The Problem that’s even Bigger than the UAL Debacle

My opinions are my opinions. They do not reflect the position of any airline or employee of any airline.

The incident that has spiraled into hellish proportions across the media, and in and out of the annals of cyberspace (as incidents via the annals of cyberspace always do) demands a thorough evaluation. (You know the one: a paid passenger is informed he has to disembark from his flight; he refuses; subsequently, the police are asked to escort him off; he still refuses; and then-well the situation goes to hell from there??-Yes, that one.) But in order to evaluate this incident at United Airlines, there is a bigger problem in our American culture that precipitates this one which demands our attention. Moreover, it demands our unbiased input. It demands our intellect. It demands our common sense. It demands our courage. And, as I always tell my three nearly grown-up daughters, if you don’t have anything to bring to the table, then stay home. In other words, if all you can do is rumble, rant, and threaten, you’re counterproductive to discussion of policy, politics, and community building. Do you really and truly want what happened with this Republic Airlines flight to never happen again? (Yes, it was actually not a UAL flight. They were not UAL pilots boarding the plane. It was Republic Airlines. But that is neither here nor there.) If you can say, “yes, I wish this could’ve ended differently, could’ve been handled differently, and would’ve had a different outcome,” then read on. Otherwise, just quit reading now. Go do whatever it is that makes you happy (complaining.) This incident with UAL flight #3411 begs the question that is in front of every American teacher, cop. and customer service agent (private or public sector) every. where. When the rules dictate certain processes and/or when a situation necessitates a student (for instance) to switch desks or to put their phone away in class, and IN those cases, when the person absolutely (wrongly) refuses to comply with the person in the place of authority, what options do those in the place of authority have for doing their job? I mean really. What options do they have? I am all for not dragging a student out of the classroom by their hair or a passenger off the plane by his limbs. I think we all agree on this. But let’s sit down together and agree that first of all, people cannot just blindly disobey authority-not in a free society! I am not talking about teachers, cops, or customer service agents who are abusing their jobs or acting criminally. I am saying when they are doing their job: Writing a traffic citation; executing a legal warrant; asking a student to put their phone away during instruction (I experience this frequently); telling a pass traveler there is a dress code for pass traveling (had this happen to me); requiring a dress code for the professional work place. In those cases, when protocol is being followed, when what they are asking is absolutely reasonable and expected, what in heaven’s name, can the person in authority do when a student or a criminal suspect or an employee or a customer looks them straight in the face and says “NO!” Do we insist on promoting anarchy in a country that actually became a country based on a constitution where laws are imposed and enforced so that we can be the kind of free country where the exercise of our rights and our freedoms are protected not by the exercise of our rights, but rather by the enforcement of rules and policies that actually anchor those rights. Alarmingly, we are becoming a country where our own individual and personal rights (as we see them) trump everyone else’s rights, and the very rules in place that protect all of us. And as the smart phone cameras are rolling, people (students, customers, criminal suspects) quickly and clearly understand: “I can say NO! I can physically refuse to comply.” Why? Because they believe and know that the minute I lay a hand on them to escort them to where they need to go or the minute the police officer goes to execute an arrest warrant, that they can fight, resist, hit, kick, and scream. It will be filmed (that’s a given) and it will be ugly. They know and understand that if they go crazy, the chance is great that their behavior or wrong refusal to cooperate will be diminished and/or mitigated in the light of a physical confrontation that they know looks really bad on film.

But the preferential choice of anarchy in our country to authority figures: teachers, police officers, customer service agents, is frightening when you have children you are sending out into this narcissistic and selfish world to live on their own without the safeguards that are naturally in place inside our house. All of this tyrannical resistance to authority is further aggravated by cases and events not being considered on their individual merits but ALL grouped into a “one size fits all” category. This reckless and truly ignorant way of approaching every conflict we see on the news that takes place between a person in authority and a customer, citizen, suspect, or student is ripping away the very fabric of our nation’s security and it is undermining our teachers, our education system, and the course of living peacefully in our daily lives.

We have three daughters. I will repeat what I said earlier in this blog. We have told them that in the area of politics, policy, ministry, education (their high school and colleges), if there is something they don’t agree with, they better know that there is never an excuse for shutting down the conversation or for misleading others because of their own inability or refusal to gather information and to sort out fact from fiction. I have told them if they don’t come to the table with something to offer, then don’t come to the table at all.

And NOW, a honeymoon couple on a UAL flight who continued to try to switch to an upgraded seat after repeatedly being asked to stay in their own seat is removed and rebooked. In a Boeing 737-800 like the one the couple was on, United considers Row 21 “economy plus,” which is an upgrade. UAL released this statement: “These passengers repeatedly attempted to sit in upgraded seating which they did not purchase and they would not follow crew instructions to return to their assigned seats. We’ve been in touch with them and have rebooked them on flights tomorrow.” What this couple tried to do is shoplifting. I mean would you go into a store and carry something out without paying for it? (In this self entitled world we live in, I am afraid the answer to that is becoming yes, yes, and yes.) This is precisely the same thing as walking into a restaurant and stiffing them by not paying your tab. Or retail shoplifting. What kind of person marries the kind of person-that on one of the first days of the rest of their life together-they would practice-not humility and truth-but self entitlement and rudeness?

You know what? There IS a discussion of policy on bumping passengers that needs to happen. I once tried all day long to get from Oklahoma City to anywhere on the east coast that could deliver me to my home (at that time) in Germany. After a very long day in the airport, I was bumped by a paid passenger who literally showed up for the flight just as the doors were closing. Only I was in my seat and strapped in. Talk about disappointing. I stepped off the plane and eventually got to my destination. But blaming an entire airline for this incident or the one on flight #3411 is reckless and unfounded. Oscar Muñoz is sincerely a great CEO. He brought this company together at a time when the various work groups were quite discombobulated (in a post 9-11 season of unrest and uncertainty.) He did this largely due to his ability to unite people from all demographics, groups and positions. He is a breath of fresh air to UAL and to Corporate America.

My fear (which often keeps me awake at night) is that we are becoming a country, a culture, where generosity and compassion and caring about others is secondary always to “me, me, me.” It only follows then that a pervasive negative and volatile attitude towards those who have the right to tell us “you can’t do that,” becomes an epidemic. Today, (it just so happens), I have a class full of 7th and 8th graders to whom I am delivering a lesson titled “Taking Responsibility for Me.” Wow! Sadly, I have great concern that my expectation for these children to learn this very important attribute for living and for being successful is heavily overshadowed by literally millions of adults in their communities and in their personal lives who have failed to learn and adopt this character trait themselves.

84 thoughts on “The Problem that’s even Bigger than the UAL Debacle”

  1. Thank you for such a well written and informative article. I can only wish that all of America would read this and take it to heart. Society is certainly out of control and needs to take responsibility for each of their actions. I praise you in your career as a teacher and making an impact on our future generation!

    1. Agreed! The total disregard for authority is why so many police officers and such are scared and are resorting to violence and brutality. When a police officer says, “Stop and put your hands on your head,” or whatever, and the person refuses to do it, then the officer has to assume that they are up to something potentially dangerous to their own life. We don’t always have to agree with authority, but we do need to follow rules and the commands of the authority figures.

      (Btw, is this Aunt Maureen who is married to Dwane?)

    2. Judy great article but need to check facts of Oscar Munoz. Your opinion of his bring a company is simply not true.

          1. You are bemoaning the “Tyrannical disregard for authority? ” That one heck of a mental role reversal. The airlines created this monster that ultimately resulted in this event. Their fundamental problem is they operate in a consumer environment that has rising expectations. They haven’t clearly haven’t sold the customer on being a movable replaceable piece of freight.

    3. Spot on. It is so sad that so many have that “”All about me mentality” Kindness was lost in our last Presidential election.
      So many want it all and they want it for free.. People run up huge credit card debt on “stuff” they don’t need – that they think will make them happy – it doesn’t and then get angry and complain about their” bills” & don’t pay them or declare bankruptcy.-leaving others to pick up after them . Yet the truly deserving poor are left wanting. despite working 2 or 3 jobs.

  2. Thank you. I hope more people will read this article and think about what we are teaching future generations. Life is not a sound bite. There is so much more.

  3. Sorry. While I can agree with much of what you say, UAL was in my humble opinion, totally wrong for removing those four passengers, for employees….employees that neglected to check-in for the flight until a short time before departure. Those 4 employees were the ones here I believe, who acted “entitled.” Yes, the contract of carriage allowed for the passengers to lose their seats……but, that happening after they were allowed to board is unacceptable…again, just because four employees did not care enough to declare the need in a timely manner. UAL changed their employee check-in rules yesterday. UAL was wrong here.

    1. Jay, your points are well taken. But just to be clear, the flight was booked by UAL, but it wasn’t a UAL flight. It was Repbulic Airlines and the pilots were not UAL pilots-they were Republic Airlines pilots. Having said that, I truly agree with what else you said-there needs to be a discussion (as I am sure there is now at Republic and all major carriers probably as we speak) about ‘when is it too late for a passenger, non-rev, revenue, or employee, to get on the plane?’ They all have this “you can be removed clause” in their purchase agreements. There has to be a “cut off time.” This was troublesome to say the least. Thanks for your thoughtful insight.

      1. Just to clarify, when a crew is deadheading, which was the case here, crew scheduling are the ones to book working crew members. These crew members were assigned to deadhead 30 mins prior to the flight leaving Chicago because of the unforeseen circumstance that was happening in Kentucky. The timing was not done on purpose and the crew were not just regular non revenue pass travelers, but working crew memebers.

        1. Thank you. Let’s take the blame of the crew members who were following the rules by going where crew scheduling told them to go and doing that when they were told. It’s not the deacheaders fault that this decision was made such a short time before the flight left. They would have been in serious trouble for refusing a trip if they had not followed Scheduling’s instructions and gotten on the airplane to SDF. They could have lost their jobs. Just follow the rules, do as instructed and be an adult.

        2. Thank you.
          This happens on all other airlines as well, but fortunately it has never come to such chaos as what happened on United Express(Republic Airways). The crew did not have any control of an assignment given to them at the last minute and unfortunately they had to get to a destination to cover another flight. But when you don’t work in the Airline industry you don’t have a clue what goes on.

    2. You unfortunately don’t know how it works and are claiming that someone was entitled in this scenario which in fact you are being… this happens all the time in aviation. The crew schedulers have people on standby sitting at the airport everyday so that should there be any last minute needs for crew they can send people to catch flights!! And in the contract negotiated by the union flight attendants dead-heading (riding as a passenger to get to the working location) only have to be at the airport 30 minutes prior unless they have just been assigned a trip! I am a FA for United and have been Sitting on standby and been told to run to a gate where I would be deadheading! And I’ve had to bump other passengers it’s a horrible feeling and I’ve even tried to ask the crew schedulers to send me somewhere else or later so that customers would have their paid seats! But sometimes it’s their LAST resort! So please don’t that’s just plain rude and spread of more hurtful rumors.

    3. Just a quick FYI, those employees were sent to that gate by someone in the scheduling department because a flight in St. Louis didn’t have a crew anymore. That could have been due to a mechanical issue or weather (which there was quite a bit of across the system that weekend). It wasn’t a matter of “not caring enough to list in a timely manner”. Sometimes these little emergencies pop up at the last minute and crew need to be sent somewhere ASAP to prevent even more delays or cancellations. In this case it was either send those 4 employees to work the flight in St Louis, or cancel/delay the St Louis flight, which would create even more delays and inconveniences for thousands across the system. Those poor employees weren’t “acting entitled”, scheduling sent them there because something came up at the last minute (and I’m sure they weren’t happy about it).
      Yes, the rules for listing crew for a deadhead segment have been changed as a result of this incident- but this also means if UAL can’t get crew in place then we can expect more delays and cancellations in the future. Since I’m sure you’re boycotting UAL anyways, you better hope other airlines don’t adopt this policy too- it might end up affecting your travel plans some day.

      1. Kay thanks for the clarification. That is really helpful information. In the best case scenario, policy is win win for both customers and employees. But realistically, we know that sometimes, employee or customer, we don’t always get exactly what we want.

      2. Excellent insight. I stopped reading this article after the “blame” was directed towards Republic Airlines. The decision, lack of training, lack of empowerment and common sense, a moronic (first) response from the UAL CEO, failure to increase the solicitation compensation to (at least) the maximum were all the fault of United Airlines and no one else. In fact, none of this should have ever happened.

      3. No one has mentioned so far that sometimes a crew that was supposed to be finishing the flight that the deadheading crew was flying to could have been dropped from flying further because of weather in which case they would have been over the hours they were allowed to work. Both pilots & flight attendants have restrictions on the amount of hours they are allowed to fly.

      4. Then rent them a car and have them drive the 4 hours. The letter of the law allowed the airline to abandon common sense, not to mention good customer service. If they had stopped and thought about how they could solve their problem and maintain good customer service, there were other options available to them. “Policy” is what companies fall back on when they’re about to violate good customer service. Policy should never get in the way of doing the right thing for the customer. Trying to slant this incident into respecting authority is nonsense. Nobody respects authority when they don’t even try to do the right thing.

        1. Another ill informed and emotional response. Flight crews are REQUIRED by Federal law to have a certain amount of REST between assignments. This is for YOUR safety! Having them all jump in a car, drive the nearly 300 miles and then take a flight out at 9:00 in the am? Right. Granted this whole mess spiraled out of control, but there are limitations and common sense should have prevailed. But it didn’t. Time to get by this and move on. United safely and efficiently transports THOUSANDS of customers a day, along with their express partners, and will continue to do so day in and day out. This was a horrid aberration which I doubt will EVER happen again.

    4. Those employees didn’t “choose” to show up late for that flight. They were pulled from their regular schedules to take that flight to meet an operational need for the company downline. And yes, policies have changed as far as the company’s ability to make last min scheduling changes, however NONE of this had to do with the employees checking in late for that flight. It’s not like they were off enjoying a cup of coffee just to show up late for that flight! Those are the facts that are not widely known.

    5. Just fyi, a working crew does not just ‘show up late not checked in’. They are likely ‘on reserve’ crew that were called to substitute for a crew that was displaced, or they were in fact the displaced crew that was needed to fly the next round of trips. Airline scheduling is like dominos. You knock one down and a whole series of problems occur. So they were not just needed to fly one flight out of Louisville, they no doubt had subsequent flights after that one, that would all have to be cancelled. The passenger behaved very badly, the airport security behaved very badly, and United is being blamed for a situation they did not create. I so agree with this blogger. Oscar has done wonders for United, which was in terrible turmoil and has been since 9-11. Employees and retirees lost jobs, lost pensions, have given up raises many years in a row, have lost job security due to the merger. And the express carriers that fly under the United name are small regional carriers with their own issues with scheduling and crew availability. How do I know this? I’m a United retiree myself. And my daughter is a United f/a, my son in law a captain for an express carrier. Believe me when I say that it’s a miracle the system functions as beautifully as it does. We are so entitled we don’t even realize what a miracle it is to be able to get into a metal tube for a relatively small amount of money and fly to another city in hours.

    6. Firstly..Remember this was not an United Airlines Flight.
      Secondly…You do not know the background of the 4 staff members needing to board to get to a destination where 100+ passengers would be negatively impacted.
      Next but not least…this passenger was a grown man who could easily have used his 2 working legs to disembark the aircraft.
      You also said policy was changed..was it really? Did you know what the policy was in the first place. Yes, I am a flight attendant. I am also a person who would never attack anothers
      place of work without first hand knowledge of FACTS and circumstances.

    7. Wrong! jay, you don’t have a clue. Those “entitled” employees were last minute “deadheads” to cover a flight out of SDF. This was not a choice they had, it was something their company felt was necessary in order to avoid a cancelation or really long delay out of SDF. AGAIN, this was NOT a choice of the crew….please don’t comment on that for which you have no understanding or experience.

    8. This was a flight crew that was being repositioned to cover upcoming flights, not four employees who just decided to take a flight somewhere. Granted, the crew desk was negligent in not making these arrangements in a timely manner, but crews are at the mercy of the flight schedules and occasionally need to be accomodated to keep those intact.

    9. Sir, the four employees were sent there by their company Republic Airlines to deadhead on a must go basis to get to Louisville to cover another aircraft awaiting crew which if they did not get there would be cancelled and then you could literally have a hundred people or more Inconvienced. This wasn’t just employees standing by to go on vacation they were routed by their company. Crews deadhead all the time to get in place so the flight doesn’t have to be cancelled.

    10. Know the correct facts. Those 4 employees got a last minute assignment to cover a trip going out of Louisville due to weather. This happens all the time and 3 people volunteered as well as Dr. Dao. He changed his mind and delayed the even more. The part that isn’t sexy enough for the media to report on, is he ran back on the airplane, security was breeched and that’s a federal offense. Before he was dragged off the airplane, he spit on one of the officers, which also could have landed him in jail. He chose to make himself a lot of money by having his wife and several passengers film his saga for all the world to see. He won’t have a trial. He won’t win. United will pay him off and then he’ll probably get his own talk show. Welcome to Trump 2017!

    11. Jay…I’m not sure you understand how airlines schedule the crew movements. I doubt that the 4 crew waited till the last minute to arrive at the flight. They could have been connecting from another flight, they could have been notified late, they could have been stuck in traffic coming from a hotel. You make it sound like they did this on purpose. That is rarely the case.

    12. They were not irresponsible. They were rebooked last minute due to a maintenance issue on the flight they were supposed to take.

    13. Jay,

      The crew members we’re not non-rev passengers trying to get a “free ride” home. They were put on that flight by crew scheduling to cover another flight as “must ride” crew it’s called Deadheading. Unfortunately, so much happens in aviation with crews timing out or weather, that when a crew needs to get deadheaded to cover another flight for whatever reason, it’s better to inconvenience 4 people vs. hundreds of people if that other flight was cancelled. The crew doesn’t get to just say “Oh hey I’m gonna go on this flight.” No, that’s not how it works. There is someone that calls them and puts them on that flight and yes it happens last minute to get something covered due to the millions of things that can go wrong in the aviation industry. It has nothing to do with employees not caring–AT ALL. They are just working people told what to do, and this happens a lot in this industry.

    14. You clearly don’t understand how crew scheduling and movement works. That day, the entire industry was recovering from a series of thunderstorms that caused numerous cancellations and delays. REPUPBLIC Airlines (NOT United!) crew scheduling assigned these crew members to this flight in order to staff a flight the next day, which would have cancellled causing the delay and rerouting of over 100 passengers booked on that flight. This is a completely normal, yet difficult situation especially when the flight is full and the crew are designated as “must ride.” Usually, there are plenty of passengers who will accept a free flight voucher and hotel and meals for their inconvenience. This was a unique and difficult situation compounded by weather and a lack of additional flights to the destination. When law enforcement was summoned, all control was lost and the law enforcement offficers completely mishandled the situation. It was a perfect storm of bad decisions . But the important thing to remember is that it was NOT the deadheading crews fault, nor the fault of United Airlines. Many of us advocated very strongly to the airline in 1998 that they ought to buy and fly these regional jets to maintain control over the product and the service. They chose not to do that and what you are seeing is the result. Oscar Munoz is the finest CEO that United has had in over 40 years.

    15. Obviously’ you are not familiar with the challenges of the aviation industry. Several factors play into the inability of these employees to check in “on time” which are outside their realm of personal control. I personally was a MUST FLY today with only 35 minutes from landing to make my oversold deadhead flight. Numerous factors could have reared their ugly heads, but the sky Gods saw otherwise on this great day. It is NOT because the crew members did not care enough. Weather, mechanicals, distances between arrival and departure gates, etc….too many to list. Understand that an airline has to weigh the inconvenience of one to the cancellation of an entire flight. I’m sure many pax aboard this flight would have found a cancelled flight on the other end due to the fact that deadheading crew members were left behind. I am in no way excusing the horrific way this incident played out, however there is shared blame. I believe Mike Rowe’s blog is the most sane tribute to the aftermath of this situation. Thank you for your well written thoughts, Judy McCarver.

    16. Those 4 employees were being sent out to cover a morning flight! They were not late and this is what makes countless flights a day go as scheduled. Flight attendants cover flights around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They are easily one of the most prompt employee groups in society. The “office” (airplane) does not wait. So do not blame the flight attendants for something you seem to know nothing about.

    17. You really have no clue what you are talking about. Get the facts before spewing misinformation.

      1. You guys don’t get it either. Spewing industry jargon and citing policy points buried in the fine print do not help your case; in fact, they reinforce the utter lack of customer service displayed originally.

        Accept the fact that things weren’t handled well and move on. Digging your heels in is penny wise and pound foolish.

        1. Agree. Trying to parse irrelevant issues like who’s fault it was that the four employees arrived at the gate late, whether it was United or Republic, and falling back on policy to excuse disastrous customer service just shows the lack of concern for paying customers. Focusing on anything besides doing the right thing for the customers completely shows the absence of customer focus at United, and I guess, Republic.

    18. They weren’t on pleasure passes, they were dead heading, aka, positioning on paid time, to work a flight that would otherwise end up canceled and delayed downline, causing more money to be lost. Get your facts straight. However, once boarding began, it was ill-advised to add the deadhead crew, which appears to be what happened. They probably didn’t neglect to check in, they were probably in the air working and CREW SCHEDULING decided they could make the connection after all, at the last minute. That, it’s what got changed, the ability to add them “late” to the flight, and rightly so.

    19. The 4 employees we’re working, not on vacation. At the same time there were weather delays and also a Delta meltdown due to their computer glitches. American and United Were accommodating all their passengers as well. Due to unforeseen circumstances the 4working crew members needed to be on that plane to fly the flight the next morning ,otherwise hundreds if not thousands of passengers would be stranded. It’s a domino effect.Federal law requires the airlines to do whatever they need to do to keep their operations going. The gate agent doesn’t have a lot of spare time to plead with passengers as they need to get the flight out as close to on time as possible. Also there are those funny FAA regulations governing how long a crew member can be on duty and their minimum rest time so please don’t say that they could have driven there .The two FAA violations that passenger violated #1- running back down onto the airplane after he was off the aircraft-breach of security. #2 not following the instructions of uniformed crew members and the police. Those are both punishable by $25,000 fines or prison

    20. The employees you speak of were not simply PASS RIDERS. They were MUST RIDES! They were going to cover a flight to prevent a cancellation due to bad weather. By federal law, the airline has to get them there as not to disrupt flow of so many passengers. Yes, Oscar did change the check-in policy, but not for PASS RIDES, but for the deadheading crew. No airline would put a late check-in employee on a plane. And as a reminder, it was REPUBLIC Airways, who have contracts with not only UNITED, but also AMERICAN and DELTA. REPUBLIC has its own flight crews and planes. Bryan Bedford is CEO of REPUBLIC Airways and has yet to make any statement of what happened on HIS airline!! He is letting Oscar take the hit!!

      1. Who cares? Nobody but United employees. Apparently it’s not part of Uniteds culture to focus on customer service. That’s the issue. And the United CEO demonstrated that with his initial response. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.

        1. Rob, Absolutely true statement that could easily be applied to the person who refused to leave the flight. We can physically with our physical selves do just about anything we take a notion to do: verbally thrash someone who makes us mad, refuse to give up our seat on a plane, watch enormous amounts of tv every day, eat junk food until we’re stuffed, stay home and play hookey from work. The list goes on and on. But you are right “just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.”

    21. These werent employees just trying to catch a ride someplace…. These were employees that needed to get to a destination to cover a flight that would have been cancelled. 100+ passengers would have been put out and not gotten to their destination, had these employees not gotten there.

    22. Are you really that uniformed – obviously, or just plane stupid. Scheduling did this to them.

    23. The employees were on a different flight that was cancelled and they had to change planes….

    24. Sorry but you clearly don’t work for an airline or know anything about how crew can get rerouted at the last minute. Those flight attendants weren’t there because they were neglecting to check in and were just hanging out. I guarantee nobody wanted to be on that flight LESS than that crew. Their trip fell apart and their company threw them where they were needed. To blame the crew for the entire situation just shows everything that’s wrong with the general public’s rush to for an opinion about something they know little to nothing about. There was a brand new flight attendant in tears yesterday because passengers were being so hateful to her. It has nothing to do with the crew. Stop blaming them and maybe blame the cop that beat the crap out of that poor old man.

    25. Crew skd can put you on a flight with hardly any notice please don’t blame the crew for this mess, they have enough problems being jerked around.

    1. Thank you Judy for this spot on article. I was communicating yesterday with a mom whose 8th grade daughter was being bullied at school over the incident (by “friends “) because her mom is a flight attendant for United. Our children don’t stand a chance ~ they learn by imitating the adults around them. As long as those adults continue to enforce the notion that bad behavior, disregarding authority and hurling insults is acceptable, then we will certainly become anarchist county sooner rather than later. Best of luck with the 7th and 8th graders < they need you, the voice of reason and responsibility more than they know!

  4. Jay don’t blame the deadheading crew for not checking in on time. It was Republic crew scheduling who sent them to the flight almost at departure time and basically told the ground agents “we need four seats and we need them now”. The deadheading crew were just following their assignments and likely didn’t know they would be on that flight until a few minutes before they got to the gate. That’s often how it works in the airline industry. They were not “entitled” in any way. They were following the orders of crew scheduling.

    1. Richard, you are for too kind in your words to a person who would rather spew stupidity than learn the facts. Jay does not deserve an explanation….he thinks he knows everything and has no interest in facts.

  5. Finally someone that gets it!!!People in authority are there for a reason. Our culture has gotten worse in the last few years. Entitlement be dame!!! Rules; laws and expectations are there for a reason so people get over yourselves.

  6. Thank you so much for writing this piece. I’m a flight attendant for UAL and I cannot tell you how many times we have to deal with the “it’s all about me” mentality. Something as simple as being courteous to fellow passengers is an issue for many, taking 2 or more overhead spaces of personal items, other than a luggage (i.e. coats, backpacks, bags or purchased gifts, etc…) knowing other passengers still to board will have no room and check their allowed luggage on board. Really sad and disappointing to see the ugly selfishness in people. The incident with that passenger who was taken off the flight was no different. If it wasn’t him it would be someone else. His seat was needed so that 2 other flights full of passengers would not be disrupted. As the saying goes …sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice a few for the greater good of many”. The situation could have been nothing more than an inconvenience for the so called “doctor” (even though he lost his license to practice due to illegal activities) but instead his “it’s all about me” defiant attitude was the cause of all the drama in that scenario. Again thank you. Glad to see there are still people with common sense in this world.

  7. Judy,
    here’s to hoping that your classroom teaching takes “root.” For I fear that a all too permissive upbringing has taught our next generation that it is more than OK to question when someone tells you NO and to not to comply with reasonable authoritative directions is also OK. Does it not come back to a bit of the Biblical “Spare the rod, Spoil the Child”. Let’s hope and pray that it is not so! Well written piece! (From a retired UAL gate agent with 31 years experience)

  8. Keeping in mind that it is Donald Trump who has set the bar to its lowest possible point of courtesy and respect.

    1. By all means, let’s blame the president. jn you are part of the problem: blame the president. No. Blame Dr. Dao. HE made the decision that put all of this into motion. He did it. You may not like how it turned out or who else is to blame, or blah, blah, blah. Dr. Dao made a decision and that started the whole miserable event.
      Judy, thank you for a well written article about personal responsibility and respect.

  9. Agree totally with your thoughts. I see this type of behavior almost daily and it is very discouraging. Thanks for speaking up! Also, blaming President Trump, as above, is another clear symptom of the sad ignorance of this problem.

  10. Here are my thoughts. Of course it’s me who is the voice of disagreement, sorry but I strongly disagree. First, the basis of any legally binding agreement is that all parties understand the terms of the agreement. This also applies to plane tickets. That being said, I’ve never paid for a flight on any airline under the pretense that I might board the plane, take my seat and then later be “ordered” off the plane. Perhaps it’s in the fine print somewhere but most people purchasing a plane ticket, including those on the very flight in question, were completely unaware of that fact. Those who fly standby, as discussed later in the blog post, do expect this possibility and while inconvenienced, it is understood by both parties and represents a clear and agreed upon term. The blogger didn’t get off the plane because the airline was the “authority” but because both parties agreed to these terms in advance. Clearly the passenger kicked off the flight, did not understand this to be part of the agreement and most of America was taken by surprise along with him.

    If airlines want customers to comply with a rule that has significant implications to personal lives, commuters first need to be aware and prepared that such rules exist when airfare is purchased, like those who fly standby. Making sure customers are aware of relevant terms rests squarely with the airline. Making the terms clear in advance of a purchase goes a long way to avoid upset and confusion later.

    The blogger states: “But let’s sit down together and agree that first of all, people cannot just blindly disobey authority-not in a free society!” Yet, I image such things were said when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. During the New Orleans school integration crisis of 1960 all teachers refused to teach Ruby Bridges because she was black. A teacher had to be brought in from Massachusetts. These were good, upstanding, law abiding people in positions of authority. Good people in positions of authority can believe they are right and just even when they are wrong and unjust.

    Truth and justice within any system of authority is rarely if ever a fixed mark. As long as human beings are imperfect and blind to their own bias and prejudice, rules and policies CANNOT and SHOULD NOT eclipse the exercise of individual rights under the law. Both are fundamentally necessary to one another and they represent the founding principles America was built on. It is precisely those elements that moved this country beyond Jim Crow, segregation, “curing gayness and transgender” and the like. When the “rights” of people become too burdensome for “authority” then we’ve lost all ability to progress beyond our prejudices, to move from being good people in positions of authority to waking up to the ways we can be better people. Without that, “By the people for the people”, ceases to exist.

    Transparency is central to any democracy, even if they are students with cellphone cameras or police who are issued body cams. As is true with the airline video, if transparency is too revealing then perhaps policy and approach require serious reconsideration.

    1. You say you “we’re unaware of that rule” written in the fine print of your airline ticket. That fine print is called The Contract Of Carriage….ignorance is not a defense, any attorney or judge will tell you that. Especially a judge.

  11. Why was this particular passenger picked for removal ? Did he look like a minority that would be afraid of authority? I would not have had the guts to refuse to leave . I applaud him for refusing to leave. It was a ridiculous situation . The company should have realized it and sent the last crew member on another flight or another airline .

    1. Race, believe me, had nothing at all with what happened. Dr. Dao had already given up his seat. He didnt want to stay overnight, so he changed his mind. Next came a breach of security, a federal offense, spitting on an officer of the law, a federal offense,but we don’t hear about that because it’s much more sexy to blame a world wide corporation and try to destroy them by the “little man”.

  12. There is no way to rationalize scarring the face of a full paying customer. Rant all you want. He paid for this seat. He didn’t break any law. Why twist this to say he did? He absolutely was well within his right for this seat. Also…………..why the heck in a hand basket was the bid to beat him up so low? $800 or a fighting match? United was clearly wrong. The agents were clearly wrong and also everyone involved wrong. If this happened after the bid was at $2,200, then, I could see that there was a decent attempt to undo this situation. I’m sure someone would have responded to $2,000. It seems some agents, flight attendants too, play bully to people on the plane at times. We all encounter these few over the top , ready to fight, personas. I hope he gets millions. It’s against the law to use brute force like that. Airlines should have a system in place that if they have a disturbed person that insists on having his seat, and rightly so, it’s their problem to deal with ,with tact and common sense that they surely didn’t explore. The public does not have to do a psych evaluation to get on a plane. United is well aware that , in the general population, there are many different sets of possible problems. They take the money for a seat. They should handle, with respect, the trouble when a person is adamant about going in their seat that was paid for. For instance………..when a passenger appears to be so overwhelmed about not going …..pick someone else or pay bigger bonuses for that favor. It would be a favor since it is like a contract. Not standby.

    1. Another passenger would have been nice. Did you see any of those horrified people with their cell phones shooting from every angle, volunteer to help the poor Dr. out. No you didn’t.

    2. Agreed! Why don’t the airlines just not sell 4 seats on every flight to accomodate situations like this? If no employees need to go then they can sell them at the last second or give them to standby passengers?

      1. Then they will increase the cost of your ticket by the price of 4 seats x’s the number of flights per day the aircraft flies. You ok with that???

  13. Your points about authority figure and entitlement were right on. Couldn’t agree more. But the responsibility to get employees to their destination rests solely on the airline. Reserve seats for your crew and if you want to maximize profits sell those seats at a discounted rate and with the contingency of availability. Don’t bump a paid (not entitled) customer.

  14. I am a flight attendant and after reading comments on deadheading that is not what your story is about, this last 4 day trip I did has taken every bit of patience I have because for some reason since we have gotten so much bad press people think they can do as they please follow no rules it’s that entitlement disease. Thank you so much for such a well written letter I so like the fact that some people do see that there is so much to this story then then media has made it. Thanks again

  15. I agree that it is not crews fault for doing what was assigned to them. On the Republic Airline site it says they are partner with American and Delta along with United. Do most of these ‘express’ airlines partner with other airlines in the US? If so, it seem that this horrible situation could have occurred on any one of main airlines but because it says United on the plane they take the blame? If these partner ‘express’ airlines are not owned by their larger main airline, why put their name on the plane?

  16. I wanted to read this …but once I saw the word “deboard” used instead of disembark was out…yes, it may be grammar police nitpicking but if you are gong to write about the ins and outs of the airline industry please use the correct parlance.

    1. Lynn No worries. I love grammar police. Don’t even get me started on the use of your and you’re or they’re, there, and their.

    2. Your grammar policing doesn’t work well when you violate some grammar rules yourself. You’ve left out several commas in your statement. Good thing it was short, or I would have quit reading.

  17. This is spot on. Particularly the ‘shoplifting’ reference.
    Years ago I actually had to use that to explain to a woman why she couldn’t move herself into Business Class from Main Cabin on the LAX-JFK nonstop without paying. Her comment was, “Well, no one else is sitting here”. I reminded her that if she walked into Nordstroms and grabbed a $3,000 dress off the rack and tried to walk out the door because “No one else was buying it”, she wouldn’t get very far.

  18. Dear author (who will likely put me into the “complaining” category), unless you were on those flights you don’t know the intricacies of the situations and have based your article, your opinion and your apparent anger on situations you know nothing about. Other than what you’ve seen reported in the media. And maybe you should check your delivery if you’d like to keep the conversation open.

  19. I agree with you regarding how unfortunate it is that people so often flout laws and rules these days. However, bumping passengers from flights is just a company policy. The whole situation could have been avoided if they had increased the amount of the vouchers until they had enough volunteers to give up their seats for the crew members. It is a cost of doing business and preserves the goodwill of the customers.

  20. Well, what will happen next time? I am afraid that the next time a crew is needed in a down line city for the flight in the morning, that flight is going to cancel. Next time a plane load of passengers will not get to their destinations.

  21. 1. United employees working the gate.
    2. Republic Airways operating the flight under ” United Express”
    3. It was Trans States flight crew that was trying to get on the flight.
    4. Nowhere and I mean nowhere in the United Contract of Carriage does it say that United has the right to disembark a passenger under those conditions.
    5. The police should not been called nor should the police acted, since no crime was being committed.

    Your article hits on a lot of things in regards to the way some of society’s members behave, however using the United debacle as an example is a poor choice. However, if you plan on writing an article portraying how regulations put in place post 9/11 that are nothing but tools for the airlines to treat passengers poorly, the go ahead and use United as a prime example.

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