If you’re from a more mature generation, you may remember when United Airlines used to advertise “Fly the friendly skies”. Those skies weren’t very friendly over the weekend when O’Hare Airport Police forcibly removed a passenger from a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. Reports say that United had overbooked the flight and needed four passengers to disembark in order for a group of crew members to go to Louisville. Passengers were offered $800 in vouchers for anyone to volunteer to take a later flight. There weren’t enough passengers who took the offer so passengers were picked at random and relieved of their seats. One gentleman was said to have protested claiming that he was a doctor who needed to see patients in Louisville the next morning. Someone at the airline wasn’t having it and airport police were called to remove the man from the plane. The man was somehow bloodied while police attempted to remove him. The thing is though, the airline was completely within their rights.
(WARNING: The following video may be disturbing to some)
Now, while the airline may have been well within their rights to have that man removed from the plane, it’s obvious that it could have been handled in a much better way. It didn’t help that United CEO Oscar Munoz posted the following on Twitter.
United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411. pic.twitter.com/rF5gNIvVd0
— United (@united) April 10, 2017
Re-accommodate is putting it mildly. While it’s more than likely Mr. Munoz was advised by his legal team on what to say, this only threw gasoline on the proverbial fire. Many consumers and travelers are already calling for a boycott of United. Between a boycott, and one would have to imagine a lawsuit, this could be financially damaging to the already struggling airline.
If you ever find yourself being removed from an overbooked flight after anyone fails to volunteer, you are not only entitled to reimbursement, but you could be reimbursed to up to four times the value of your ticket.