MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Why Should Police Help United Airlines Cheat Its Customers?

United's action in having a man attacked and dragged off a flight yesterday was heinous. So is the fact that police officers cooperated.

The world is rightly abuzz over an awful incident yesterday in which a man was beaten and dragged off a plane by police at Chicago's O'Hare airport for the crime of wanting to use the seat he's paid for on a United Airline flight getting ready to leave for Louisville.

TwitterTwitter

The man claimed to be a doctor who had patients to see the next morning, explaining why he neither took an initial offer made to everyone on the plane to accept $400 and a hotel room for the night in exchange for voluntarily giving up his seat nor wanted to obey a straight-up order to leave, in an attempt on United's part to clear four seats for its own employees on the full flight.

No one considered even the $800 that was offered after everyone had boarded enough for the inconvenience, so United picked four seats and just ordered those in them to vacate. But the one man in question was not interested in obeying. (Buzzfeed reports, based on tweets from other passengers, that the bloodied man did eventually return to the plane.)

While United's customer service policies in this case are clearly heinous and absurd, let's not forget to also cast blame on the police officers who actually committed the brutality on United's behalf. NPR reports that the cops attacking the man "appear to be wearing the uniforms of Chicago aviation police."

While there may be something to be said for the ability for private businesses to summon the help of the police to remove people from their premises if they refuse to leave peacefully and their presence is unwanted, there is no excuse for the police to cooperate when the reason their presence is unwanted is not "causing a disturbance" or being violent or threatening to other customers, or stealing goods or services, or doing anything wrong at all, but rather wanting to peacefully use the service they legitimately paid for.

Shame on both United for calling the cops on a passenger to make the lives of their employees and business easier, and shame on the police for having any part of it.

[UPDATE: According to A.P., others may agree with the above; "Chicago aviation department says officer involved in dragging man off United flight placed on leave," A.P. tweets.]

Buzzfeed News reports an interesting tag team of evaded responsibility as they tried to report on whether this was standard operating procedure.

When asked why the airline had the man forcibly removed, and whether that was standard procedure in cases of overbooked flights, United refused to comment.

Instead they told BuzzFeed News all further questions should be referred to Chicago Police. BuzzFeed News contacted Chicago Police and were told to contact the Chicago Department of Aviation. When BuzzFeed News contacted the Chicago Department of Aviation they were transferred to a TSA message bank. A TSA spokesperson later told BuzzFeed News they were not involved and to contact Chicago Police.

It is not surprising that the wonderful and, if the price offered goes high enough always effective, voluntary means to get passengers to surrender an overbooked flight was developed by a fascinating economist from the libertarian movement thoughtworld, Julian Simon, whose role in the wonderful, rights-respecting, and economically efficient policy is detailed in this 2009 story from the Illinois News Bureau:

Thirty years ago, U.S. airlines stopped arbitrarily grounding passengers on overbooked flights, instead offering rewards if travelers give up seats to make room for hurried fliers who need to touch down on time.

Economist James Heins says the seemingly subtle switch has provided a $100 billion jolt to the U.S. economy over the last three decades - allowing airlines to run fuller, more profitable flights that in turn has trimmed air fares and increased tax revenue.

Now, he hopes the milestone anniversary finally yields much-due credit for the late Julian Simon, a fellow economist well known for slaying gloom-and-doom population growth forecasts but overlooked for the seminal contribution to aviation he developed as a professor at the University of Illinois.

"People know about the system, but they don't know where it came from," said Heins, who worked with Simon for more than a decade at the U. of I. "I think they should. There are a lot of important research breakthroughs on campuses, but few generate $100 billion in savings to the American economy."...

...Simon proposed seeking volunteers instead, offering rewards such as free airfare for a future trip if passengers agreed to wait for a later flight. He maintained that the incentive would free enough seats for travelers with a deadline, and also eliminate any negative public relations consequences.

See that, United? Offer enough incentive, eliminate negative P.R.? Seems like that might be worth it today, no? And offering the incentive means you have got to keep raising it until you find a taker, not make two offers then start cracking skulls.

Despite how much sense Simon's idea makes for airlines and passengers:

it took more than a decade to sell the idea, which finally clicked in 1979 when Simon made a pitch to Alfred Kahn, who oversaw deregulation of the airline industry under President Jimmy Carter.

"I was shocked along with everyone else when Julian actually sold it," Heins said. "Even good ideas are often a tough sell with government, probably for reasons of inertia. It's just easier to do things the way they've always been done."

Reason clips on Julian Simon, who also did great intellectual work defending and explaining the value of more humans for either a given country or the world, and fought intellectual battles against resource and environmental doomsayers.

Simon's academic paper on the auction idea for getting volunteers on overbooked flights, from the Journal of Transport and Economics and Policy in 1977.

Some video of yesterday's incident, not for the faint of heart or those waiting for their flight to take off:

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Instead they told BuzzFeed News all further questions should be referred to Chicago Police. BuzzFeed News contacted Chicago Police and were told to contact the Chicago Department of Aviation. When BuzzFeed News contacted the Chicago Department of Aviation they were transferred to a TSA message bank. A TSA spokesperson later told BuzzFeed News they were not involved and to contact Chicago Police.

    United might want to consider that, of all those involved in this runaround, the airline is the only one whose bad PR can actually affect them.

  • timbo||

    Excellent point. United will try to sue the police department to get out of this but the manage is done.

  • dschwar||

    So now the manage gets promoted, right?

  • Bra Ket||

    People might look at the doctor a little differently after seeing him all screaming and hysterical.

  • pan fried wylie||

    "That's the kind of dedication that I pay for."

  • Careless||

    he was screaming like a goat being badly slaughtered

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    UPDATE: Apparently, I stand corrected.

  • gaoxiaen||

    -1 Friendly Skies

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 Unfriendly Squirlz

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    The interesting lesson here for the progressives is that this demonstrates very clearly that market forces exist. They exist even when central planners try to push it aside. The market always rises as a primordial force of nature.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    While there may be something to be said for the ability for private businesses to summon the help of the police to remove people from their premises if they refuse to leave peacefully and their presence is unwanted...

    Criminal trespass on the passenger's part or breach of contract on the airline's part? You decide.

    ...there is no excuse for the police to cooperate when the reason their presence is unwanted is not "causing a disturbance" or being violent or threatening to other customers, or stealing goods or services, or doing anything wrong at all, but rather wanting to peacefully use the service they legitimately paid for.

    Except that your rights are completely forfeit when you choose to enter a commercial airplane. Or did everyone forget 9/11 already?

  • ThomasD||

    "Criminal trespass on the passenger's part or breach of contract on the airline's part?"

    Sadly both. But realistically United's breach does not allow you to remain on their plane when they want you gone.

    None of which excuses the grossly excessive force employed by the cops. They could have at least tried to gently encourage his deplaning before going all WWE.

  • Rogers1234||

    He was not trespassing since he paid for his ticket. If they wanted him to leave, they should have refunded his ticket

  • croaker||

    More than that. Involuntary bumping is $1300 cash. Read the regs.

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 night of free hookers and blow. No wonder he was upset.

  • gaoxiaen||

    *minus

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    He was not trespassing since he paid for his ticket. If they wanted him to leave, they should have refunded his ticket

    That happens out at the counter. Since he refused to go there by himself he was trespassing.

    BTW, buying a ticket does not guarantee you a seat either.

  • generalisimo14||

    Good thing there is not a big coercive infrastructure to bolster the market position of terrible companies who treat their customers poorly. So consumers can just move to a firm more able to satisfy their wants/needs. I mean what if government restricted competition and buttressed bad firms and uneconomic action in doing so. I so glad we would never do that here in the land of the free. /sarc

  • ||

    he already had a seat like everyone else on the plane did or don't that count because United overbooked it was criminal
    in my book

  • Mark22||

    Trespass is a criminal matter; breach of contract is a civil matter. When a property owner orders you to leave and it is safe to do so, you ought to leave. You can recover damages for the breach of contract in civil court afterwards.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Criminal trespass on the passenger's part or breach of contract on the airline's part? You decide.

    To be "fair", I'm relatively sure there is a provision for removing overbooked customers in the customer agreement that no one reads.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm sure of it. Has anyone ever taken a black marker to that section of the agreement before signing? (It's been a while since I have flown commercial.)

  • Agammamon||

    I did - now I have black marker all over my monitor.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    See Daniel's comment below.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    It is just criminal trespass, and it looks like the Cosmotarians at Reason are down with trespassing being A-OK.

    Look into the terms of that ticket. Without a seat assignment it is not a guarantee to be on the plane. Even when you have a seat assignment, other conditions apply, but the bottom line is WHEN THE OWNER TELLS YOU TO LEAVE, YOU LEAVE.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Umm no. Contractual rights override property rights. Tenant-landlord for example. A landlord who forcibly evicts a tenant from his property when the tenant is not in violation of the lease is entering a world of legal trouble. In most states, even a tenant in violation can't be forcibly evicted by the landlord.

  • Vapourwear||

    Not exactly. The contract creates or modifies rights and obligations between the parties.

  • Mockamodo||

    Just like with police at a stop, you need to comply and then meet them in court, not claim that you are right and therefore can refuse to comply. Fuck you, I'm not complying and will physically resist is pretty much always the wrong answer, especially when you are wrong to begin with.

  • ThomasD||

    No, contractual rights do not 'override' property rights.

    Primarily because that is a moronic tautology. What is a contract if not a specific subset of property?

    But also because your example - tenant-landlord - is something very specifically defined in law, and is the exception to pretty much everything else including hotel - motel law where if the management says 'get out now' you pretty much have to get out now.

    Ditto for an airplane.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Why Should Police Help United Airlines Cheat Its Customers?

    Is this called "good customer service" or "good publicity" for the airlines?
    Can someone out there help me out on this?

  • gaoxiaen||

    + or - something. I'll probably think twice before considering United. Just a subconscious thing.

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    there is no excuse for the police to cooperate when the reason their presence is unwanted is not "causing a disturbance" or being violent or threatening to other customers, or stealing goods or services, or doing anything wrong at all, but rather wanting to peacefully use the service they legitimately paid for.

    Police shouldn't enforce property rights if the Twitters don't like it. This seems like good policy.

  • DenverJ||

    This is not a case of property rights, this is a case of fraud. The doctor paid for the use of that property, and was assured a seat. He then scheduled his trip accordingly.
    United offered to buy the seat back, and the doctor, who now owns the rights to that seat, didn't want to sell it back, as is his right.
    Fuck United and fuck the pigs and their "always obey" authority (even if authority in this case is just some bimbo in a stewardess's uniform) mindset.

  • Illocust||

    As someone above pointed out, this is most likely covered in the agreement the man signed. He didn't buy the seat come hell or high water. He rented it based upon certain provisions being met. One of which was most likely the case of overbooking not occurring.

  • Brandybuck||

    I used to fly all the time. That clause has NEVER been told to me while purchasing a ticket, and I've NEVER seen it on the ticket itself. I have seen it in the sleeve the ticket goes in, but that's not the same thing.

    There are cultural and legal norms for presenting contractual terms to a party, and cultural and legal norms for the party to assent. Hiding the terms on a webpage or ticket jacket does not count as valid assent to a contract.

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    Carriage contracts are outside Western cultural and legal norms? This is really what you're going with?

    Hiding the terms on a ... ticket jacket

    glol

  • marshaul||

    That's cute question-begging there, Sidd. The problem is that, by "Western cultural and legal norms", "contracts" require explicit, overt consent.

    Fucking weasel.

  • Kandralla||

    "The problem is that, by "Western cultural and legal norms", "contracts" require explicit, overt consent."

    Aww that's cute that you believe the T's and C's you ignored don't apply because you didn't bother to look for them.

  • Paloma||

    Bottom line: United just created a public relations nightmare for itself. All their protests of property rights or contract law or whatever is gonna go right over the heads of most of their customers and they are going to have to back pedal like crazy or they'll go belly up.

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 reality

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Since the agreement is presented purely in a "take it or leave" fashion, it's a contract of adhesion, which places additional limits on its enforceablity vs. a normal contract.

  • Mark22||

    I suggest you re-read that Wikipedia page you got that from, because you obviously didn't quite understand it.

  • Trainer||

    Still doesn't justify assault.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    True. That passenger should not have assaulted those people trying to help him off the plane during his criminal trespass adventure.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Doesn't (subconsciously) convince me.

  • GeoffB1972||

    United was likely within their rights. They were also extremely stupid. United has effectively taken out a front page ad on every paper in the country to announce that buying a United ticket, going to the airport on time, and even getting on board at the appropriate time is not the same thing as arriving at your destination in a timely fashion. At this point, they might as well start running ads: Fly United, 87% of our passengers arrive at their destination within a few hours of the scheduled time!

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    I'm impressed that you read the carriage contract so quickly.

  • ThomasD||

    Even if it is a case of fraud the cops have no authority to compel the airline to honor the contract. All they can do is fill out paperwork documenting your case.

    Trespassing, however, they do have authority to rectify by force.

    (Again, not to excuse their gross excessive force.)

  • DenverJ||

    How is it trespassing if he bought a ticket?

  • EscherEnigma||

    United chose not to honor the ticket.

    This isn't that complicated.

  • CE||

    United did honor the ticket -- they allowed him to board the plane, creating an expectation of travel. It's not like they denied him a boarding pass because they were overbooked.

  • ThomasD||

    That is still nothing more than a contractual issue. Neither he nor anyone else can compel the airline to transport him. And once they ask him to leave their property he has an obligation to leave or he is committing a crime.

    Nobody is saying he didn't have recourse.

  • ThomasD||

    They asked him to leave. Ticket or no ticket if he stays he is trespassing

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    ^^THIS^^

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Bullshit. It's not trespassing if you have a contractual right to be there.

    Try your logic with landlord-tenant situations. A landlord who forcibly evicts a tenant who hasn't broken the lease is entering a world of legal pain, and not just in civil court.

  • ThomasD||

    landlord tenant is a very specific subset of law - it does create obligations that other circumstances do not. But not every rental is covered by landlord tenant, conditions do apply.

    Trying to say that these circumstances are analogous is a gross misunderstanding of the law.

  • Paloma||

    Ticket or no ticket if he stays he is trespassing. And future passengers will totally not give a shit and at the margin, choose other airlines.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I will.

  • Paloma||

    Ticket or no ticket if he stays he is trespassing. And future passengers will totally not give a shit and at the margin, choose other airlines.

  • gaoxiaen||

    The people on that particular flight (and everyone they know) not so much. There but for the grace of God, go I.

  • ThomasD||

    " future passengers will totally not give a shit and at the margin, choose other airlines."

    +1000

    This is the part that United is just beginning to learn. Everyone hearing about this episode now better understands just what that airplane ticket is and is not. For most it will be an aye opener of the 'is not' variety.

    Meaning that their perception of it's relative worth has declined.

    Meaning that many people will be less apt to pay whatever United tries to charge for their tickets.

    On the other hand, for every person facing a possible overbooking situation the likely payout for accepting a bump is probably rising.

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 coitus interruptus

  • CE||

    Exactly -- it is fraud. Travelers have come to expect the occasional overbooking, but the offer for a ticket voucher is typically made before anyone boards the plane. United is so bad at seat management they actually let excess passengers board the plane, then used the goon squad to haul their customer away by force?

    Southwest never overbooks (to my knowledge, and I fly them a lot), and their inventory management allows them to permit last minute, no fee flight changes (you just pay the price difference, if any).

  • RED4283||

    I still haven't seen why the employees had to fly. But, if they had to fly so badly that they needed four seats at the last second, after all passengers had boarded, it stands to reason that not getting them to Louisville would have caused an entire PLANE of passengers to not get where they need to go on time, rather than 4 people.

  • ENDelt260||

    it stands to reason that not getting them to Louisville would have caused an entire PLANE of passengers to not get where they need to go on time, rather than 4 people.

    I fear you may not have enough personal experience w/ United employees. Lucky.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I expect they were crew who were hitching a ride to where the flight they were working would be and some "just on time" scheduling software did not have them in the airport they needed to be in.

  • Kandralla||

    You people have no clue the ignorance you live in when you fly. Airlines literally spend all day balancing on the edge of a knife so you can have your $500 NYC to LA flight; one plane or flight crew out of place can impact the flights of thousands of people. There are no extra planes, there are no extra flight crews.

    There are ways to make yourself pretty much immune to being bumped, but that means paying about double over your super saver non-refundable, Orbitz/Kayak/Priceline ticket. Everyone thinks they have the right to be on the plane when they buy the cheapy cheap cheap ticket... they are incorrect.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    You people have no clue the ignorance you live in when you fly. Airlines literally spend all day balancing on the edge of a knife so you can have your $500 NYC to LA flight; one plane or flight crew out of place can impact the flights of thousands of people. There are no extra planes, there are no extra flight crews.

    Spare me the sob story about the poor airlines. Every business in every industry has to trim fat to keep prices low. Not unique to the airline industry. The difference is that most industries aren't allowed to get away with fraud as the airlines do.

    Everyone thinks they have the right to be on the plane when they buy the cheapy cheap cheap ticket... they are incorrect.

    Cool -- let the airlines put that in their commercials, and plaster it all over the cheapy-cheap sites where they sell the majority of their tickets. See how it affects business.

  • Tionico||

    bunk. I see extra planes on the field nearly every time I fly. And crew? That's poor management if an entire crew need to be moved at last minute do or die cancel the flight scenario.
    The guy paid for his ticket, was given a boarding pass, and was IN HIS ASSIGNED SEAT when the goon squad came round to play favourites using their guns to make the little guy give up what he'd paid for.. how about HIS patients needing him to be there on time? Ever think of THAT?

    This is not a criminal matter, it is civil.. contract fulfilment or unilateral breach of contract. NOT fodder for coppers.

    This thinking is one of the reasons I refuse to fly through Chicago. That, and their obscene policies toward passengers lawfully carrying firearms in their checked luggage... Chicago coppers try and find out about them and arrest them for not having the Illinois Mother May I Card granting them "permission" to exercies a God given right. A pox on that rotten city.

  • Paloma||

    You are clueless if you think this isn't a huge mistake on United's part. I hope you don't work for them because in that case, you'd better polish up your resume.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Perception overrides reason or contract law. Very bad optics. United handled this very stupidly.

  • ||

    you must work for the airlines

  • Meerkatx||

    Why didn't United try and book those employees on another flight headed at the same time to Louisville or perhaps rent them a van for the 4 hour drive? There were other ways United could have handled the situation, but instead chose the one that screws the consumer.

    I remember when the Square Deal was seen as a good thing.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Louisville isn't that huge, so they don't have constant flights coming from the same city, unlike huge cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, etc.

  • DaveSs||

    If Louisville airport is anything like the Des Moines airport, the last flight in or out from anywhere is between 11PM and midnight and nothing comes in or goes out until after 5AM.

    The last time I had to fly I ended up getting back to DSM on one of the last flights of the day. It was odd to see a virtually deserted airport.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Thus, they should have offered greater compensation rather than calling in the goon squad.

  • Praveen R.||

    Southwest does overbook. I benefited from a VDB voucher on Southwest at Milwaukee airport last year. I accepted the $400 offer because the voucher was transferable and so I could guarantee I get the full value out of it and the alternative flight they offered was only 4 hours later. So I went out , had lunch, returned and flew on the later flight. It was a Sunday, so it was not like I had something better to do.

  • albo||

    $800 and a free rental car to my destination, plus hotel if the trip would take over 8 hours on the road, and I would have gladly give up my seat.

  • ThomasD||

    Except that they weren't offering cash money. It was a voucher, and if you've ever tried to use one you'd know they are about worthless.

  • ||

    Yes, it should be known that the voucher would get you $800 off the regular price. Not $800 off the actual price you would pay if you were purchasing the ticket on Expedia at a discounted rate, like a normal person.

  • Bubba Jones||

    In my experience the vouchers are good on any fair. The kicker is that you have to buy through the airline which isn't big deal, but you might not be able to bank the overage. So that $800 voucher won't buy you two $400 tickets unless they are on the same itinerary.

  • IceTrey||

    Fare.

  • DaveSs||

    A voucher for a future flight really would be worth absolutely nothing to me.

    I've only flown for personal reason 4 times, the last time being in 2010
    For business if I'm unlucky, maybe flying every 2 years and in any case, the voucher would still be worthless.

    I need cash if I'm going to be inconvenienced by an airline cockup

  • retiredfire||

    But it's not a "cockup". Airlines oversell flights all the time.
    If they didn't, the number of no-shows would cost them too much money.
    The alternative is making people pay, who book a flight and fail to take it, which for some reason, they can't do.
    In most cases, they find someone willing to take the voucher in exchange for not flying, but, as in this case, they sometimes have to exert the authority stated in the fine-print of the ticket agreement.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    The alternative is making people pay, who book a flight and fail to take it, which for some reason, they can't do.

    Yes, they could, and do if you buy a nonrefundable ticket. Overbooking is done because they like the $$$ that some are willing to pay for refundable tickets.

  • Paloma||

    And if they were smart, they'd offer cash instead of strong arming their customers, because no matter how they serve it up, that's the image people are going to carry. United spends millions on advertising, which this one video has basically negated. They now have to do damage control, and that will cost another few million if it even works. It would have been cheaper to charter a helicopter for the four flight attendants.

  • Paloma||

    And if they were smart, they'd offer cash instead of strong arming their customers, because no matter how they serve it up, that's the image people are going to carry. United spends millions on advertising, which this one video has basically negated. They now have to do damage control, and that will cost another few million if it even works. It would have been cheaper to charter a helicopter for the four flight attendants.

  • Paloma||

    And if they were smart, they'd offer cash instead of strong arming their customers, because no matter how they serve it up, that's the image people are going to carry. United spends millions on advertising, which this one video has basically negated. They now have to do damage control, and that will cost another few million if it even works. It would have been cheaper to charter a helicopter for the four flight attendants.

  • Bra Ket||

    I assume the offer was the voucher, plus a plane ticket to your destination, plus a hotel for the night before your flight if it's the next day.

  • SFC B||

    I was flying with my wife and they were soliciting people to give up their seats. They're being way too cheap. $400? $800? With all the restrictions associated? Fuck that. Start throwing around First or Business class upgrades and you're talking. Heck, if I can use it on an international flight it would get me to take a trip I wouldn't otherwise.

  • croaker||

    I want cash. Fuck vouchers.

  • ||

    This is going to cost someone a lot more than $800.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I wonder if we're ever going to get to the point where people see cops thuggin on someone like this and intervene on the victims behalf.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    LOL

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    At least call 911.

  • timbo||

    Well hugh, it appears that the cops have been practicing beating the shit out of and shooting non-violent citizens on television for decades. My guess is that they are trying to tell us all something.

  • Pogue Mahon||

    I don't always beat down my customer when I violate our agreement, but when I do, I let the police do it while I drink a Dos Equis.

  • Rhywun||

    Stay thirsty, my fellow sadists.

  • Illocust||

    They offered a refund for being unable to fufill the original deal right? If so, I see no problem with kicking him off the plane. It's bad business, but within their rights.

  • Brandybuck||

    Within a framework of strict Rothbardian AnCap "Muh Rights Trump Yo Ass" legalism, of course a party can voluntarily choose to renege on their contract, and pay the consequences of that. I can, for example, invite you to my home for drinks, and then change my mind and ask you to leave before you've had your first drink. And if you refuse to leave I can call the cops. And the most I would owe you is just a drink.

    HOWEVER, it's still bad form to beat the shit out of someone. Even for Rothbardians and their legendary lack of tact, it's considered rude. I seriously doubt the money United is going to lose over this debacle is going to be worth the propertarian points they earned by pulling this stunt.

  • Kandralla||

    United didn't beat up the guy, the cop did... but was it really out of line?

    United asked him to leave and he didn't, the cop asked him to leave and he didn't... so what exactly is the next move when the property owner asks someone to leave and they refuse? Is the cop supposed to just shrug his shoulders and go "I don't know what to do now, I guess he's not leaving"

    The irony is all the big talkers who say they'll never fly United because of this... when you're looking at Kayak, and Delta is $500 and United is $250 I guarantee you that United is getting most of your business.

    You're buying the airline equivalent of irregular clothing.... you're buying tickets at below the cost.... you're literally only on the plane because it's better to lose $200 than $500... you can't exactly complain when they don't treat you like royalty. Buy a full price ticket if you absolutely have to get there otherwise when you get bumped, man up and just accept the fact that you took a bet and lost today. Be happy that you have a choice... most business travelers don't.

  • Tionico||

    But UAL had no contractual RIGHT to demand him give up the seat he'd bought, paid for, and was pccupying. UAL had entered into a contractual agreement. The man had paid his far, making it mutually binding. He NEEDED to be somewhere on time, Same as the flight crew wanting his seat. UAL should have continued upping the spiff, and at some point SO|MEONE would have said OK, I'll take that.

    There are almost always two to four jump seats flight crew can take, which the flying peons cannot, per laws. How many other planes were bound to that same airport within enough time to allow that crew to handle that flight? Or were the four just vacationing? SOME other line had to have had at least a couple of jump seats each..... UAL blew it big time. And the ChitCahGo Coppers badly handled it all. Thugs in government issued costumes.

  • Mark22||

    But UAL had no contractual RIGHT to demand him give up the seat he'd bought, paid for, and was pccupying.

    Funny, because the contract actually seems to give them that right.

  • fr33d0m!||

    "Is the cop supposed to just shrug his shoulders and go "I don't know what to do now, I guess he's not leaving""

    Yes! This is exactly what they should have done. At this point it's a contract dispute between two parties and the cop is a third party.

    There was no risk of physical harm to anyone on the plane. The airline can voluntarily fly with everyone as boarded, or voluntarily decide to cancel the flight and ground the plane. They were in control the entire time. They chose to claim the passenger was causing harm, so they misrepresented the case to the authorities and are now directly liable for the repercussions.

  • Paloma||

    Bad business is costly as fuck. Especially with this kind of publicity. International yet.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Within their rights does not equal customer satisfaction or public outrage.

  • ||

    Throwing out paying customers for the sake of freeloading employees does seem like a horrible policy. Airlines are helpless in a way because the government mandates that they randomly chose people to be deplaned.

  • ||

    I havn't heard there were any airline pass travellers on board. Pass travellers are supposed to be standby which means they would nto be allowed to board if the flight was overbooked.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    voluntarily giving up his seat nor wanted to obey a straight-up order to leave, in an attempt on United's part to clear four seats for its own employees on the full flight.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Those employees were probably needed on duty elsewhere. As opposed to traveling on vacation.

  • SFC B||

    It was a flight crew for another flight. So they were in a position of either needing to bump four passengers from this flight, or delaying another plane full of passengers when their plane can't take off because their crew has hit their hour limit.

  • The Pirate King||

    Or buying the flight crew seats on another carrier, or offering four passengers from this flight seats on another carrier, or offering higher compensation to get people to give up their seats. Or not letting people board in the first place if there isn't enough room on the plane.

  • Kandralla||

    Or they can kick the guy off the plane as is their right to do.

  • Paloma||

    Yes. They're right to do. Which is going to end up costing them out the ass.

  • Paloma||

    Ok. I can concede they may have a right to kick the guy off the plane. If I make a date with someone, it's my right to show up in pajamas and curlers with no make up if I want. Absolutely my right. But can I expect to see the guy again? I'd be stupid if I did. Even though I exercised my right to dress as I please. My point is "rights" aside, it's stupid beyond belief to eject a passenger like this with other passengers capturing the moment on their cellphones, because it causes a public relations nightmare. Worse than Snakes on a Plane. VERY expensive error. You'd think that whoever made that decision would have thought of other alternatives first. They just cost their (undoubtedly FORMER) employer a ton of money.

  • Praveen R.||

    it is a right they got through a rigged set of terms because the passengers do not have the lobbies to get enough safeguards through. So the only leverage a passenger has is bad publicity through incidents like this. We as passengers need to be thankful to the stubborn doctor for refusing to move because hopefully this will mean airlines will take a second look at making the VDB voucher policy more attractive to avoid incidents like this.

    There was a passenger who supposedly was OK with 1600 but the supervisor refused. Well. that woudl have been a bargain compared to the hit the airline will take.

  • Mark22||

    it is a right they got through a rigged set of terms because the passengers do not have the lobbies to get enough safeguards through.

    You don't need "lobbies" for that; just pay full price ticket and this won't happen to you.

    If lobbies push through regulations that prohibit bumping passengers, it would simply result in the disappearance of low-price tickets.

  • Praveen R.||

    I dont think you even read what I wrote. Airlines already profit from overbooking. No need to increase the prices that much. A lot of it is usually airline voucher dollars that are offered. And it gives incentives for the airlines to improve their algorithms in making overbooking more efficient.

    But the only way you can do that is make sure airlines pay up whatever they need to get enough passengers to take the VDB offers. In this case, United failed. Not to mention, United vouchers have a bad reputaiton in the industry as being tough to redeem.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    ...nor wanted to obey a straight-up order to leave, in an attempt on United's part to clear four seats for its own employees on the full flight.

    So, let me see if I understand this: United decided it was more important for one of their employees - who fly for free or highly reduced rates - to have a seat on this flight than for a paying customer who paid full price for his ticket? Does that about sum it up? And these ass-clowns are still in business how? ...Oh, right, the subsidies! You're welcome, assholes!

    When asked why the airline had the man forcibly removed, and whether that was standard procedure in cases of overbooked flights, United refused to comment.

    Instead they told BuzzFeed News all further questions should be referred to Chicago Police. BuzzFeed News contacted Chicago Police and were told to contact the Chicago Department of Aviation. When BuzzFeed News contacted the Chicago Department of Aviation they were transferred to a TSA message bank. A TSA spokesperson later told BuzzFeed News they were not involved and to contact Chicago Police.

    That is the very definition of a bureaucratic circle jerk.

  • John C. Randolph||

    They needed to get their employees to the destination airport to operate another flight. They don't bump passengers to make room for employees traveling for fun.

    -jcr

  • Danno99||

    Cynical, There is a difference between non-rev leisure travel and non-rev business travel. The four needed seats on this plane were likely for the crew that would be flying the plane (or another) to its next destination, which could even be back to Chicago. Pilots are not stationed in every city an airline flies to.

    This should have been resolved without creating a scene and physically removing this passenger.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Hell, flight crews do not necessarily live in the city they are based out of.

  • Daniel||

    United's Contract of Carriage:

    "4. Compensation for Passengers Denied Boarding Involuntarily

    a.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. "

    It sure as hell looked like he was was fully boarded before United changed its mind. If United can't resolve this before passengers take seats, it is their turd to eat.

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    Is this what a useful comment looks like?

  • DaveSs||

    Thats my take.

    They've already boarded the passengers. They had their chance to figure it out and deny boarding to random passengers and they didn't.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who gets to define what constitutes a fully boarded passenger?

  • Jimbo||

    The police, evidently.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Are we talking regular or waterboarded?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I think this is the best interpretation of what happened here. Airline rules and FAA rules are complex and byzantine, and I'm not even sure where one begins and the other ends. But if there's any official ruling from the judges, I'd say that if you get fully boarded, you're boarded. If any involuntary unbooking takes place, I'd agree that it should occur before you're seated.

  • timbo||

    United will pay out of their ass for this. I hope the police department has to pay twice what united will lose. This is a scumbag plaintiff attorney's dream.

  • Paloma||

    I hope the police department would have to pay twice what United lost too, but they won't. Good thing United isn't a government airline, and good thing for them this guy wasn't black, gay, or transexual.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Or someone who had to work the next day.

  • DrOtto||

    Not sure if it was United stepping on their collective dicks, or Chicago Av PD, but he was gay according to the smear campaign being waged.

  • MikeP2||

    I'm pretty sure "boarding" isn't complete until the cabin doors are closed, regardless of whether you are seated or not.

  • Longtobefree||

    So he wasn't denied boarding. He was defrauded, assaulted, humiliated etc. Sounds like a third year law student could get free first class travel for him and his extended family for life.

  • flicka47||

    What!?! Does that say United could have offered to put him on a competitor's flight, and didn't?

    And, yeah...United should have resolved this before boarding the passengers...sigh

  • jdd6y||

    So coincidental how United's max is the same amount set forth in the CFRs. If the government didn't cap the maximum bribe to give up a seat then airlines couldn't get away with doing it -- that would require an anti-competitive contract. United would have eventually bid high enough to reach four people's reserve price and this whole thing never happens.

    Federal law was used as a loophole around a horizontal restraint of trade that creates windfalls for airlines. "We would have loved to offer more, but, you know, the law precludes it so we have to just gank dudes off the plane."

  • Domo||

    Oversold or overbooked flights do not include UA employees. The contract only applies to paying customers. This flight is technically not considered oversold, so legally the contract does not apply to this situation.

    Protocol for all airlines in this situation is to offer compensation to voluntary passengers before anyone even boards the flight.

    --Source, former airline employee

  • retiredfire||

    Since, elsewhere in the agreement, it talks about a passenger denied boarding being seated in a seat other than the one reserved, I have a feeling that "boarded" isn't considered to have happened until the door closes.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Okiedokie, so all he had to do was get his whiny but out of the seat and settle up at the counter. Easy peasy. Instead he decided to break his end of the deal.

    Perhaps he should try a charter flight after he gets out of the hoosegow.

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 act of coprophagia

  • Rhywun||

    A point that isn't always made clear on how overbooking works: it doesn't just "happen", it is done on purpose in the hopes of selling some seats twice. The bad PR is considered worth it. And those low-paid customer service folks get all the shit for it.

  • timbo||

    They don't have to work at these airlines.

  • ||

    They're not looking to sell some seats twice, they're trying to sell all seats once. There are regularly cancellations at the last minute, and they want to be able to fill those seats with paying customers in those cases. Sometimes they don't get the number of cancellations they expect, and then they have to play this game.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    That's the airlines' story, but they could easily solve that problem by refusing to give refunds for last minute cancellations, so I don't believe them. They're clearly trying to sell seats twice.

  • TGoodchild||

    I find it difficult to sympathize with the guy. He could have easily exited before the physical confrontation and subsequent turmoil and still complained for whatever he wanted in addition to getting on another flight. I suspect he is a pathological narcissist who didn't mind getting roughed up knowing it would be videographed.

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    I suspect he is a pathological narcissist who didn't mind getting roughed up knowing it would be videographed.

    Yep. Just like all the old Asian doctors I've ever met.

  • timbo||

    But it is a good point. What kind of educated person does not know NOT to f*ck with the average dumbass American cop?

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    ... old Asian doctors?

  • Longtobefree||

    Some damn fool who has read that constitution thing, and actually believed it.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Morans.

  • I am but a man||

    Are you serious?

  • John C. Randolph||

    This seems like a good time to remind people that United Breaks Guitars.

    -jcr

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

  • DDCoe||

    This article reminds me of the time I was scheduled to fly Continental (many of present-day United's leaders are ex-Continental people) from Cleveland to Buffalo. The scheduled plane was a Q300 turboprop, given the short distance and (likely) lack of route demand, and at some point that day, Continental replaced it with a smaller Q200 turboprop, which immediately placed the flight in a hugely oversold situation, something like 12 seats. They initially offered $200 vouchers, and a flight several hours later the same day. They eventually raised the offer to $400, but they still only got about 5-6 takers. So, their next step was to simply delay the flight, and they flat-out announced that they wouldn't take off until they got the required number of people to "agree" to be bumped. I'd had a couple of beers during my layover, so I was feeling my oats. About 30 minutes after we were originally scheduled to board, when boarding still hadn't begun, I went up to the gate agent and quite loudly told her that the airline needed to raise its offer and that it was b.s. to make everyone wait because the airline screwed up their equipment scheduling and was too cheap to make a higher offer to bumped passengers. I think they eventually had a private conversation with a group of about 10 people who were scheduled to fly together and convinced them all to take the later flight.

  • Daniel||

    The policy from United:

    "4. Compensation for Passengers Denied Boarding Involuntarily

    a.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. "

    It certainly seems the man was boarded before United changed its mind. This is their turd to eat.

  • ThomasD||

    I suspect that United's attorneys are advising a settlement precisely to avoid a court determining exactly what constitutes denial of boarding.

  • croaker||

    Not to mention a court taking judicial notice of a contract of adhesion.

  • ThomasD||

    Police should exist to help peacefully resolve disputes whenever possible. In this case they did nothing of the sort. They were nothing more than paid muscle for the airlines.

    They are about as close to being bouncers at a strip bar as any public employee can be.

  • Brandybuck||

    Say what you want about United's "rights" to beat the shit out of people, I've decided not to ever fly United again.

  • Paloma||

    Annnnnd there ya go! I myself just MIGHT fly them if they now think they have to make nice to everyone so as not to go out of business.

  • Mr. Dyslexic||

    ^ I'm totally with you on this. My wife and I are vacationing in Bermuda this June and I just told her ix-nay on United-gay!

  • Mongo||

    The airlines and the pigs are the on the front line in the War on Terror.

    More starlets and flesh in your online ads please. Less skin disease and Mama June ads though the digital illos of dental implants and eye surgery are kinda cool. kthanxbye

  • dschwar||

    From the comments section of another news website, a different potential solution to the problem of the United crew needing to get to Louisville: Doesn't United have some charter / executive planes that could have been used to ferry this crew if they couldn't get passengers to volunteer for bumping?

  • Bubba Jones||

    There is no reason to expect that united hassignificant resources available in a podunk airport like ORD.

    /s

  • pan fried wylie||

    I mean, they were short 4 crew, not a good indication that there's extra planes lying around.

  • Bubba Jones||

    These terms aren't horrible.

    https://evouchers.aa.com/terms.jsp

  • Born Again Username||

    We are talking about UA, not AA. Unless you are saying that all airlines' terms & conditions for vouchers are the same, that link isn't helpful.

  • Longtobefree||

    Why I love the web:
    The United web site contract of carriage, on a very small link near the bottom of the page, leads to an expandable document of 61 pages, containing 37,672 words (when pasted into MS Word)
    Nothing in rule 21, Refusal of transport, seems to apply to the doctor, if the media report is correct that he was not violent or abusive, but quietly refusing to deplane.
    They had their chance to refuse boarding, but once you are on the plane, you should be OK.
    But then, we all know the constitution only applies where and when the federal government says it does.
    Can't wait for Trump's tweet on this one.

  • NorEastern||

    The airline should have just attempted to bribe a passenger to wait for a later flight. $1,000 cash would have saved untold millions in bad publicity.

  • Johnimo||

    The captain of an airplane has almost unlimited powers, just like the captain of a ship. HOWEVER, this situation could have easily been handled much, MUCH better.

    Why not simply announce that the plane "needed additional servicing requiring all passengers to deplane." When re-boarding the aircraft, announce that the seats had been reassigned and those passengers would be handsomely compensated. Then, the goons (excuse me, I meant "security" detail) could monitor the process at the boarding gate.

    Problem solved!

  • Kandralla||

    Yes, problem solved... we're already late, the schedule for several airports is already in spinning down the toilet so we'll spend another 40 minutes to deplane and reboard because someone might decide to act like a child.

    It's funny watching all the fair-weather Libertarians suddenly stop caring about property rights when they don't like the entity executing them.

  • IceTrey||

    So a Christian baker can't decline to make a cake for a gay wedding because it because violates their conscience but an airline can drag you off the plane because they fucked up their crew scheduling? Sounds about right in today's America.

  • Vanderleun||

    " the police officers who actually committed the brutality on United's behalf. NPR reports that the cops attacking the man "appear to be wearing the uniforms of Chicago aviation police.""

    Let's not get cute about this. He was Asian. They are fucking thugs. Pure and simple thugs. With all that that implies.

  • DavidS-T||

    "We will re-accommodate you."--Nikita Khrushchev

  • JuanQPublic||

    Sort of how the U.S. under FDR "re-accommodated" Japanese-Americans during WWII.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Apparently, Chicago's aviation police just effectively lost their bid to be armed.

  • KC70||

    Best bump story ever: on American Chicago to Ft Myers for spring break with wife and 2 kids. Asking for 4 volunteers for a flight 8 hours later with a layover. No one took it and we got bumped. I made a big stink and they put us on a flight only 2 hours later. And gave us $100 voucher for the club. AND ... 4 full fare CASH checks for $1,100 each ! And we used frequent flyer miles for the original flight so all upside. Needless to say - well worth the 2 hour delay. American loyal for life !

  • Hank Phillips||

    I'm booked on a 9-hour United flight tomorrow. I hope my trip insurance covers mauling by jackbooted minions.

  • Galane||

    This is going to cost United a hell of a lot more than simply chartering a small plane to move their crew would have.

    What if this doctor was flying somewhere to do a critical operation to save a patient's life?

  • Paloma||

    yuppers

  • Dread Pirate Roberts||

    While slamming the man's head into the armrest is inexcusable, I still blame United 100%. The cops' job is applied violence. Never call the cops on someone unless you're ready to see them beaten up, or worse. United's policy is to see this happen to their customers rather than pay a few extra bucks for their fuckups.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    If you're deliberately trying to conceal a term of the contract that you know the other party would object to, you're committing fraud.

  • ||

    They called the police because the police have a monopoly on force and taking private measures to remove the passenger would surely have resulted in assault charges against the airline. It sucks to get bumped from an oversold flight (I was offered a $500 flight voucher from United just yesterday to skip a flight leaving Denver) and things could likely have been handled better, but this passenger seemed a little unstable to me. If United can't call the police to remove a trespasser, why should a citizen have this right?

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Pigs being pigs. Nothing new here.
    I just thank Baby Jeebus the passenger wasn't black and the Chicago Transit Authority (or whatever) don't carry guns.

  • Praveen R.||

    In the name of capitalism, airlines have no problems charging us outrageous change fees. Now when they want to pay a customer a "change fee" of sorts in reverse, they all of a sudden have problems coughing up money!!! The airline wanted the passengers to do them a favor. Well, pay up. Overbooking enhances revenues which must be offset by costs incurred whtn the gamble pays off. So pay up!!!! $400 initial offer was all that was made before boarding. When nt a single person accepts it, it is ridiculous that they did not up the offer to 800 right away. Once passengers are seated, their reluctance to take an offer goes up. So who knows if more people wouldnt have taken that offer if made early enough.

    And here is another thing. THESE ARE NOT REAL DOLLARS but money that can be used to travel on UNited and it has an expiration date. So it's not like United is even paying up $800 in real money. They could have sweetened the offer by adding more united dollars or they could have combined united dollars with a free round trip ticket or two.

    UNITED once canceled a flight due to mechanical issues, and they admitted it to my cousin who took the flight. THe next day, when they took the next available flight, they lied aobut the canceld flight and said they owed nothing since it was canceled because of weather. EWhen my cousins complained, they got a measly $50 United voucher which had restrictions and an expiration date. It was not transferable either. This airline is garbage.

  • Praveen R.||

    Supposedly when a United supervisor came on the aircraft to tell the passengers that four need to go, one passenger piped up that he would leave if he was offered 1600 in voucher money and take the next day's flight. The supervisor denied it as out of hand. Well, the idiots are going to lose more than 1600 bucks because of their stubborness. I am so glad that this guy resisted and now, there will be more attention to how passengers have so few rights.

    If airlines with little competition want to gamble and maximize profits, then they have to pay up whtn the gamble goes wrong. it's that simple. The idiots should have paid up the 1600 in voucher money.

  • H-daddy||

    A fascinating situation that, IMHO, will cost United Airlines a LOT of $$$. I truly don't understand why Chicago Police have anything to do with an airport. Is the airport owned by the city of Chicago? And, if so, why do cities own airports?

    I have been fascinated by Julian Simon's ideas since the 1970's. He is still worth reading. So many brilliant counter-intuitive ideas. Another source of ideas along this same vein is Jane Jacobs.

  • DaveSs||

    Chicago owns it.
    Dunno why. I'm sure there's a FYTW story in it.

  • tgrondo||

    According to what I've read, it was Airport Security that "re- accommodated" the passenger...not Chicago PD.

    That is one of my questions....are these real cops, or a security service? In other words...do they have LEO training, or are they just bouncers?

    I watched the video and these guys don't really don't look like cops....(one guys is wearing jeans)???

  • DaveSs||

    I believe they are sworn officers.

    They go through the same academy and have the same firearm certification and everything.

    They just aren't allowed to be armed when on duty at the airport.

  • smpl5d||

    While I am horrified by this turn of events (and will revisit my travel choices as a result), the title of this item raises a theoretical question. To that point, the airplane is United's property and they have the right to contract with parties as they see fit (at least as long as they are not a common carrier). According to some of the subsequent commentary (not on Reason), it seems that the terms of the airline ticket allow United to cancel the contract (ticket) for cause. The consequences of this cancellation are regulated. So, the police were enforcing United's property rights. Is this any different from police intervening when someone breaks into your house?

  • JuanQPublic||

    The doctor entered United's property under an agreement (I pay you money, you fly me home). Then, (based on witnesses), the cops turned a non-violent, non-criminal situation into a violent, criminal situation.

    I think he has a fantastic case going forward.

  • JuanQPublic||

    This morning, the Courier-Journal (Louisville) went into total slime mode by publishing a smear article on the doctor who was removed: http://www.courier-journal.com.....100318320/

    The article has absolutely nothing to do with this case, and shows just how little many "journalists" care about the actual issues above getting clicks to their struggling newspapers.

  • tlapp||

    As always the free market will correct this problem United Airlines stock lost 600 million dollars in value since this incident. Upping the reward for voluntarily giving up a seat is a big time bargain compared to the value lost and the damage done to the company reputation. As for the police removing someone forcibly for staying in a seat they paid for in advance is far more problematic. That is why government is far more dangerous than private industry. If only more people recognize the ddanger.

  • styopa||

    "explaining why he (refused) to obey a straight-up order to leave"

    Nope, not even a little bit.
    If the captain of a plane tells you to get off, you get off. Full stop.
    Argue with the company later all you want, hell, try to get the captain fired or even arrested if you can - but you are not entitled to refuse in that circumstance.

    I understand that Reason is all about resisting authority at every possible point, but passengers and cargo are voluntarily trading their rights for a flight on that conveyance. Don't like it? Drive.

    I shall be preferentially booking with United for a (short) while to show my support for a firm that doesn't put up with snowflakes asserting special privileges.

  • tgrondo||

    Hopefully, you won't have to be "re-accommodated" the next time ya' fly with United.....I hear it can be painful! :)

  • Praveen R.||

    It's people like you that helps companies get away with crap. If he just walkd away quietly as you suggest, NOTHING would have changed. Now United is talking about the possibility of changing the way they implement their incentive system. And we know for a fact that United did not do a good job that day of providing incentives. These private companies are virtual monopolies on certain routes.It is not pracitical fro someone to choose another airline because the regulators under pressure of lobbies have capped limits too. And in this case, United didn't even max out on those. And knowing United from past experiences, they probably don't even make it that easy to spend the voucher dollars.

    He might be a perv and an unethical doctor. But he did all of us passengers a big favor the next time a situation like this comes up.

  • GlenchristLaw||

    Can we please stop calling this an "overbooking" incident? It was nothing of the kind. Once you have a boarding pass with a seat assignment, you are, BY DEFINITION, not "overbooked." Overbooking tries to allocate too few unassigned (!) seats to too many who have no seat yet.

    This ain't that.

    This is ordinary, plain-vanilla breach of contract with an overlay of battery -- and should proceed through the civil and criminal courts are such.

  • Cep Rast||

    The plane belongs to United, they have a policy of overbooking. It's entirely their right to do so whether you agree with the business practice or not. If you don't like it start your own airline or go greyhound. As soon as he was asked to leave and failed to comply he was trespasser. I thought Reason was a libertarian site.

  • DaveSs||

    Flight was not overbooked

    United policies describe when a person can be involuntarily denied boarding...he was not denied boarding as he was seated in his assigned seat on the plane.

    United policies also dictate when a person can be involuntarily removed from the plane...those reasons have to do with safety, not because your seat was reassigned.

    Read the fine print. United's cockup because people were allowed onto the plane before questions of seat availability were answered.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online