Another week has begun with a horrifying display of customer disregard by a major airline company. A video of a passenger being forcibly removed from a flight by airport security has gone viral on social media – and for the worst reason.
United Airlines purposefully over-booked Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville. When everyone ended up showing up for the flight, the flight crew asked for volunteers to take a different flight in exchange for a $400 voucher and a hotel room.
When nobody put themselves forward to correct the mistake of the airline, the crew chose a passenger to be removed – and when the passenger wouldn’t go, they had airport security forcibly drag him off the plane:
— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
The unknown passenger had a very good reason for refusing to leave the plane. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital the next day, but that didn’t stop a security officer from hurling the man into the armrest and dragging him off the plane, his face bloody.
While the man was able to get back on the plane and made his flight, the entire incident prompts a number of disturbing questions. While the logic behind overbooking makes sense – things happen and people have to cancel, and overbooking helps offset lost revenue from empty seats – why is the airline making the customers pay the price for their decision?
In what world does any rational person think it was appropriate for United to isolate one person and violently remove him from the plane?
It’s only the latest in a series of unacceptable decisions by United, which triggered a firestorm of social media criticism after the airline barred two young girls – one ten years old – from flying in late March for wearing “leggings,” because she was not adequately clothed.
The arrogance with which airline companies treat their customers these days is truly astonishing. From removing Muslim passengers for the crime of speaking Arabic to sexualizing and shaming the dress choices of prepubescent girls to dragging passengers off a flight to compensate for their own mistakes, it’s clear that the needs of their passengers aren’t as important as their bottom line – or institutional prejudices.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.