United Kerfuffle to Affect Prep Travelers?


Courtesy of Travelocity

Joe Trombecky '18, Staff Writer

As Prep students head to Germany and Peru, among other far-flung locales, many might be looking forward to a relaxing with a favorite book or movie and enjoying a smooth flight. It’s a customary expectation for paying customers, but recent news reveals this expectation is not necessarily be guaranteed.

Through what some find to be an abhorrent practice, airliners are legally allowed to make room for the crew by kicking passengers out of their seats. Although there are exceptions to this practice, this unjust method is an extreme that has recently been brought to the attention of the wider public through social media.

Since early April 2017, United Airlines has been receiving severe backlash following the release of an unsightly video: flight attendants forcibly dragging an unwilling man out of his seat. According to the witnesses on this flight from Chicago to Louisville, four crew members required seats while boarding so four passengers were asked to move. However, when Dr. Dao from Kentucky refused to move because of his devotion to working for his patients the next day, security officers were brought to forcibly remove the doctor and drag him through the aisle. After being dragged off, he managed to return to the plane but with a bloody, harrowed face, only to be removed in a stretcher later on. He reportedly suffered a concussion, broken nose, along with suspected broken teeth.

This issue stains the reputation of United Airlines and the Chicago Department of Aviation, both of which have been marked for mistreatment. Too add insult to injury, United Ceo Munoz seemingly blamed the overbooking situation and the “belligerent” behavior of Dr. Dao. United Airlines’ initial reaction to the problem, detestable as is; their inability to take responsibility for the situation along with the training of their staff is indicative of the company’s priorities. The overbooking of the plane that sparked the situation was purposefully done by the company to withdraw their service and gain money at the same time.

In response to his mistreatment, Dr. Dao worked with a legal team to achieve an apparently fair and accomodating agreement. According to The Guardian, although the specifics are undisclosed, the legal team has shown gratitude to United Airlines for their compliance. This secret accord undoubtedly involved a hefty price paid to the victim by the company; thus a detrimental and costly court case with the potential to harm the company’s public relations was avoided. Further healing the wounds, the CEO has sincerely apologized for his grave errors in his comments.

Thus, the entirety of this specific problem is seemingly wrapped up. But the damage inflicted may be irrevocable. The video viewed by millions and the response by the company will not be forgotten, no matter the extent of the apologies. In fact, a majority of the apologies lack sincerity in the eyes of witnesses and many following the incident. Not only has news outlets berated the company, but across social medias mocking jokes are being made against it. For example, Twitter has coined the slogan, “Board as a doctor, leave as a patient,” in light of Dr. Dao.

Many are calling not only for the company to check its priorities, but for an overhaul of the entire airline system. Considering the company legally utilized aggressive force, the law is at fault for allowing such measures. Being able to force passengers off an airplane should not be legal, securing paid seats should be a priority, and violence should never be allowed. A month after the scene, no changes have been applied to the airliners right to redistribute paying passengers, but at least airliners are warned for future reference to avoid such detrimental mistakes.