The video of a man dragged off a United Airlines plane has made many ask — ‘Could that happen to me?’ Here’s your answer…
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: It depends — Know your rights. But yes, it could still happen.
Watch the TED Talk video on why overbooking happens:
Some advice and Quick Facts from the Daily Mail on Overbooking:
Overbooking is not illegal and every airline does it to maximise [sic] their revenue.
According to the Department of Transportation: ‘DOT rules require airlines to seek out people who are willing to give up their seats for compensation before bumping anyone involuntarily.
‘Airlines set their own “boarding priorities” – the order in which they will bump different categories of passengers in an oversale situation.
‘When a flight is oversold and there are not enough volunteers, some airlines bump passengers with the lowest fares first.
‘Others bump the last passengers to check in. Once you have purchased your ticket, the most effective way to reduce the risk of being bumped is to get to the airport early.
‘For passengers in the same fare class the last passengers to check in are usually the first to be bumped, even if they have met the check-in deadline. ‘
United’s contract of carriage states that passengers to be forcibly taken off a flight in the event of overbooking will be ‘determined based on a passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents him/herself for check-in without advanced seat assignment.‘
Any passengers who is forced to get another flight is entitled to compensation.
The DOT states: ‘Travellers who don’t get to fly are frequently entitled to denied boarding compensation
in the form of a check or cash. The amount depends on the price of their ticket and the length of the delay. ‘
In Europe, the Denied Boarding Regulation (Regulation 261/2004 EC) applies to passengers departing from an airport within the EU, whatever the airline is and for any aircraft heading to an airport within the EU, and if the airline is based in Europe.
Passengers who are bumped under this regulation are entitled to €250 for short haul flights and up to €600 for long haul flights.
Compensation is reduced by 50 per cent if the airline gives you the option of re-routing your flights and arriving within two hours of your original scheduled arrival time, for short haul, three hours for medium haul and within four hours for long haul.
Andrew Shelton, Managing Director of global flight search and travel deals website Cheapflights, said: ‘For UK travellers, the advice remains that they should check in for their flight online in advance or in plenty of time at the airport and if you’re concerned about overbooking, mention to the check in staff why you need to fly and want to sit tight.’
Piers Morgan had a fantastic take on it:
Until this morning, I didn’t think anyone would displace the executive team at Pepsi as public relations chumps of the year after their hideous debacle of a commercial featuring Kendall Jenner.
Then along came the geniuses at United Airlines, whose company motto, hilariously, is: “Fly the Friendly Skies”.
Try purring that cosy little line to the poor man dragged semi-conscious and bleeding profusely off a United plane at Chicago Airport on Sunday night.
The more you watch what happened to him in the various videos filmed by other shocked passengers, the more outrageous it seems…
…This wasn’t about security, or him behaving badly or being unfit to travel.
It was just about money.
United needed to save a few thousand dollars by getting their crew in the right place for a particular flight.
To achieve that, they needed to kick off passengers.
Yet ironically, penny-pinching United have now earned themselves millions of dollars worth of horrendous publicity, and I’m very confident they will end up paying further millions in compensation if and when this doctor sues their shameful little ass*s.
As airline PR debacles go, it’s right up there with those idiots who banned women passengers from wearing leggings last month.
Who was that again?
Oh yes, of course! That was also United Airlines.
Shocking though the footage of this man’s ordeal is though, I wish I could say I was genuinely surprised when I heard what had happened.
Sadly, I’m not.
It was all too predictable from an industry that has long since deserted the concept of ‘the customer is always right’.
Let’s be honest: American domestic air travel sucks.
Not in a mild ‘it’s not very good’ kind of way.
No, it sucks in an ‘it’s bloody terrible’ kind of way…
…I’ve endured so many dreadful experiences flying around America in creaking old tin cans, in all variety of classes, eating diabolical prison-style food, sitting in cramped filthy seats and often being treated by cabin crew like an inmate aboard Con Air.
And this, of course, is only if you’re lucky enough to actually take off.
…The way United and Chicago airport police treated this man is absolutely disgusting.
Yet their public responses to the outcry managed to be even worse.
First, Chicago police absurdly and offensively claimed the victim ‘fell’ into his headrest.
Then United poured fuel all over the blazing bonfire erupting around their ears with the most tone-deaf statement imaginable.
‘I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,’ said United CEO Oscar Munoz.
Is that a joke?
You pummelled a customer’s head in, knocked him out, and had him dragged off your plane as other passengers shrieked their fury.
That’s not ‘re-accommodation,’ Mr Munoz, that’s called assault and battery, as you will shortly discover when he takes you to court.
But there is one positive for United from this appalling incident.
And it’s this: they won’t need to worry about over-booking ever again.
Morgan also recalls an anecdote about his horrific experience on a Delta flight from New York to Minneapolis, and gives helpful advice:
There was eventually a happy ending to my Delta story. The airline was so embarrassed by my bombardment of furious tweets detailing their incompetence that they eventually paid $50,000 for me to have a private plane down to Minneapolis. So my advice to anyone maltreated by any airline is to hit social media and don’t stop whining until you’re sipping champagne on a Gulfstream 150 at their expense.
Read more: Daily Mail
Morgan wasn’t the only one to mock United.
Check out some of these images posted to Social Media:
On a positive note, Southwest Airlines may be testing out a new slogan:
The man gave a reasonable explanation why he didn’t want to get off of the flight, but he was forcibly ‘re-accommodated’ anyway.
United didn’t get any takers at $800 plus hotel, they could’ve gone higher and maybe they would’ve had an actual volunteer.
Being bumped off of a flight is incredibly bothersome, and $800 is a pittance for the inconvenience.
Perhaps another $400 would’ve saved them the publicity nightmare that they’re currently in.
As Piers Morgan said, it’s unlikely that United Airlines will have that problem of overbooking ever again.