Today, I read an article on CNN written by a commercial pilot asking us to “stop blaming United” for the physical removal of Dr. Dao from a United airplane that was bound for Louisville from Chicago several days ago. The pilot, who remains anonymous, insists that that neither the crew nor the boarding agents bear any responsibility for the removal which resulted in Dr. Dao having his face smashed in by an arm rest.
I somewhat understand the pilot’s defense of the airline staff immediately involved. The boarding agents were following policy for bumping people off planes to make room for flight staff to be transported. But I will blame United because they were executing a bad policy made by someone in United’s management who is very shortsighted or doesn’t really care about passengers/customers. In fact, it is really hard to convince me that United cares at all about customers, because initially, it did blame the victim, stating that proper procedure and the law were followed in order to deal with “an unruly” passenger. Of course the videos show the victim didn’t become unruly until he was manhandled.
To make a policy such as the one followed that day successful – getting unwanted passengers off planes – the worst case scenario of having to do it by force is always the possibility. Fortunately for United, most of the time people cooperate. But that day someone didn’t cooperate. The worst case scenario played out and was posted on Facebook for the whole world to see. And I ask myself the question – would I really want to buy a ticket on an airline that is willing to have my face smashed in if push came to shove?
Clearly, United needed to find some other way to get the crew members needed in Louisville to Louisville once it became apparent that no accommodations could be found for them – because there is Facebook and Twitter, and any number of other ways for people to widely communicate their experiences. Now, it will end up costing United much more in damaged reputation and lost fares than making other arrangements that day would have.
United has apologized for the incident. It has also said that nobody will be fired, however. But I really think that the person or persons who are responsible for the shortsighted policy of treating passengers like cattle that demonstrates the point that United is willing to take my money as long as the taking is good and then have my face smashed in, in lieu of firing, should be demoted to latrine duty.
Update: corrections made for victim’s name and destination city.