Pathetic: United’s CEO Makes The Denied Boarding Fiasco Even Worse

Filed Under: Media, United

My gosh, United just keeps digging themselves a deeper hole. This is sort of unbelievable.

If there’s one thing United should have learned from their leggings incident a couple of weeks ago, it’s how important having a quick and coherent response from upper management is. That situation could have been largely diffused if they corrected themselves on Twitter quickly, and also issued a high-level explanation and apology within a short period of time.

Now, just a couple of weeks later, United once again finds themselves in the midst of a viral news story, as a customer is dragged off a plane by police while bleeding, because he didn’t want to give up his confirmed seat. This time around United responded to the incident more quickly, all the way from the top.

Oscar Munoz is United’s fairly new CEO, and he’s a really well liked guy. He seems to want to change the corporate culture of the company, and he’s loved by employees, customers, and shareholders. It’s rare that’s the case at an airline. As a result, his responses (or at least the responses that have his name attached to them) leave me terribly disappointed.

Earlier today the following statement was released, signed by Oscar Munoz (bolding mine):

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.” – Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines

Look, I understand from a legal standpoint they probably don’t want to apologize that they called the cops on a customer, rather than working harder to diffuse the situation. But to apologize for having to “re-accommodate a customer” is horribly insulting. Just pathetic. C’mon Oscar, aren’t you ashamed to say that after watching a video like this?

Unfortunately it gets much worse. This evening United sent out a letter to employees explaining the situation, which reads as follows, per @jonostrower:

Dear Team,

Like you, I was upset to see and hear about what happened last night aboard United Express Flight 3411 headed from Chicago to Louisville. While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did, to give you a clear picture of what transpired, I’ve included below a recap from the preliminary reports filed by our employees.

As you will read, the situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed stablished procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go and above and beyond to ensure we fly right.

I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a closer look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.


  • On Sunday, April 9, after United Express Flight 3411 was fully boarded, United’s gate agent were approached by crewmembers that were told they needed to board the flight
  • We sought volunteers and then followed our involuntary denial of boarding process (including offering up to $1,000 in compensation) and when we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crewmember instructions.
  • He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent.
  • Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight. He repeatedly declined to leave.
  • Chicago Aviation Security Officers were unable to gain his cooperation and physically removed him from the flight as he continued to resist – running back onto the aircraft in defiance of both our crew and security officials

First of all let me say that all the reports I’ve seen from other passengers suggest that the passenger in question wasn’t aggressive or belligerent. He was frustrated, but that was it.

Second of all, what a horrible, horrible, horrible response that only makes this situation worse. How incompetent is the team running United? I really don’t get it. I’d be disappointed if this came from a typical disliked CEO, but from Oscar Munoz it’s even more disappointing.

Surely they know a letter sent to employees would also be made public, so do they really think this is the right response after their second major snafu in just a couple of weeks? Here are a few of the most ridiculous quotes:

  • “While the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did.” REALLY?! Those are the facts and circumstances that are most significant in this case, rather than how you couldn’t get your gate agents to solicit volunteers, and that they had to call the police to have this passenger removed? That says a lot about the focus of United’s “investigation.”
  • “While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go and above and beyond to ensure we fly right.” I get he doesn’t want to put down employees, but is this really the time to thank employees for going above and beyond? While they’re calling cops on customers because they’re either not significantly empowered or too lazy to work harder to find volunteers?
  • “Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are.” Well, Oscar, it seems you could learn that lesson as well, because when a passenger on your airline is ripped off a plane by police bleeding because you couldn’t accommodate his confirmed reservation, and when the best you can apologize for is that he was re-accommodated, I don’t think you’re living up to the “core” of who you are.
  • “Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight.” They were left with no choice, really? Then what’s the point of the investigation, even? It seems this was United at its best, apparently.

This is just beyond pathetic on so many levels. I’ve had a lot of respect for Oscar Munoz. Clearly United made an effort to have communication from the top this time around (unlike last time), but as it turns out, that makes the situation even worse.

This is just appalling. He could at least acknowledge that they should look into their procedures surrounding denied boarding, how they interact with customers, and if the situation could have been avoided.

Speaking of Oscar Munoz, he was recently awarded PR Week’s “Communicator Of The Year” award. Oy….

This has been a quickly-moving story with myriad updates. The full coverage of the United incident from the One Mile at a Time team is as follows:

Crazy Video: Passenger Forcibly Dragged Off United Flight
What United Really Screwed Up With Their Latest Viral Incident
The Horrible Video I Hadn’t Seen Of The Guy Being Dragged Off A United Flight...
Why United’s Incident Is A Much Bigger Deal Than You May Think
Pathetic: United’s CEO Makes The Denied Boarding Fiasco Even Worse
What Are Your Rights If You Get Bumped From A Flight?
United’s Removal Of Passengers May Not Have Been Legal
The Root Cause Of United’s Denied Boarding Fiasco
Wow: Emirates Throws Major (But Fair) Shade At United In New Video
FINALLY: United’s CEO Issues A Real Apology For What Happened
I’m Sorry: My Initial Reaction To The United Situation Was Wrong
Fascinating: Good Morning America Interviews United’s CEO
United Is Refunding The Fares Of All Passengers On Flight 3411
  1. Ben, United corrected themselves to Jon Ostrower and stated the crew was slated to work today, not Tuesday.

  2. He could have said something about illegal middle eastern subsidies and this is somehow their fault and it would have sounded better than this statement.

  3. Hmmmm, by my calculations because of all the delays, the crew would have been at their destination earlier had they driven there. So every blogger spouting the fact of “crew rest need” appears to be fallacious. To save three hundred dollars this incident will end up costing them millions. At this point, anything he says needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The CEO needs to go.

  4. What is pathetic is that people are blaming the airline for something the police did. If you defy police…you will get treated with force.

    What policy (people weren’t taking 1000 in VDB compensation) would prevent this?

    Also…lets not forget THREE OTHER PASSENGERS COMPLIED WITH THEIR IDB without incident.

  5. All true but nobody, and I mean nobody, will avoid buying a ticket on United because of this if United offers what they feel is the best flight for them.

  6. @ Franklyn — The airline called the police. This doesn’t excuse the actions of what the police did (that’s a huge issue as well), but it doesn’t change the fact that United apparently couldn’t handle this situation without getting the police involved. If four crewmembers did in fact show up after everyone was boarded, which is a very rare circumstance, you’d think they could have upped the offer, etc.

  7. Even so, it wasn’t the last flight out. Why couldn’t they have taken the later flight so they could deny boarding to 4 pax in the gate area?

    Also, there was a later flight to CVG, 90min away, that left with 2 empty seats.

  8. They could oversold the morning flight or endorse passengers to AA morning flight to make the VDB offer more attractive.

  9. As far as I’m concerned, all of the commentary everyone has made, Oscar Munoz especially, has entirely missed the point. United called the police to remove a paying customer who’d done nothing wrong so that it could put its own employees on to make a flight the next day. United should have bought a ticket from another airline or pay for a car rental (Chicago to Louisville???) instead of bumping customers and calling law enforcement. If people wanted to get off voluntarily that’s one thing. But a ticket on another airline would have been cheaper. This who incident shows a shocking disregard for the lives of customers, and I will never voluntarily ride on an airline like that.

  10. @Franklyn

    The airlines could deal with bumps better. They have no problem charging you the market rate for the last seat and the reverse should be true. If they needed seats they should have upped their offer and it should have been cash and I guarantee you they would have got volunteers pretty quick. Folks don’t like the vouchers because of their limit, expiration dates etc. While the police have plenty of blame here so does United. Also why did the crew have to be scheduled so last minute again this was possibly avoidable?

  11. We can sit here and argue forever what UA should have done and submit our own subjective criteria of what was enough “incentive”…$1500? $2000? Should UA have flown the crew on another flight? rented out a car for them? All of this Monday morning quarterbacking doesn’t erase the fact that the UA agents complied with a set of guidelines for this situation. If you want to blame them for not “thinking outside the box” so be it. But once the passenger refused to get off the plane…and you have no idea how many times they asked him to leave before the video was shot (you only see the part with the police), this became an issue of a federal offense. What point do we say that as a society we need to obey rules?

  12. I entirely agree with Brian, this CEO must go and the quicker UA gets rid of him, the better.

  13. This guy should be booted. He is incompetent and not up to this job. I would rather take a Greyhound bus than fly United.

  14. They asked over and over again for him to get up. Either way, United was screwed if they did and if they didn’t. I could see it now, united plane grounded and cancelled. Customers furious because staff would not do anything to offload the irate non complying passenger.

    It’s easy to Monday night quarterback this play. What’s even easier is to make a click bait headline hoping to score a bunch of views.

  15. As has been pointed out elsewhere, United may have acted illegally, per 14 C.F.R. 250.2a: ” In the event of an oversold flight [assuming this was an oversold flight], every carrier shall ensure that the smallest practicable number of persons holding confirmed reserved space on that flight are denied boarding involuntarily”.

    Does this allow an airline to forcibly eject “persons holding confirmed reserved space” in order to accommodate crew members who are, presumably, not holding confirmed reserved space?

    Credit: commenter NegativeFeedback on TPG

  16. @Lucky There is a point (data UA has) in which offering more is not going to resolve the issue.

    If this guy had not refused to get off the plane this would not be a news story.

    It is his reaction that made this a news story.

  17. @kevin: I will. Shame on them. I have been avoiding them in the past due to customer service problems I’ve experienced. That includes turning down a direct flight for a connection with a better airline. I was willing to give them a chance in the near future, but that won’t happen anymore.

  18. @Elot Please, we all know that people get over something like this won’t hesitate to get back on the airplane if they ever needed a ticket. Empty threats from people not involved but love the drama.

  19. By law the maximum offer any US airline can provide is $1350. Why was United trying to be cheap? I don’t understand why they didn’t offer the maximum in the first place?!?!?
    Definitely bad PR for United.

  20. The problem escalated out of control because of honchos in the police dept who have zero decency and training to defuse already bad situations

  21. Paul – you’re at UA right? The things you write makes me think do because you’ve clearly taken your stand even though the facts are the facts.. Grow up

  22. @Lucky I agree it was not handled correctly, but c’mon some blame is on the passenger here. When asked by a crew member to comply you must comply why wouldn’t he just get off the flight. United has the right to remove him, what are they supposed to do instead? If everyone that didn’t want to get IDB’d simply had to say no no one would every comply and oversold planes would never move. Poor response and handling by United and Chicago Aviation security, but don’t play it off as United is beating people up and has no remorse.

  23. @Paul

    how much did United pay you to comment lol

    but nevertheless responding to that question, you will be surprised as to how far people are willing to go to avoid flying with a company that denies a minimum sense of decency and respect to its customers. I can deal with cutting free food and booze, deal with inattentive service, but I will absolutely refuse to support a corporation that does not respect a minimum level of moral decency. Sure, the passenger should’ve listened to crew and police, but hey, if you ever found yourself in a situation where perhaps the next morning you have a multi million dollar deal to sign, or your father’s funeral to attend, are you sure you’ll just pack up and leave the plane? Other pax left maybe because they weren’t in such an emergency, and figured the $800 voucher was a decent compensation even if it wasn’t enough to actively volunteer for (maybe because you were uncertain of the terms attached to the voucher). Just my dos centavos.

  24. @Jack, I understand your point *had* United offered the maximum cash compensation of $1350 but they did not in this case. Passengers have reported a maximum offer of $800 and in this letter the offer was $1000. UA was trying to lowball here.

  25. @Joey
    20/20 hindsight…so for you if the offer was $1350, it would have been ok to drag him off the plane? What if he still refused? It’s easy to criticize the number after the fact.

  26. @Paul – exactly. Every keyboard idealist here will be flying United by the weekend once a blog says they can save $3 by standing in the aisle. You will all forget this by Friday.

    “It’s easy to Monday night quarterback this play. What’s even easier is to make a click bait headline hoping to score a bunch of views.”

  27. I just felt like everyone should thank this man for being calm while persistent. (That is before the police)

    Otherwise this won’t make news.

    And you may find yourself in a similar situation someday when you need to be somewhere, but the airline kicks you off regardless of your confirmed seat or your urgency, or just your life – planned vacation, important meeting, etc.

    The rule in this case is not the point. Any rule that were able to justify this action by UA is dead wrong and should be changed. Otherwise we all will suffer one way or another.

  28. If this was United Express, wasn’t this really Republic Airlines, which is a subcontractor to United? Not excusing the email sent from the United CEO but the way it was handled is dependent on Republic handling this situation in a reasonable manner. Considering the razor thin margins that these RJ airlines are making, I’m not surprised that this occurred. If this was an actual United metal, I’m not sure it would have been handled the same way…

  29. from

    “DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn’t. ”

    If the airline employee that requested the removal did not comply with this requirement , then they did not comply with DOT regs. UA needed to provide the pax IN WRITING how he was chosen to be removed and his rights. Just getting on the PA and announcing the rules does not seem sufficient.

    The media/bloggers with media connections need to ask the fellow paxs that have been on the news and UA whether they provided the pax with the written statement. If they didn’t then the escalation was a direct result of their failure to comply with DOT regs.

  30. This guy is the one who should be charged for not following what the employees and police told him to do. If I got asked by airline employees to get off the plane then I GTFO. If I get asked by police to get off the plane then I GTFO 10 minutes ago. You don’t hold up a flight because you think you have a right to be on it because you have a ticket. You do what they tell you to do then file complaints later with the airline and FAA if needed.

  31. Isn’t it the minute your ticket is scanned and you board that seat is yours the company accepted your money and allows you entrance

  32. Lucky, your excoriation of United is if anything understated. United’s posture gets worse and worse with one stupid, offensive statement after another. I’m curious WHO WAS IN CHARGE when this was going on? The pilot? A fight attendant? A local United manager? Was there no one there with some common sense and human compassion?

  33. I do wonder why and how United selected him. Was it a random decision? Did he pay the least or the last to board?

  34. @Pete

    If the Asian passenger does not take the $1350, then someone will.

    No offers?

    >Add in unrestricted 1st class on the flight back or the entire round trip journey, comp the international first class lounge for the flights.
    >Still need a person. Most air crews stay at Marriott or Sheraton. Offer a Executive level suite for the delay. Throw in a free car service.
    >Ask them for the cost of the vacation or work and DOUBLE it. The hotel costs $250 at the destination? Here is $500 in cash plus the $1,350 in cash. You earn $300 a day at work? Here is $600 in cash.
    >Still no takers? Offer an additional first class round trip journey for the United States. Nobody biting?
    International first class to any destination we fly to, round trip for free,
    >Nothing yet, waive the standard limit. Everything I mentioned plus $2,000 in cash.

    I think that most would make the deal at level two.

  35. This situation is a combination of issues along with poor PR from United. Airlines have been allowed to create a culture where it’s ok for them to sell seats they don’t have on the gamble that not everyone will show up. That is wrong. The passenger is at fault as he clearly disobeyed several levels of flight crew and gate agents. The police aren’t at fault as it was the passenger who resisted obeying a law enforcement official.
    It wasn’t racist or homophobic or xenophobic or whatever other card. It was an overbooked flight on a typically average airline that went sideways.

  36. I reckon Paul works for UA. Good on you mate. Again this would and has never happened in my years of working at airport in Australia. Americans are so afraid to challenge and question their rights. Vica Democracy . Lol

  37. Thank you Lucky – for actually having the cojones to criticize UA, unlike your friend Gary. My wife and I will never set foot on a UA flight again if we can help it. We’ll transfer our Chase points to AF/KL, BA, SQ, or KE first, before even thinking about UA. I would much rather deal with AA’s surly crews and inedible catering than get my ass beat.

  38. What would I do if I was the passenger in this situation? The same thing I would do if the flight were delayed by weather, or some other unpredictable event. I would go to plan B, but with some added compensation in my pocket that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The issue here really shouldn’t be whether or not United had the right to ask the passenger to de-plane, they absolutely have that right. Hell, they have the right to cancel your ticket and remove you from the plane because you smell bad (this is explicitly mentioned in the Contract of Carriage).
    Does United have the right to physically remove someone? Maybe, that plane is private property and once United notifies the passenger to deplane they could be considered as trespassing.
    Should United have physically removed this guy, and should the police have been as “enthusiastic” about it as they were? No, though by that point the situation was thoroughly out of hand.

    What I’m really curious about…seriously they couldn’t find someone willing to be bumped for $800-$1000? !

  39. @Joey I don’t think you understand the compensation United was required by law to provide to a passenger involuntarily denied boarding on that flight. It is 400% of the one-way fare paid by the person denied boarding, up to $1350. So if that person paid $50 for the flight segment, the compensation owed is $200. United surely factors in the fare paid by a passenger in deciding who to kick off, and given that this flight was less than 1.5 hours long, surely there were people on the plane who paid $200 or less for that one-way segment (I’m guessing including the poor guy who got dragged off). And that doesn’t factor in the hotel and flight the next day United was offering on top of the $1000. So United wasn’t lowballing–in fact they were offering more than they would have to pay as required by law for involuntarily denying boarding.

    For what it’s worth, I think the IDB amounts should be raised to encourage airlines to offer more for volunteers. Airlines don’t have much incentive to offer more than what they would have to pay for an IDB, since 99.9% of people will meekly accept their voucher/check.

  40. @Lucky I feel the right response of United should be a proposed solution in the event that things like this happened in future. For example, United could say to provide incentives that moreover attractive in future.., for example, $1000 USD cash + One free new year of United Club access. Or they would give a notice to customer if it is overbooked. (Which should know anyway at time of check in closed) In this case, United have so many ways to move their crew members but they chose the worst possible way, and I feel United didn’t even seem to realize that since they never mentioned why their crew members must board on this flight rather than taking a car or on American’s flight. Oscar in this case, is trying to please United employees rather than customers.

    I hope United can explain why they must let those crew members board on that flight in next correspondence.

  41. @Pete
    Could you explain why it is a “Federal Offense” not to give up my seat that I paid for?

  42. @Zymm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I heard is that the USD1000 UA offered was actually 20 vouchers each worth USD50, not-stackable and must be used within one year.

  43. I agree with you on this Lucky. Shame on United Airlines. And seriously, how pathetic the CEO is??? Who worked for him on his response to the public?

  44. United gate agents marked those employees as “dead heading” or “must-ride”. Those gate agents had plenty of time to accommodate these four employees since dead-heading employees don’t show up this last minute. This is completely different than when they ACTUALLY oversell the flight to other customers. These employees should be been accommodated long before boarding began.

    Corporate protocol is to contact a supervisor to authorize additional compensation options if nobody takes what is offered. Clearly that was not followed in this case.

  45. Agreed that rules were followed.

    Also agree that the cops got physical.

    Also agree that the pax could have just complied.

    Here is my issue: under no circumstance should any human being be treated this way. That is just unacceptable and inexcusable.

  46. UA made him an offer he couldn’t refuse…

    Seriously, the availability of the police took away UA’s staff’s incentive to bargain further. Just have one pax removed instead of upping the offer until someone took it.

    IMHO police – taxpayer funded – should only be available in these kinds of situations for safety threats, not revenue management.

  47. @Norman
    I didn’t hear that, though I suppose it’s possible. I’ve volunteered and gotten vouchers on a United flight before and it was one voucher for the entire amount that worked exactly like a gift card. I used it for all of one flight and about half of another. The GA filled in the details and printed out the voucher from a standard template. I don’t see any reason why the situation would be different here (unless it’s because this was a Republic operated flight?)

  48. Perhaps instead of taking videos and talking about the poor doctor who had to be removed from the flight, all the fellow compassionate passengers might have wanted to volunteer to disembark.
    I haven’t seen any commenter that has provided a better solution at the point of the passenger refusing to obey crew member instructions. What would you have had the crew do? Just let him stay? Get everybody’s excuse why they shouldn’t be the one to leave, then take a vote to see who gets voted off?
    IDBs happen every day on every airline and are handled pretty much the same way (minus already being on the plane). No issues until this guy decides that he is more important than everyone else and doesn’t have to follow the rules. Still united staff remain calm and follow proper procedures. Then the guy refuses to cooperate with law enforcement (this is the hero of our story?), who probably should have been able to restrain him without hurting him. Somehow the bad guy is not the guy who broke the rules then broke the law, it is not the law enforcement officer who might have used undue force, it is the airline who followed a process that every airline follows every day.
    Now the CEO of the company whose employees did exactly what they were supposed to do supports his employees and gets crapped on for it. What a strange world this is.
    For those who say this could happen to any one of us, absolutely wrong. I would either have followed instructions or, if I really did need to be on that plane (which this guy apparently did not, despite his inflated sense of self importance), I would plead with the other passengers to have someone get off instead. There is no way I push them to the point of calling law enforcement and I sure don’t resist law enforcement. Of course, I don’t think I am more important than everyone else, so that may be the difference.

  49. @Raju don’t feel it is kind unfair that airlines made these rule and they talked to each other, created ally that customer have no choice? I never heard any US airline that keep raising price until there is a volunteer. In fact, none of US airlines dared to promised that customer won’t be involuntarily bumped even if customer is willing to pay extra.
    This is unfair rule and I hope DOT correct it.

  50. @Farnorthtrader — “What would you have had the crew do? Just let him stay?” Yes. Let him stay, for crying the FUCK out loud. If a nonthreatening passenger is so adamant about staying on board, please just move on and try to boot the next person in line.

    As for your claim you’d “plead with the other passengers” — this is in fact smart, but saying it the way you did is absolutely tone-deaf. The bloodied passenger is obviously an immigrant, therefore not appraised of the nuances of American culture.

    @Mark — can you please let us know when or where the passenger asked to be assaulted?

  51. United really messed up.

    Over on… they are really talking about this.

    How much does it cost to fly four people on a private plane? Or have a van with a hired driver?

  52. Perhaps others have covered this, but one shocking thing is that United Express had a later flight scheduled between ORD and SDF. Flight 3411 was scheduled to depart at 5:40pm (and, due to this incident, actually departed at 7:40pm), but United Express had a later flight scheduled to depart at 9pm, flight 4448. (Source: Google)
    Was the 9pm flight also oversold? If not, if United Express was unable to persuade four paying customers of flight 3411 to take seats on the later 9pm flight, why didn’t United Express place their own employees on the 9pm flight 4448?
    Alternatively, if both Sunday nights flights were oversold, perhaps United Express should have just hired a limo driver to take their employees to Louisville. Travel time: 5 hours.

  53. When the elderly man was boarded, the flight was not oversold! The passenger was bumped not because there were more paying passengers than seats, but because United wanted to reduce the number of seats available – after seating passengers – in order to transport its staff. The elderly man was not “denied boarding”, he was removed from the plane after he was boarded. This action is governed by United’s Rule 21 ” REFUSAL OF TRANSPORT” none of which applied to this man *before* they told him they were kicking him off the flight.

    United employees need to read their own rules

  54. I have avoid flying United for a long time. Few months ago, I few from Haneda to SFO in F. While their F is nothing to write home about, and the FAs were poorly trained, I can tell the FAs were trying very hard so I thought to myself, United isn’t too bad as long as I take their Polaris F. Was looking at another F flight this summer to Asia on United couple days ago. But after seeing this debacle and Munoz’s poorly worded statement to the media this morning and then his poorly written letter to the employees tonight, I shall stay away from this airline. I thought Munoz is better than this. Clearly I’m wrong. There is still time for him to right the wrong. The smartest thing for Munoz to do would be publicly apologize to this man and outline what United would do if they need to bump people off.

    Better yet, all of us need to write to our senators and have them enact laws to require airline stop overselling seats. Remember in 2010, congress enacted a law so that airlines cannot keep passengers stuck on planes without going anywhere for longer than three hours. Well, it’s time for congress to step in again. I’m sure this will be music to Munoz’s ears… (sarcasm). 😉

  55. Please get a grip!

    The airline called the police as they needed to by regulations when a passenger is not compliant. Image the crew had laid even a single finger on this passenger and then they called the police who ended up roughing up!

    Here are a scenario and a simple question: There is a disturbance* in your neighborhood. You call the cops or 911. Police officers show up, but rather than to try to defuse** the situation, they inflame it by roughing people up, or, worse, a trigger happy cop shoots and kills someone. Is it your fault for calling the cops?

    *Could involve a potentially illegal activity.
    **correct verb is ‘defuse’ and not ‘diffuse’

  56. Hi Ben! Always enjoy your blog, and am a loyal follower. I agree with you mostly but have to point out that you are a bit mistaken about Munoz. He is NOT well liked, at least not by United customers. He has pretty consistently displayed particular disregard, if not, disdain for his own customers and it shows with the worst customer satisfaction ratings among ALL American carriers. United also has the highest boarding denials among ALL American carriers. And despite record profits, although United again is dead last among ALL American carriers for profitability, United is last in upgrades to lounges, food, plane interiors, etc., much of which you have pointed out in many of your reports. It was fine for Munoz to support his employees but he DID NOT HAVE to attack the customer to do it. All he had to say was that he supported his employees while promising to get to the bottom of what happened and make this right for everyone involved. But true to form and consistent with his fired/forced to resign predecessor, Jeff Smisek, blaming the customer was foremost in his mind. Until United gives the boot to the remaining Continental executives from the merger, United will continue to be last at a lot of things and first at blaming the customer for all of its woes!

  57. Misconduct of an all-muscle, no-brain police officer is the culprit here. The situation on its own — an overbooked flight, someone has to get off — is not at all that unusual. Anyway, the Chicago Department of Aviation believes one of the “cops” went over the top:

    ”Late Monday afternoon, the Chicago Department of Aviation said one of the officers involved in the incident had been placed on leave. “The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,” the agency said in a statement. “That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.””

  58. @Lucky – A lawyer (NegativeFeedback) on TPG’s discussion board claims that UA violated 14 CFR 250.2a by intentionally bumping people with confirmed and paid seats. What’s your take on this? 14 CFR 250.1 explicitly stated that the confirmed reserved space “does not include free or reduced rate air transportation provided to airline employees and guests”, and hence in this case I guess the flight wasn’t oversold after all.

  59. United had the option to fly the plane with the paying customers and without the deadheading crew. The airline’s failure to plan crew positioning is not the problem of the passengers on this flight.

    The consequence for United is a subsequent uncrewed flight, with a planeful of distressed passengers. The magnitude of this cost should have focused the airline’s attention on appropriate levels of incentive to persuade one of these passengers to disembark. We are talking 5 figures of disruption to the airline, if not 6. Legal limits be damned: as others have suggested, United Club memberships (lifetime?), or a pair of F tickets to anywhere UA flies, or some other high value compensation.

  60. @WMLA44 — You must be confusing Munoz with $mi$ek, whose United you just described. I suspect that you have not been on a UA flight since Munoz took over and began turning things around, include employee morale, which was nonexistent.

    Despite the hype, I am still waiting for evidence that UA did anything wrong when faced with a non-compliant passenger.

  61. So the gist of the arguments supporting UA are that the passenger didnt comply. Would those commenters comply when they are being forced off a flight to accomodate United staffers? Not really. For a country that keep wittering on about the free market its amazing how much like an oligopoly the US is. Be it airlines, cars, or even sports teams, theres no consideration for merit

  62. @ TC — I am not a lawyer, but I believe what @big3employee is saying above is correct. A dead-heading crew isn’t the same as typical non-rev travel at a “free or reduced rate.”

    If the crews were flagged as “must-ride” (which their union contract may require for positioning flights like this), then it wouldn’t be unusual for that requirement to supersede other inventory considerations, at least systematically. But it certainly doesn’t seem like a typical over-sold situation.

  63. Unfortunately I have witnessed a similar episode some years ago in which ten seated economy passengers were forcibly marched off a 747 bound for Australia from SFO. I heard enough to gather that several would miss a wedding they were travelling 7500 miles to attend. And UA’s reason? There was more freight than the initial manifest revealed. Easier to offload seated pax than freight, apparently.

    Bottom line. Paying passengers come a poor last at UA to operational issues that can be readily resolved through other means.

  64. “That situation could have been largely diffused ”

    I’d say it has been diffused quite significantly.

    Of course, diffuse means “spread or cause to spread over a wide area or among a large number of people.”

    Maybe you meant “defused”?

  65. If it was the situation that the flight was a Republic one, at least he could have stated that UA standards are higher and they will review all partner airlines to make sure they are up to their standards, and if not the position will be reviewed. But nope.

    Totally against:

  66. @ FarNorth – great post putting proper perspective on this horrible situation.

    It seems very possible that the police used excessive force, but even that we don’t know. Did an officer hit him? Did he bang his head as he was pulled off? Who knows?

    In any case, the airline in question (United Express) followed its procedures, and this guy chose not to get off the plane even when required to do so by law enforcement. I really don’t see how his being a doctor is relevant to the issue at hand. It could have been any of us, and who’s to say our issues aren’t any more important than his? Who’s to say or not whether United’s getting on its own crew is more important than a doctor? Still, it is their airline, and they made this decision.

    Many people are criticizing United for overbooking flights. They, however, like every other major US airline have passengers who don’t show up for flights and fail to cancel ahead of time. Many of these passengers have tickets that allow refunds or the ability to use them towards future flights with our without a penalty. If airlines didn’t overbook to compensate for no-shows, they would lose money on those tickets, and the average traveler would pay more money for his ticket. Unfortunately, this balancing act, a part of revenue management, is not an exact science, but it is what it is. All of these solutions to offer thousands of $s of compensation to get volunteers would end up costing a lot in ticket costs that most people wouldn’t want to pay.

    It’s a shame that Lucky is criticizing the gate agents for not doing more, offering more. I do believe Lucky has a very good understanding of airlines, most specifically regarding the flight experience (and the ground experience as well including lounges), but I don’t think he really knows what a gate agent can and should do. Gate agents are charged with getting a flight out on time because passengers want to get home on time. At a certain point, they go from a Voluntary DB situation to Involuntary – who are we to say they should have done more?

    Had this guy not been injured, this would have been a non-story. If the airline had debated with this guy for another 30 to 45 minutes, the only ire that would have existed would have been that of some passengers towards this guy who decided that he didn’t need to follow the policies of the airline.

    To those of you who are talking about boycotting United, you should boycott Delta and American as well, because they too have almost the same policies to deal with a situation involving not enough seats on a flight.

    As a final note, it is very sad that we have thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands of people getting tortured and killed unjustly every day, yet there is no outcry, no rage from most people who are getting so upset with a corporation due to its policy that they don’t agree with. We have what appears to be an overzealous cop who may very well have used excessive force, but rather than letting the courts decide, we instead choose to pass judgment ourselves and hang the company and ask for the head of its CEO – it’s a shame we don’t have this kind of outcry for the horrible things that happen around us all the time that are undeniably worse than a guy being injured/harmed while being forcibly taken off a plane.

  67. how would you feel if this was your grandfather, dad or uncle? Getting grabbed/pulled off, treated like a criminal, no hands should be on you with force not committing a crime. I will not give 1 cent to united ever again, I have twin teen girls that wear comfortable clothes especially on family transcon flights, will they be denied boarding wearing what 99% of kids wear? My dad is set in his ways too, I could see him being stubborn not wanting to give up his payed seat, will he get dragged off a flight because it’s oversold? i was tempted to fly united BOS/SFO/OGG with a nice little layover @ the San Francisco AMEX lounge (near united gate) but now I changed plans Alaska miles on Virgin bos/lax/ogg with a layover enjoying LAX In-N-Out.

    Yes this a serious topic but it’s also a travel/flying blog too. side story: my favorite local airline jetblue kicked me off a flight because I wanted to change seats not to sit near a passenger with a stress dog, the dog smelled like dogs do (dog butt), so I asked please can I move to the rear? FA acted like I was nuts for wanting to move, she then told me it’s ok for a legal animal on a flight, ok, but I still want to move, and I said she sounded like a robot after seeing her roll her eyes as I was speaking, for that she got in B*TCH mode then removed me for being disruptive. Do I blame B6 for 1 Robotic (senior) FA that loves smelly dogs? No I’m flying to FLL next weekend.

    In short, united should have offered more, $1k no dice? Offer Max if it’s so important? $350 more I think would’ve been someone’s number (full plane 100 plus passengers) maybe all could’ve been avoided, why not use all your bullets United? Try everything before sending a squad to remove a stubborn old guy, my 2 cents.

  68. This is why UA is losing ground to the competition. My family will never-ever-ever fly on a UA plane again (and we haven’t in seven years)! #unitedhaslostmybusiness #bringbackCO

  69. Yup. I’m not sure why people keep saying this flight was oversold when that’s not the case at all. Having to make room for “must-ride” transit employees is not the same as over-selling a flight.

    There are set rules and regulations to make sure these employees get to their destination that gate employees must follow. There’s no excuse for the employees working this flight to have taken so long to sort this out. The offers made to the passengers seem pretty half-assed since it’s not that difficult to ask a manager for additional compensation. Once you reach a $1000~ offer you will generally have passengers giving up their seats, no problem. None of this would have happened if the gate agents had properly done their jobs before the boarding process.

  70. Well you know, if the passenger is going to refuse police requests to disembark thus necessitating his physical removal, he shouldn’t be surprised when he sustains some scrapes and bruises in the process.

    If I were the police (after taking all this flack), next time I’d tell the airline that it’s a private matter, you handle it.

    If I were a passenger in a situation like this again, I’d definitely stand my ground. Public opinion apparently will be on my side.

  71. @JH: “My family will never-ever-ever fly on a UA plane again”

    What a guy! Making more room on future UA flights so that incidents of IDB would be avoided! 😉

  72. @Miller508 – my dad and I, as well as my grandfather when he was alive, obey(ed) cops, whether we agree with them or not. I don’t agree that your dad or grandfather or mine, for that matter, should decide on when they should obey a police officer. If I don’t trust my dad’s ability to do so as he gets older, then I would either understand the risk or choose to travel with him.

    I actually think your situation with the JetBlue flight attendant was even more unjust in that she had the arbitrary ability to eject you because she could say you were a security threat. Whether we agree how United deals with situations like this, they were not at fault for this guy’s getting injured. It clearly wouldn’t have happened had the passenger followed the orders of the cop. It is also possible that the cop used excessive force. That is yet to be determined.

  73. LOL as sad as this sounds, Paul is absolutely right, within a week people will be overbooking on United as soon as the furor dies down business as usual. This will always be the case so long as the vast majority of travelers use price alone as their determining factor rather than value. United could start charging for using toilets and tack on an “oxygen fee” tomorrow but if they made the fare just $1 lower people would be tripping all over each other to book.

  74. @ DCS – no…we’re just wise travelers who know how bad UA is (and how bad they’ve been for a long, long time – going back 30 + years) and they’re NEVER going to change. You can have our seats. #neverunited #chooseanotherairline

  75. People should start booking fully refundable tickets on United, especially on popular business routes, on Monday mornings and Thursday evenings. Then cancel at the last possible moment for a full refund. If enough people do it, their vaunted revenue management system which is uber-alles should see an impact.

  76. @Tiffany – thanks for the response. 250.1 was last amended in 2011 when the legal protection for zero-fare tickets was added, although it specifically left out free or discounted tickets for all crew members. So the only way for UA to get out of this is to prove that the employees actually paid a customer fare (which is probably not the case this time).

    By the way, anyone knows what eventually happened to the poor doctor? There were some reports that he did get on the plane again with a broken jaw, but none mentioned if he ever made it to Louisville that night. The doctor is of Chinese heritage and the Chinese community is already in an uproar. Many are calling for a general boycott of United (which is easy since United has few Chinese destinations).

  77. @JH — Nonsense. No wisdom at all. You wouldn’t know wisdom if it hit you in the face. You are simply regurgitating canned and worn out lines without paying attention to what’s been happening around you. The UA that’s just offered Polaris, settled labor disputes, is revamping their lounges around the world, and has raised its employees’ morale is NOT $mi$sek’s UA or UA that acquired PanAm’s Asian routes from TWA, co-founded Star Alliance and was dominant in the industry until the merger with CO that began the reign of one imagination-free, DL-imitating $mi$sek….

  78. As of now, the article on Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) has been read more than 64 million times. United can really kiss the Chinese market goodbye, as the Chinese are known to be nationalistic and will do anything to boycott United (they just tanked the South Korean tourism market). But first, getting an Olivia Pope is the priority here…

  79. Lucky,

    For all your complaining of how bad United is for calling the cops, you have yet to answer this important question…

    What should they have done?

    Serious question… how is one supposed to handle a passenger who refuses to comply with lawful crew orders, in violation of serious regs? Are you suggesting the passenger was not in direct violation of important laws governing passenger behavior? What can they do other than call police when someone refuses to leave the airplane when commanded to do so?

  80. United’s GREED AND total disrespect and disregard led to this men’s brutal experience. This was an Asian man and imagine what would have happened if this is a person of another race or color?
    Due to their greed and carelessness, this man suffered brutal attack and a cop is fired!
    Anyway, I never liked UA for many years.

  81. Don’t think you are immune to this, if it happened to this poor doctor, it would happen to you on board any flight of UA, welcome to the unfriendly sky by UA.

  82. Anyone who professionally is involved with improving corporate cultures will tell you that “tone from the top” is critical. So, when Oscar Munoz effectively says that abusive behavior causing bodily injuries to pax is in compliance with United’s policies – he fosters abuse bebaviour. He should be fired immediately, and then sued.

  83. As much as the airline is at fault, lets talk about the passengers’ role in this:

    1) The doctor should know that disobeying a flight crews orders -whether you agree or disagree with them- is a federal offense. He behaved in a selfish and sophomoric manner by refusing to give up his seat and forceable removing him was the only thing left to do. Complain all you want and maybe have some choice words if you don’t like it but do what the crew says or you’ll get this treatment. So he is at fault here.

    2) The rest of the passengers: If they all heard this was a doctor trying to get home to see patients Monday, you’d think that someone would throw their hand up and volunteer to leave the aircraft. Nope, they just whipped out their camera phones instead. Armrest activists.

    3) Also, how much of an idiot do you need to be to turn down $1000 in compensation? Seriously. Call in sick to work in the morning or something or whatever but, for such a short flight they could have easily taken the compensation and rented a car to drive to Louisville and still come out significantly ahead with enough to go to Europe for the summer. Morons.

    So how does United win the PR battle and come out of this as unscathed as possible? Find the passenger, apologize profusely, give him a ton of benefits (frequent flyer miles, free flights) and have Oscar go down to Louisville to meet with the man himself and get a photo of it. Of course, the lawyers will need to get the passenger to sign a document that he won’t hold United liable or something along those lines but this is how you handle it and make the story go away.

    Of course they won’t do it because the PR goons at HQ follow a playbook that isn’t built for the digital age.

  84. Just an update of @TC’s data point: on Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), this issue has had almost 100 million (yes, 100) views. The Chinese market will be dead for United…

  85. OMG, this is such a storm in a teacup. One passenger refused to do as directed by the airline. Because of that, he traumatised a whole flight, filled the internet with opinions based on no facts at all, and still didn’t get to his destination to service his patients. A bit more co-operation, politeness and civility on everyones behalf is probably what is required. And please – money does not solve everything. A bit of old fashioned, ‘love they neighbour as thyself might work better here’.

    As far as the letter to employees, this is textbook good internal stakeholder engagement. Lucky you are over thinking it, and embuing the words with meaining they don’t necessarily have.

    Let me pull out the ‘first world problem’ card. This week – someone launched a sarin gas attack on civilians in Syria. Did the internet go this mad over that?

  86. @Matt Vorwald – they should have never, ever allowed the situation to escalate to the point that the police needed to be called. As someone said above, police should be used to protect public safety, not protect United from its own revenue management and reservation issues.

    From media reports, it appears that the passengers were offered a transportation voucher ($800 or $1000), a hotel room, and a flight at 15:00 on Monday, 22 hours after their originally scheduled flight. That’s crap compensation for such a long delay. And passengers likely don’t trust that the airline isn’t trying to pull a fast one with vouchers…

    United had lots of choices:

    1) They could have further overbooked their other ORD-SDF flights that evening and the next morning, so that passengers on this flight would face less than a delay – and dealt with buying passengers off those flights later;
    2) They could have offered passengers carriage via a connecting city;
    3) They could have offered a flight to a nearby city, with arranged ground transportation from there;
    4) They could have offered passengers a flight on American (if available);
    5) They could have increased compensation. For $10K cash do you think someone would have got off? I do. If you agree, its clear that there was a price that would have gotten someone off the plane somewhere between $800 in vouchers and $10K cash. Find that price.

    Instead, they chose to call the police to solve their problem for them, and created a massive PR mess.

    Munoz’s statement makes it worse. Either employees are empowered to find and use the solutions above, or they are not. If not, its a failure of Munoz and his management team. That’s what his message to employees should have addressed.

  87. Well, I hope the doctor they forcefully removed will be the doctor for Oscar Munoz next heart operation …

  88. To all those folks saying they will never fly United again that doesnt hurt United. What would hurt them is booking fully refundable United seats and then no showing and refunding them. If enough people start doing this United will cry Uncle.

  89. @2PAXFLY That fact is that it is UA which broke Federal code and created this shitstorm without the help of anyone else. Also UA is losing access to a market of 1.3 billion people because of this. I wouldn’t call it “storm in a teacup” when most of its flights to and from PEK, PVG and CTU may be flying empty in the coming months.

  90. I don’t know the name of the passenger who stood his ground and refused to be treated like human garbage by a horrible airline like United, but he has become my new personal hero.

  91. @Miguel

    It’s worse than that, United may have violated its own IDB procedure although the passenger’s lawyer will have a field day of whether this ought to be classified as even IDB once you’re on board. Specifically the priority in United’s own IDB contract of carriage says

    “The priority of all other confirmed passengers may 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.” (RULE 25 DENIED BOARDING COMPENSATION, A-2b).

    If the UX agent really did “random picking” this would be a violation of this rule if it came to light the passenger held priority due to any of those items.Secondly here’s the rub the passenger in question did not do anything per se that was in breach of the contract of carriage’s rules for authorization of UA to refuse transport, the fact that he’s later allowed back on the plane albeit bleeding and it sounds like he was allowed to travel to his destination implies that someone either gave up their seat or UA was able to find someone else to go instead.

    Lastly for those saying UA was being generous, here’s UA’s specific terms of compensation (again IDB at that point may be nebulous):

    “UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight at the rate of 200% of the fare to the Passenger’s first Stopover or, if none, Destination, with a maximum of 675 USD if UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight”.

    This amount goes up to a max $1350 only if the next available flight on UA metal (it would seem also at UA’s discretion) arrives over 2 hours past the original flight time.

    Looking at the flight schedule for say Thursday of this week the same flight leaves at 9am local time with the next departing flight also leaving at 10:45 am but arriving at 8PM! at night. In fact that passenger’s only alternative if he stayed with United was to catch a 5:45pm flight which would also arrive at 8pm at night. Depending on what time the passenger caught his flight he may have been out of luck of ANY flight availability.;f=ORD;t=SDF;d=2017-05-04;r=2017-05-06;tt=o;a=UA

    I’m personally convinced UA’s legal team is having a collective aneurysm right now with Munoz’s email

  92. @Jayson “@Mark — can you please let us know when or where the passenger asked to be assaulted?”

    When he didnt comply with orders after the umpthieth warning… It comes a time when enough is enough…

  93. …there are actually people who have commented blame placed toward the passenger. There is commentary from fellow passengers who were actually on the flight who confirm that the booted passenger was not belligerent. He was frustrated, and rightfully so, but not aggressive. It’s easy to point a finger, especially when none of us are in the position of this man. United cold have handled the situation better. Gate agents as well as in-flight personnel flex their supposed “authority” all of the time. This is disgraceful, to say the least. Sure, the employees were following protocol — but only up to a point. Call the police, because a passenger says he won’t give up a seat that he has paid for? Cowards. This is where customer service would have been appreciated. Make a general announcement to let the ENTIRE aircraft know that due to the fact that there are no volunteers, and according to company policy, there will be a randomization of customers selected to involuntarily egress the aircraft. They should have made mention of the incentive, if any, asked if there were any questions and let the customers know when the process would begin and the passengers, thereby, notified. This incident calls for a definite revision of policy, on behalf of the company, and definite litigation on behalf of the abused passenger. How dare people even fix their fingers to type that this is at all the fault of the passenger. None of us were there. Let’s see you remain composed if approached as the fellow passengers state he was approached. Let’s see you ask questions and have a gate-agent interpret your questions for aggression. Let’s see you keep your cool while being dragged off of an aircraft by police. Let’s see how appreciative you are when people tell you the reason for your treatment is YOU. Really?

  94. @Kevin: Will this cause people to not fly UA? ABSOLUTELY.

    I booked quite a few of flights at work today. I gave the whole lot to DL. UA was almost half as much on some of the routes, but I don’t need any of our employees getting dragged off of airplanes… and yes, some of them are “high maintenance types.” Whatever the cost savings might be, it’s simply not worth it.

    I should note, I did this before Munoz kicked all of UA’s customers in the junk this afternoon in his e-mail which says violence against paying customers is okay, as long as it’s in the policy book.

  95. I think everybody is missing the point here.

    The gentleman boarded the aircraft. Thus, he was not involuntarily denied boarding.

    If United wanted to still remove him, he would have to meet certain criteria that would qualify him for Refusal To Transport, rule 21 in United’s contract of carriage.

    Hence, United acted illegally here – they involuntarily denied the gentlemen boarding when, under their own contract of carriage, they were not allowed to.

    That is key here: United, ultimately, acted illegally.

    But more importantly is how that gentleman is treated – it was in humane and cruel. That is why people are so angry.

  96. This was not denied boarding. He was seated in his confirmed seat. He was refused transportation.

    United used brute force for revenue management.

    If you don’t agree to our arbitrary “compensation” we will use brute force and throw you off the plane.

    They should have used “market” determined compensation – the amount of credit/cash/benefits which would have been accepted by ticketed pax seated in confirmed seats. Clearly the $800 was of no compensatory value to anyone on the plane. This was just the matter of making the compensation fair and acceptable to at least one person.

    So the next time you use miles to book a UA flight, assign a seat way in advance, check in 24 hours before departure, be the first to board and then be told get off the plane with no compensation or we will call the cops on you – will you keep defending military style revenue management. Since your ticket is “free” we aren’t obligated to pay you anything.

  97. I work with tiny charter carriers and we have limited crew resources. I’ve seen many an occasion when we had to Lear crews from pint A to B to cover trips. That would have been a much better solution here!

    Also, had the DB been done prior to boarding, sure would have been better!

  98. I think the best analogy for this situation is if you go on someone’s property but, they have a “no tresspassing sign that is maybe not as visible as it could be and, after you walk about 10 feet into their yard, you get shot. Obviously, the shooter is at fault here but, you technically did trespass.

  99. Mr Munoz may well be much-loved by UA staff but it doesn’t alter the fact that he’s a “dead man walking” in respect of his job; trying to continue is simply untenable and he needs to resign today. A disgraceful incident, reflecting the incompetence for which the airline is legend, complicated by abysmal, lame and pathetic communication after the fact.

  100. Market capitalization lost in pre market so far. 600+ million

    Suck it united (ticker UAL, my advice short it or sell it if u have it)

    Bankrupt that company

  101. My guess is this passenger will sue United in a very public shaming and United will settle out of court for millions. This guy will achieve justice the good ol’ fashioned American way – $$$$. I say more power to him, he deserves it.

  102. Due to some poor treatment by United, I haven’t flown them in the last three years. My flights on other airlines total about 400,000 miles during that time period. I am in San Francisco, which is a United hub, and they own over 50 percent of the departing flights. So people who think that money means everything obviously have no sense of moral outrage or ethics.

  103. The way so many accept the spin in the statements is testament to the sheeple we’ve become. For me, once the police show up and tell me to get off the plane, I’m going. For so many, including UA, to keep saying this passenger was “asked” to deplane is just abuse of the language. If he was asked he can and did just say no. And maybe that is UA goal in that he would have voluntarily deplaned when “asked”. And the IDB doesn’t kick in. So many things wrong but maybe the take away is that the IDB rules need serious updating. The basic premise was written when airfares were refundable. I’m sure there are many flights operate with an empty seat but the total number of paid, nonrefundable and used refundable tickets exceeds the number of seats. So who is protected by the current rules? And just because its in the COC doesn’t make it right. Corporations who abuse customers should be subject to more regulation if only because the sheeple will not do anything different. Save a dollar and they will be lining up for UA tickets. For me, I was done with UA long ago when the FA’s continued to treat pax as a nuisance. Now the CEO confirms this is the desired behavior of employees. I will continue to use their mileage program to pass Chase points through to quality international carriers.

  104. I am truly disgusted by some comments here.
    It was Refusal of Transport. UA was not in the right to call the cops, yet some here still believe the passenger was in the wrong for not complying. Unbelieveable.

  105. But the police said! But the police said! But the police said!

    Jesus Christ, when did we hand over complete authority to the police to settle civil disputes?

    If UA loses my luggage can I call the cops to come and rough up the staff? No? Then why does UA get to call the cops to come and rough me up if I don’t feel like being “re-accommodated” once my butt is in a seat? And don’t give me the “Contract of Carriage”, because it is not up to the cop to enforce the terms.

    I’m glad there are still some real men left like the 69-year old doctor who does not wet his pants and give up the moment some little wiener flashes a badge.

  106. United shares are melting today. There is an article on CNBC saying shareholders are questioning the competence of management in handling crisis scenarios. It is probably time for Mr. Munoz to start polishing his resume.

  107. Do any other industries allow overbooking, such as hotels and theatres? If Broadway theatres did overbooking, it could be quite chaotic on full nights.

  108. I was told that in today’s America I won’t be called “Ching-chong chinaman” any more but typically treated with their body-languages. Now I finally understand what “body-languages” means in American English…

  109. I think in the end this guy did us a great favour by showing some of the limitations of passenger rights and this incident will likely inform government policy on passenger rights legislation.

  110. @TrojanLA: “I have a feeling this is all going to SNL. Oh, they don’t have an Asian cast member.”

    They could ask Scarlet Johansson if she would do it.

  111. Surely it’s time that this shockingly clumsy and tone-deaf CEO is “re-accommodated”, perhaps to baggage-handling. And people should get the story accurate : this doctor was not “denied boarding” : he was boarded before they assaulted him and dragged him off the plane. He had a confirmed reservation : the late arriving staff member had no reservation at all. Is it not a lie to say United “had no alternative” ? They had many alternatives, in addition to training their staff properly, and ensuring that paying passengers ALWAYS take precedence over staff members. They could have put their staff on another, perhaps indirect flight ; or in a hire care, even chauffeur driven so they could snooze en route, or flown alternative crew to Louisville from somewhere else ( it didn’t absolutely have to be these 4 persons ) : or hire them an executive jet just for themselves, or offering the spare seats to other bumped passengers. It is nonsense to say they had no alternative : they just preferred to choose this violent one.
    And why don’t they attend to personal factors in choosing who to bump ? A doctor en-route to patients needing to see him ; or someone with a family or business emergency should be a higher priority than someone on vacation.
    United abused rules intended to deal with criminal and dangerously violent passengers for their own convenience.
    UNITED we stand ; until UNITED drags us out and discards us. Coffee, tea or blood ?

  112. Ben, I’ve been a longtime United customer, long before the merger with Continental and this is what I have personally experienced over the years. United is particularly arrogant and disdainful towards its customers, especially since its merger with Continental. For some reason, Continental executives took over the merged company and corporate culture changed overnight into a customer hostile greedy company that charged fees on top of fees and was a leader in soaking its customers while repeatedly coming in last in customer satisfaction surveys as compared with other US Carriers. But United’s pitiful responses show that this former Continental executive and his Continental cronies are completely out of their league in running an international company well and guiding it through troubled times. This leadership needs to go, fired, retired, resigned, whatever, just get out and take your Continental cronies with you!

  113. Let’s say it wasn’t an Asian guy being dragged off the plane but instead your grandmother. Will people still be saying it’s her fault and she got what she deserved? Will CEO Oscar Munoz still “emphatically” stand behind his employees for following procedure?

  114. @Judge Wapner: Are you running for political office soon? If so, you’ve got my vote.

    @WMLA44: And therein lies the problem — people are still flying United despite being treated poorly. If people stopped flying UAL, then they might have to change their abusive culture.

  115. @Paul

    There are actually a lot of people out there who are willing to back up their anger over this situation by hitting UA where it hurts: their financial bottom-line. I won’t fly UA again. Doesn’t matter how attractive the flight price or convenient the routing. I’ve also product changed a UA branded CC.

    The continued statements from Munoz indicate exactly what kind of company he’s running over there. And it’s not one I’m willing to support.

  116. What if: Nobody wanted to take the offer of $1000? What if nobody wanted to give up their seats? Would the police/security have been called in to pull off 4 people? I don’t think so. I would love to see how that plays out trying to pull #1 then #2 and so on. I think this guy was targeted as a weak #4 and they preyed on that to get the flight moving. UAL’s bad decision.

    I cancelled my Orlando trip on United tonight, told the agent the reason that I was not interested getting “bloodied” because it overbooks and rebooked on WestJet. I’m reasonably certain everyone else in the industry is learning from the buffoons who let this get out of control. It will probably make a good case study for future use.

  117. “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.”
    Established procedures (INTIMIDATION) for involuntary removal worked until someone couldn’t be intimidated

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