Before reading this blog post please watch the video of the incident that took place on Sunday, April 9 on United flight 3411:
There is a reason why this video comes with a disclaimer that says “Warning: The following footage may be disturbing.” Because it absolutely is disturbing. I find so many things wrong with a passenger being forcibly dragged off an airplane simply because it was overbooked. This person did nothing wrong. He purchased a ticket to travel from Chicago to Louisville and instead of taking his flight, he was hauled off like an animal heading towards execution. It’s despicable and I can’t imagine was it was like to be on the plane while this was happening.
But that’s not all. There are so many issues having to do with this incident that contribute to setting a horrible precedence it’s unbelievable:
- Apparently, airlines are allowed to involuntarily kick people off planes. How does that happen? How about don’t overbook flights – isn’t that what standby is for?
- The reason passengers were asked to volunteer to give up their seats in the first place was because United employees needed a ride on the plane. Seriously? Someone had to be dragged against their will because United employees needed a lift? There has to be a better way of handling that situation.
- If I was going somewhere extremely important for a time sensitive reason I wouldn’t volunteer to get off the plane either. What if my best friend was getting married or I was taking a trip with my boyfriend that had been planned for six months? No way in hell am I getting off the plane!
- In addition to sustaining injuries that resulted from the incident, this man was probably extremely embarrassed. There’s also the issue of whether or not he was being profiled for being Asian.
Today, two days after the incident, the media hit a new low by writing headlines identifying the man who was dragged as a doctor who, over a decade ago, had his medical license suspended for illegally prescribing painkillers, including to a patient in exchange for sex. Although this information is public record, it has absolutely nothing to do with Dr. David Dao being inappropriately dragged off an airplane. As a former member of the media, I’m appalled at what people will do to stretch a story’s shelf life or garner attention with a misleading headline. Here is some of the information that was reported:
- Dao was hospitalized for “everything” following the airline incident. I’m not sure how a person can be hospitalized for “everything” but the photo of blood running down this man’s face clearly shows that medical attention was necessary.
- During the time his medical license was suspended, he earned over $200,000 in the World Series of Poker. Although it’s disturbing to know that doctors illegally prescribe medication and even go as far as exchange those medications for sex, who cares how he made ends meet when he wasn’t working as a doctor? Totally irrelevant to his treatment as a passenger on an airplane.
Another aspect of the story that’s offensive is the statement released by United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz in which he calls the incident “upsetting” and apologizes “for having to re-accommodate” customers. First of all, I’m not convinced that “re-accommodate” is even word but if it is, that is not what happened here. Nothing about what happened to Dao should be described as accommodating. Also, it doesn’t matter if the officer who physically removed Dao is a United Airlines employee or not (the officer works for the Chicago Department of Aviation and has been placed on paid leave) – the fact remains that the incident took place on a United airplane. Actually, United set this entire incident in motion because they prioritized the needs/schedules of their own employees ahead of customers.
My boyfriend and I have tickets booked on a United flight to the East Coast in July which unfortunately can’t be changed. If changing those tickets without a substantial financial penalty was a possibility I would take my business elsewhere because no amount of PR wording can change the assault against humanity that happened on flight 3411.