I suppose by now you have all heard about the infamous United Airlines incident when a man was forcibly removed from his seat after refusing to deplane voluntarily. (Before the flight, mind you. Not after.)
Evidently, United Airlines’ gate agents have a problem keeping track of how many people are on an airplane. I thought they had ultra-modern high-tech computer systems for that. I guess not.
However, on this particular day they unintentionally let four too many people onto the plane. The gate agents couldn’t understand how this could have possibly happened. They were sure they were keeping an eye on the passenger count between texting their friends, surfing the web and checking email on their smartphones.
The man refused to give up his seat, claiming he was a doctor who needed to see patients. When the airport police were finished with him, he was a patient who needed to see a doctor.
Airlines have a pecking order when it comes to who gets bumped and who doesn’t. Evidently this man was not a frequent flier, so he was the low man on the totem pole that day. Three other passengers were told to get off and willingly complied. This man stubbornly refused and decided to call their bluff. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this incident, it’s that airport police don’t bluff. They can hit pretty hard, too.
In an effort to soften the backlash, the airline offered all other passengers on the flight who managed to avoid getting pummeled free tickets. So exactly what is it they are getting rewarded for again? I thought it was the victim who they needed to compensate, not innocent bystanders.
A United Airlines spokesman attempted to smooth the situation over, explaining that while airlines reserve the legal right to boot someone off a plane, in this particular incident the man was technically not booted off. He may have been dragged, punched and manhandled, but definitely not booted. We’ll see how that angle plays in court.And those other three passengers who meekly complied when asked to leave the aircraft? Boy, are they rethinking what they’ve learned in life about obeying the law and getting along with others. It just cost them millions, instant fame and probably an early retirement.
The next time I’m faced with a situation like that, I think the most profitable course of action is to stubbornly refuse to follow directions, goad my confronter into physically harming me and hope there are plenty of smartphones around. Oh, and make sure the company I’m dealing with has deep pockets.
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