United Airlines forcibly removes passenger on flight they (did not) overbooked
A video posted on Facebook late Sunday evening shows a passenger on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville being forcibly removed from the plane before takeoff at O’Hare International Airport.
The video, posted by Audra D. Bridges at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, is taken from an aisle seat on a commercial airplane that appears to be preparing to take flight. The 31-second clip shows three men wearing radio equipment and security jackets speaking with a man seated on the plane. After a few seconds, one of the men grabs the passenger, who screams, and drags him by his arms toward the front of the plane. The video ends before anything else is shown.
Bridges, a Louisville resident, gave her account of the flight Sunday night.
Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was looking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville at 3 p.m. Monday. Passengers were allowed to board the flight, Bridges said, and once the flight was filled those on the plane were told that four people needed to give up their seats to stand-by United employees that needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. Passengers were told that the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats, Bridges said, and the offer was increased to $800, but no one volunteered.
Then, she said, a manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight. One couple was selected first and left the airplane, she said, before the man in the video was confronted.
Bridges said the man became "very upset" and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, Bridges said, and the man said he was calling his lawyer. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.
It's like a four hour drive from Chicago to Louisville. I'm guessing United badly wishes they just paid their staff to drive to Louisville, not only would it save the PR nightmare coming (and likely lawsuit), but it might even have gotten them some positive PR.
"Think I'm gonna be the scapegoat for the whole damn machine? Sheeee......."
Last edited by Senator Clay Davis; 04-11-2017 at 03:03 PM.
They really should just keep increasing the offer until someone bites. Everyone on the plane has a number to what their time is worth
Particularly given that this is going to cost them so, so much more than they hoped to have to pay. Like orders of magnitude.
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Especially if you can make $400-$800 flying with them. Hell, i wonder if you could turn that into a part-time job? Just fly around the country always taking the bump + hotel + cash.
I used to do that all the time back in the 90s for flights from London to Ireland. Check in and offer myself as a voluntary standby if needed. A good 50% success rate. Price back then was 100 sterling and a seat on the next flight a couple of hours later. Had a girlfriend get 300 sterling and a seat to the same airport in Spain 6 hours later.
The $400 or even $800 for losing a full day is incredibly cheap. Want people to be inconvenienced for a full day. Then make it worth their while.
Most of the North american airlines are terrible but United and Air Canada take the cake in my experience. I will simply never fly either one if I have a choice. So basically if I'm not flying to a Air Canada only serviced area from the US I don't book through them. United is the one airline that I see is always overbooking and offering money to people. Far more than other airlines.
Consistently the best in my experience has been American but a lot of that has to do with the fact I fly through a major AA hub (Dallas) so if you end up missing a connection you can always get to your destination somehow. Plus I fly with them enough that they always give me the better seats for no extra cost.
Based on the apparent outrage of other customers it didn't seem like this was a justified removal in any way other than "well we need seats for our own employees". You don't load the plane and then remove people from seats. If you don't get the volunteers prior to boarding you make offers people can't refuse OR you go to plan B for your employees. Plan B of course not forcible removal of people. They do this overbooking thing so often people sit there waiting for the money to get above $1000 (or voucher for "anywhere" the airline flies) if there is a overnight required. They only take the $400 or $800 dollar offer if they are getting on a flight later in the day.
Last edited by ernie; 04-10-2017 at 08:59 AM.
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if the number of people who are complaining on Twitter about this actually follow through on their "I'll never fly United again" claims, then United won't have to worry about having overbooked flights again.
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I forgot my "favourite" United experience. It was a short Dallas-Tulsa hop and I was returning home from a multi-stop trip. I was one of 5 people on the plane on the late night flight which was really just intended to move the plane into Tulsa for the morning flight. The other 4 were the next days crew.
They lost my luggage. 1 bag to go on the plane and they lost it.
They found it two days later and delivered it to my home. It was soaked through with water. I mean I could squeeze water out of every piece of clothing in that suitcase. I'm reasonably sure it sat on the tarmac in a torrential downpour. One reason I only use hard shell cases now.
They remain the only airline that has lost my luggage and they've done it 4 times. Hell one time on a flight to Boston they mixed up the entire planes worth of luggage and sent it to Philly. We got the Philly luggage.
edit: correction one of those times was Air Canada.
1) We arrived 2 hours before flight time for a trip to Florida. We had booked VIA Aeroplan (star Alliance). When we arrived we were told we had to pay $60 for our 6 month old son. Which made no sense. We just wanted to pay it and then call and get reimbursed later. They did not take Cash (US or CAN) and their Visa system was not working. After 45 minutes the payment finally went through, but it was now too late for us to get through security and onto the plane.. So they spent another hour trying to get us onto an Air Canada flight. The Air Canada flight they booked us on was overbooked, but they just wanted to get rid of us. Air Canada was able to find as a different flight and were super nice in comparison
2) Flying back from Florida, same trip, we made sure to arrive at the Airport 4 hours early. They did not allow us to check in our infant early, so we wanted to make sure there were no issues. When we got there we paid the $60 for him (why ?? no one could tell us why he would have to pay $60) and got checked in. However, they put my 3 year old by himself in a middle seat 20 rows away from the rest of us. All of us were spread out in middle seats throughout the plane. The staff told us it was our responsibility to get another customer to switch seats so that we could sit with our kid.
Horrible... we do not even look at United when we search for flights. I would gladly pay more for us not to take them.
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