United’s duct tape memo to flight attendants
We’ve seen two recent high-profile incidents where passengers were duct-taped to their seats for bad behavior on American Airlines and Frontier Airlines. Now United Airlines has sent a memo to flight attendants telling them not use duct tape as a way of dealing with poorly behaved passengers.
Instead, United Airlines tells flight attendants:
- To address situations calmly, and to deescalate situations as much as possible
- There are designated items onboard that could be used in difficult situations that can’t be deescalated
- To consult United’s safety manual to guide decision-making if a customer isn’t behaving well
- To complete an incident report in the event things go wrong, with as many details as possible
Why United is more sensitive to duct tape
United Airlines in general has been doing a good job with deescalating inflight incidents, and the airline hasn’t been in the news as much as other airlines for these kinds of things. I suspect that this isn’t a coincidence, and that there’s a reason United is sending out a memo like this.
Almost everyone remembers the incident that happened on United Express 3411 back in 2017, where Dr. Dao was forcibly dragged off a plane. This was seen around the world and got an incredible amount of media attention, and I suspect this was a turning point for the airline. It’s pretty clear that United intentionally does everything it can to avoid a repeat of a situation like that.
Personally I’m conflicted on the use of duct tape to restrain passengers:
- On the one hand, it seems rather inhumane to duct-tape someone, and it seems like zip-ties can restrain people as much as possible (though often duct tape is used to get people to be quiet)
- On the other hand, people act like absolute fools, and it seems rather inhumane the way that many passengers choose to treat crews
While other airlines have been in the news for duct-taping passengers who were causing problems, United has specifically told flight attendants not to do this. Rather the airline has told employees to deescalate situations as much as possible, and to use other resources (presumably zip-ties) in situations that can’t otherwise be resolved without a physical intervention.
What do you make of United’s anti-duct tape stance?