessing he clung to his chair and they yanked him free which resulted in him faceplanting into an armrest at the other side of the aisle. Or else he just spontaneously started ejecting blood as a defense mechanism like those toads.

  11. Within the contract itself, the reference to United unilaterally changing terms of the deal says

    United Contract Enforcement

  12. If you argue this is being unfairly niggling to the letter of the law as opposed to its spirit, I’d argue that any attempt to welsh on the background obligation to deliver the service you sold by nature relies on niggling letter of the law as opposed to its spirit.

    If heads are going to get cracked, then some niggling over the letter of the law becomes more important, not less.

  13. That does say “not limited to.” But every reason listed is supposed to be connected to “safety.”

    My state and local governments (including but not limited to the police) taught me that ‘safety’ applies to whatever and however the fuck you want it to.

  14. United should have upped the price to get another volunteer. Absolutely true. However, once they decided this guy had to come off, then he should have left, and simply demanded to see a manager. The fact is his non-compliance to leave, made him a trespasser. United owns those planes, not public property. Three other people who were also asked to leave did so without incident. Imagine you owned a store, asked someone to leave, and they refused…would you not call the cops on them and have them removed? How they removed them is up to the police and their training and rules of engagement…the airlines have no say-so in that.

    As far as last minute accommodation of the crew…this happens occasionally. Airlines don’t want this to happen, so Airlines book ahead of time for regular deadheading of the crews, which does not result in incidences like this one. Since this happened, it is obvious that the crew was needed at the last minute to staff another flight somewhere else. They needed to get there. How would you like to be stranded at the airport, then learn your flight crew, that was on the way, wasn’t able to get to you (or a few hundred of your other passengers), because one dip-shit wouldn’t get off the flight? Sometimes people get bumped…it sucks, but it happens. Those people should be compensated. But acting like a damn 3-year old having a temper-tantrum is unacceptable behavior.

    1. However, once they decided this guy had to come off, then he should have left, and simply demanded to see a manager. The fact is his non-compliance to leave, made him a trespasser. United owns those planes, not public property.

      Dao had purchased a seat on that plane for that flight. He had a valid contractual claim for a seat.

      Interesting point of law if a property owner has the right to evict you when you have a valid rental contract. I would think not, but I’d see it as being possible. I would think the possession is nine tenths of the law would apply – the law would support United from preventing him to board, but not kicking him off once he had taken possession of a seat.

      1. I own rental property and removing someone with a lease is a bitch.

        1. In some places even illegal squatters are impossible to remove.

          1. Squatters can become legal after a certain length of time, if the property owner is absent. The common law calls this adverse possession.

      2. So if the airplane breaks, long-delays, etc they cannot make that person disembark with everyone else? He somehow “owns” that seat to the detriment to all other people and the continuation of company business? I have already agreed that United should have offered more incentives before asking him to be removed, or if there is a full flight, they should hold the last 5 or so people at the gate, to check on open seats, before letting those people down. This way they are off the airplane and will not impact the remaining passengers should the customer throw a little kid hissy fit.

        Percentage wise, this happens so little (people getting bumped due to crew having to emergency deadhead) as to be laughable. Yes it happens, but the stories out there right now on social media act like it happens 100 times a day.

        1. United has contractual stipulations covering mechanical problems with their fleet. They do not have contractual stipulations covering lack of logistics on their part.

          1. They have contractual stipulations on whatever they want.
            Even if they didn’t, the proper reaction is to take it up as a legal matter, not go all whiny little bitch on the crew and force people to have to throw you off the plane.
            I loved the lady in one of the videos, so distraught over his treatment, when she could have prevented it by simply giving up her seat.

          2. They also have contractural stipulations that let them remove people. You don’t get to unilaterally decide one is enforcable and the othe not, they or the courts do… It’s also in the conteact.

      3. While those are possibly good *legal* points, the simple fact is that while you are on an airplane, whether it’s on the tarmac or 30,000 feet in the air, it doesn’t matter. They tell you to get off? You get off. You try to physically resist? You *will* get pulled off that plane.

        The proper place to dispute beach of contract is not while on the plane, and physically resisting will *never* end well, regardless of whether you are “right” or not.

        1. Where do people learn to think like this?

          “Never mind who is right, or what is legal, you must obey!”

          1. I can think of multiple cases of folks who went along with chips orders and later got their “win” in court.

            How many cases can you think of where physically resisting cops ever led to a win? The closest I can think of involve body bags.

            So die for your plane ticket if that’s the hill you want to die on. I’d rather live to win another day.

          2. Celexis|4.12.17 @ 4:24PM|#
            “Where do people learn to think like this?”

            Same place they get the jack-boots. No extra charge.

      4. Well, you would be wrong, especially with the claim that he “took possession of the seat”.
        The Carriage Agreement says no one has a contractual claim on the seat, but you keep thinking you do, no matter how wrong you are.
        DC8Pilot is the one who is correct, here, and he has some actual experience to back it up.

    2. meh. Sometimes disobedience forces issues to the surface. Sometimes a ‘scene’ is just what is required.

      Here, Dao will likely make out quite well as United pays to make the issue go away. Hopefully he drops a little cash to the lady who filmed and posted the video to social media. And all of us will benefit a little as airlines strive to not be the next “united”.

      this is a win win win.

      1. Hopefully he drops a little cash to the lady who filmed and posted the video to social media.

        If there’s any left over from the hookers and blow.

        1. LMAO…

      2. And all of us will benefit a little as airlines strive to not be the next “united”.

        What will happen is airline will lobby Congress to re-write regulations so they can;t get sued for acting like United. And also allow more mergers so that United is basically your only choice.

      3. Your end of the “win” will probably be sitting for longer in the waiting area, while all seating issues are resolved before you will be allowed to go on the plane.
        You good with that?

    3. He had a Contract of Carriage with United. He was not trespassing. According to that contract, they had no basis to remove him.

      http://www.united.com/web/en-us/conte…..aspx#sec21

    4. How would you like to be stranded at the airport, then learn your flight crew, that was on the way, wasn’t able to get to you (or a few hundred of your other passengers), because one dip-shit wouldn’t get off the flight?
      Silly me, but the airline’s piss-poor planning does not create an emergency on the part of the passenger.

      Imagine you owned a store, asked someone to leave, and they refused…would you not call the cops on them and have them removed?
      What a lovely straw man you have erected. Why would I ask a customer who bought something to leave? Absent that customer trying to steal things or break stuff, being belligerent, or otherwise creating a disturbance, there is no reason to ask paying customers to get out.

      1. Airline’s piss-poor planning? Really? An airplane breaks, crew-member gets sick, weather delays causes fatigue rule issues…this constitutes piss-poor planning? They do have a plan…they send out another crew who is on standby reserve to get to the airport and fly the people to their destination as soon as they can. They have to be flown in at the last minute. You cannot plan ahead of time for every-single flight to every-single destination to have an entire crew there to take the flight if needed.

        What if you had a family emergency, needed said customer to leave, so you can close the doors to go. Said customer chooses to instead sit down, throw a hissy-fit, and stay, since he bought a pack of gum a little bit ago, he has a right to stay as long as he wants…regardless of the owner’s business/personal needs. I’m not the best at analogies, but I hope you get the point. This wasn’t done because they didn’t’ like the guy, they removed him because the crew called out at the last minute, had to get on the flight or it would affect many many other people downstream. Does this guy not have any responsibility for his own behavior?

        1. The guy’s “behavior” is immaterial. He didn’t drag himself off the plane.

          Let’s try a different analogy. At your store, you sell an item to a customer. You hand it to them. Then you say, “oops, I mean to give that to Sally the clerk instead. Now hand it back.” Regardless of what fine print is on the receipt, expect a physical confrontation when you try to rest the purchased item from your customer’s hand.

          The various descriptions of this man as a “toddler,” “immature,” etc by people from the airline industry is indicative of how the airlines view their customers. You are the grown ups and we are the naughty children. That shaming tactic worked great until two days ago. Now your customers are angry and not as susceptible to your name calling tactics.

          My prediction is that this will be dealt with in the same way that resistance to the TSA was. When people so much as raise their voices to draw attention to abuses by the TSA, that is now a crime. I suspect that you and your thug friends will run to daddy government at the FAA, tears streaming down your faces, and demand that he beat up those naughty customers who finally stood up to you. More regulations so that you don’t have to treat the people who pay your salary with a modicum of respect.

          1. Umm, I don’t work for the airline industry…

            Jumping back on the plane and running up and down the aisle saying “I have to go home. I have to go home. I have to go home.” Is childish.

            1. Correct. The proper way is to click your heels three times first.

      2. It’s worse than that.

        Imagine you were a store owner; someone hands you a hundred dollar bill to pay for groceries, then you tell them to leave without returning their money or giving them their groceries. That person is not a trespasser, you are a thief.

        1. In your example you are correct. However, in this case, they were giving him the service, albeit on another flight later…they were also going to give them something for their inconvenience (voucher, hotel, or whatever). They didn’t steal it, circumstances arose which caused a delay, which is regretful, but not exactly life-changing. As stated, three other passengers understood, acted like an adult having a bad day, and went about their day.

          Again, as stated earlier, United should have upped the voucher price until someone took it.

          1. The service he paid for is to be flown somewhere on a certain day, offering him a flight on another day is an entirely different service. If the you offer that grocery store customer a side of beef that he doesn’t want, when he paid for a chicken, it doesn’t improve the situation. If they had refunded his money, would still be in breach of contract, but they might have a leg to stand on in claiming trespass, but a voucher is not a refund.

            1. I suppose that would be a court decision on what constitutes “reasonable” compensation. Since you cannot get back time, only money. Things happen outside the control of the airlines, situations change, etc. I believe the airline would have preferred to just let the airplane go on its way with that passenger, but an emergency caused that to not happen to 4 people. They could sue for breach of contract I suppose…but then if they weren’t bumped, couldn’t the hundreds of passengers stranded because the crew did not get there also be able to sue. The airlines would be in a no-win situation…help 1-4 person X group, or help 100+ Y group…either way, other group could sue.

              1. I can tell you from personal experience that business is full of no-win situations. I don’t get to call the cops on people every time my business is in danger of losing money.

                1. The ticket still has its full worth. There are myriad reasons why a traveler will not be able to use it at the exact time and place that he wants.
                  What the airline could have done, perfectly legally, was cancel the entire flight – it has happened to me on a flight I scheduled long prior. Then flown only those four crew members to where they were going to be needed.
                  All the passengers would still have tickets they could redeem on flights that they were allowed to take, because this one was no longer scheduled.
                  All these Clarence fucking Darrows need to get a clue. The airlines have spent millions of dollars on making sure they can do what they need to do, within that “carriage” agreement and in no case is a dispute advised to be dealt with, by someone doing the whiny little bitch routine.

          2. “…However, in this case, they were giving him the service, albeit on another flight later…”

            You think that happy horse shit is going to fly here?
            Stuff it; a ‘later flight’ is NOT the same service.

    5. Ah yes, the Walter Block school of property rights. You get to evict people from your lifeboat because you changed your mind and don’t want them in your lifeboat anymore. Plus the sharks needed feeding.

      1. The whole Mises crew consistently gets this wrong. Property rights are not a binary construct. They are a bundle of rights.

    6. Why did it have to be that exact passenger? They only needed one passenger, any passenger. Wave money around until someone claims it.

      1. Where do you get the idea it was only one passenger?
        If they let this one refuse, why wouldn’t the ones, who were acting like adults, not be allowed to stay until enough money waved around to convinced four people to leave the flight?
        Once they make the decision that the incentive isn’t working and random passengers must be asked to leave, there is no going back. Otherwise the entire flight will be held hostage to one, or possibly as many as four, passengers.
        Airlines have much more control over the use of their aircraft than that and it is supported by the laws and regulations under which we use them. Think of being a passenger more along the lines of being a driver – it is a privilege to fly, not a right.

    7. If he just left, United would not be under any pressure to reform its system. Hell, United is such a wretched airline, I doubt they will do much even now to fix the system. United has a long line of complaints from passengers in recent years for tough to redeem vouchers, bad service, etc.

  15. I am calling this saga “The Dao of Heave.”

    You’re welcome, world.

    1. Be desireless, be excellent, be gone.

      1. Brilliant.

  16. Chris Christie is a dumbass. The problem here is not overbooking though airlines should be more cautious with overbooking with the last flights of a given day because there is less room for error. United is notorious for being stingy with vouchers and make them non transferable while Southwest gives you transferable vouchers. United didn’t even increase their offer to the max it could have. And once the passengers were boarded, it becomes more expensive to lure them out of hte plane and even then a few passengers volunteered to leave if they were given 1500 in vouchers which is a bargain considering it was not real cash and the resulting fiasco will cost United a LOT MORE.

    If the law is to be changed, it is to make the wording probably clearer to make it easier for passengers to know their rights.

  17. This happened because the airline industry is not a free market. It is a cartel with a bizarre pricing structure that only exists because competition is nearly impossible. Only select airlines can operate individual routes and depending one your to-and-from you may only have one realistic choice of airline. Sure, United will suffer a bit, but a lot less than one would think.

    1. A lot less.

  18. Free market types are understandably attracted to explanations for seemingly idiotic or perverse behavior on the part of companies that blame government.

    “Free market types”? Gee, I thought that WE were “free market types” (checks masthead… yeah, it’s still technically up there)! That’s the sort of snarky, derisive expression I usually see in lefty rags that don’t believe much in free markets.

    Let’s get one thing straight out of the way: if a person is on your private property, regardless of whether you’re functioning as an individual or a business, and you want that person to leave, and you make multiple repeated requests to that person to leave voluntarily, and they refuse to do so, you are absolutely 100% within your rights to contact law enforcement and ask them for help in removing that person from your property. In fact, it’s almost always the best and smartest thing for you to do; it will almost always get you in way less trouble than attempting to use force to remove the person yourself.

    Having said all that… like most people I hate it when the airlines pull this kind of crap. Not only is it bad business and terrible publicity for the airline, but it’s the kind of behavior that causes so many people who aren’t “free market types” to call for even more laws and more regulations.

    1. It is possible to mention a group in the third person that you actually do belong to. How is it derisive of free market types? It’s just saying that sometimes it isn’t the government’s fault and companies do fuck up and do stupid and/or immoral things. Seems like an accurate description of the situation.

      1. I swear to God, you are more completely full of shit than a cesspool.

    2. *if a person is on your private property, regardless of whether you’re functioning as an individual or a business, and you want that person to leave, and you make multiple repeated requests to that person to leave voluntarily, and they refuse to do so, you are absolutely 100% within your rights to contact law enforcement and ask them for help in removing that person from your property.*

      Not true. If you have a contract with the person who’s on your private property, and the contract gives them the right to be on that property, then you can’t remove them whenever you want.
      For example, if you rent an apartment to someone, you can’t just evict them whenever you want. The circumstances under which you can evict them are part of the rental contract.

  19. The question is why didn’t UA use the free market to solve the problem? Nothing was stopping them. I think private companies have no particular love or understanding of the free market either.

    Look at hiring. It’s not necessarily true that no American will do job “A”. What is accurate is that no American will do job A for the rate the company is paying. Raising that wage never comes to mind.

    1. I’ve heard lawn care prices are going up in CA because the illegals are leaving.

      1. My god, people might have to mow their own lawns again.

        1. Nope. The lawns all died during the government induced “drought” to preserve fish.
          Secede already.

  20. It is so ridiculous. A little more money would have saved them literally millions of dollars in lost revenue due to bad publicity.

    Police state mentalities are bad…

    1. A $Billion drop in market value yesterday.

      1. So now is the time to buy United stocks.

    1. He was a great wrestler; we lost him too soon.

    2. “The United Airlines Incident Does Not Require New Laws, Despite What Chris Christie Says. It Could Have Been Resolved by Intelligent Use of Markets.”

      Could have been. Or maybe the United Airlines people say to themselves “we know how to run an airline better than all these people on the internet.” Christie’s regulatory solution, while incredibly inefficient and stupid, would at least guarantee that this particular problem won’t recur. Why wouldn’t United want to just offer more money for people to give up their seats? Because it costs money to do so, and 99.9% of the time the individuals told to get off would just get off. Some, especially the women, are rule-followers by nature. Refusing to cooperate doesn’t even occur to them. Others, especially the young men, are well aware of the consequences of refusing: violence. Twitter is shocked and horrified that police used violence on the guy. Don’t they know that violence is only ever justified when a knife is being held to your throat? But to lots of people, young men especially, this wasn’t surprising at all. As for criminal class, which often craves violence, they fly rarely, and would be more likely to take the money offered.

      1. Christie’s ban on overbooking would not have prevented this situation, as the flight was not overbooked.

    3. Christie’s regulatory solution, while incredibly inefficient and stupid, would at least guarantee that this particular problem won’t recur.

      Not nearly as well as the market forces already shaping United’s future. With no additional regulation United can change their policies to the betterment of the traveling public with far fewer unintended consequences and far less room for graft for the political class. Or they can fail.

  21. Given that UA’s contract is a take-it-or-leave-it affair, its considered a ‘contract of adhesion.’ They make the offer and a customer can either accept the offer as given or reject it, but there is no negotiation of the contract between the parties. As such, courts interpret any ambiguities in these contracts in favor of the customer because they had no input into its drafting.

    Another factor that comes into play with contracts of adhesion is that if the company had reason to believe that a potential customer would not agree to certain terms in the contract if they knew the terms were there, then those terms are not considered a part of the contract; in other words, the company can’t just slip in any terms they want into some 60 page document on a webpage that nobody reads.

    I do think its important that this incident wasn’t the result of overbooking; the problem wasn’t too many passengers, it was UA wanting to boot passengers to provide seats for its employees. I’d compare it to a restaurant that takes reservations; they might have booked more diners than there are seats for a given time. When everyone shows up at the same time theres simply not enough tables for them all, so some will have to wait or will just leave. But what UA did is more like seating someone, taking their order, then before their food comes out asking them to leave so that some of the waitresses can sit down at that table and eat instead.

  22. Pro-tip: hotels do this too, so check-in as early as you can. I was always the one stuck with the late night shift and telling folks that their reservation was in fact worthless.

    1. So you’d take the reservation, you just wouldn’t hold the reservation?

  23. There is a completely valid argument that United was in their right to do what they did. They did it in a painfully stupid way however.

    They should have asked him, upped the ante, asked again, then upon his further protest, they should have offered the inflated bargain to the next taker.

    The guy should have known some cops were at the ready to do some beatin. That’s what they want to do.

    Also, had no one on the plane agreed to leave, they had a contractual agreement in place that gives them the right to remove a passenger. They would loose far more money by not getting that crew to the other flight.

    A smart business man would weigh the time delay, vs the cost of the other flight not leaving vs. how much to offer the passenger. Large corporations like airlines and the scenarios they get themselves into do not have luxury of having enough smart employees to explore the profit motive and make the right risk reward decisions.

    1. Also, had no one on the plane agreed to leave, they had a contractual agreement in place that gives them the right to remove a passenger.

      Um, no, the point of the post is they didn’t. You can read the terms of United’s Contract of Carriage yourself; there is nothing in it allowing booting an already-boarded passenger in order to free up seats for flight crew. If they wanted to bump people involuntarily, they had to do it before letting them board. Otherwise, the only option they had was getting people to voluntarily comply.

      1. I’m 99% certain that “boarded” is going to mean “in the plane when they close the door” in court. Airlines aren’t stupid, they know they have to remove people from the flight.

        Either way failure to obey a flight crew order while on a plane is a crime and for very good reason.

        1. Please cite the “very good reason”.

        2. According to a couple of law professors who’ve written articles on this, “denied boarding” has its commonsense meaning, since “boarding” wasn’t defined in some different way in the “contract of carriage”.
          That is, once someone has gotten onto the plane, kicking them off isn’t “denying boarding”.
          Once on the plane, kicking them off is covered by “refusal of transport”. There’s nothing in the contract that entitles United to refuse transport once the passenger is already on the plane.

    2. “The guy should have known some cops were at the ready to do some beatin. That’s what they want to do.”

      So the victim caused it?
      What a putz.

  24. All of which ignores that while United may have broken contact with Daisy, the proper recourse is not to physically resist, it’s to take them to court for beach of contract.

    To put it simply, when you are on a plane, it doesn’t matter if you’re “right”. You can not win while you are on the plane. You can win after, but not during.

    Same reason you don’t fight cops, even when they’re wrong. By trying to fight, you will *make* them right, regardless of whether it was justified to begin with.

    To put it simply: United fucked up. But the time to fight them about it was not on the plane. In trying to do so, Dao fucked up. Contacts and legal obligations are settled in court rooms, not on the tarmac.

    1. “…In trying to do so, Dao fucked up….

      Yep, victim caused it. EE the thug tells me so.

    2. He had to be home, he had patients to see. He thought if he put up a fuss they’d bother someone else. Some people have more flexible schedules than others.

    3. Well, in this case, “taking one for the video” has guaranteed his court victory. The question is not will he win, but how much.

    4. When you look at the focus on an issue that has been festering for YEARS, I would say that this guy’s protest actually worked more efficiently than if he just wimped out and followed orders. So you are wrong and he was right and we all benefit from his bloody nose because United will think twice before lowballing customers on vouchers.

  25. The beaten-up Dao does not seem to have violated any contractual term that would give United the right to have him violently removed.

    B-b-but… haven’t you heard?! It turns out the guy had a criminal record and was kind of a creep! Creeps don’t get rights! /sarc

  26. United does makes an extracontractual claim on its website outside the actual text of the contract which is basically a nullifying clause, that “United Carrier reserves the right to…change or modify any of its conditions of contract with or without notice to ticketed passengers.”

    “I have altered the deal, pray I don’t alter it any further!”

  27. This is one of those times that I agree with you on the free market solution to the problem but I suspect that the airline was balking at offering what may have turned out to be 10 times the cost of a ticket to buy someone out. The airlines are notoriously pinching every last penny to squeeze more profit. They would be more liable to offer $10,000. for the seat and rescind the offer as soon as someone exited the aircraft.

    1. They also made a mistake by only offering the deal to four selected people which increases the odds that at one will be a holdout. Offer it to the whole plane.

  28. Technically, the flight was not overbooked. Everyone seems to miss that point.

    “It was about the airline’s convenience in moving its crew.” And more correctly, it was about the airline’s incompetence at planning crew logistics. I have experienced this problem repeatedly with United. At one point I missed a connecting flight because of a delay caused at my original departure when United had to fly crew from another airport in order to have a cabin crew on my plane. They made us wait on the plane for over two hours, rather than use the crew that might have been available in Houston, which is one of their hubs. United is incompetent, poorly managed, and incapable of understanding the free market. United has been bankrupt in the past, and likely will be bankrupt again. Too big to fail.

    1. Yep. “Overbooked” is a technical term that this situation does not describe. A lot of people throwing that word around, and don’t even understand what it means. The oh so timely Techcrunch article linked above is completely irrelevant to this event.

      This case is not only going to net Dr. Dao a truckload of money, but likely get the applicable laws changed.

  29. United had another option. They could have rented a private plane to carry the extra passengers to their destination.

  30. This debacle is one more example of a VERY disturbing trend in our culture, and that trend is the rapid resort to physical force all out of proportion to the perceived “offense” in order for the ” big guy” to place the “little guy” under “big guy’s” thumb and keep him there. It puts me solidly in mind of the well documented conduct of the British government/military during the waning days of our colonial era. General warrants gave the Brits free rein to accost anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any or no reason, inspect, detain, take what they desired to take, to include lodging, food stores, money, tools, and/or to detain the target indefinitely by force, no charges laid, and no recourse, as the Brits had removed all the colonially selected judges and replaced them with “judges” more to their liking.

    It is not unreasonable to predict that, should this trend continue apace, the results of boundless tyranny will be quite similar to what we see in that instance. The ruling elites will NOT like it one bit. But then, as they are the root and cause of it, I would bear no sumpathy toward them whatsoever.

  31. “Christie, a Republican, is calling for quick federal action to ban the process of ‘overbooking’….”

    Of course he is.

    – Christie is a Republicrat who, predictably, will ride the coattails of public outrage to create yet more bad/unnecessary law
    – Christie is part of the Republican Party – a confused, incoherent party with no principle to guide it. The Ron Pauls of the party are an endangered species, replaced by reactionaries who want unrestrained government to dictate rules based on the irrational

    Nuance gets steamrolled in cases like this. There’s no way a Christie is going to acknowledge that overbooking is not the problem, but rather the way this event was violently handled. Yes, one can actually think, believe it or not.

    I’m surprised that Christie didn’t introduce a bill with Dao’s name in it. That always gets people weepy and willing to pass god-awful, Constitution-betraying law.

  32. “Christie, a Republican, is calling for quick federal action to ban the process of ‘overbooking’….”

    Of course he is.

    – Christie is a Republicrat who, predictably, will ride the coattails of public outrage to create yet more bad/unnecessary law
    – Christie is part of the Republican Party – a confused, incoherent party with no principle to guide it. The Ron Pauls of the party are an endangered species, replaced by reactionaries who want unrestrained government to dictate rules based on the irrational

    Nuance gets steamrolled in cases like this. There’s no way a Christie is going to acknowledge that overbooking is not the problem, but rather the way this event was violently handled. Yes, one can actually think, believe it or not.

    I’m surprised that Christie didn’t introduce a bill with Dao’s name in it. That always gets people weepy and willing to pass god-awful, Constitution-betraying law.

  33. In any case, United screwed up. Even if they were within their rights to eject the passenger and the passenger got violent with the police, this could have been handled in any number of ways that would have resulted in a positive or neutral outcome instead of the financial, legal and public relations nightmare this is becoming.

    Just because you can order a paying passenger off the plane and can call the police to have him physically removed doesn’t mean you should. It’s bad business. The situation should have never escalated this that point and letting it do so puts United in the wrong no matter what the law may or may not say.

    And Christie is a statist.

  34. It was Dr. Dao’s choice, as well as the other passengers individually to determine FOR THEMSELVES when the compensation offered by United Airlines out-weighed the negatives of taking another flight at another time.
    Rejecting the incentives offered may not be a “bad” decision. Some folks imply that it is the “duty” of airline riders to “deplane” themselves for the “greater good.”
    For some folks ? due to work, family or other considerations ? the incentives of a later flight or cash may simply not be “worth it.” It is not a case of “everybody has a price.” Some things simply cannot be “compensated” – for some things “there is no price.” Not being at certain places at certain times can have some very negative consequences.
    The next available flight was the next day, Monday at either 2pm or 3pm. That could easily mean a whole day of business or productivity gone, lost professional contacts, job loss for not showing up, or family obligations burdened. Such a flight delay could easily involve the maximum legal compensation payment, plus extra hotel, dining and transportation costs.
    Fairness with these bump auctions require passengers to be able to decline the offers and incentives without penalty. In this case, it appears that there was a penalty for Dr. Dao for refusing the incentives offered – being beaten bloody and dragged off the plane.
    Has United Airlines become “The Mob” making offers that cannot be refused?

  35. If United tried to use that counterintuitive definition of boarding in court, they would lose. In the case of such ambiguity the court is supposed to find against the party who drafted the contract, which would be UA.

  36. I think we should leave overbooking being legal, but maybe add several federal regulation to make it more transparent. Such as:

    — Upon purchasing your ticket, the airline would state the total number of seats on the plane
    — The total number of tickets that are sold for that flight
    — The standard deviation of expected no-shows, possibly a chart of probabilities
    — The full list of procedures in case there is an overbooking, including:
    — amount of compensation
    — your rank / chance of getting bumped / tie breaking rules, etc
    — a listing of other flights
    — A rule that this information is highly visible and not in small print

    As a bonus, let airlines auction off bump-free tags; while the risk takes hoping for no shows get to have lower prices.

    I am all for letting consumers and companies freely enter into contracts with minimal government regulations, and just have the government limit its role to making sure that the terms of the contract are well understood.

    I think the crux of the issue is that customers are being tricked into accepting whatever is the lowest advertised
    fare possible without getting a chance to compare what they’re giving up in terms of possibility of getting bumped.

    1. “As a bonus, let airlines auction off bump-free tags”

      They do; buy a full fare/refundable/not-discount ticket and you effectively have zero percent chance of being bumped.

      Note: if everyone starts buying full fare tickets then this isn’t true… no one buys full fare tickets… to the point I suspect you would have to buy your ticket over the phone and CSR would likely have to call a supervisor just to figure out how to sell you one.

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  38. The way the market works is that many people choose to buy tickets at rock-bottom prices, tickets that carry the risk of getting bumped from a flight.

    So, if you don’t want to get bumped, buy a full price ticket. This is particularly advisable for when you are, say, a doctor and absolutely have to be somewhere.

    Having said that, United and the police handled this incident very poorly. They should have found some other way of handling this quietly, say by letting him fly and finding some other volunteer via increasing their reward offer.

    Afterwards, they should have banned Dr. Dao from United for life, and filed charges for failing to comply with the instructions of the flight crew.

  39. There is no need for overbooking. If you pay for a seat, you get the seat. If you miss the flight, you miss the flight. If you paid for the seat, and miss the flight, the airline gets free money because of the reduced weight. No reservations with out paying for the seat.
    In the case of crew logistics, the airline has to deal with it, not the paid passengers. The possibility of other flights being disrupted by poor planning is irrelevant to the case here. There is on need to get into “the most good for the most people”.

    1. There is no need for overbooking. If you pay for a seat, you get the seat.

      Mr. Central Planner has spoken!

  40. There’s a max compensation of $1350 that the airline is required to pay for involuntary denied boarding.
    If this were changed to $5000 (cash!), say, then the airlines would be motivated to make more generous offers for people to voluntarily leave the plane.
    Someone did offer to get off the plane for $1600. So Dr. Dao’s suffering, and now United’s suffering, could have been avoided just by upping the offer to $1600 cash.

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  43. An outstanding analysis, it gives the complete libertarian position and shows how all other arguments are the result of illogical, biased thinking…

    Well done Brian Doherty 🙂

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