It was bad enough that #united airlines forcibly removed a doctor who was headed back to Louisville to make room for an airline employee who wanted to fly on standby. The company dragged the man off bloody and screaming as various passengers recorded the spectacle on their cell phones and uploaded it to social media in real time.
Apparently United wanted four passengers to volunteer to take a later flight for $400 and hotel accommodations and that they plane would not leave until they got the seats. Then the airline up the offer to $800, but still no takers. Finally, losing patience, the carrier picked four passengers at random and told them they had to deplane. Three went quietly, but the doctors we mentioned before did not. Then security grabbed him and physically dragged him off the plane before the shocked eyes of the other passengers..
Later, the doctor, apparently upset, is seen getting back on the plane, muttering over and over again that he has to get home. Still later, the CEO of United Oscar Munoz released a note stating that the airline apologizes for the “re-accommodation” – a euphemism for assault and battery – and vowed to review the matter and to reach out to said passenger. One suspects that the passenger will be reaching out to the airline through his lawyer.
Between security lines, tacked on fees, lousy service, ever-changing schedules, and tiny seating, air travel has become a living hell. United seems to have made things worse by assaulting a passenger in full view of everyone and then offering a tepid apology.
Clearly, something has to be done to increase competition for long distance travel. #Customer Service should not be the same as customer abuse in any circumstance. This may be arguments for accommodating air taxi services and building Hyperloop lines to give the airlines a little incentive to keep customers.
Ignoring the environmentalists and building more airport capacity would be an excellent idea as well.
In the meantime, United is about to get a lesson in bad customer service in the digital age. The correct move for the airline would be to keep upping the price until enough people decided to take the deal. Now United is not only faced with a nasty legal action that will be well covered by the media but the loss of customers as they switch to other air carriers who at least will forbear from attacking their passengers. The financial losses may well be severe. The loss of good will is likely to be beyond evaluation.