The video of security at Chicago airport forcibly yanking a passenger from a United flight showcases a traveler’s worst nightmare. Paying for a ticket, boarding the plane, only to be harassed and injured while being drug off the plane.
Wait – that isn’t your worst nightmare?
It wasn’t mine either until today. I had no idea airlines could forcibly remove a paying passenger by random lottery in order to fill the seat with an employee.
To make matters even worse, the response from United was unbelievable. As someone who has worked in marketing for a decade (and as someone with common sense) I can tell you that blaming the passenger was not the correct way to address the issue.
I can’t fault the United employees for calling security. It’s their protocol. It seems like employees at large corporations like United are unable to make sound decisions for fear of losing their job. The bigger the business, the more rules, regulations, and falling into rank tends to happen. Or so it seems on the outside looking in. While we all can’t relate to this passenger (victim), I think anyone who has traveled has come across the punishing rules of airlines that do nothing but anger the customer.
Delayed flights, lost baggage, overbooked flights, being forced to pay fee after fee for seat assignments, bags, basically the oxygen in the plane – when is enough, enough?
The sad reality is that we don’t have a choice when it comes to air transportation. If we want to travel thousands of miles in any sort of a timely fashion, we’re all slaves to the rules and fees of the airlines.
As travelers, what do we do? I struggle because my closest airport only offers a limited number of airline options. I tend to travel on Delta more than any other airline because they offer the best flight options from Fargo at a reasonable price.
I also know that any flight from Fargo on Delta (or United) are going to be overbooked. It happens literally every time I fly out. The call comes over the intercom asking for volunteers to take a travel voucher and give up their seat. I’ve contemplated giving up my seat many times as they have continued to sweeten the deal. However, when you’re flying from a regional airport there is a long time from your scheduled flight to the next departure, setting a trip back an entire day.
My husband and I were traveling from Fargo to Minneapolis to San Jose, Costa Rica with 6 other people. Two people in our group got bumped from the flight in Fargo due to overbooking. We didn’t have the kindest words to say to the Delta employees working the desk. With two members of our party not being able to take the flight, it would delay all of us. We had transportation arranged from the airport to our rental house several hours away and now we needed to figure out if we could rebook for a later time or even a different day. Would it put the six of us scrambling to find a hotel in San Jose while we waited over night for our two friends?
Thankfully two other passengers overheard our story and volunteered to give up their seats so we could travel as a group. It was extraordinarily kind of them and completely unexpected.
Airlines only care about their bottom line and not the people or plans they displace in the meantime. Hopefully this incident with United will lead to changes in the airline industry that benefit all travelers.