Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

United, You Fail Forcibly Ejecting a Passenger Is a New Low

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

United, You Fail Forcibly Ejecting a Passenger Is a New Low

Article excerpt

Those pat-downs at the airport security line don't seem all that intrusive now that United Airlines has set a new low for treating passengers. Have the temerity to balk when United employees try to bump you from a flight you're already on and they'll summon an airport goon squad to knock you on the head and drag you from the plane.

That's essentially what happened as United Express Flight 3411 sat at the gate Sunday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. After passengers boarded the plane, the airline decided to bump four of them and give the seats to a United flight crew that the airline claimed needed to make the trip to Louisville, Ky. The airline offered vouchers as an incentive for passengers to give up their seats voluntarily but didn't get any takers. It then selected four passengers for bumping, but one of them refused, saying he was a doctor who needed to make the trip to Louisville so he could see patients the next day.

When airline employees couldn't talk the man out of his seat, they summoned Chicago Department of Aviation security, which dragged him across an armrest and off of the plane. He later rushed back on, collapsed and was removed on a stretcher. Horrified passengers captured the bloody incident on cell-phone video, which went viral, generating disgust across the nation and providing grist for the late-night television comedy shows. A guard has been suspended, the U.S. Transportation Department is investigating, there is outrage in China because of the injured passenger's Asian ethnicity, and the value of the airline's stock fell hundreds of millions of dollars on Tuesday.

Well done, United. Time to summon memories of your bankruptcy proceedings from 2002 through 2006.

This appalling incident was bound to happen in an era of airline deregulation and poor customer service as a business model. …

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