United Airlines sure had a twisted way of showing customer appreciation during a Sunday flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. A video that’s gone viral shows security officers forcibly yanking a man out of his seat on a United Express flight and dragging him down the aisle by his wrists. Horrified passengers watched – and recorded.
United had overbooked the flight to Louisville. Witnesses reported that airline representatives said they needed four seats for United employees who had to be in Louisville the next day. The airline offered incentives, but when not enough people volunteered to stay behind, the airline randomly selected four passengers to get off the plane.
One of the four – who, according to witnesses, said he was a doctor who needed to see patients the next day – refused to leave after being warned that security would be called. Three officers can be seen yanking the man from his seat while he screams. His head bangs on an armrest. They then grab his wrists and drag him down the aisle on his back.
Unfortunately for United, passengers are watching one of its paying customers be assaulted on the same day Forbes published an account of how to handle just such a situation. The writer, Laura Begley Bloom, recounts a saga in which she, her husband and daughter negotiated with Delta agents and wound up agreeing to cancel their plans to fly to Florida. “But we can’t complain,” she writes. “Do the math – my family and I made about $11,000 from Delta this weekend.”
Everyone at United should read the Forbes article. If the airline wouldn’t or couldn’t make its employees wait for another flight, or fly a different route, or rent a car and drive to Louisville, then United should have accepted what Delta evidently accepts: This may cost us a lot, but it’s cheaper than the headaches if the world sees us manhandling our paying passengers.