KABOOM! United Air Lines. Unethical. Incompetent. Stupid. Insane. Unforgiveable. [UPDATED]

Just read this, which goes with the video.

Quick summary: a United flight supervisor came on board a sold-out flight and demanded that four seated passengers leave the plane  so four United employees could take their seats. Four passengers were chosen at random, and one, an older man, refused. Police were called and he was beaten and forced off the plane.


It’s hard to type with all these brains from my head explosion on the keyboard, but…

1.  No business that treats customers like this deserves to stay in business.

2. Any solution would have been better. Anything. Charter a flight for the United employees. Pay 10,000 bucks per passenger as incentive. Offer a lifetime ticket. That the united employees couldn’t come up with a less abusive and disrupting solution shows terrible training, terrible judgment, and a terrible corporate culture.

3. I am stunned that no passenger, when the older man who refused to go began to be abused by the police, stepped forward to take his place. I would think that would be an obvious response. Can we all pledge here and now that before someone is dragged screaming of a flight we are on, we’ll step forward and give up our seats?

4. I have to travel a lot for my business, but I will move heaven and earth not to have anything to do with United.

5. The carrier should pay dearly for this.  It is inexcusable.

More accounts: New York Times, Hot Air, Vox, NPR, FOX6Now.com, The Gateway Pundit, neo-neocon, Boing Boing, View from the Wing, Raw Story, Fox News Insider, CBS Chicago, , Guns & Money, The Federalist, IJR, FOX31 Denver, AOL, Instapundit, Axios, Eschaton , Mediaite, The Ring of Fire Network, View from the Wing, BGR, Mashable, CBS Pittsburgh, The Daily Caller and Outside the Beltway

And this, from Hit and Run at Reason:

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.]


121 thoughts on “KABOOM! United Air Lines. Unethical. Incompetent. Stupid. Insane. Unforgiveable. [UPDATED]

    • Yeah, to be fair for all the times I’ve complained of disconnections or poor service quality, they’ve never sent someone to my house to beat the *&%^ out of me.

      I’m sure they’ll think of something in 2017 to secure the coveted “Golden Poo” Award from consumerist this year though!

      • Seriously, and after they beat the crap out of the guy, the CEO ominously warned that ‘We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and FURTHER address and resolve this situation.’. Is that not a veiled threat!!!

        • Great. This is why the Web makes people stupid.

          There is absolutely NO evidence that they beat the crap out of the guy. There IS evidence that the removal was sufficiently violent that he was injured. To what extent, we don’t know.

          • You are a moron and clearly a shill for the corporation. The paid passenger was removed against his will on a flight that in fact was not overbooked, that he had paid for and had been seated on, and when he refused to give up said seat because of the whim or mismanagement the corporation was forcibly removed and abused by the corporation.

            In this case,the Web does NOT make people stupid and you know it. What it has done in this case is provide facts — real information — that many people need to know: what United did defied its own corporate policies — in the worst possible way and to the detriment of a customer (and I hope its corporate future), and if you don’t care about the ethics of it, tough shit.

            PS Said customer is still in the hospital. Are you really going to argue that these are self-infllcted wounds, unavoidable, accidental or just “too damn bad?”

            • Don’t be ridiculous, E2. I didn’t say he wasn’t injured. I didn’t say what happened to him was proper, ethical, or whatever. What I SAID was that there is no evidence the cops beat the crap out of him. And there isn’t. They grabbed him, he struggled, he sustained injury. That kind of thing happens. Show me ANY evidence at all that the cops beat him.

              By the way, you’ve struck out, looking. Sorry.

              • I’m a bit puzzled about why the “beat up’ hyperbole matters so much to you, AIM.

                The passenger was “beat up,” as in “his face was beat up.” He had blood all over: this is evidence that he got “beaten up.” Did the cops literally beat him? No. Did they have to, for his injuries to be their responsibility> If a protester, or an arrested perp, or a child, gets wounds like that because of excessive force, which this clearly was, does the distinction between “we were so rough with him that he hit his head” and “we beat him” really make the police that much better that it’s worth arguing about? Stipulated: they di not, in fact beat him. They just deliberately treated him in a violent manner that resulted in the same kinds of injuries he would have received from a beating.

                I’m sure this is comforting to him, his loved ones, and other passengers.

            • Oh, and by the way, I wish I WAS a shill for this one. I could retire on the billable hours. Ah, would that it were, would that it were….

  1. Stick a fork in him the CEO career is done.the want even get a greeters job at Wal-Mart.the guy is total moron.this is :he st United has.I want fly United ever till his guy is removed from office and he should lose of his severace pay for for punishment.I’m sure he is fixing to settle one of the biggest civil rights violations ever. This has far reaching consequences globally politically speaking.you just told the world that your airlines doesn’t like Asians.shame on you for making us all look bad.CEO what a overblown joke.I am Caucasian and I think it was awful.I’ll never fly the friendly sky’s again.-(

  2. When cops assaulted this paying customer in his seat, that proverbial red line was crossed and courts will determine reponsabilities. Paying customers will ultimately rule on this.

  3. News outlets and people from all over the political spectrum are pretty much united (no pun intended) in their feelings about this event. Been a while since we’ve had something we could all agree on.

  4. Yes, unfair and a dreadful management failure and PR catastrophe. Heads should roll. But the passenger should not totally escape censure. It is not an ethical option ultimately to refuse instructions from proper authorities, be they clumsy cops or incompetent flight crew. Yes, argue and protest, and promise legal action if you must, but after making your point your immediate obligation generally is to do as you are told!

  5. There are a few commenting here that need to put aside the rationalizations and focus on the actual facts.

    1. The gate allowed all these paying passengers onto the plane.
    2. The paying passengers were not disrupting anything.
    3. The airlines chose to ask for 4 volunteers to give seats to a United crew.
    4. No one chose to volunteer.
    5. The airline chose to randomly choose 4 passengers and deny them the seats that they already possessed.
    6. They told those people to get off the plane.
    7. One passenger chose to say no.
    8. The airline chose to remove the passenger that said “no” by means of force.

    There are the basic facts.

    Due to absolutely no fault of their own; four passengers were removed from the seats that they already occupied by means of coercion and force. Based on why the airlines wanted the seats, there is no justifiable reason for this to have happened after passengers has already been allowed on the plane and taken their seats; no justifiable reason. The airline made a last minute choice to use already existing policies in an unethical way to physically remove passengers that were already occupying seats. The policy that allowed/encouraged this event reflect corporate abuse of consumers.

    What if in the airlines random choice they had picked 4 black people be removed from the airplane and the seats were then filled by white United Airlines employees?

    This should have taken place in the gate before anyone was allowed to board the plane; once the people boarded the plane United Airlines should have made other arrangements. You do not bump people that are already occupying seats, you deal with it before the seats are occupied. Period, end of discussion.

    The man who was abused while being physically removed from the plane should sue United Airlines for multiple millions. Whatcha wanna bet the airlines tries to wave lots of dollar bills in the face of this abused passenger to settle this one out of court.

    I don’t give a shit if they compensate passengers for things like this, it’s unethical, it’s wrong – dead wrong. In my opinion; this is a time where a corporate boycott due to abusive policies and physical actions as a result of those policies is fully justifiable. I’ll never fly United Airlines again, I have implemented a life long boycott of United Airlines for me and my family.

    P.S. I used to be a life long GM product owner, my wife used to be a life long Chrysler product owner, we removed GM and Chrysler products from our garage and have boycotted both GM and Chrysler because of their inept upper management; I now find my automotive vehicle purchase needs from their competitors. A short list; I have also permanently boycotted Walmart and McDonald’s, I will only enter those places of business when there is absolutely no other choice and there is a genuine immediate need – basically only in “emergencies”.

    • United is calling this a “Involuntary Denied Boarding” or IDB. Their policy does permit IDB. But note the word “Boarding.” That ship sailed for United. They have no policy for involuntary removal for over-booking. United did not follow their contract of carriage.

      That does give the passenger an opening for a tort action. Once that avenue is open, it is up to a jury to decide on punitive action. I’d love to be that guy’s attorney. (Not only is the line to sign him up long, I’m not an attorney either so that’d be the bigger impediment…. sadly). 1/3 of a seven to eight figure settlement sure would be nice.

      • United is calling this a “Involuntary Denied Boarding” or IDB. Their policy does permit IDB. But note the word “Boarding.” That ship sailed for United. They have no policy for involuntary removal for over-booking. United did not follow their contract of carriage.

        I’ve little doubt that’s how plaintiff’s counsel will attempt to frame it. It might even be a persuasive argument – but only insofar as if this DID go to trial the odds are pretty good that the jury will carry bias against airlines. Hard to find an American citizen who doesn’t.

        Meantime, the countering argument will certainly be based on United’s Contract of Carriage Rule 21. Sections C, H1, H2, H4 and J would appear to apply.

        There are credible news reports today that this guy wasn’t exactly an angel. He was convicted of drug felonies and lost his medical license for a while… and is also reported to have anger management issues.

        As I said previously, there’s still tons that the social media harpies don’t know.

        • There are credible news reports today that this guy wasn’t exactly an angel. He was convicted of drug felonies and lost his medical license for a while… and is also reported to have anger management issues.

          United better hope that no employee of theirs has ANY fingerprints on releasing disparaging info on this guy. Right now the public is squarely on this guy’s side, and having that come out too will only hurt United Airlines even more.

  6. Regarding #3 – I certainly would be willing to volunteer.

    The issue is that far too many police officers consider contempt of a cop a serious crime, and once they issued the order for the guy to leave, they are highly unlikely to back down, even if another person is willing to take their place.

    • At the risk of a thread-jack, this does lead me to a bigger issue here though – the police are far more likely to side with a business over an individual.

      When a customer is treated badly the police will say that it is a civil matter. When a person does the same back, they are considered a criminal (usually going with trespass).

    • Remember please that these are ‘airline cops’ — who think, believe and are mistaken if they choose to abrogate all the basic tenets of policing and use their power at will. Any DC or NYC cop behaving in this manner would be suspended and then fired.

      This gentleman was not a potential terrorist. He is a doctor, who needed to get home, had bought his ticket, and then was chosen by some moronic airline attendant as one who would have to miss his flight. Just so that other United attendants — not planned for – could make their own job commitments. I would have gone nuts: and as I hope this passenger would, and I would sue the airline,the NSTB. the TSA and every other oversight organization I could think of for reparations. If this is the way United works, the should be out of business.

      Here’s my bottom line; it is United’s privilege that I fly their airline. It is not my privilege to have the honor of flying with them.

      Any good business model agrees with this approach.

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