April 10, 2017
United Dragged a Doctor off a Plane Last Night
United is getting hammered on social media today today after customers tweeted videos of law enforcement forcibly removing a doctor from UA Flight 3411 from Chicago (ORD)- Louisville (SDF) last night. Here are some of the videos making the rounds:
— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
This flight, like many United flights, was overbooked. There’s information spreading that United may have needed to board additional flight crew to get them to Louisville for another flight. The airline needed to bump four passengers to make room and offered $800 travel certificates to volunteers. When no-one volunteered, united selected four passengers to be removed from the plane. The first two left voluntarily, while the doctor shown in this video refused to get off the plane.
Witnesses say the man was very upset and said he needed to get to Louisville to see a patient at the hospital in the morning. After refusing to leave voluntarily, airport security forcibly removed him from the plane. After being taken off the aircraft, he somehow managed to get back on:
— Tyler Bridges (@Tyler_Bridges) April 10, 2017
United has responded to the incident by saying “Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation.”
Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not defending United here, but passengers need to know that they really don’t have many rights when it comes to air travel. If the pilot tells you to get off the plane, for any reason, you pretty much have to get off the plane. If you refuse to leave, either the entire flight will be canceled, inconveniencing all the passengers, or you’ll be forcibly removed. It sucks that that’s the way airlines enforce their rules, but there’s nothing illegal about what they’re doing.
That being said, United could have handled this situation much better and could have avoided it entirely.
- United overbooked the flight. Yes a lot of airlines do that, but that doesn’t mean they should. Overbooked flights are bound to anger passengers when they’re denied boarding against their will and will inevitably lead to situations like this. JetBlue doesn’t overbook its flights and still a profitable airline.
- United only offered an $800 voucher. If no-one voluntarily accepted United’s $800 offer to switch flights, United should have just offered more money. Eventually four passengers would have accepted. United was just being cheap here and decided that the inconvenience to its passengers wasn’t worth more than $800 for the airline.
- Why did United board the flight when it was overbooked, and then decide to remove passengers? If they had denied boarding to four passengers before boarding the flight, no-one would have been forcibly removed.
Bottom line, this was a clear fail on United’s part. This whole situation could have been avoided and now United’s suffering yet another well-deserved PR hit. Flyers need to know-if the crew tell you you have to get off the plane, you have to get off the plane. You won’t achieve anything by protesting in the aircraft. If flyers want to send a message to United, they should take their business elsewhere. Hopefully the doctor made it to Louisville safety after being dragged off the flight.