The last 24 hours have been a nightmare for United Airlines. A passenger on an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville refused to give up his seat and, as shown in a video that has circulated the internet, was forcibly removed from the aircraft.
After giving much thought to what happened, I wanted to provide my perspective.
It is no secret to my readers that I am not a huge fan of United, despite being a Silver MileagePlus Premier member. I know it won’t be without controversy, but in this instance, I am taking United Airlines’ side.
Whenever you purchase a plane ticket, you agree to the airline’s Contract of Carriage, which explicitly states that you may not be entitled to the seat that you purchased. It falls on customers to read these documents in detail, and it is clear that the passenger who was removed was in violation of these terms. The second he was asked to give up his seat, he should have.
Additionally, according to United, the passenger became belligerent when asked to follow the rules which he had already agreed to. Although there is no video of the passenger acting belligerently, I am not surprised that he did – I am sure that anyone mandated to give up their seat who failed to read the Contract of Carriage before their flight would pitch a fit.
In a post-9/11 world, when a passenger becomes belligerent, an airline has no choice but to remove them. He could have posed a serious safety risk to both the staff and its passengers, and the airline may have thwarted something even more major from happening on the flight.
A lot of people are claiming the security officers who removed the passenger acted inappropriately, calling the force excessive. In fact, one of the officers has already been suspended. On my end, I believe that aviation security officers are almost always in the right with whatever actions they take to ensure the safety of the public. They are uniformly fine people who take these jobs to do good, and I believe most alleged misconduct issues are caused by people themselves failing to properly and adequately follow directions.
Also, I believe the passenger, who claimed to be a doctor, grossly exaggerated his injuries. Although there is video of him bleeding, the fall he took was not enough to cause this type of injury. I am not saying he necessarily faked a bloody nose and face, but I’ve watched enough pro wrestling to know that these things can be manufactured.
If you’re still reading this, happy belated April Fools!