“We apologize for the overbook situation…but we reserve the right to beat passengers when necessary”

Several disturbing videos posted to social media Sunday show a man being violently dragged off a United Airlines plane out of Chicago after the company overbooked the flight. Video posted to social media shows the man screaming as security personnel pry him out of his chair, causing his head to bash against an armrest. He’s then dragged down the aisle on his back as horrified witnesses film on their phones and scream out in disgust…. [I]n a statement, the airline apologized for the “overbook situation.” “After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” the airline said in a statement. “We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”

Remember when businesses which provided poor customer service eventually withered and died? Remember when businesses could be held accountable for misrepresenting their products and/or services?

If we’re talking about the airline industry, those things have never been true…but it’s worse now than it ever has been…and there’s little the flying public can do about it. Buying a ticket on Hellbound Airlines means nothing. An airline can still mistreat and abuse you with impunity. This sorry saga involves United Airlines, but it could just as easily be about [insert name of airline here] Airlines.

Flying just isn’t as fun as it used to be.

– Pat Dooris, KGW-TV News

Here’s a news flash: Flying has NEVER been fun. Not when airlines go to great lengths to cut costs by making seats smaller, charging for amenities which used to come with a ticket, and serving food barely worthy of the name. A commercial airplane is little more than an airborne cattle car…and passengers are expected to sit down, shut up, and be grateful they haven’t been bumped off the flight. Any attempt to stand up for one’s rights is viewed as a “security threat,” meaning the offending passenger may be removed from a flight and even charged with a federal offense.


An airline has the legal right to overbook a flight and, if necessary, eject passengers from a plane on the tarmac. The fact that said passengers paid for their tickets is apropos of nothing. Yes, an airline which refuses to accommodate a ticketed passenger is required to offer compensation, which also means little. How do you compensate someone who has to be somewhere by a specific time, purchased a ticket in anticipation of traveling to their destination…only to be booted from their flight at the very last minute?

Worse, how do you compensate a doctor who refused to leave the plane because he had patients to treat…and was beaten bloody for his impudent refusal to obey orders?

This latest incident is merely the most recent example of a system gone haywire. Customer service, never a hallmark of the airline industry under the best of circumstances, should for most airlines be spoken of only in past tense. Airlines no longer feel the need to treat customers with respect and dignity. They’re merely butts in seats- useful only for propping up the company’s bottom line. If a few people are inconvenienced or mistreated along the way…well, that’s just a cost of doing business.

I’m all for boycotting United Airlines…but if travelers boycotted airlines for poor customer service (up to and including beating passengers), we’d run out of airlines to fly on.

2 thoughts on ““We apologize for the overbook situation…but we reserve the right to beat passengers when necessary”

  1. Racer X

    With all the mergers we are running out of airlines to fly on… Many american industries have similarly been consolidated (media, auto-makers, large healthcare providers, telecommunications, energy). The result is the opposite of the free market. There are just so many things turned on their heads right now – it is hard to know where to start. I’d say it has to be with the brain-dead Reagan notion that government cannot help. That’s exactly why the founding fathers invented this form of it – to empower “We the people”. That so many people forgot (if you had grandparents from either the depression or WWII) or never learned it, is literally, unbelievable to me. It as if common sense has left the building…


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