Fly the not-so-friendly skies

Basically, United had 4 employees they needed to move to Louisville, so they decided that paying passengers needed to make room for them. When one of them (a doctor) refused they had security beat the ever-loving shit out of him.

Holy shit. United is going to get raked over the coals for this, and rightfully so. I’ve noticed lately when flying that people are very reluctant to volunteer to give up seats when asked, and almost everything is overbooked these days. What a time to be alive, eh?

You would think they would have just denied 4 people to get on the plane, this is crazy.

Normally they just bribe people with free stuff, it’s SOP when these things happen. Wait for the next flight and get free tickets, etc, etc.

Now instead of a few hundred bucks they’re going to likely lose tens of millions.

Part of the problem is that $800 (the max they offered for volunteering to reschedule) is just not enough incentive for most people to deal with the hassle. I might’ve done it if I was heading home from a vacation, but heading out to one? Nope. $800 isn’t worth blowing out a day of my vacation.

And seriously fuck this response.

All the civil rights lawyers I follow on Twtitter are just dropping elbows all over this. It’s like the Macho Man is back.

Yeah, also, Louisville to Chicago is a 4.5-5.5 hour drive. I would think that they could have gotten the employees a rental car and some paid travel time reimbursement for this.

Now, it is possible that you could book a flight with United, and be dragged out by a security officer for no other reason than, we need this seat for someone else.


They did; this one guy refused all the bribes. That was the source of the issue.

These were seats they needed for flight staff to get back to some other flight, or the other flight would be blocked / delayed. It’s in the customers flight contracts etc that sometimes this can happen.

It shouldn’t have escalated to violence of course!

Yes, he said he is a Doctor, and had appointments with patients that couldn’t be missed the next day.

Yah, the WaPo article glossed over it.

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.[/quote]

Shit escalated quickly.

A famous contrarian guy invented that: Julian Simon.

Simon was also the first to suggest that airlines should provide incentives for travelers to give up their seats on overbooked flights, rather than arbitrarily taking random passengers off the plane (a practice known as “bumping”). Although the airline industry initially rejected it, his plan was later implemented with resounding success, as recounted by Milton Friedman in the foreword to The Ultimate Resource II. Economist James Heins said in 2009 that the practice had added $100 billion to the United States economy in the last 30 years. Simon gave away his idea to federal de-regulators and never received any personal profit from his solution.

He’s a very interesting person, I suggest reading more about him:

Maybe the standard process should be an auction. They offer $400, no takers, OK, $450, etc. At some point either it’s worth it to some passengers or it’s not worth it to the airline and they decide to not systematically overbook flights so much.

But everyone knows the game these days and they go for maximum benefit. If they start at $200 and nobody bites, they raise to $400. And if nobody takes these deals, as looks like happened in this case, I guess the airplane police start breaking kneecaps.

It is an open question

  • how high will they go in $?
  • what happens when they reach the maximum $?

Now I guess we know! Though the bad publicity here is probably worth a few thousand.

My idea: as it goes up and pickings get slim, privately offer a lot of money ($2000?) but don’t announce it.

That’s United’s fault for overbooking. They don’t get to beat the shit out of you because they fucked up.

You know what normally happens in these cases? The overbooked people end up shit out of luck.
Oh, but they’re United employees? Well, I guess we need to beat a man unconscious, then.

Well yes, that is why I said it should not have escalated to violence.

If violence isn’t working, that’s because you didn’t use enough of it… yet.

I’m sure there will no longer be a limit to the cash offers now that this incident has made it too expensive (in terms of brand image and lost business) to forcibly remove people.

Yeah, I bet it would have been tough to get folks to give up a seat on a Sunday night flight.

Basically, they are asking you to leave the airport, stay in a hotel, take a day’s vacation (plus calling your boss and trying to explain it to them), then go through the whole ordeal of airport security again the next day… for $400, $800, whatever. That’s not a great deal.

My wife and I gave up our seats once a couple years back. It was simply to wait for four hours for a later flight and they gave us a pair of tickets to use at a later date. We certainly wouldn’t have taken the deal if it had also added a full day to our trip.

I would definitely agree that $800 just isn’t enough, and @divedivedive is right that people would just hold out for more if they knew there was no cap. I don’t know if $2000 goes beyond whatever valuation the airline is willing to offer, but I’d guess that at least $1500 would be a good start.

$400 and a hotel stay is an insult.