United: So Sorry, We'll Do Better Next Time
United Airlines has issued this apology for dragging an unwilling passenger off an overbooked plane to make room for some employees. His lawyer says he is now in the hospital recovering from his injuries. (No link to news articles because I could not find a single one without video.)
I stopped flying years ago -- it simply was too unpleasant, time-consuming and not worth the hassle or expense -- so I had no idea the airlines could do what United did: After offering $400, then $800, without getting enough takers, it can pick four passengers "randomly" and make them deplane, using police if necessary. First, that's no better than buying a stand-by seat. .
Second, I don't buy that the selection is random. Does anyone believe the airline would kick off a first class passenger already seated? I wonder if they didn't just pick the four passengers who paid the least for their seats and were not frequent flier members.
What's next? Will hotels overbook rooms, and when you're fast asleep in the bed, come knocking at the door with a cop in tow, telling you to vacate your paid-for room for another customer? I wouldn't be surprised. When you allow a few rich companies to dominate an industry, whether it's airlines, cable tv, internet or gas and electric companies, John and Jane Citizen get screwed. [More...]
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